Threat Management, Network Security

ISIS Cyber Caliphate migrating to new communications platform

Cyber Caliphate, the hacking unit of ISIS/Daesh, in its search for a secure encrypted communications platform to broadcast its message to supporters, will move its mass communications from its Telegram account to Threema, an encrypted communications application developed by the Swiss company Threema GmbH, has learned.

Steven Stalinsky, executive director of the Middle East Media Research Institute (MERI), told that the Cyber Caliphate announced to supporters in a Telegram post on Friday that the jihadi group would migrate communications to Threema.

The Telegram account was then promptly shut down and replaced by a new account on Telegram, Stalinsky said. While Telegram claims to offer private end-to-end encrypted communication, the platform has been found repeatedly to contain security flaws.

Last month, after a televised speech by President Obama, Cyber Caliphate issued new guidelines that included not opening any links unless they are from trusted sources, not using Twitter's direct messages, and not using social media “without using VPN or Tor to change IP.”

Cyber Caliphate announced earlier this week that the group would attack the U.S. in retaliation for a drone strike that killed Junaid Hussain, a U.K.-born hacker who moved to Syria in 2013 to join ISIS. He is believed to have led the jihadist hacking group.

Terror Monitor claimed via Twitter this week that Cyber Caliphate was planning a new unit to launch cyber attacks against Google, but did not provide further detail. Stalinsky told he believes the claim is erroneous.

U.S. authorities do not believe the group possesses significant hacking capabilities. Most of the group's attacks were considered low-level exploits, such as hijacking social media accounts, although the group created a “kill list” that included the private information of more than 1,400 U.S. military and government employees in September. Cyber Caliphate claimed that they stole the information from U.S. government websites, although the U.S. disputed that claim. Ardit Ferizi, a hacker from Kosovo who allegedly stole the information used to create the “kill list,” was extradited to the U.S., the Department of Justice said this week.

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