ISIS Takes On The Internet And The Internet Fights Back
As we are all aware the terrorist organization known as ISIL and/or ISIS (ISIS being most often used) is attacking the world on many levels and is also being fought on many levels. This fight against ISIS includes governments from all over the world whose people have been threatened and killed by this organization as well as others who may or may not be associated with any particular government. Many have begun to refer to this entire scenario as a potential World War III and scary as it may be this could well be the case. ISIS appears to be well-funded with support coming from many corners of the globe. They have also made some very intelligent decisions with regards to recruiting new members and much of that means utilizing social media and other Internet venues. It has long been posited that should World War III occur it would be conducted at least as much through cyber warfare as it would through conventional warfare. This is what we are seeing from ISIS and there are many who utilize the Internet intelligently and recognize what ISIS is doing. They don't like it and they aim to at least mitigate if not stop ISIS from utilizing the Internet in their quest to terrorize the world.
The Internet Entities Who Fight ISIS
The list is growing and it is having impact. It is clear that Governments including the United States, Russia, France, Iran and the Kurds are attacking ISIS in Iraq and Syria with conventional warfare. These and many others will take ISIS quite seriously and use cyber warfare however much of the time (presumably?) they tend to operate within certain parameters in cyberspace which can prevent them from gathering all possible intelligence. That might not be so true in other cases which brings us to entities such as Anonymous. Known primarily as "Hacktivists", Anonymous takes actions as they see fit for a wide range of reasons and do so with a different set of parameters than most Government agencies (presumably). They have taken major actions against ISIS and have reportedly been successful in taking down a high number of ISIS Twitter accounts but just how effective is that? In this case the actions of Anonymous are commendable in that these can help to mitigate the effectiveness of the ISIS Internet campaign however can more be accomplished by being proactive using different techniques? The answer is YES. Enter Ghost Security Group.
The Emergence Of The Ghost Security Group
There is no substitute for true human endeavor. I've said this for most of my life and I believe the endeavors of the Ghost Security Group are true, so let's look at some known facts first. They do not mess around. According to CNN "In July, a threat emerged from an ISIS-associated Twitter account with few followers. The account alluded to an upcoming terror attack at a beach resort in Tunisia. Just a month before, a similar attack left 38 dead". Enter Ghost Security Group. "It may have gone undetected if it weren't for a rogue hacker group called Ghost Security Group." So what exactly does this mean? It means that Ghost Security Group knows the 'Net and how to pursue the correct measures to disrupt the ISIS Internet incursion. According to The Ghost Security Group's own statements key factors regarding success include knowing that their brand ought not to appear as so many "Hacktivist" images do in some threatening fashion. They are professionals and that is what they know their brand should present. Another key factor is partnering with the right organizations and according to CNN "The hacktivist group immediately looked for intelligence contractors who could relay the info to the authorities". I believe there is a better term than "Hacktivist" to describe the Ghost Security Group because they are specifically specialized in the realm of counter-terrorism and Cyber Terrain Vigilance; therefor, they are better described as Vigilant Counter Terrorism Cyber Experts.
As mentioned these experts realize the importance of associating with the right people, which will get their intelligence data into the right hands for action to be taken. Their efforts to find the right people paid off when they contacted Michael S. Smith of Kronos Advisory, LLC who is a counter-terrorism advisor to the U.S. Congress. This contact allows the U.S. Government access to intelligence it may well otherwise fail to acquire. This contact not only helps the U.S. find and fight ISIS it actually saves lives. According to Smith, in an interview with CNNMoney, "Without a doubt, this group has saved lives. At least into the dozens". According to their own website, "Ghost Security Group maintains a joint partnership with Controlling Section and also collaborates with several other counterterrorism networks including Kabita Des Narvalos, Peshmerga Cyber Terrorism Unit and Terror Monitor in order to expand our information network and remain on the forefront of defense against modern day extremism." According to the group's leader who is known as DigitaShadow, "Ghost Security has taken down 149 Islamic State propaganda sites, 110,000 social media accounts, and over 6,000 propaganda videos since it formed. Following the most recent attacks in Paris, the crew is trying to gather intel on the attackers' digital footprints and identify social media accounts involved in the attacks" (also reported by CNN).The actions taken by Ghost Security Group and their partners are paramount in the fight against ISIS, especially where they are known to "go dark" using apps such as Telegram where encryption makes it extremely difficult to track communications by ISIS members using it. This means using other methods in Cyberspace which is why we need Vigilant Counter Terrorism Cyber Experts, i.e. the Ghost Security Group.