A group of teenage computer hackers, collectively known as VandaSec, have traced multiple ISIS related Islamic State social media accounts to the U.K. Government.
VandaSec, comprised of four male teens, was able to trace at least three ISIS-supporting social media accounts to the United Kingdom’s Department of Work and Pensions offices in London, using the IP addresses of the accounts, according to the Mirror. The accounts, owned by known jihadis, have been linked to recruitment of new ISIS members online.
VandaSec was able to trace the IP addresses from their supposed Saudi Arabia location back to the United Kingdom’s Department of Work and Pension after using a set of specialized tools to track the IP addresses. One of the hackers spoke to the Mirror and thought it was strange that the U.K. government was a source of ISIS recruitment.
“Don’t you think that’s strange? We traced these accounts back to London, the home of the British intelligence services.”
The findings have people wondering if someone within the Department of Work and Pensions might be actively recruiting for new members of ISIS. Others wonder if it might be a way for British Intelligence to intercept new ISIS recruits before they are officially members.
Officials from the United Kingdom revealed that the IP addresses were sold to Saudi Arabia back in October of this year to two Saudi Arabian firms. According to the firm PCA Predict, a large range of IP addresses were sold to Saudi Arabia earlier this year, some of which found their way into the hands of ISIS extremists.
Since the IP addresses originated from the United Kingdom, officials claim they are most likely still connected to the Department of Work and Pensions, resulting in VandaSec’s findings. The U.K. Government stated the sale of IP addresses was the result of having too many than were needed, so they simply sold them off.
“The government owns millions of unused IP addresses which we are selling 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 U.K. government went on to state that they do take care in determining who the IP addresses are sold to. However, have no control over how they are used once they are dispersed.
VandaSec is questioning the nature of the undisclosed transfer of the IP addresses to Saudi Arabia, according to Metro. However, IP address sales are often commonplace throughout the world.
The U.K. government stated that the sales of the IP addresses are classified as being commercially sensitive, therefore are not commonly announced when they occur. The IP addresses were finally revealed to have been sold to Saudi Telecom, who in turn distributed them accordingly.
VandaSec’s findings caused minor panic when they revealed the connection, coercing claims and rumors that ISIS operatives were actively working inside the U.K. government. However, officials from the U.K. claim that simply is not so. Instead, the IP addresses are still tracing back to their place of origin, for the time being. Over time, the issue should correct itself.
Regardless of the origin of the ISIS Twitter accounts, as well as other social media accounts, the reality that ISIS is using online recruiting to obtain new members has been brought to the forefront of the media, resulting in a much wider reach across the world than many thought possible.
Hacktivist groups such as VandaSec and Anonymous have made it a point to trace the online activities of ISIS and help shut them down.
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