ISIS turns to encryption to elude western intel agencies

ISIS is increasingly turning to encryption-based technology as it continues to elude Western counterterrorism agencies desperate to breakdown the terror group’s digital footprint.

Despite jihadi groups’ widespread and persistent online presence on social media platforms, a complex ‘toolbox’ of encryption instruments are being used by ISIS and other terror organizations to obscure their online communications with one another in the Islamic State’s Caliphate and in the West, according to a report by tech security analysts Flashpoint Intel.

The report notes a list of 36 different online tools, identified as “only a small sampling of the technologies required to overcome security challenges,” that are being employed by jihadis to stay under the radar and operate secretly beneath the surface on social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook.

The list includes mobile security applications, virtual private networks (VPNs), programs used to generate fake phone numbers and temporary secure e-mail addresses that are then used to help generate hundreds of Twitter accounts, encrypted messenger applications like Telegram and WhatApp, and secure browsers like Tor, in particular.

Tor is an encrypted web browser that allows the user to browse the web anonymously using onion routing, which encrypts and relays communications through networks around the globe, and VPN’s allow for encrypted connections on private networks across the internet and are commonly employed in countries with repressive regimes who crack down on uncensored internet.

Earlier this year, the Pentagon declared the start of an unprecedented cyber war against ISIS jihadis, aimed at “disrupting their command-and-control communications,” President Obama said in April 2016.

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