There’s nothing like a terrorist attack to make government officials seemingly lose their senses and propose bad ideas. The recent horrific ISIS related terrorist attacks in Beirut, Paris, San Bernardino and elsewhere have created an understandable sense of fear among people who worry that they too could be gunned down by a fanatic Islamic fundamentalist while attending an office party or eating out at a restaurant. At the same time, it’s useful to not completely overreact to terrorist attacks by proposing ideas that would do long-term harm to our free societies. Let’s go over some of the worst technology-related proposals we’ve seen below. More →
President Barack Obama all but called out encryption in a 15-minute Address to the Nation speech on Sunday night. The President touched on various subjects related to the recent terrorist attacks, explaining what the U.S. is doing to prevent similar tragedies in the future. Part of the country’s strategy against ISIS involves the ability of intelligence agencies to spy on potential suspects, though Obama didn’t explicitly mention encryption in his speech. Similarly, he did not call out any specific tech companies that currently encrypt their software or online services. More →
The war on terror is also fought online, where hackers are targeting the ISIS online presence to limit its ability to recruit members to its cause. But it’s not just hackers and volunteers that get the job done. Companies like Google, Facebook, and Twitter, are actively helping law enforcement agencies fight against the online ISIS movement. But they’re doing it covertly, a new report reveals, both to prevent the public from getting the wrong impression, but also to avoid alerting ISIS about what’s done to put a stop to extremism online. More →
The Anonymous hackers collective declared war on ISIS immediately after the Paris attacks earlier this month. In the days that followed, Anonymous took out thousands of Twitter accounts belonging to the group and also issued warnings about imminent attacks, but that info apparently wasn’t accurate. Anonymous isn’t the only hacker group fighting ISIS right now, and while Anonymous’ efforts might not seem that effective, a person familiar with the group’s efforts explained what’s actually happening behind the scenes. More →
Just days after the hacker group Anonymous pledged to hunt down Islamic State members and launch cyberattacks against their accounts, a separate group of techies claims it has identified a key funding avenue for the terror network – bitcoin accounts.
Ghost Security Group, a collective of computer “hacktivists,” says it has located several bitcoin accounts that ISIS uses to fund operations. One account contained $3 million worth of bitcoin, a GhostSec member told Michael K. Smith II, a co-founder of Kronos Advisory, a national security advisory firm.
GhostSec “wants to make an impact in counterterrorism,” Smith said, adding that the GhostSec member reached out to him because government officials were not paying close attention to the allegations. More →
In the aftermath of the Paris attacks, certain hacker groups have declared a digital war on ISIS, with mixed results. But it looks like a hacker had been helping the FBI track and hunt down hackers with alleged ISIS ties even before the Paris attack in mid-November. A former member of the Rustle League hacker collective confessed on Twitter that he recently assisted the FBI, with his actions resulting in a bombing that left one prominent ISIS hacker dead. More →
There’s no doubt in anybody’s mind that the ISIS attacks on Paris were carefully planned and executed, with some degree of sophistication involved, at least when it comes to avoiding intelligence agencies. Immediately after the tragedy that hit France in mid-November, many speculated that terrorists relied on encrypted devices and apps to thwart detection, although that hasn’t been proved so far. Moreover, reports picked up by the media revealed that ISIS might have an advanced support team in place, that would offer its members round-the-clock guidance when it comes to the digital aspect of their operations.
It’s good that Anonymous has decided to declare war on Islamic State but there are questions about whether their actions are actually effective. In particular, Anonymous has drawn criticism for getting several Twitter accounts banned that had nothing to do with supporting or aiding ISIS. The group has also come under fire for hyping up terror threats that authorities have said were never credible. That said, there is a hacking group out there that is trying to be the anti-Anonymous by taking the fight to ISIS in a smarter, subtler fashion. More →
Over the weekend, with all the terror attacks-related frenzy in the media, I happened to stumble upon what might just be one of the most ignorant stances on encryption I’ve read in a while, The Telegraph’s “Why is Silicon Valley helping the tech-savvy jihadists?” And yes, the story is related to the debate on strong encryption, the kind of data protection for Internet-connected devices and Internet services that intelligence agencies can’t crack.
Before we start, no tech company is helping tech-savvy ISIS members by creating such products. In fact, it’s still not even clear that encryption helps ISIS plan and execute sophisticated attacks such as the one in Paris on November 13th. More →
Anonymous has been leading the digital fight against Islamic State by getting some of its social media accounts on Twitter banned, but has it been doing more harm than good? A Twitter spokesperson tells The Daily Dot that Anonymous’s lists of purported ISIS-affiliated are so “wildly inaccurate” that it doesn’t even pay attention to them anymore. More →
Last week’s horrific attacks on Paris has everyone talking about safety, especially at a time when many people are planning trips for the upcoming holidays. Is it safe to travel? Should I postpone my flight? Do we have to avoid European regions that might be targets on ISIS’ agenda? If you’re asking yourself any of these questions, then ISIS’ mission is partly accomplished — the group means to instill crippling fear into us all.
However, that’s not the right path to take, and a French man who lost his wife, the mother of his 17-month-old boy, wrote a riveting response to ISIS. It’s easily the best one I’ve seen so far. More →
We learned earlier this week that Islamic State used a bomb disguised as a simple soda can to bring down Russian MetroJet Flight 9268 last month. But how might such a device have really worked? Reuters has talked with some experts on explosives manufacturing who have analyzed the photo of the soda can bomb that ISIS posted this week and who have come up with some theories about how the device may have worked. More →
New reports detailing the activities of ISIS, which is responsible for the recent attacks on Paris, Beirut and for taking down a Russian passenger jet, reveal that the organization employs a 24-hour customer support service that can help out with various digital problems its members may have. The same tech-savvy group manning the round-the-clock service from locations around the world also created a manual the describes best-practices ISIS members should follow to thwart surveillance and hide their tracks online. More →