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Communications Encryption Technology

ISIS Help Desk Assists In Covering Tracks (cnn.com) 145

An anonymous reader writes: The ISIS terror group appears to have 5 to 6 members offering 24-hour support on how to encrypt communications, hide personal details and use apps like Twitter while avoiding surveillance. It's kind of like a 'help desk,' though not an actual call center hiding in the hills. It is a group of IT specialists answering questions from locations spread out all over the world, according to Aaron Brantly at the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point. It has been find out that the advice is largely being relayed on an ISIS channel on Telegram, a messaging app that has become popular among members of the group because it allows for special secret chats. The jihadi help desk has lengthy training manuals, and Brantly has reviewed over 300 pages of training documents and roughly 25 YouTube videos that provide tips to evade intelligence agencies and law enforcement.
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ISIS Help Desk Assists In Covering Tracks

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  • by JoeyRox ( 2711699 ) on Thursday November 19, 2015 @03:17PM (#50964493)
    I have to break out my ISIS helpdesk post again:

    Welcome to the Daesh hotline. Please listen carefully to the following message as our options have changed.
    Press 1 for information on how to encrypt messages sent to members of your terrorist cell
    Press 2 if you're a suicidal bomber and are having trouble detonating your device
    Press 3 if you're an oppressed female who would like to sign up for our next Perl Programming Bootmap
    Press 4 for tips on how to write terror and/or hate messages in 140 characters or less
    Press 5 to voice your displeasure with systemd
    Or Press 0 to speak with a member of the Bush family for further assistance
    • by Howitzer86 ( 964585 ) on Thursday November 19, 2015 @03:22PM (#50964551)

      [2]

      Please wait while we remotely access your devi

      • Re: (Score:1, Offtopic)

        I have a mod point to spare, and would have modded you up if you had written something like devi^%E$^ instead of just devi
        • by cdrudge ( 68377 )

          It would depend on if we're hearing the caller's end, or the help desk's end. The caller's end probably wouldn't make it to the ^%E$^ part if it had detonated.

          • No, it would depend on if you have been around long enough to know why the latter is funnier, or indeed, why it makes any sense at all.
        • Bonus points for NO CARRIER
          • At first I didn't like that idea, but the more I think about it why wouldn't the caller be using an old school modem from the trenches?
        • by ShanghaiBill ( 739463 ) on Thursday November 19, 2015 @05:17PM (#50965527)

          would have modded you up if you had written something like devi^%E$^ instead of just devi

          Modern digital protocols don't generate static or line noise. This isn't 1992.

          • The explosion stops to properly hang up the receiver before expanding further. Bomb makers initially had some difficulty getting the plasma to work with smartphone touch screens, but they figured it out years ago and the technology has been wide spread for some time.
        • I have a mod point to spare, and would have modded you up if you had written something like devi^%E$^ instead of just devi

          Or that old chestnut, devi^%E$^ NO CARRIER

    • by PopeRatzo ( 965947 ) on Thursday November 19, 2015 @03:51PM (#50964843) Journal

      Welcome to the Daesh hotline.

      "My name is Brad. First, let me say I'm sorry that you're having trouble with our service today. To whom am I speaking?"

    • Your call may be monitored for quality control and Sharia law enforcement purposes.
  • They get free housing, food, a full on welfare system... These guys are running a solid business.

    • Maybe I probably should mention that they are paid in US dollars, not local currency. You know, just in case that point is important to anybody. Maybe it's nothing.

    • by ClickOnThis ( 137803 ) on Thursday November 19, 2015 @03:29PM (#50964633) Journal

      These guys are running a solid business.

      The overwhelming majority of their revenue is acquired through theft. [newsweek.com]

      I'd hardly call that a "solid business."

    • by Nidi62 ( 1525137 )

      They get free housing, food, a full on welfare system... These guys are running a solid business.

      Easy to find free housing when you kill or kick out the people who were living in said housing. Next you are going to say ISIS is full of ladies men because it's so easy for them to get a wife....

      • Easy to find free housing when you kill or kick out the people who were living in said housing.

        Just ask the people in the Israeli settlements.

        • Those settlements are one of the biggest roadblocks to peace in Palestine and Israel. Personally I think the US should cut off aid to Israel until settlements at least stop expanding
          • History is your friend. The settlements were abandoned once and it did little other than allow rockets to be launched closer.

            The situation is more complex than the settlements. They might be part of it but not as much as you might think.

      • by bankman ( 136859 )

        Easy to find free housing when you kill or kick out the people who were living in said housing.

        Whole countries were built following this model...

    • They get free housing, food, a full on welfare system... These guys are running a solid business.

      Maybe, but once you are working for them, there is no leaving. Oh, and the retirement plan sucks because it is always blowing up.

  • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Thursday November 19, 2015 @03:22PM (#50964547)

    I bet my rear end that no later than tomorrow we'll get to hear about how we have to outlaw telling people how to use encryption and how to avoid being tracked on the internet.

    I am confident that we can rely on Cameron to not disappoint us.

    • We need an excuse to outlaw encryption again? (Score:1)
      by Opportunist (166417)

      I bet my rear end that no later than tomorrow we'll get to hear about how we have to outlaw telling people how to use encryption and how to avoid being tracked on the internet.

      I am confident that we can rely on Cameron to not disappoint us.

      Username checks out.

    • by rsilvergun ( 571051 ) on Thursday November 19, 2015 @04:04PM (#50964979)
      If we're going to have a world where the conversations of private citizens cannot be eavesdropped on then it's a natural by product that criminals and terrorists will also benefit from this. You can't have one without the other. If we knew the terrorists from the legit citizens we could block them from using encryption, but if we knew that we wouldn't be having this conversation, now would we?

      What I've found is that it's mostly right wing folks who want these laws. In America the solution is to point out that encryption control and gun control are basically the same thing. They don't like gun control, so it shuts them up. I'm largely indifferent either way. I'm more concerned about economic issues like H1-B and guest worker programs and the high cost of my child's education.
      • by njnnja ( 2833511 )

        encryption control and gun control are basically the same thing

        Except that the Constitution is quite clear that Americans have certain rights with respect to Arms, backed up by hundreds of years of case law supporting those rights, but it is silent about the question of rights to use ciphers and codes. So when talking about laws they are very different things entirely.

        • by Sowelu ( 713889 )

          I was going to bring up the 4th amendment, since encryption and ciphers are certainly part of being secure in one's person, house, papers and effects, but it does explicitly say you're protected against unreasonable search and seizure--not ALL search and seizure. I couldn't confidently argue one way or the other about what the founding fathers' opinions on effectively-unbreakable encryption would be.

          Then again the 2nd amendment also talks about guns in the context of well-regulated militias, so who even kn

        • How dare you use facts to get in the way of a good meme.

          However, that same Constitution allows you to also be allowed Free Speech (First Amendment) making your encrypted speech still yours in freedom.

          Then there's that pesky Fourth Amendment which requires security, as in "secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures" including the ability to reveal your assets, which I'll cover next.

          Ok, head-desk time, that old Fifth Amendment, which among other things, "n

          • there's plenty of cases where we've run roughshod over the US Constitution in the pursuit of terrorism. The Constitution is, after all, just a piece of paper. And besides I can in both cases say that your right to free speech hasn't been compromised. You're free to talk, but not necessarily to talk in private; especially not about crimes. The 4th doesn't help either since you have to prove "unreasonable". The 5th is useless to. In fact, it's sort of the problem. We can't compel a witness to give encryption
            • Many variables here, including whose context you're speaking from, e.g. the government, the opposition, or others. The classicist view becomes increasingly meaningless, as much is the result of SCOTUS precedent, if/where available.

              With no explicit right to privacy, and the other amendments including the 14th, encryption is vulnerable in terms of mentality. Where a court order exists, and doesn't violate the 5th, I see the mandate to turn over keys. Lacking that, I'm in favor of co--opting memes, like confla

        • The funny thing is that back in the Clinton era, they classified strong encryption as a munition to keep it from being exported and inadvertently gave it second amendment protection here...
        • I think the point is that if you're in favor of encryption then you use the analogy to control the debate and shut down the anti-encryption side, since they're usually also opposed to gun control.
      • by frrrp ( 720185 )

        What I've found is that it's mostly right wing folks who want these laws.

        Bollocks. The biggest war on anonymity is being waged by the social justice left. They can't live with the idea that people can shoot holes in their gibberish with impunity and not have their personal data on public view in order to contact employers and get them fired.

        • But as has been shown recently, such misuse of information can backfire badly. The internet is not totally populated by self-flaggelants, and some do stand up.

          Btw, my employer is a misogynist. If anything, it would make me look better to him. Bring it on, bitches!

      • we'll get to hear about how we have to outlaw telling people how to use encryption

        If we're going to have a world where the conversations of private citizens cannot be eavesdropped on then it's a natural by product that criminals and terrorists will also benefit from this.

        And the weirdest part is that, as Schneier has written on his blog ("Paris Terrorists Used Double ROT-13 Encryption") [schneier.com], the terrorists don't even use encryption to begin with.

        It's not a case of secret services complaining "Oh my god, the terrists use unbreakable encryption! And Tor!!! We can't do nuthin' !!"

        It's a case of terrorist operative having such a horrendous track of information security (actually good for us!), that some less stupid guys in ISIS decide that maybe it would be a good idea to give some

    • Hopefully it's an excuse to outlaw foreign help desks.

    • I like how governments seem to assume that criminals will stop doing something when it becomes illegal.

      "Yo, these dudes are killing billions of people and using secret encrypted messages*! I bet if we outlaw encryption, they'll stop using it! Clearly they won't want to break the law."

      *I'm well aware that they weren't all encrypted.
  • I wonder if they can help me get the snoopware out of Windows 10. Sounds right up their alley.

  • It was well worth the price of SiriusXM.
    • by Lumpy ( 12016 )

      yep. Howard Stern out scooped the "news for nerds" website.

      Tomorrow on slashdot, How to carve a pumpkin for the upcoming Halloween festivities!

  • by mi ( 197448 )

    Libertines and Libertarians fighting the notion of "encryption is a weapon" are wrong. It certainly is a weapon — and their fight should be targeting attempts to take (all) weapons away from citizens instead. There is no meaningful difference between an "assault rifle" and strong encryption — both have ample legitimate purposes and both can be used to perpetrate heinous acts.

    We all may want to study ISIS videos to learn both the actual techniques as well as how to better find and kill these ass

    • by Anonymous Coward

      I've never seen anyone bled out from being shot by PGP.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Hydrian ( 183536 )

        Have you ever tried to compile it from source? :-D

      • You've heard of deaths due to it's use, which is the point. Guns don't aim at people and then go off by themselves, which is the same for every weapon, ever.
        • by ichthus ( 72442 )
          We know, proof-positive, that guns were used in Paris. We've heard that encryption has been used by ISIS. That may or may not be true.
          • by mi ( 197448 )

            We've heard that encryption has been used by ISIS. That may or may not be true.

            The entire FA is about ISIS using encryption... They use it. It is true.

    • by burni2 ( 1643061 )

      SARKASM
      To demonstrate to one the difference between the meaningful kill potential of an assault rifle and encryption would be a crime! And from your POV it would be two!

      And I hope that you have read the news that the french/belgium ISIS-terrorists used unencrypted communication to execute their plan.

      Using your rational unencrypted communication would therefore also constitute as a crime. Because of no meaningful difference.

      I hope you somehow begin to understand the real differences between things and come d

    • Their most effective "technique"? They pay their fighters in US dollars.

    • "Libertines and Libertarians fighting the notion of "encryption is a weapon" are wrong. It certainly is a weapon"

      Dear dumbshit,

      You may have heard the phrase "The pen is mightier than the sword". It is very common for people to hear this and then go onto the battlefield mistakenly believing that their pen is some sort of weapon. It never works out well for them I'm afraid. One guy tried cutting an "H" in a man rather than an "I" thinking that by encrypting his pattern the damage would be worsened, but al

    • Ho Le Fook, I can't believe someone is this fucking stupid.

      **EVERYTHING** can be _misused_ as a weapon, dumb@$$. You don't ban tools simply because a few retards mis-use them. i.e. Cars cause more death then guns, or drinking too much water causes poisoning, etc.

      Encryption was NOT designed to kill people, only facilitate communication.

      Unlike assault rifles whose sole purpose is to kill, maim, or cause fear.

      If you want to shut ISIS down then shut down the profit. Beat them at the financial war and educatio

      • by mi ( 197448 )

        this fucking stupid. [...] dumb@$$

        Uhm, hello? I'd like to report a Bias Incident...

        Encryption was NOT designed to kill people, only facilitate communication.

        False. You don't need encryption to communicate. You need encryption to hide your communications — and/or their contents — from others. Yeah, one of us is "fucking stupid", but it ain't me.

        Unlike assault rifles whose sole purpose is to kill, maim, or cause fear.

        I can think of a number of situations, where killing, maiming, or frightening ca

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Encryption is a weapon the same way a lock on my front door is a weapon.

      I'm sure law enforcement would love it if every door was unlocked (except their own, of course) granting them free access to walk in, mosey through your home and check out the contents of your refrigerator and/or gun safe without your consent or knowledge.

      Likewise, I'm sure the TLAs would love it if every communication channel was unencrypted (except their own, of course) granting them free access to scrape, sort and log every word you

    • by dwpro ( 520418 )

      Obligatory...https://xkcd.com/504/

  • to take a nerd detour since the official reporting is all half-truths and lies anyway - is Telegram any good? Solid crypto? Apparently the usability is sufficient.

  • Can't let the Terrorists get a hold of the Internet, the Elders of the Internet would be very displeased!

    I can only wonder how many times Terrorist IT has asked someone "Have you tried turning it on and off again?"

    "Remember, without 'IT' all you have are errors..." :) --- I should win the internets for that one I think.

    • I can only wonder how many times Terrorist IT has asked someone "Have you tried turning it on and off again?"

      Just wait until Daesh outsources their tech support to a Bangalore call center.

    • I can only wonder how many times Terrorist IT has asked someone "Have you tried turning it on and off again?"

      Ok, now try pressing the button again...

      [Loud sound, then Line goes dead]

      Thank you for calling ISIL Technical Support. Have a good day. If you would like to participate in a survey of your experience today, please stay on the line

      Hello?

      They hung up.

  • How is this different than having that one guy who "knows tech" that everyone calls when they have a problem or a question?
    • "How is this different than having that one guy who "knows tech" that everyone calls when they have a problem or a question?"

      These guys apparently actually know what they are talking about.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I'd bet their customer service satisfaction would be ranked higher than Comcast...

  • ITCrowd (Score:5, Funny)

    by esperto ( 3521901 ) on Thursday November 19, 2015 @04:01PM (#50964947)
    ISIS member: "hello, my bomb vest won't explode, what do I do?"
    ISIS Hotline: "have you tried to turn it off and on again?"
    ISIS member: "no, wait----" BOOOOM
    ISIS Hotline: "God dammit, everytime..."
    • ISIS member: "hello, my bomb vest won't explode, what do I do?" ISIS Hotline: "have you tried to turn it off and on again?" ISIS member: "no, wait----" BOOOOM ISIS Hotline: "Allahu Akbar, everytime..." ...FTFY
    • Why would he say "God dammit"?

      A) It should be Allah
      B) The desired result was achieved, so he would be praising Allah.
  • by bobbied ( 2522392 ) on Thursday November 19, 2015 @04:33PM (#50965193)

    Hello "Fellow Jihadi warrior of peace"! My name is Peggy, how can I help you with your terror related problem today?

    In order to better serve your Jihad needs, please make a selection from the following menu of options....

    Press 1 if you would like to suggest an evil plot to frighten the world. (Note, we are not accepting ideas involving Paris at this time due to local personnel availability)

    Press 2 if you need help with communications, configuring computers, finding a place to charge your phone or getting a cell signal.

    Press 3 if you need help with explosive devices, destroying alarm clocks or need to schedule detonation call time.

    Press 4 if you would like to enroll in Obama care, pay your IRS fines, or file your taxes.

    Press 5 if you need help submitting pictures and video (staged or real) of collateral damage to Al Jazeera and other sympathetic media outlets like ABC, CBS or NBC or getting advice on how to artificially inflate casualty counts, civilian deaths or harm to women and children.

    Press 6 if you would like to report a violation of sharia law, including women driving, tight fitting clothes in public, bare ankles, eating during Ramadan or desecration of the holy book by your neighbors.

    Press 7 if you need the locations of your nearest Jihad training/testing facilities, schedule your next jihad certification test session or check on your certification status.

    Press 8 if you need advice on how to avoid Russian, French and other country's activities including bombs, leaflets and laser designators.

    Press 9 if you are a useful idiot, US citizen, or other foreign national who wants to throw their life away on a war that will never be won and save us the trouble of killing you ourselves...

    Press 0 to hear this list again in Arabic, Farsi or Russian.

    Or stay on the line to be connected to your nearest CIA operative acting like an agent of Jihad. Please be prepared with your exact location, including latitude and longitude good to at least 4 decimal places, full name, photo and desired emergency contact for BDA assessment purposes.

  • Outsource their technical support line to Comcast. After that their entire operation will grind to a halt in a matter of days.
  • by GeekBoy ( 10877 ) <leewsbNO@SPAMhotmail.com> on Thursday November 19, 2015 @06:09PM (#50965963) Homepage

    Now, Anonymous should be finding these 5-6 guys, discovering their true identities and sending that information to the CIA while knocking them off the internet and locking them out of their account (while turning over their account credentials to the CIA as well.)

    • Why get rid of them when they can be a honeypot?

    • Now, Anonymous should be finding these 5-6 guys, discovering their true identities and sending that information to the CIA while knocking them off the internet and locking them out of their account (while turning over their account credentials to the CIA as well.)

      Yes, yes, no, no and yes.

      Finding the accounts is not useful if they can't be monitored and monitoring isn't useful if the supposed ISIS user been locked out of the account.

      Also, there's the question of how sure Anon can be about any given user, not to mention the question of potential for abuse by Anon, anyone claiming to be Anon or the police themselves.

      • by GeekBoy ( 10877 )

        Well it's certainly better than shutting down their twitter accounts..

        My point was more that the CIA/FBI could potentially take over the accounts and impersonate them. If they can't then yes, they should just monitor (which is probably more practical.)

  • I guess the backdoor in Telegraph is well-disguised by now, they're * REALLY * pushing this "terroristssss use this encrypted messaging thingie" agenda ** BIGTIME **

  • by Macdude ( 23507 ) on Thursday November 19, 2015 @08:45PM (#50966685)

    As long as drugs remain illegal there are people with deep pockets developing methods to communicate while avoiding police/government interception. These same methods can be used by groups like ISIS.

    Just wanted to throw that out there for people to think about.

  • If you're not from my caste/religion, you're non-human to me; https://wh.gov/iyhMK [wh.gov]

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