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Hackers Cripple al-Qaida Web Communications

NBC News reports that hackers temporarily crippled al-Qaida's Internet communications systems a few days ago, severing the terrorist group's flow of videos and communications to the outside world. The news arrives in a high tide of reports surrounding the actions of hactivist group Anonymous and the recently-disbanded group LulzSec, both of which have attacked various organizations and government websites over the last few months.

"Al-Qaida's online communications have been temporarily crippled, and it does not have a single trusted distribution channel available on the Internet," said Evan Kohlmann, of Flashpoint Global Partners, which monitors the group's communications. "[The attack was] well coordinated and involved the use of an unusual cocktail of relatively sophisticated techniques."

"My guess is that it will take them at least several days more to repair the damage and get their network up and functioning again," he added.

Wednesday SecurEnvoy co-founder and CTO Andy Kemshall applauded LulzSec's wave of DDoS attacks, saying that the group and similar cyber "gangs" should be put to use rather than hunted down and disbanded. "By combining their services you’d create a considerably formidable force whose strength could be used for good, for example to bring down terrorism and the ill-forces operating with the confines of the Internet," he added. "We should be nurturing this IT talent and growing it for the good of the general public."

"These techies are up to speed and are useful to the industry – we need them," he admitted. "What people choose to ignore is many of today’s experts are ex-hackers themselves so Anonymous and LulzSec are actually tomorrow’s authority. They offer fresh ideas and they’re exposing new vulnerabilities that the ‘good guys’ may not yet have seen or even considered."

Kohlmann believes that the latest incident "once again appears to bear the telltale fingerprints of government-sponsored hackers." Previously the UK government hacked into an al-Qaida website and inserted recipes for making cupcakes into the group's English language magazine, "Inspire," replacing instructions on how to build bombs.