A collective of hackers is expected to launch a major cyberattack Tuesday against various targets in the US as part of an operation dubbed OpUSA, according to a Department of Homeland Security Alert issued last week.

From noted security blog KrebsOnSecurity:

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security is warning that a group of mostly Middle East- and North Africa-based criminal hackers are preparing to launch a cyber attack campaign next week known as “OpUSA” against websites of high-profile US government agencies, financial institutions, and commercial entities. But security experts remain undecided on whether this latest round of promised attacks will amount to anything more than a public nuisance.

A confidential alert, produced by DHS on May 1 and obtained by KrebsOnSecurity, predicts that the attacks “likely will result in limited disruptions and mostly consist of nuisance-level attacks against publicly accessible webpages and possibly data exploitation. Independent of the success of the attacks, the criminal hackers likely will leverage press coverage and social media to propagate an anti-US message.”

The Homeland Security memo further indicates that individuals linked to websites that post violent extremist content, such as one forum that hosts al-Qaeda inspired content, have promoted OpUSA and “called upon like-minded individuals to support the effort”.

Among the individual hackers and groups named to be supporting the operation are Anonghost, Mauritania hackers, Ajax team, Muslim Liberation Army, ZHC, and others, according to a statement posted by anonymous hackers calling themselves N4m3le55 cr3w.

An excerpt of the N4m3le55 cr3w statement regarding OpUSA reads:

Greetings Obama and USA citizens. We are the N4m3le55 Cr3w. Anonymous will make sure that’s this May 7th will be a day to remember. On that day anonymous will start phase one of operation USA. America you have committed multiple war crimes in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and recently you have committed war crimes in your own country. You have killed hundreds of innocent children and families with drones, guns, and now bombs. America you have hit thousands of people where it hurts them, now it is our time for our Lulz. For this you shall pay. Obama you have seen the over three billion dollars worth of damage we have done to Israel in operation Israel. It hasn’t even been a few weeks and the anonymous collective has gotten stronger since then. Therefore we will not tread lightly as you have not treaded lightly. You say “my fellow Americans”, we scream fuck that shit! It’s time to let the people know you got to go. […]

The internet hate machine has came from our shadows shining light on corruption and having Lulz, and now united states of America, you are in the cross hairs of anonymous. Don’t expect us because we have already started our Lulz. Mrs Obama you really should of hidden your social security better. And to the American people we suggest switching your bank accounts from a big bank to a local union. We promised to take Israel off the cyber map. We succeeded. We will now wipe you off the cyber map. Do not take this as a warning. You can not stop the internet hate machine from doxes, DNS attacks, defaces, redirects, ddos attacks, database leaks, and admin take overs.

The OpUSA attacks are predicted to be little more than a ploy for media attention; the Homeland Security memo warns that “independent of the success of the attacks, the criminal hackers likely will leverage press coverage and social media to propagate an anti-US message.”

Rodney Joffe of security and intelligence firm Neustar indicated that the attacks could be far more severe if the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Cyber Fighters join in the operation.  This group of hackers has been successfully disrupting financial institutions for months while demanding the removal of the now infamous anti-Islam Innocence of Muslims video from the internet.  However, few in relative industries believe that this has actually been the hacking group’s true motivation.

The implications of OpUSA are expected to be limited, but could encourage other hackers to collaborate and seek out additional media attention, according to Homeland Security.

OpUSA poses a limited threat of temporarily disrupting US websites. It may, however, signal an emerging trend of Middle East- and North Africa-based criminally motivated hackers collaborating with others regardless of their motivation.

Middle East- and North-Africa-based criminal hackers will continue issuing public statements to announce cyber attack plans against high – profile targets to attract media attention to their cause.

Read the full Homeland Security memo.

Read the full OpUSA statement from N4m3le55 cr3w.