A Jihadi Help Desk assists ISIS terrorists and sympathizers with encryption?
The recent Paris attacks by ISIS have become the perfect pretext for governments to resume their attack on encryption.
Even though the New York Times pulled an article blaming encryption for the attacks, i.e. allowing the terrorists to communicate and coordinate the attacks undetected, it doesn’t mean that they don’t use it.
The terrorist group has even set up a 24-hour help desk service for all its members, followers and sympathizers who need help with using encryption and other secure communications for recruitment, propaganda and operational planning purposes, counterterrorism analysts claim.
“They’ve developed a series of different platforms in which they can train one another on digital security,” Aaron F. Brantly, an analyst at the Combating Terrorism Center (affiliated with the US Army) has told NBC News.
The service is apparently a relatively recent development – it was set up a year or so ago – and analysts have been monitoring its operation for a while. They say that it consist of some five or six core members with high technical expertise, and a number of other associates that live around the world, allowing the desk to be manned at all times.
The help desk workers stay on top of new developments regarding encryption software and security in general. They are constantly creating new materials to help their users – materials like step-by-step tutorials posted on YouTube – and distribute links to them via Twitter and other social media.
According to documents obtained by the Combating Terrorism Center, the help desk is there both for novices and more tech-savvy militants.
It also functions as a means to escalate user involvement: once sympathizers develop a connection to help desk personal, other ISIS members get in touch with them and try to get them to help their efforts by raising funds, recruiting, and executing attacks.