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.
As BBC News reports, an organization called the Ghost Security Group got its start after the ISIS attacks on French magazine Charlie Hebdo earlier this year. The groups anonymous executive director tells the BBC that he and his fellow hackers were frustrated by what they saw as Anonymous’s incompetence and self-publicizing in its fights against violent Islamic fundamentalists.
The group is a volunteer-based organization that claims to have several people who are “familiar with intelligence gathering techniques” in its ranks. Instead of using DDoS attacks to take down ISIS-run websites, they figure out how to infiltrate them, discern what intelligence is useful, and then pass that information on to authorities.
“We would much prefer to stop attacks than shut down websites,” the executive director tells BBC. “I don’t think DDoS attacks do a huge amount of damage to Islamic State. Anonymous are hitting some extremist forums that have intelligence value, but we would like forums to stay online so we can see what people are saying and gather intelligence from them.”
One question worth pondering is how much ISIS communicates via plain old websites instead of web-enhanced applications such as Slack. Obviously none of the hackers in Ghost Security Group are going to let jihadists know which ways they’re being monitored but it would still be interesting to know how sophisticated their online communications operations really are.