There are varying accounts, but Mashable and the LA Daily News are reporting that 19,000 French websites have been attacked by hackers.
The Independent claims only 100 websites were hacked. AFP / Yahoo reported that “over 1000” websites have been hacked.
The Independent states that Islamist hackers hacked French websites and called for death to France and Charlie Hebdo, in apparent response to Anonymous’s vow to avenge the Paris shootings.
Anonymous made a commitment to avenge the attacks under the banner “OpCharlieHebdo”, which it announced last week.
A Twitter account with the same codename, @OpCharlieHebdo, shared a video about the operation on Saturday; it also paid a tribute to the people who were killed in the attack; the ten magazine workers and the two police officers.
According to filehippo.com, the new attacks on French websites are being carried out under the name “OpFrance”. Much of the imagery used in the new hack — seemingly perpetuated by someone or a group calling themselves AnonGhost — derives from Anonymous, but the groups are now supporting opposite aims.
AnonGhost also called Anonymous racist for running OpCharlieHebdo, which saw them take down extremist websites and try to suspend Islamist Twitter accounts..
Experts told AFP that “cyber-jihadist” hackers from North Africa and Mauritania have claimed responsibility for the hijacking of over 1,000 sites since the January 7 Charlie Hebdo attack, and have threatened a surge of activity on January 15.
The French newspaper Charlie Hebdo was burying several of its slain staff members on January 15th.
Most of the hacks have targeted relatively small sites operated by local government, universities, churches and businesses whose home pages were defaced with messages that included “There is only on God, Allah,” “Death to France,” and “Death to Charlie.”
Calling it an unprecedented surge, Adm. Arnaud Coustilliere, head of cyberdefense for the French military, said about 19,000 French websites had faced cyberattacks in recent days, some carried out by well-known Islamic hacker groups.
The attacks also hit military regiments websites. None appeared to have caused serious damage, said Coustilliere.
“What’s new, what’s important, is that this is 19,000 sites — that’s never been seen before,” Coustilliere said. “This is the first time that a country has been faced with such a large wave of cyber-contestation.”
In related news, the U.S. military Central Command Twitter and YouTube sites were hacked several days ago, although no classified material was reported breached.
The sites are back online after being taken over by hackers claiming to support the Islamic State militant group, and Pentagon officials are reviewing some security protocols in the wake of the breach.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, visiting Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri, said Tuesday that the hack “was a violation, it wasn’t a big deal. But it shows you, it reminds you, once again, of how dangerous these different groups are and how capable they are.”
The hacker group, calling itself CyberCaliphate, was already under FBI investigation for incursions into the Twitter feeds or websites of media outlets in New Mexico and Maryland, prompting officials to question whether the group has any real affiliation with the Islamic State militants.