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article imageOp-Ed: Anonymous' #OpParis shuts down Islamic State Twitter accounts

By Paul Wallis     Nov 17, 2015 in World
Paris - Anonymous have been after I.S. since the Charlie Hebdo attacks. They’ve driven I.S. off Twitter to Telegram and forced them to use private servers to hide IP addresses… Meanwhile I.S. said Anonymous were “idiots” and ineffectual.
Nine thousand new I.S. accounts are now supposedly on Telegram as a result of the Twitter shutdowns by Anonymous. That doesn’t necessarily mean 9,000 individuals. It’s easy to for anyone or groups to operate multiple accounts. What’s clear is a significant spanner has been thrown in their online operations.
Anonymous have targeted these bread-and-butter I.S. operations with good reason. I.S. has been known to sit on social media sites for months grooming and indoctrinating new recruits. This is their recruiting and propaganda service, and the main reason they’ve become credible as a threat.
The I.S. habit of denigrating opponents has also scored an own goal in showing their low understanding of hacking operations. A quote from “Elite” I.S. published in the International Business Times is indicative:
...The Anonymous hackers threatened in a new video release that they will carry out a major hack operation on the Islamic state (idiots) what they gonna hack all what they can do is hacking Alansar twitter accounts, emails .etc.
Misleading at best, but absurd in any case. If I.S. own claim that there were 40,000 Tweets per day by supporters is true, it’s a massive adjustment for them to abandon Twitter. Telegram also isn’t exactly the name on everyone’s lips when it comes to social media, and there’s no reason Telegram accounts wouldn’t be just as vulnerable.
Telegram could also find itself on the wrong end of public protests and boycotts, as well as security agency scrutiny, for being the I.S. site of choice. Not a good move.
The VPN (Virtual Private Servers) move is also a bit iffy. Virtual private servers are just that — private. They’re not invulnerable. They’re theoretically invisible, but not in practice. Find the server, and you find the people. It’s not that hard to track internet traffic for hackers or security agencies, particularly in large volumes. The same can be said for phones with a few variations in the methods and usage options.
If anyone gets around to hacking I.S. financial accounts, it’d be interesting to see if they’re so blasé about the issues. I.S. uses an extended network of third parties around the world to launder money. Obvious targets for hackers would be Middle Eastern banks, charities, funds, and similar financial institutions. If that money is stolen by hackers…? It’s hard to imagine the world’s hacker community missing out on the opportunity to get some free, untraceable, cash from I.S. if the opportunity arises.
Russia, in particular, is also one of the global centres for some of the world’s most powerful hacking networks. Russia has vowed to retaliate after the attack on the Russian airliner over the Sinai desert, and it’s quite likely that Russian intelligence will also use every opportunity to disrupt and destroy I.S. operations. France, and Europe as a whole, have similar advanced capabilities.
I.S., for all its rhetoric and ideology, has been largely dependent on Western communications to spread its message, particularly propaganda and for grooming practices. Standard tactics are to attack command and control of enemy forces, and communications are very much part of command and control. Lose communications, and you lose the war. Lose your money, and you lose your “supporters.”
The prognosis isn’t good for I.S. in an online war. Modern viruses, Trojans, and worms are very efficient and very dangerous. It is unlikely I.S. has the technical expertise required to manage these threats, particularly on a large scale. Anonymous has taken the lead, but many others are quite likely to follow.
Anonymous aren’t pulling their punches. To quote from a tweet from @TheAnonMovement:
We will not stop until there is a total blackout for #ISIS online. All of your sites, info, and media accounts now belong to us. #OpParis
They’ve also published a “noob guide” for people wanting to help track down I.S. accounts. It’s quite simple. All you need to do is follow the directions, and send your search results to Anonymous.
For current information and updates about Operation Paris, see this Twitter link.
…And may I say — good hunting, Anonymous. Give the bastards hell.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com
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