ISIS launches technical ‘helpdesk’ support for jihadis to evade electronic surveillance by authorities
ISIS has reportedly has set up an online “helpdesk” on the Telegram app that instructs terrorists on how to evade electronic surveillance and avoid them from committing security mistakes that could threaten their lives.
In a new report, the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) said the Electronic Horizon Foundation (EHF) was launched on January 30 as a joint effort of several of the top jihadi’s group cyber security experts.
The EHF established a secure channel on the encrypted messaging platform to share information and answer questions, stating the self-stated goal as: “Spreading security and technical awareness among the monotheists.”
The ISIS reportedly uses a secret message board; Twitter; and Telegram, an encrypted messaging service, to distribute information to followers of the terrorist group designed to help them avoid being tracked and discovered by international intelligence efforts.
In the past, the researchers revealed an ISIS “help desk” and 34-page manual that covered encryption, safe browsing and secure messaging. MEMRI said the EHF takes these services to an “alarming” new level.
“Jihadis have long sought technical information, which has been confined in the past to various password-protected jihadi forums,” The Hill quoted the MEMRI report as saying. “However, the freedom and ease by which they can now obtain that information is alarming, especially when such information is shared over private and secure channels,” the MEMRI report stated.
The Daily Dot reported who reported on the group last week wrote that it had about 2,200 followers on both its Twitter and Telegram accounts. The EHF works on the encrypted messaging platform Telegram but also maintains a Twitter account that distributes information and directs followers to its secure Telegram channel, the report said.
ISIS has spent a year setting up the group with the goal of “unifying the technical and security efforts, and uniting the ranks” of the jihadists, said an announcement that was celebrating the EHF launch.
It brings together several technical support entities, such as the Information Security channel on Telegram and the “Islamic State Technician,” an ISIS security specialist thought to be behind a leading password-protected technical forum.
The group translated an announcement that ISIS is extending the “help desk” to offer further assistance to jihadis avoid this surveillance.
In it, the EHF said it was created “due to the electronic war and tight surveillance imposed by the Western intelligence apparatuses over internet users.”
“It is time to face the electronic surveillance, educate the mujahideen about the dangers of the Internet, and support them with the tools, directives and security explanations to protect their electronic security, so that they don’t commit security mistakes that can lead to their bombardment and killing,” the announcement said.
MEMRI said EHF has not posted much yet, “but it is expected to take the lead nonetheless in content posted as time goes by.”
If the group follows the tracks of its creators, its content will be “defensively-oriented,” such as tutorials on mobile phone security, instead of “offensively-oriented,” such as instructions on launching cyberattacks, MEMRI said.
Telegram was “disturbed” to find out that ISIS had been using its service to “spread their propaganda”. It has said that it will take down illegal content, but it is committed to free speech.
“For example, if criticising the government is illegal in a country, Telegram won’t be part of such politically-motivated censorship. This goes against our founders’ principles.
“While we do block terrorist (e.g. ISIS-related) bots and channels, we will not block anybody who peacefully expresses alternative opinions.”