Hackers collectively known as “Anonymous” have declared war on ISIS following the recent terror attacks in Paris and have started to take down websites and social media accounts of people suspected to be members and sympathizers of the group. Anonymous have also attempted to gather personal information on the suspected members and recruiters in Europe, but ISIS does not seem to be daunted by this “war” and called the hackers “idiots.”
Following Friday’s atrocities in the French capital, which claimed 129 lives, Anonymous launched their “biggest operation” under #opParis. The activist group claimed to have successfully shut down sites and thousands of Twitter accounts associated with the Islamic State.
— AJ+ (@ajplus) November 19, 2015
The group has been tracking IS websites and social media accounts ever since the killings at Charlie Hebdo earlier this year, but the incident last Friday pushed the group to intensify its efforts.
According to The Independent, Anonymous cannot deactivate Twitter accounts and only report suspected IS accounts to Twitter, after which the site will decide whether or not to shut them down.
Aside from taking down Twitter accounts of alleged members, the hackers are also trying to reveal the terrorists’ real identities by leaking personal information, including their physical addresses, online.
— Katiba des Narvalos (@KatNarv) November 6, 2015
However, the only problem is that the details shared have not been independently confirmed, and the collective has wrongly identified extremists before, according to The Independent.
Anonymous released a video clip on YouTube declaring war on the Islamic State. The hackers threatened the group with “many cyber attacks.”
“We will launch the biggest operation ever against you. Expect massive cyber attacks. War is declared. Get prepared,” Anonymous stated on its video.
According to Newsweek, the Islamic State reportedly published a response to the video through an account linked to the terrorist group on the encrypted messaging app Telegram:
“The Anonymous hackers threatened in new video release that they will carry out a major hack operation on the Islamic State (idiots). What they gonna hack…all they can do is hacking Twitter accounts, emails etc…”
ISIS is ‘trying to taunt’ Anonymous with a new statement on the hackers’ declaration of ‘war’ https://t.co/nDtAAF83tq
— Business Insider (@businessinsider) November 19, 2015
ISIS also reminded its members and supporters to be careful when going online. The group also warns followers against corresponding with strangers on Telegram and Twitter.
Although Anonymous has taken down thousands of suspected pro-IS social media accounts, another activist group has surfaced, claiming they have been doing more serious work for quite some time. The group called Ghost Security Group gives inside information to the U.S. government, and its members have gained relevant intel by acting as recruits.
Ghost Security Group is a volunteer organization that has been gathering information about the Islamic State for the FBI and other agencies through Michael S. Smith II, a congressional terrorism adviser. Smith said the group helped him bust an attack in Tunisia through screenshots that the group sent him.
— Ghost Security Group (@GhostSecGroup) November 15, 2015
Although Anonymous and Ghost Security Group aim to help track down the terrorist group ISIS through hacking, their method is still against the law.
Any person who wishes to help to suppress terrorist activities online is encouraged to report suspicious social media accounts. The group also publishes a list of problem accounts on Twitter, so any user who sees the lists can report those accounts to Twitter; the site itself will decide to take the necessary actions. Facebook has already banned any praise of terrorist groups on its site this year. Youtube immediately takes down videos containing violence according to Ghost Security Group.
J.M. Berger, a Brookings Institution expert on the Islamic State said more accounts are being deactivated, thanks to the efforts of Anonymous and Ghost Security. “I do think the majority of the reporting is being done by groups like Anonymous and Ghost Security. But there are other initiatives, including the Counter Extremism Project and the Sawab Center, which are contributing to reporting efforts.”
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