ISIS terrorist
ISIS terrorist Reuters

Broadcasts on France's TV5 Monde television networks were taken over by hackers claiming to belong to ISIS, the Islamist terror group. Eleven of the networks channels were taken over for a short time, along with web sites and social media accounts belonging to the network.

The network was inundated with phone calls Thursday as viewers opened their televisions, only to see a black screen with the ISIS logo – consisting of an Arabic scrawl – on their sets. On the web site, a message read “I am IS,” an acronym for the Islamic state the group says it is establishing in parts of the Middle East. Eventually, web masters were able to regain control of the site as well. Engineers were able to retake control after several minutes, blocking out the live transmissions, but for several hours they were able to broadcast only recorded programs, as the transmission channels for live broadcasts were still controlled by the hackers.

It isn't clear exactly who the hackers are, or whether they are indeed affiliated with Islamist groups. Investigators said that in cases like these it is likely that the true identity of the hackers will never be known. According to one expert, the hackers could very well be kids operating form a basement who were "having one on the adults, but they could just as easily be professional hackers or cyber-criminals."

The objective of the hack, in fact, could be not to display ISIS symbols on a French TV station, but to test the cyber-defenses of the organization in order to see the system's weaknesses, to allow hackers to break in later on for some other purpose.

Nevertheless, they said, it was almost certain the hack on the television broadcasts originated in France, since it was not only the satellite transmissions of the network that was affected, but its terrestrial broadcasts as well, which could only be accessed in close proximity to transmitters.

No group has claimed responsibility for the incident, and no statement has been forthcoming so far from ISIS. The Islamist group has said in the past that it has been able to hack into secure sites run by the Iraqi and other governments, and has taken what it said was valuable information that helped it conquer large portions of Iraq and Syria. Experts said they could not confirm these claims either.