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Unlikely Allies: Anonymous Hactivists & The US Government Join Forces Against ISIS

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E.T. Brooking’s wrote for Foreign Policy what Ghost Security Group executive director, DigitalShadow, calls “a very accurate reflection of our operations against extremism.”

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In that article, the author details the Alice In Wonderland world in which hacktivists team up with national law enforcement agencies against the Islamic State.

It’s counter-intuitive, but it is so. Sometimes, truth is stranger than fiction. One such hacktivist compiled a database of 26,000 Islamic State-affiliated Twitter accounts and even built a website to host the list so anybody could see it. The hacktivist, who goes by the pseudonym “XRSone,” essentially became the de-facto spokesman for #OpISIS.

A decentralized group of volunteers, coders and trolls have stepped into an online battle against the Islamic State and its online sympathizers. In large part, this contingent is sympathetic to Anonymous, but remains a diverse group from all over the world.

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2015 has been the year in which hacktivists announced themselves in the war against IS, having dismantled some 149 Islamic State-linked websites and flagging approximately 101,000 Twitter accounts and nearly 6,000 propaganda videos.

Many anti-Islamic State hackers have disassociated from Anonymous. Still, #OpISIS and Anonymous share various members, with “the same motifs and the same tactics.” Many joined the fight against the Islamic State after the Charlie Hebdo massacre, which took 12 lives,  and a massacre at a jewish market, which took 4 lives.  

IS supporters are estimated to have used between 46,000 to 70,000 Twitter accounts from September to December 2014. In his article,  Brookings describes one of the earliest #OpISIS hacktivists.

…a self-described ‘dyed-in-the-wool American,’ going by the handle @MadSci3nti5t. Armed with Google Translate and an extraordinarily profane list of insults, he took to hijacking popular Islamic State hashtags, reporting Islamic State fighters, and trolling them with a mix of jingoistic jeers and aggressively offensive digitally altered photos.

Brookings highlights one of @MadSci3nti5t’s insults: “isis hates rock and roll…and butts. think of them like your over-religious conservative family member that gets offended if u say ‘ass’ at a family gathering.”

Twitter ultimately cracked down on the Islamic State, suspending 10,000 Islamic State-linked accounts on April 2, 2015. However, some hacktivists have determined the Islamic State is using contractors and volunteers many degrees removed from the IS front lines, possibly not even in Iraq and Syria.

“Last summer you could log on and talk to [mujahideen].… i was interested in the syria conflict [and had] been following it for years on twitter. theyre all gone now. now its just media people,” @MadSci3nti5t says of the current IS social media landscape.  

Members of Ghost Security Group, known as “GhostSec,” claim to receive nearly 500 tips per day. Early on, hacktivists apparently used to send tips to random government email addresses.

Over time, they cultivated ties with third parties from the defense industry to get the information to the right hands. According to Michael Smith, one such intermediary, he forwards 90 percent of GhostSec’s discoveries to those in a position to act upon them. The group’s members are big proponents of free speech on the internet, but don’t consider IS calls for violence as protected.

DigitaShadow, Ghost Security Group Executive Director, sat down with me to discuss the recent Paris Attacks and their implications.

Thank you for answering my questions.

DS: My pleasure, thank you.

How have the recent Paris Attacks set a new precedent?

DS: This week’s attacks in Paris, France have been the worst since the 9/11 attacks in NYC and Washington, D.C. and  serve as a grim reminder that the war on terrorism is far from over and will continue to escalate and manifest itself for years to come. However, with groups like ourselves and governments willing to assist I am confident that we will overcome this through determination and resolve. Our way of life cannot and will not be hindered by groups such as the Islamic State and we will persevere.

An early “expert” on CNN suspected PGP and dark net use in coordinating the attacks. Did you see this? Is GSG’s read similar?

DS: Preliminary reports now suggest that the jihadists held responsible for this deplorable attack on France and her people were communicated over the PlayStation network using PlayStation 4’s. Ghost Security Group was able to detect and react to some chatter in regards to the attack however the attack planning details were carried out intensively on the PSN per preliminary reports.

That national governments (particularly their law enforcement agencies) and groups such as The Ghost Security Group have many common interests – namely in stopping violence against “civilians” – has major unknown implications in my opinion.

Do you believe this as well? Could it foster understanding between once disparate or in part at-odds groups?

I cannot speak for other groups or organizations combatting ISIS. However, I can inform you that we are coordinating our efforts with the United States government to detect attacks before they happen, as well as slow [IS] recruiting, destroy online propaganda and reduce the number of enemy combatants on the battlefield and to date have met with great success.

Do you believe the bombing of Syria in order to atone for attacks is an efficient model for handling the scourge of soft target warfare in the west?

DS: Ultimately airstrikes alone will not defeat the Islamic State in my opinion. It will require ground forces to be deployed to cripple them entirely in conjunction with airstrikes and digital warfare.

How can normal non-hacker oriented web users join the fight against ISIS?

DS: Anyone can help by reporting suspected extremist social media accounts, threats or websites to us at ReportOnlineTerrorism.com. We monitor our tip line 24/7 and all information submitted is reviewed.

Have there been big bitcoin movements in ISIS-affiliated wallets in recent months that stand out?

DS: We have uncovered several Bitcoin wallets suspected linked to the Islamic State one in which was traced to a BTC wallet containing over 3 million dollars in the cryptocurrency.

Thank you for answering some questions.

DS: Thank you.

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Activism

Anonymous Inspired Comic ‘Hacktivist’ is Being Adapted for TV

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Hacktivist, a graphic novel inspired by global hacking activist collective Anonymous and created by actress Alyssa Milano will be adapted for the small screen at a time when another Anonymous-inspired TV show Mr.Robot, is garnering rave reviews.

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Alyssa Milano

Alyssa Milano

Alyssa Milano, an actress who has appeared in feature films and network TV shows is known for taking definitive stances politically, will see her 2014 graphic novel ‘Hacktivist’ adapted as a television series.

According to Deadline, The CW network will be developing an adaptation of the graphic novel Hacktivist, created by Alyssa Milano. The concept for the cyber-thriller graphic novel was pitched by Milano to comic publisher Boom! Studios, only coming after Marvel and DC in controlling the largest library of comic book IPs.

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hacktivist

Hacktivist features two lead characters who run a successful social media company. The fictional characters are also hackers by night, inspired by popular hacktivist group Anonymous. Also, the protagonist in the comic was modeled after Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey, while the fictional company based on the real-life social media giant.

Speaking to the Daily Dot in an earlier interview, Milano revealed how the idea came about.

I became obsessed with the role of the media, and how it was being used as a tool for protest.

At the same time, Anonymous was using hacking skills to empower people. And I thought, ‘What if Anonymous wasn’t a group but one person?’ And that spiraled into, ‘What if Anonymous was one guy? What characteristics would he have?’ He’d have to be socially aware, a coder, have access, be compassionate.”

Hacking activists in various parts of the world tend to unify under the banner of ‘Anonymous’, a faceless, leaderless, decentralized group of anyone and everyone who takes up its name.

Some of Anonymous’ most prominent movements occurred on November 5, 2013. Millions of demonstrators in over 400 cities around the world jointly participated in the Million Mask March on the day that that remembered the Guy Fawkes Night. The Guy Fawkes mask is commonly seen as the symbol of Anonymous, with members of the group readily distinguishable in public by wearing the masks.

Anonymous has undeniably made its mark in the mainstream consciousness. Wildly popular and critically-acclaimed TV shows like Mr. Robot see its fundamental premise in hacker activism and the new TV adaption of ‘Hacktivist’ – directly influenced by Anonymous – will only further perpetuate the loosely-associated international hacktivist network.

 Images from Amazon, Flickr and Shutterstock.

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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Samburaj is the contributing editor at Hacked and keeps tabs on science, technology and cyber security.




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Activism

Anonymous Hacker Protesting Prosecution Begins Second Week of Hunger Strike

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In 2014, Anonymous hacker Martin Gottesfeld was allegedly involved in the hacking of Boston Children’s Hospital following the suspected mistreatment of one of its patients. Now, the alleged hacker has begun his second week of a hunger strike in prison to protest the assumed prosecution of the late Internet activist Aaron Swartz and the controversial child-custody case involving Justina Pelletier, reports Newsweek.

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Two and a half years ago, the hacker collective Anonymous released a video calling for attacks against the hospital. It was alleged that 15-year-old Justina Pelletier was being held against her will by the State of Massachusetts where she was ‘tortured physically and mentally.’

In a letter, Gottesfeld wrote that what happened to Justina Pelletier goes far beyond a medical or custody dispute, and beyond child abuse.

He wrote:

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Tragically, tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of children have suffered horrific abuse at fraudulent places who have no legitimate right to call themselves ‘residential treatment programs.’

Two Demands Need to be Met

In order for his hunger strike to come to an end, Gottesfeld is asking for two demands to be met.

He wants the U.S. presidential candidates to make a promise ensuring that children are no longer mistreated, tortured, abused or killed, and he wants to end the style of prosecution that U.S. attorney for Massachusetts, Carmen Ortiz waged against Aaron Swartz, Reddit co-founder. Swartz is reported to have committed suicide after he was accused of alleged computer crimes.

Speaking to Newsweek, Dana Gottesfeld, wife of Martin Gottesfeld said that he believes his conditions will be met.

She added:

If the candidates make the pledge but don’t make good on it, he plans to strike again.

He faces up to five years in prison and a $380,000 fine.

For now, it remains to be seen if the presidential candidates will consider his demands. Given Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s previous thoughts on what he thinks should be done to Edward Snowden if he became president, you have to wonder what kind of reception Martin Gottesfeld will receive from him.

Featured image from Shutterstock.

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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Anonymous

Anonymous India: Mobile Network Reliance Jio is Sharing Call Data with Advertisers

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Anonymous

The hacking group Anonymous is accusing the telecom network, Reliance Jio, of sharing its call data with advertisers in the U.S. and Singapore.

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In a recent blog post, Anonymous India exposes how Reliance Jio has been sharing customers’ call data with foreign companies. Anonymous India also provide steps to see how Reliance Jio are sharing the data.

It said:

A year ago we had posted about how Reliance Jio was sharing user location data with China. One year on and nothing has changed.

In the blog post, Anonymous India claims that data from Reliance Jio’s My Jio and Jio Dialer apps are being sent to an advertiser called Mad.Me. It further adds that Reliance Jio is utilizing a third-party software development kit and is failing to verify what data is being sent and collected through it.

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Reliance Jio Accused a Second Time

This, however, isn’t the first time that Anonymous India has accused Reliance Jio.

Last year the hacker activist group highlighted in another blog post that Reliance Jio had security flaws in its RJio chat app.

According to the 2015 post, data was being sent to a Chinese IP without encrypting it beforehand. This meant that while data was being leaked to the Chinese, anyone who wanted to could easily look into a conversation and know what was being shared or discussed, making it vulnerable to hackers.

Anonymous Never Forgets

When it comes to bringing the wrongs of others to light, the hacker activist group, Anonymous, are not afraid of standing up to the challenge.

At the beginning of the year, Anonymous targeted Thai police after protesting the conviction of two Burmese men who faced a death sentence in connection to two murdered British backpackers.

In May, Hacked reported that Anonymous had played a significant role in the target of financial institutions such as Greece’s central bank, which was targeted in a DDoS attack. According to the report, Anonymous consider central banks around the world as a ‘global banking cartel.’

In a bid to target those that it believes should be targeted, bringing greater awareness to the public, it seems that the hacktivist collective Anonymous won’t be stopping anytime soon.

Featured image from Shutterstock.

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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