The ISIS advances in the DeepWeb among Bitcoin and darknets

Pierluigi Paganini May 22, 2015

While members of the ISIS are continuing to explore the Deep Web for various activities, the US Intelligence plans activities to track them.

The Dark Web is a privileged environment for cyber criminals and state-sponsored hackers due to the anonymity offered by its services. Unfortunately, another category of threat actors is exploiting the deep web, the terrorists, for this reason, the US intelligence plans to dive in the principal Darknets and explore the main hidden services to raise money and make propaganda in search of new followers to recruit.

The Dark Web is difficult to monitor for intelligence agencies and it is not so easy to locate members of terrorist organizations like the ISIS that share propaganda content. In the principal black markets hosted on the deep web it is possible to purchase any kind of illegal product and service, but in the dark part of the web it is possible to find propaganda videos and images. Hidden services in the Deep Web also offer the possibility to download the mobile apps used by the jihadists to communicate securely and to transfer Bitcoins to terrorist cells in every place of the world.

ISIS funds

At a recent Foreign Affairs Forum on Cryptocurrency Policy, government officials and Bitcoin entrepreneurs discussed the future of the cryptocurrency. Law enforcement fear possible abuses of the popular crypto currency, Jennifer Shasky Calvery, head of the US Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), which is charged with fighting money laundering and terrorist finance, explained that the virtual currency scheme could facilitate bad actors, including terrorists.

“What keeps me up at night when I am thinking about digital currency…the real threats out there, these days we’re thinking a lot about ISIL,” Calvery declared. “How they’re moving their money, and how potential US-based individuals are becoming foreign fighters: Are they moving their money, can we identify them from the movement of their money? What does it mean if they start moving their money through bitcoin? We’ve started to see some public articles suggesting that has occurred.”

Intelligence agencies and security experts are aware that alleged members of terrorist groups, including the ISIS, are exploring different opportunities to transfer money to militants operating in Western countries. A continuous flow of a small amount of money could be instantaneously transferred to numerous accounts used by ISIS members worldwide. Micro payments could exploit several channels, including systems like PayPal or virtual currencies like the Bitcoin.

Online it is possible to find a PDF document written by a user with the pseudonymous pseudonym of Amreeki Witness titled: Bitcoin wa Sadaqat al­Jihad which translates to: “Bitcoin and the Charity of Violent Physical Struggle”.Bitcoin and the Charity of Violent Physical Struggle”. The pseudonym Amreeki authored the PDF under is Taqi’ul­Deen al­Munthir. That name translates to Righteous in Faith the-Warner.

The post makes explicit reference to dark markets like Silk Road and other Dark Net Markets explaining how it is possible to buy weapons for the Mujahideen. Of course the document explains the Bitcoin and its decentralized system and how it is possible to transfer money securely by using the Dark Wallet application to “send millions of dollars’ worth of Bitcoin instantly from the United States, United Kingdom, South Africa, Ghana, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, or wherever else right to the pockets of the Mujahideen”.

The KRDO NewsChannel 13 reported the testimony of a user that had seen websites that allowed visitors to donate to terrorist organizations.

“You’re talking about disrupting cartels, you’re talking about disrupting drug dealers,” explained the witness. “If you’re not prepared for it, is a very corrupting place.”

Intelligence experts cannot ignore the potentiality of hidden services and their appeal on ISIS groups and other terrorist organizations as explained by the professor Edin Mujkic University at the Colorado Colorado Springs University.
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“Even if, hypothetically, ISIS is destroyed next year, that doesn’t guarantee that some other group isn’t going to show up and use the same tactics because now they learned from them,” said Mujkic.

Militants of the ISIS have a deep knowledge of new technologies, recently representatives of the US Government warned about the Electronic War against western counties

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is spending a significant effort to realize a technology that is able to de-anonymize Tor users and track their location. Recently the Agency presented MEMEX, a new set of search tools designed to improve researches into the “Deep Web”.

“We need a technology to discover where that content is and make it available for analysis,” said Chris White of the DARPA. “MEMEX allows you to characterize how many websites there are and what kind of content is on them, ” White said. “It was actually first developed to track down human trafficking on the web — it’s an idea that works for an illicit activity users try to keep hidden.”

Pierluigi Paganini

(Security Affairs – Deep Web, ISIS)

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