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Hackers vs. terrorists: How Anonymous wants to beat ISIS

Published Nov 30th, 2015 12:38PM EST
Anonymous Hackers ISIS Terrorists War
Image: @Alamy

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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.

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Gregg Housh, the most prominent member of Anonymous since he is the only one who has been publicly identified, talked to The Independent about how the hacker collective works in its attempt to stop ISIS’s online activity.

“Everyone loves to say ‘hacking,’ but what Anonymous is doing is just tons of research, identifying and monitoring everything out there that ISIS might use to communicate and recruit, and trying to get those channels shut down, be it Twitter accounts, Facebook pages, telegram channels,” he said. “They’re just trying to shut down their ability to talk to the public. I think it’s had a decent effect.”

Housh argued that it’s important to hit ISIS’s online presence in order to hinder the terrorist group’s ability to recruit new members.

“Do you know how hard it is to get followers on Twitter? They keep having to reintroduce new accounts,” he added. “I think shutting down their channels to talk to impressionable youth around the world is a smart move. It definitely creates more work for them. If just a few kids don’t get caught up, I’d be happy.” Furthermore, he said that anyone who spots ISIS activity online can help out by sharing that information with Anonymous or others.

Housh also touched on a different subject that made the news last week after another hacker confessed to having helped the FBI track down a hacker who became the leader of ISIS’s digital hacking arm. The U.S. government killed Junaid Hussain in a drone strike in August.

Asked how he feels about mourning a former friend-turned-terrorist, Housh said finding out “that Junaid went down that path really hit [me hard]. I just couldn’t believe one of our own was doing that.”

Hussain trained ISIS hackers to defend against Anonymous attacks. “They definitely got a lot of their skill set brought to them by someone who knew what he was doing,” Housh said.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.