Sunday, November 22, 2015
How Anonymous war with Isis is actually harming counter-terrorism
Anonymous are in the throes of an all-out cyberwar with Isis – but could they actually be harming counter-terrorism?
Three days ago the hacking collective announced they were going to out as many Isis-affiliated social media accounts as they could find, forcing websites like Twitter to shut them down.
They’ve been quite successful, finding and closing down more than 5,500 Twitter accounts under the banner of #OpISIS.
However, there are security groups that rely on the terror group’s social media presence.
GhostSec is one of these. They regularly track down jihadist accounts and forums – but rather than shut them down, they infiltrate them and monitor their activity.
According to their website, their mission is to ‘eliminate the online presence of Islamic extremist groups such as Islamic State (IS), Al-Qaeda, Al-Nusra, Boko Haram and Al-Shabaab in an effort to stymie their recruitment and limit their ability to organise international terrorist efforts’.
They pass all important information they gather about extremist groups to intelligence agencies, such as the FBI.
This could include details about where to buy bomb-making materials, and plans for carrying out major terrorist attacks like those in Paris last week.
It is a lot easier for groups such as GhostSec to monitor what terror groups are planning when they communicate over Twitter, because it is an unencrypted, public forum.
But since these accounts have been getting shut down, Isis supporters have been setting up new accounts on encrypted messaging sites such as Telegram.
Telegram not only protects its messages from surveillance, but users can transfer funds to each other, or set a timer on their messages so they self-destruct.
So Anonymous closing down thousands of Twitter accounts isn’t eliminating terrorism – it’s just pushing it further underground, out of sight
‘When it comes to terrorist attacks, one of the big worries is that you could take down forums and cost someone their lives,’ a GhostSec spokesman known only as Digital Shadow told Tech.Mic.
‘Anonymous has a habit of shooting in every direction and asking questions later.’
GhostSec, and another similar group called CtrlSec, have an online form where people can report any terror activity they see online.