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Communications Crime Social Networks The Media Politics

The Widely Reported ISIS Encrypted Messaging App Is Not Real 113

blottsie writes: Despite widespread reports to the contrary, an app created for Islamic State militants to send private encrypted messages does not exist, a week-long Daily Dot investigation found. All of the media articles on the Alrawi app showed screenshots of a different app entirely, one that is a glorified RSS reader with a totally different name. The Defense One journalist who first reported on GSG's claims about the app told the Daily Dot that he hadn't seen any version of Alrawi at all, and the subsequent reports on the app largely relied on Defense One's reporting. The Daily Dot was the first media outlet to receive, on Jan. 18, what GSG claimed was the Alrawi encryption app. The app, called "Alrawi.apk," contained no ability to send or encrypt messages. It was created using MIT's App Inventor, a plug-and-play tool meant primarily for children.
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The Widely Reported ISIS Encrypted Messaging App Is Not Real

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  • Suuure (Score:3, Insightful)

    by John Jorsett ( 171560 ) on Thursday January 28, 2016 @07:14PM (#51392409)
    That's what they WANT you to think.
    • Re:Suuure (Score:5, Funny)

      by sims 2 ( 994794 ) on Thursday January 28, 2016 @07:16PM (#51392419)

      I bet it uses state of the art undetectable ROT26 encryption.

      • by aliquis ( 678370 )

        Why bother at all.

        It's not like we've bothered to learn to read Arabic.

        They can just send it in clear-text and we'll write it off as completely useless gibberish.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        I bet it uses state of the art undetectable ROT26 encryption.

        To stay consistent with level of security ROT 28 or 29 may be more appropriate for like minded individuals who prefer to speak Arabic. Based on the correctness of religious and political views when applied to linguistics, one should work as intended.

      • ROT26 is just like ROT13 but twice as secure!

        http://rot26.org/ [rot26.org]

    • They want you to think that's what they want you to think, but that's not what they want you to think.

      Think, McFly, think!

    • If a secret application were found, it would be a failure - but if a secret application remains undetectable to a week long investigation by the Daily Dot, doesn't that just rate it as minimally competent?

  • by zlives ( 2009072 ) on Thursday January 28, 2016 @07:18PM (#51392425)

    and how does this help get backdoor to encryption?

  • Impossible (Score:5, Funny)

    by crow_t_robot ( 528562 ) on Thursday January 28, 2016 @07:23PM (#51392449)
    But, FoxNews is telling me that ISIS has taken the whole middle east and Europe and they are marching on Russia while sending whole container ships filled with nuclear weapons and Qu'rans to the US so how could they not have an encrypted messaging app BECAUSE THEY ARE SO POWERFUL AND CLEARLY THE NEXT MAJOR SUPERPOWER??????

    Please reply by messenger pigeon to my prepper bunker in the woods because the batteries are about to run out on our laptops and satcom gear down here...
    • I wish the internet had preceded Fox News so I could see what Fox News haters would have been complaining about before Fox News.
      • Reagan. He got it worse than W ever did.
      • That's easy, just check the opinions of those of us who don't watch television!

        Also... the internet DID precede Fox News! The fall of the Soviet Union was live-streamed on IRC. (true story)

        You could also find old BBS archives and check the complaint threads. Tinfoil has always been a major driving force of communication technology. They may not always understand the science behind their postings, but they were always able and willing to find money for long distance calls to the FIDO gateway...

    • And MSNBC is saying "nothing to see here. (except for right-wing nuts slandering muslims)" "Move along"

      Both are wrong
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Gee false story circulating the internet. Amazing, the web is full of wannabe news people. Break the big story, get plenty of hits. Get your five minutes of fame.
    People keep repeating these stories, because nobody does the verification. Then you get all the social site spread and walla viral it goes.

    • by MobileTatsu-NJG ( 946591 ) on Thursday January 28, 2016 @08:06PM (#51392677)

      I've noticed that the Conservatives on my Facebook feed are particularly prone to spreading these stories without any sort of verification. Most recently a story about how left-handed people will be elidgible for disability benefits starting Feb. 1st was shared by multiple people. It's like people, when they believe something to be true, they look all over the place for anything that supports it.

      I'm guilty of this, too, but I do wonder why after the miracle of Google we don't aim to verify more.

  • But there were weapons of mass destruction...

    We need to find a way to pull in the fantasy and fantastic and
    anchor the world slightly better on reality.

    Tonight I wonder who the dummy is? I hear a network just
    bid "Seven No Trump"/

  • It is too late. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by PineHall ( 206441 ) on Thursday January 28, 2016 @07:50PM (#51392619)
    With so many encryption options out there, why build your own. WebRTC in the chrome and firefox browsers require you to touch a server briefly to find the other party so to connect, and then you have a direct encrypted connection. They could easily use that or one of the many other options out there. All this talk about backdoors is a waste of time. The ship has already sailed. It is too late.
  • by tetraverse ( 4409445 ) on Thursday January 28, 2016 @07:51PM (#51392629)
    Of course it isn't real, the entire purpose of such stories are to scare us some more so as we won't object to them bringing yet more surveillance legislation.
  • I knew it! (Score:4, Funny)

    by Gravis Zero ( 934156 ) on Thursday January 28, 2016 @08:06PM (#51392679)

    It was created using MIT's App Inventor, a plug-and-play tool meant primarily for children.

    I've always said children were little terrors and people said was "exaggerating" but now I'VE BEEN VINDICATED! ;)

  • by BigBuckHunter ( 722855 ) on Thursday January 28, 2016 @08:08PM (#51392693)
    Every time we let ISIS know that their communications are not private, we lose a potential source of intel and drive them closer to actually using some proper form of communication.

    What would you rather have, someone on twitter saying "Come Join ISIS" where it's easy for local/federal authorities to investigate, or something like freenet where there isn't a chance to intercept, let alone trace, the data. Don't you think that a good percent of the Pro-ISIS twitter accounts were honeypots?

    /the sound of me golf clapping
    • ISIS already knows that their communications are not private. That's why they're creating an RSS reader using the MIT App Inventor and trying to pass it off as an encrypted communication tool in the media.

      • by mysidia ( 191772 )

        why they're creating an RSS reader using the MIT App Inventor

        At least they are not using Visual Basic to create the app, so It cannot really do any harm.....

    • ISIS terrorists do not need to encrypt thier communication, they either speak in person, or communicate on open channels knowing they could be intercepted (but probably won't be)

      The twitter accounts, youtube, etc .. are advertising to potential recruits not a way of organising themselves

      Note the FBI have a website, they don't use it to communicate with their agents in the field, and agents oftne use unsecured communication known it could be intercepted ...

    • Do not just assume that religious nuts demand secrecy and are willing to hide their words.

      It is like encryption in WWII. We had to hide from the Germans that we had cracked their code, but the Japanese would never have noticed because their command structure didn't push known bugs upwards. A whistleblower would be seen as lacking faith in the emperor's judgement; insulting him even.

      How can those who proclaim they are doing God's work then hide in the shadows? These nutcases regularly blow themselves up with

  • We've been goosed by a proper gander.
    Funny thing this time is that it's propaganda about a propaganda application that doesn't exist because there's plenty of other ways to get propaganda out.

    There plenty going wrong in reality without making shit like this up. It's as insane as the false report about Iraqi atrocities in a Kuwait hospital when there were far worse atrocities being committed in reality (only without handy sound bites provided by actors).
    • re: Kuwait, it wasn't actors, they went with the lie because they had a female member of the ruling family who had escaped to the US and was pushing convenient propaganda. Another more forgiving perspective is that she was phrasing in the first person things she had been told but didn't actually see. Maybe, but it appears it was just propaganda premised on being spoken by a known semi-public figure. Did Congress know? Some of them probably did. Did they care about the details of that event? No, they cared i

      • by dbIII ( 701233 )

        they went with the lie because they had a female member of the ruling family who had escaped to the US and was pushing convenient propaganda

        And she read out a script, which is of course acting.

        It was pretty stupid because the secret was going to get out and make people question the real stuff.

        • they went with the lie because they had a female member of the ruling family who had escaped to the US and was pushing convenient propaganda

          And she read out a script, which is of course acting.

          It was pretty stupid because the secret was going to get out and make people question the real stuff.

          You're trying to save the story, but that is pure conjecture.

          If you actually look into the details of it, there wasn't a script at all. She knew what propaganda to give, and gave it.

          It doesn't make any sense why you want there to be a script involved, or "actors." History certainly doesn't require the revision in order to compile. When the principles tell the lies themselves, it would be silly to hire actors or use a script.

          • by dbIII ( 701233 )

            You're trying to save the story, but that is pure conjecture.

            No. I heard it at the time and the story behind it. An utterly stupid idea and it did have blowback at the time resulting in an immediate loss of trust.

            If you actually look into the details of it, there wasn't a script at all

            WTF? If you had actually "looked into the details" you would be aware that it was all scripted. It must be on wikipedia or something FFS so LOOK IT UP instead of MAKING IT UP - what is it with idiots that want to bluff with

            • Right, you haven't looked it up, you're too busy repeating a narrative to comprehend if what I am saying is consistent with the public details.

              It doesn't occur to you that I might have looked into it in substantial detail far beyond what anybody would discuss on slashdot. You throw a "you're bluffing" bluff from the dark, it is not impressive at all. Show you understood whatever you read by identifying the specific parts that contradict specific things I said, and say them. LOL that is how a discussion work

              • by dbIII ( 701233 )

                It doesn't occur to you that I might have looked into it in substantial detail far beyond what anybody would discuss on slashdot

                Since I know the story and you do not it is very clear that you did not.

                You are not only pointlessly arguing about an analogy, you are also getting it wrong.

                • If I already told you I know the story, and you want to claim I don't, how would that cause me to consider what you have to say? You lack even basic theory of mind.

                  It is not too late to look it up. And no, don't come back and tell me. Just enrich yourself and learn some history.

                  • by dbIII ( 701233 )

                    If I already told you I know the story

                    Then you would know it was a person pretending to be a person she was not (a nurse) and reading from a script about something that never happened - ie. ACTING.
                    I really do not understand why you wish to pretend that this example was something else and why you want to argue about the example instead of the actual issue at hand.

                    • Right, you're intentionally misrepresenting who it was. By saying "a person" in a general way, as if you don't know she is an involved party in their government, you make it sound like she must have been a paid actor.

                      Principles who lie about what they saw in order to enhance or restore their power are not "actors."

                      You're playing word games to make it sound like a different thing than it was, and then oddly you keep trying to do it even after I make it clear to anybody who has ever read the details that I al

                    • by dbIII ( 701233 )

                      Right, you're intentionally misrepresenting who it was. By saying "a person" in a general way, as if you don't know she is an involved party in their government, you make it sound like she must have been a paid actor

                      An actor is someone who does acting. She acted. She was an actor for the duration of that act.
                      Is there some language barrier here? Your English is quite good otherwise but your lack of a grasp of simple definitions in a textbook simple example, plus your strange insult "You lack even basic th

                    • Right, the non-actor acted but was not an actor, so now you can stop trying to correct me and shut up and go read about it.

                      In the phrase "paid actor" that is not the same word as just, "oh, a person was lying so that is acting so they are an actor." No, "paid actor" implies something different. It isn't even more or less bad, that's the stupid part of your argument. You want to be right because what happened was immoral and you were shocked and scandalized, but the problem is that instead of arguing for you

                    • by dbIII ( 701233 )

                      the non-actor acted but was not an actor

                      How ridiculous.
                      What an utterly pointless discussion this has been based entirely on your decision that your overly narrow personal definition trumps what the English language has to say.

                      It's even more pointless because your redefinition changes nothing about the example of a fake story of less of an atrocity than the real events and backfiring because it made people question the real events.

                    • by dbIII ( 701233 )

                      But no, telling your own lie

                      The woman who was acting did not write the script that she read.

  • by l0n3s0m3phr34k ( 2613107 ) on Thursday January 28, 2016 @10:51PM (#51393269)
    I just can't believe a company who used to be part of Anonymous (Ghost Security Group) would EVER troll anyone ever! Now their backtracking [defenseone.com] on it, and GSG blames it on the media [archive.org] "Clearly, other organizations were interested in breaking news about another app that may have been developed by IS to reduce the group's reliance in popular apps like Telegram, whose creators may be able to disrupt IS's exploitations of their tech". I love how they said this via a PDF who's link is embedded in a tweet. Not on their front page, or even on any pages that I can see. Talk about obfuscation. Did their new paymasters inspire this fubar? Or is this just another "we have no real leader, each member does whatever" style project operating in the same way Anonymous acts?
  • Why does this mean ISIS isn't using such an app? Perhaps other screenshots were inserted because they hadn't actually seen or been able to take screenshots of the app? That happens all the time in reports of actual apps, why not for an app that's probably very hard to locate. Note, too, with Enterprise developer licenses the app could be privately distributed; isn't that how it'd be done?
    • by gl4ss ( 559668 )

      well theres plenty of apps for doing it on the play market.

      the news was that it was specifically made for them and that they had "intel" on it..

      basically it was trolling media for a little bit of money. pretty shitty. at the point when they send them an apk they would need to have known what was on the apk..

  • by Rinikusu ( 28164 ) on Thursday January 28, 2016 @11:24PM (#51393425)

    AIM and ICQ. No one uses that shit anymore so it's as good as encrypted to the feds.

    "What the dang hill is this traffic?"
    "OMG.. IT's.. ENCRYPTED."

    • I'm still using ICQ to talk to my Bulgarian pen pal. It is still popular there, I hear. I can confirm that I stopped getting unsolicited friend requests over 10 years ago though...

  • You can't prove something doesn't exist because you didn't find it when you looked.

    i.e. Aliens

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