IP addresses

UK Government Admits Selling ISIS Linked IP Addresses To Saudi Arabia, Has No Control Over How They Are Used

The British government admits to selling large number of IP addresses to Saudi Arabia, some of which have since been used by ISIS jihadis in their recruitment drive.

While Britain’s cabinet office admits to making deals with Saudi companies, they refuse to say how much they made from the transactions.

An IP address is a method of tracking an Internet connection, whether by computer or cell phone, to its source. While the British government state they are careful who they sell the IP addresses to, they cannot control what happens on those IP addresses once they are out of the government’s hands.

As reported on the Inquisitr, a hacking group by the name VandaSec traced various IP addresses used by ISIS extremists in their recruitment drive back to the U.K.’s Department of Work and Pensions (DWP). Fears spread that people embedded in the organization were using the IP addresses to connect to the Internet to both spread hate and also attract new members.

According to the British government, the IP addresses were sold on auction as part of a campaign to raise money and it turns out a whole load of them ended up in the hands of Saudi Telecom and the Saudi-based Mobile Telecommunications Company.

According to a Cabinet Office spokesperson, the British government owns millions of unused IP addresses and they decided to sell them to “get a good return for hardworking taxpayers.”

“We have sold a number of these addresses to telecoms companies both in the UK and internationally to allow their customers to connect to the internet.”

The statement continued that while they “think carefully” about which companies they sell the IP addresses to, how their customers end up using these Internet connections is beyond their control. The British government declined to reveal how much money they made from selling the IP addresses to the Saudi companies as they regard the information as “commercially sensitive.”

The existence of these IP addresses was first revealed by a group of hackers known as VandaSec, who discovered that at least three ISIS-supporting accounts could be traced back to the DWP offices in London.

Reportedly VandaSec revealed the details of the IP addresses to the Mirror Online to show how three of the accounts were used to access Twitter accounts, used by ISIS to carry out propaganda and online recruitment campaigns.

They mentioned that at first glance, the IP addresses appeared to be based in Saudi Arabia, but on closer inspection, they seemed to link back to the DWP, saying, “Don’t you think that’s strange?”

“We traced these accounts back to London, the home of the British intelligence services.”

According to the Geekhub, the discovery immediately sparked rumors that either someone inside the DWP was running the ISIS-related Internet accounts or alternatively they had been created by intelligence services as a “honeypot” to trap any wannabe jihadis that responded to the accounts on Twitter.

It was at this stage that the Mirror Online discovered that the IP addresses obtained by VandaSec were related to a series of unpublicized transactions between Britain and Saudi Arabia.

The Mirror Online quotes Jamie Turner of PCA Predict as saying they tracked down a record of the sale of the IP addresses and found a large number had been transferred to Saudi Arabia in October this year. According to Turner, it was likely the IP addresses could still be traced back to the DWP because records of the addresses had not yet been fully updated on the world wide web.

However there is still skepticism surrounding the whole issue. In a recent tweet, VandaSec commented on how funny it was that an ISIS account with a DWP IP address on it was planning an attack and a few days later it happened, but they were “too late.”

[Photo via Flickr by Brian Klug/CC BY-NC 2.0]

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