The Pentagon is not only using top-secret cyberweapons in the fight against ISIS, it has taken the unusual step of being very open about it. "We are dropping cyberbombs. We have never done that before," Deputy Secretary of Defense Robert Work told CNN earlier this month, adding that "right now it sucks" to be ISIS. The cybercampaign, which uses tools that the administration has previously been extremely reluctant to discuss, aims to block the group's efforts to recruit supporters online, disrupt its finances and other day-to-day operations, and wreak havoc by circulating fake messages from commanders, the New York Times reports.
Sources tell the Times that American bragging about the campaign is an attempt to rattle commanders and the rank and file by making them feel they can't trust their data or internal communications. The sources say that having learned much about how ISIS commanders operate online, small units modeled on Special Forces teams are planning to alter messages to send fighters to places where they can be easily attacked by American drones. Pentagon insiders say the focus on cyberattacks began last fall, when President Obama wanted to know why Cyber Command's advanced—and very expensive—arsenal was not being used against ISIS. (Bono has suggested deploying comedians against the extremists.)