Can ISIS’s cyber-strategy really be thwarted?
Kenza Berrada, Marie Boudier
Never in the history of terrorism had an organization appeared as web-savvy as the Islamic State. The extensive use of the internet allows ISIS to conduct its most vital operations. It can easily spread its hateful and violent messages to every corner of the world, reach vulnerable young people and lure them into joining the force, send orders and raise funds. All of it without much sophistication, only using available tools such as Telegram or the Deep&Dark net. Confronted to the issue, the US government, Silicon Valley’s top executives or the hackers organization Anonymous have each taken action to fight the terrorist organization’s sprawl on the internet. There is no evidence for the moment proving the effectiveness of their initiatives as ISIS continues to recruit, plan attacks and does not show any sign of weakness.
Google stated in February 2016 that more than 50,000 people search for the phrase “Join ISIS” each month. This fact illustrated the latest trend in today’s world terrorism, which is the heavy use of social media and cyber capabilities to assert their domination. The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is by far one of the most advanced terrorist organizations in terms of their social media capabilities (Farwell, 2014). It is no coincidence ISIS is so successful on the virtual landscape. The group benefits from an extremely elaborate media and public relations strategy. Indeed, Al Hayat Media Center, their own media hub, produces, distributes and manages all their virtual content. With a designated press officer and their own designed mobile application, ISIS takes advantage of a true branding and marketing strategy, as if it were a regular business.
ISIS’s cyber-strategy will be studied first, looking how it uses the Internet for their personal agenda, such as recruitment, propaganda, internal communication, fundraising, and cyber-attacks. Then, focus will be on the possibility to block the Internet, and how diverse stakeholders like the US or private companies plan on controlling the terrorist organization and thwart their online presence.
Read the full strategic report here: ISIS Cyberstrategy