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Anonymous just might make all the difference in attacking ISIS

Evan Schuman | Nov. 17, 2015
The hacking group’s activities have always seemed dubious, but in this case, success will be quite welcome.

ISIS also makes money by selling items it steals, but that funding is limited.

Mostly, ISIS relies on small donations from supporters, after they’ve been indoctrinated. The Anonymous campaign can be effective in this area in two ways. First, by repeatedly shutting down huge numbers of donation sites, Anonymous will make it far harder for people who want to donate to do so. Second, by shutting down propaganda sites, it can reduce the number of people who feel the desire to donate.

By the way, this has to be done in conjunction with military attacks. As those attacks happen, ISIS scum (sorry, but that’s the harshest language Computerworld will let me use) will use them to recruit people and beg for money. Anonymous shutdowns will make it far harder to get those messages out and for anyone who does see such messages to respond.

Recruitment

In this area, Anonymous’ cyberwarfare can be far more effective than bombs and bullets. Recruitment requires three elements: Get messages to potential supporters and sympathizers; convince them to support you; give them the means to connect with you. (Note: Attempts to infiltrate these operations are another great tactic because, if nothing else, they force ISIS to be ultra-suspicious of anyone too eager to join.)

Social media and the dark Web are the only practical ways — beyond word-of-mouth, which is far too slow and inefficient for a global operation — ISIS can do this. Its leaders have learned social media well. If Anonymous can keep ahead of ISIS in shutting down propaganda, recruitment and fundraising sites and feeds of all kinds, its cyberwar, in conjunction with standard military attacks, can work.

So, though I have never had kind words for Anonymous in the past, I am truly hopeful that in this endeavor it will find success. When we see atrocities like what happened last week in Paris, it’s natural for many of us to feel helpless. But the coders and other technically oriented folk who have joined forces with Anonymous have a chance to make a difference.

 

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