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The United States is now engaged in its first ever official cyber war, according to US Secretary of Defence Ash Carter. The enemy? ISIS.

“I have given Cyber Command in the ISIL fight its first wartime assignment,” said Carter.

“Increasingly, I’ve brought Strategic Command and Cyber Command into these operations as well to leverage their unique capabilities in space and cyber to contribute to the defeat of ISIL. Beyond terrorism,” he said. “A couple of years ago, that would never have occurred to a secretary of defense.”

The decision by the Department of Defence (DoD) to unleash the full force of the Cyber Command against the jihadist organisation is largely “a result of ISIS’s own behavior and what the Defence Department perceives as the need to fight ISIS on the group’s own turf,” according to Defense one.

Cyber Command was established in 2010 under the US Strategic Command “for Army missions, actions and functions related to cyberspace, including the responsibility for planning, coordinating, integrating, synchronising, directing and conducting Army network operations and the defence of all Army networks.”

ISIS has been heavily reliant on online activity for spreading its virulent message, coordination of activities, and for intense recruitment drives. Intelligence agencies have so far hesitated to cut off the hydra’s online head, due to the invaluable intel gathered on them through this medium. This reticence has been criticised as allowing ISIS to operate with impunity.

Hacktivist collective Anonymous has been conducting operations against the organisation for many months now in an attempt to suppress its online activity with moderate success. Cyber Command targeting ISIS will likely severely hinder the terror group’s ability to function online.