The world may have gained another ally in the fight against ISIS since the attacks that shook Paris, and the rest of the world on November 13, 2015. The “hacktavist” group Anonymous declared war on the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (“ISIS”) in a series of videos. ISIS utilizes social media like Twitter and Telegram to recruit new members to join its cause. They have been able to prey upon socially isolated young adults, making them feel as though they finally belong to a group. That strategic targeting can be very effective, as they can tell those individuals not to share this communication with others because they might be publicly humiliated. Playing upon the fears of those individuals will make it even more likely that they will feel like a part of the group, because it will appear as though they understand each other on a more personal level.

Anonymous has made their priority to block that presence on social media, and limit ISIS’s recruiting pool. Anonymous reported that as of November 17, they had already shut down more than 5500 of ISIS’s Twitter accounts. It appears that Anonymous is having early success finding and shutting town ISIS’s, however you can be sure that ISIS is aware of the cyber threat, and working to combat it. In fact, ISIS released a statement acknowledging the Anonymous threat, calling them “idiots”. The release also included tips for ISIS members on how to keep their social network accounts and IP addresses hidden. The potential downside to Anonymous’s very forward attack is the fact that ISIS can prepare for it, and appears to be doing just that.

Some people are concerned about the effects and limits of Anonymous in the fight against ISIS. It seems pretty clear to people involved that Anonymous has a limited amount power in this conflict. Anonymous can take down propaganda and recruitment material, as well as potential donation hubs which will be very valuable. However, ISIS will not be defeated simply by taking down their websites. In addition, people believe that this cyber-war could have negative implications for the fight against ISIS. Instead of helping stop ISIS, the cyber-warfare could instead impair the governments’ ability to track ISIS activity. Social networks are a prime place for tracking ISIS, so while blocking them from using those networks at all will have some positive effects, it also has some negative ones to go along with it. Something to consider is whether or not there is a happy medium, in which Anonymous could work to shut down ISIS websites and accounts, while leaving just enough functioning to allow governments to track

Connor Kring

 

 

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One Response to Anonymous Declares Cyber War on ISIS

  1. Kelsey Zottnick says:

    Interesting to hear people criticize the limits of Anonymous’s approach; it sounds like these points needed to be made. Their actions are admirable, but valiant efforts do not necessarily make something effective. It will be interesting to see whether and how governments and hacktivists step on each other’s toes. Your suggestion sounds like a reasonable starting point!