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Crime Government Security The Internet

How Anonymous' War With Isis Is Actually Harming Counter-Terrorism (metro.co.uk) 393

retroworks writes: According to a recent tweet from the #OpParis account, Anonymous are delivering on their threat to hack Isis, and are now flooding all pro-Isis hastags with the grandfather of all 2007 memes — Rick Astley's "Never Gonna Give You Up" music video. Whenever a targeted Isis account tries to spread a message, the topic will instead be flooded with countless videos of Rick Astley circa 1987. Not all are praising Anonymous methods, however. While Metro UK reports that the attacks have been successful, finding and shutting down 5,500 Twitter accounts, the article also indicates that professional security agencies have seen sources they monitor shut down. Rick Astley drowns out intelligence as well as recruitment.
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How Anonymous' War With Isis Is Actually Harming Counter-Terrorism

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  • by smittyoneeach ( 243267 ) * on Monday November 23, 2015 @06:07AM (#50983949) Homepage Journal
    Is spelling Astley's name correctly 33% of the time an effort to irritate your readers into clicking the article?
    Or is it just more proof that /.'s editors could be replaced with a poorly coded .php script?
    • by pahles ( 701275 ) on Monday November 23, 2015 @06:44AM (#50984073)

      Or is it just more proof that /.'s editors could be replaced with a poorly coded .php script?

      No, it is proof that /.'s editors HAVE BEEN replaced with a poorly coded .php script!

    • So many mentions, but no link to the real rick roll. I expected better from you /.

  • by Hognoxious ( 631665 ) on Monday November 23, 2015 @06:18AM (#50983977) Homepage Journal

    We all knew this about a week ago, thanks very much.

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      Since when has news on Slashdot ever, ever been timely? Young whipper-snappers don't know how good they've got it, back in my day news was late, a dupe from last week end TFA was slashdotted so we had to get it from some karma whore posting it in the comments. Then the trolls would post fake versions... I miss those days.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    It all comes down to whats more effective. IMHO shutting down recruitment has more value.

    Also, so called intelligence didn't stop France attacks ... so the value of monitoring the sources is even more dubious.

    • Spoofing socialmedia would be even better, wouldn't it? Say a flurry of faked tweets indicating that a given village is falling to the cause, drawing Daesh fighters to a kill zone?

    • It all comes down to whats more effective. IMHO shutting down recruitment has more value.

      I'm inclined to agree. ISIS is outstanding in its application of social media as a recruitment tool. If potential recruits can be frustrated or outed in "honeypot" sites, then a major component of their organization is compromised. If they get reduced to doing their recruiting door-to-door, then it's going to be much harder to enlist people, since their personal behavior is generally not up to the standards of culture and civilization that you'd expect from a pack of rabid dogs. And it would greatly reduce

      • by Merk42 ( 1906718 )

        Also, so called intelligence didn't stop France attacks ... so the value of monitoring the sources is even more dubious.

        That's armchair quarterbacking, 20/20 hindsight is always easy. What you do with what you know can be more important than the knowledge itself.

        While I understand the false assumption GP is making, what attacks have the monitoring prevented? I'm honestly asking.

  • Bullshit (Score:5, Insightful)

    by kbg ( 241421 ) on Monday November 23, 2015 @06:30AM (#50984027)

    If the intellegency can't do their job just because Anonymous is shutting down public Twitter accounts and flodding Rick Astley video on hashtags, then they are not competent at their job. They have direct access to all these social media databases which Anonymous doesn't.

    Anything that hinders ISIS in spreading their message is a good thing.

    • Or at least indirect - at most a warrant away, on those occasions intelligence agencies actually bother with such hindrances as the legal system.

    • It's not that they "can't do their job", it's that it's making it harder than it could be. I'm completely against mass monitoring of populations, but if the security services have gone to a judge to get a warrant to monitor an individual then I have to accept that they've jumped through the legal hoops, so they should be allowed to get on with their job.

      By Anonymous outing people (that can't go wrong can it), and shutting down accounts, then the security services access (legal or otherwise) to social media

      • We've bent over backwards for them already, and they have given us nothing. If this is enough to seriously damage their plans, they are too incompetent to be doing anything in the first place.
      • To recruit people, you need t make your social media posts public. Shutting them down drops recruitment capabilities. Having to direct people to the new account to "continue the conversation" is kind of hard when the account they've bookmarked is dead.
    • by rtb61 ( 674572 )

      Sound investigatory practices would seek to gain by the chaos being caused in communications. Tracking the sites means tracking the members and as communications are disrupted more risky exposed communications are set up, often leading deeper into those organisations. The only real problem is spy vs spy being cut off and risk being exposed as they hastily attempt to re-establish communications. Might be a bad thing, however as several countries have been playing as terrorists in order to further corporate a

    • They have direct access to all these social media databases which Anonymous doesn't.

      And so far, they're probably/hopefully, doing targeted investigations. The last thing we need is Anonymous to get so good at whack-a-mole that law enforcement just says "to hell with this" and starts data mining the entire database.

    • If the intellegency can't do their job just because Anonymous is... flodding Rick Astley video on hashtags, then they are not competent at their job.

      Agree 100%. Unless these morons are using effing HootSuite, ANY competently-written social media crawler can filter out this kind of stuff. The ONLY effect that this will have is to make it harder for lower-tech users (such as ISIS recruiters/recruitees) to get their message across on the medium.

    • Wow.

      The general opinions in this conversation boil down to two sentiments:

      They aren't stopping attacks so they must not be doing their jobs!

      and

      If Anonymous is 'getting in their way' then they must be incompetent!

      with a dash of

      They must be allowing these attacks to happen to keep us scared, it's a conspiracy!

      thrown in for good measure from the paranoid conspiracy theory crowd.

      I've said it before on this subject and I'll say it again: Unless you're a current or past analyst for an intelligence agency, you don't know a gods-be-damned thing about being an intelligence analyst, and watching Jason Bourne and James Bond movies doesn't mean a gods-be-damned thing. Anything that any of you have to say on the subject is just you

    • Anonymous has likely gotten some honey pot accounts shut down. That would hinder their ability to honey pot people looking to join DAESH, wouldn't it?

  • It is the job of the professional security agencies to lie. It is safe to assume everything they say is a lie, unless proven otherwise!
  • by zuki ( 845560 ) on Monday November 23, 2015 @06:31AM (#50984033) Journal
    I found this article more than a bit Astonishing.
  • by towermac ( 752159 ) on Monday November 23, 2015 @06:51AM (#50984091)

    One guy: "‘When it comes to terrorist attacks, one of the big worries is that you could take down forums and cost someone their lives,’ a GhostSec spokesman known only as Digital Shadow told..." And it is the really the article author that is telling us, even Mr. Shadow simply said it was a worry.

    I didn't think Anon was all that good before, something like the medicine is as bad as the disease. You could say they were close to terrorists themselves, as their releases hurt lots of good people, no matter how worthy their cause was.

    This is of course, a good cause. The best. If there was ever a way for Anon to redeem themselves, not just to me, but to the intel hawks in Washington that hate them; this is it. I don't think Intel is complaining, and If they are smart, they can use this to enrich, verify, and prune the intelligence they have now. If they are watching people that get Anon-rolled, then they will see results and reactions, or the lack thereof; all of which is good intel.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by drinkypoo ( 153816 )

      This is of course, a good cause. The best. If there was ever a way for Anon to redeem themselves, not just to me, but to the intel hawks in Washington that hate them; this is it. I don't think Intel is complaining, and If they are smart, they can use this to enrich, verify, and prune the intelligence they have now. If they are watching people that get Anon-rolled, then they will see results and reactions, or the lack thereof; all of which is good intel.

      Yep. There is no legitimate argument against this behavior, because if you're worried about them filtering out positives you just watch what they're doing and then study up who they're doing it to. Anonymous is probably better at it than the security services, so in fact they're making things easier.

  • by Chrisq ( 894406 ) on Monday November 23, 2015 @07:53AM (#50984199)
    I suspect that the "anonymous" attacks are the intelligence agencies. My thoughts were that they can find thousands of accounts with maybe a 5% error rate. They cannot get a warrant with that, and don't want complaints of "you brought down my legitimate site" so they just have an "anonymous" announcement that they will do it.
  • We should let them talk so we can spend shit loads of money bombing them. Screw the media -- this is completely crushing ISIS' ability to coordinate and that exactly what we want. Letting them use any channel is just asking for trouble -- shut it all down!
  • Security services are more than capable of shutting down accounts / sites if they feel so inclined. I assume they don't because it's of more use to keep them up - to see who makes posts, who follows them, who is mapped to who, how information spreads, to look for surges in activity, or codewords and so on. In time they might shut down the account / site, or infiltrate it but it would be to maximize their advantage. I bet some of the sites are even their own operations to begin with.

    But that assumes there

  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Monday November 23, 2015 @08:15AM (#50984267) Journal
    Aside from the intelligence advantages of having people who are comparatively difficult to infiltrate in person voluntarily post lots of stuff to online services almost entirely within western jurisdictions; I have to wonder how much of the freak-out about ISIS' Twitter Accounts!!! is reasonable, and how much of it is a petulant reaction from western military and intelligence officials who have no real experience with not enjoying substantial media cooperation and the ability to keep things 'on message' as they prefer.

    They certainly like to talk about 'radicalization' as though it is something that can insidiously corrupt anyone exposed to enemy propaganda, regardless of their prior circumstances; but what do we actually know about the impressionability of these 'radicalized' targets? Does it actually work on anyone; or primarily on people who were somewhere between deeply skeptical of, and overtly hostile to, 'the west' in the first place?

    In the same vein, given that there are nontrivial numbers of people who are anywhere between skeptical and hostile; are we actually worse off if the sinister terrorist propaganda incites them to leave and go join the glorious struggle in jihadistan? Yes, having more recruits available makes our attempt to pretend that Iraq isn't a total clusterfuck harder; but it also means that the people who most actively dislike us are no longer living next door and brooding; but off getting themselves killed, or enjoying their medieval theocracy.

    I'd certainly wan to avoid having people leave and then return; that is just asking for trouble; but are we actually worse off if the people who like us least have an exciting relocation option?
  • by Anonymous Coward

    All what the secrets are doing is surveillance. All they want to do is monitoring. It is safe, and convenient. When will we starting taking real action? Like fight those guys? Anonymous came and did fight, did destroy those communication channels. Should we be sorry as there is nothing to monitor or be happy the bad guys have one less way to communicate?

    Surveillance will not stop terrorism.

    • by Cederic ( 9623 )

      When will we starting taking real action? Like fight those guys?

      So airstrikes aren't real action? Just what do you want?

      Do please take into account regional tensions and global politics in your answer, unless of course you want to confirm your stupidity.

  • by jrumney ( 197329 ) on Monday November 23, 2015 @08:24AM (#50984303) Homepage
    Rick Aston is this minute being waterboarded by CIA agents trying to find out the hidden messages in Rick Astley's hit meme song. All because of a fly that landed on the typewriter ribbon at the wrong time.
  • At least Anonymous does not have a vested interest in perpetuating the conflict forever as a means of state control.

  • by SharpFang ( 651121 ) on Monday November 23, 2015 @10:10AM (#50984819) Homepage Journal

    A large room in the NSA building, filled with serious men in dark suits sitting in front of hundreds of computers.

    Every few minutes "Never gonna give you up" is heard from a random place in the room.

  • by 140Mandak262Jamuna ( 970587 ) on Monday November 23, 2015 @10:13AM (#50984847) Journal
    When Anonymous or someone else floods a hash tag with thousands of identical links to the same video, the cpu resources to collect all the postings, filter the spam out, track the original posts and follow ups would require humongous CPU resources and server farms. So it is going to hamper our spooks' ability to ... wait .. oh oh!
  • in order to destabilize syria has beeb a bigger problem for counter terrorism!

  • If they can't blow ISIS' computers up then Anonymous should play in the kiddie pool.
  • "the article also indicates that professional security agencies have seen sources they monitor shut down. "

    And why would that be a problem? "Security agencies" don't seem to be aware, able, or willing to stop attacks.

    France has now passed more laws using the Paris attack as an excuse, and they got it done quickly (like faster than the PATRIOT act).

    Ponder that then read this.
    https://theintercept.com/2015/... [theintercept.com]

    And that's not the only example of FBI manufactured "terrorist".

  • While this is undoubtedly harming some existing intelligence gathering operations, it's probably more useful in providing other information such as how does ISIS's network react when attacked by another network actor. Think of Anonymous as the hounds chasing ISIS for the the intel community. Watching ISIS's online behaviour under attack is probably very useful.

  • Why not play Moonlight Sonata [wikipedia.org]? The intelligence is just about as effective as it was for Coventry.

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