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Iran Press TV

Pentagon to take on Daesh digitally: Report

Iran Press TV

Mon Dec 21, 2015 7:42AM

The US Defense Department is weighing more aggressive cyber attacks against the Daesh (ISIL) Takfiri group, aiming to disrupt the terror group's web-based activities, a new report says.

US Cyber Command military hackers and programmers have reportedly developed a collection of malware that can sabotage the terror organization's online capabilities for recruitment and propaganda, the Los Angeles Times reported Sunday, citing officials who were not allowed to publicly discuss the matter.

The report noted that upon an order from the White House, the Pentagon is preparing to up its anti-Daesh cyber campaign in the aftermath of the San Bernardino, California, mass shooting that killed 14 people on December 2.

Alleged evidence found by US security agencies showed that the two shooters, Sayed Farook and Tashfeen Malik, were inspired by online Daesh propaganda to carry out the attack.

An official told the Times that the US is planning to use cyber attacks as another option to "pressure" ISIL.

Defense Chief Ashton Carter is expected to visit Cyber Command this week to break down possible options, such as cell phone jamming and computer viruses, to take on the terror organization digitally.

However, the plan faces major resistance from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and other intelligence officials who have warned against cutting off the militants' communications. The FBI argues that internet and cell phones provide an important window into the extremists' locations and their possible intentions.

The opponents also argue that internet access is vital for people caught up in the years-longs Syrian conflict. A virus is also likely to adversely affect computers all around the world, they warn.

The Pentagon has been warned that taking down ISIL's online infrastructure is not an easy job.

Republican Representative Michael McCaul told reporters earlier this month that the Takfiri group's hacking squads 'have developed an encrypted app and can communicate anywhere in the world from an iPhone without any ability for us to pick up those communications… They have mastered this dark space.'

The report also pointed to the group's 'high' adaption capability to new online mediums. For instance in the wake of the 2014 Twitter crackdown on official ISIL accounts, the militants urged their followers to use encrypted apps like Telegram to remain anonymous.

It is estimated that extremists post about 90,000 Twitter messages a day, according to the Counter Extremism Project, a New York-based nonprofit organization.



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