MI6 just publicized details of their hack last year of the online jihadi magazine Inspire. The British intelligence apparently replaced online bomb-making instructions with garbled code from the Ellen DeGeneres Show website, which contained recipes for, of all things, cupcakes.
Obvious jokes about cruel and unusual British culinary punishment aside, this incident is a good reminder of the possibilities and limits of any nation’s cybersecurity strategy. In addition to the subversive insertion of cupcake recipes, MI6 hackers also removed various articles, including one by Osama bin Laden. While this did delay the publication of Inspire, the publishers of the magazine, al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, were able to reissue it two weeks later. And, once again, an act referred to as “cyber warfare” bears remarkable resemblance to traditional national activities like espionage and psychological operations (h/t Gizmodo).