The Calaveras County website was down throughout most of Wednesday after reportedly being hacked by a pro-ISIS group that has taken credit for similar attacks on government websites across the United States in recent days.
County officials confirmed the hack of its website was related to the hacker group Team System Dz, which has taken credit for hacking government websites in Ohio, Maryland, New York, and Washington state since Sunday.
A written statement by Assistant County Administrative Officer Brian Moss stated it was discovered that the county’s public website was targeted in the early morning hours Wednesday.
The website’s content was replaced by an “unauthorized message and various concerning photographs,” according to Moss’ statement, though it doesn’t indicate how long message and photographs were on the website before it was shut down or what exactly was said and depicted.
Moss stated the county hasn’t found any evidence that the hackers accessed or damaged the county’s system or data, but the incident was under investigation.
Moss was not directly answering questions about the hack via email Wednesday afternoon, referring only to the statement and a previous press release by the Calaveras County Sheriff’s Office.
A Google search revealed a link to the county’s public purchase section that stated “Hacked By Team System Dz.”
“A message to the government, the American people and the rest of the world. Is this the humanity that you claim, or is life irrelevant … “ the statement read before being cut off by the search engine.
Multiple news outlets have reported the similar hacks in other states featured the same statement that continued: … to Muslims? Do not imagine that these actions against Muslims will pass you and we will forget what you did to the Arab and Muslim peoples all over the world. I love Islamic State.”
The photographs in the other hacks were reportedly of mutilated corpses and other graphically violent imagery.
Other websites hacked in a similar manner since Sunday included that of Ohio Governor John Kasich, who ran for the Republican nomination in the 2016 GOP presidential primary.
Team System Dz previously took credit in 2014 for hacking and posting pro-ISIS messages on the website of an English professional rugby team, according to the Daily Mail.
The Tuolumne County government’s website was not hacked, but information technology staff is keeping a close eye on it.
“We are watching carefully because we heard about the hacks across the country, but we have not been hit,” said Tuolumne County IT Manager Bob Chapman.
At this point, it’s not clear why Calaveras County was targeted.
Calaveras County Sheriff’s Sgt. Anthony Eberhardt said the office was notified of the hack by IT staff before 8 a.m., though he didn’t know the exact time.
Eberhardt said the Sheriff’s Office will investigate the incident just like any other crime. He said the investigation involves all levels, including local, state and federal.
Tracking down the culprit could entail looking at the time, date, origin, and IP addresses that accessed the website, according to Eberhardt. He said the exact crimes they could be charged with is under investigation as well.
“It could be multiple violations, not only local and state, but federal as well,” Eberhardt said. “If anything they did caused harm to our system, they could be punished for that as well.”
Terry Wukasinovich, of Jenny Lind, said he went to the Sheriff’s Office website about 5:30 a.m. to look at the incident logs when a video he described as ISIS propaganda started playing instead.
Wukasinovich said he also saw the message “You’ve been hacked” and images that he didn’t pay much attention to because of their graphic nature.
“I thought that maybe the link’s not working, so I closed it off and clicked back and sure enough it was hacked,” Wukasinovich said.
Wukasinovich said he tried going to the website’s main page and other departments, but they were all hacked the same way. He believes the website was shut down about 7 a.m.
“One of my thoughts was, ‘Why the heck would you want to hack the website for this county?’” Wukasinovich said.
Contact Alex MacLean at firstname.lastname@example.org or (209) 588-4530.