Anonymous vs ISIL. Good or Bad?

 In ITC's Threat of the Week

Following the outrageous, barbaric acts of cowardice and cold blooded murder by representatives (aka murdering lowlife scumbags) of the so called ‘Islamic State’ in Paris last week, the hacking collective known as Anonymous released a video in which they claimed to be ‘going to war’ (Cyber we presume) with the medieval, thoroughly rotten butchers.

We have seen many questions doing the rounds on social media such as “what can Anonymous really do? Is this a real thing?’ ‘Is it a good thing’ etc. along with some pretty good jokes, our favourite of which says ‘at least ISIL are going to be screwed by 72 virgins’. Ho Ho.

Let’s take these questions one at a time.

What can Anonymous really do?

It would be very, very foolish to underestimate the capability of Anonymous. As they say themselves, they are ‘Legion’. Comprising of a significant number of hard-core hackers, information security experts, intelligence caseworker types, they have the capability, the tools, the smarts and the willpower to execute significant operations.

The focus of their operations against ISIL will be and actually has been for some time (since the Charlie Hebdo incident operations have been seriously underway) to disrupt the communications channels of ISIL by taking down websites and other servers, to remove social media accounts belonging to Jihadi sympathisers and recruiters and to name, shame and out the same.

In the week since the Paris attacks, Anonymous has hacked 5500 Twitter accounts and taken down many ISIL servers and continue to do so.

In summary, it is a real thing, a massive operation and should be taken seriously; it has the capability to disrupt, in some part, this evil brainwashing ideology.

Is this a good thing?

The UK media, who, as usual are focussing on their shrieking WAR headlines, is largely overlooking this question.

The trouble with Anonymous activities of this type is that they focus on specific target activity without considering the broader intelligence picture. Anonymous do not work hand in glove with the NSA/GCHQ etc. and so stand a very real chance of disrupting intelligence gathering information or preventing communications between at risk agents on the ISIL side who may be using the communications discussed above to communicate with their handlers.

On balance this lawless and quite brash approach to Cyber Warfare is a keystone cop situation and we would encourage Anonymous to have some comms with The Law, perhaps they do. We wouldn’t know.

If you would like to keep up to date with the activities of the boys and girls of Anonymous in this operation, they have a Twitter feed of activities: https://twitter.com/opiceisis

In the meantime our thoughts go out to the victims and all those affected by the terrible events in Paris.

Author: Kevin Whelan

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Showing 3 comments
  • David
    Reply

    I think more to the point and the more serious issue if Anonymous has ‘hacked’ these accounts, which I seriously doubt – my expectation is that they have used this as an excuse to delete so they do not violate there own legal terms and conditions. The main ‘wow’ factor here is that Twitter has been so easily security breached with over 5k of accounts hacked and no-one has batted an eyelid, if this was a bank or other enterprise, think Sony – what would the outcry be. However 5000 accounts so called ‘hacked’ – twitter dont even make a statement and people keep using the service blissfully not caring about the lack of security over twitter. All very odd.

  • Simon
    Reply

    Great post Kevin, hadn’t heard the 72 virgins joke. I think also interesting is that Anonymous are using this as a recruitment/crowdsourcing campaign by posting “how to” guides and links to useful tools. http://thenextweb.com/insider/2015/11/17/anonymous-is-crowdsourcing-opparis-publishes-noob-guide-to-hacking/

    Of course, these tools don’t need to be used for #opParis do they? Given time, and with the knowledge and tools provided here, there will be additional trained Hacktivists out there focusing their attention elsewhere, to corporates, governments etc.

  • kevin whelan
    Reply

    The issue with so called hacktivism is of course with great knowledge comes great power. Bizarrely we already see the name Anonymous used and abused by nothing more or less than common criminals during the million man protest in London. A small number of l33t types will sell exploits and exploit process to be executed by organised crime gangs (and sometimes do it themselves although this is a sure way to be captured) .

    The post Snowden distrust of government agencies has done nothing to build bridges between what is after all a massive, mostly ethical resource pool.

    Time will tell.

    Thanks for reading

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