On April 26, 2016, the Islamic State (ISIS) media company Al-Hayat released the ninth issue of the organization’s French-language magazine Dar Al-Islam. The issue features a 15-page article with operational advice for information security, including practical guidelines to set up encrypted communications. Information security and the ability to securely communicate online has become a critical operational need in order for ISIS to maintain networks abroad. Investigations in the aftermath of the ISIS terror wave in Europe have shown that ISIS operatives are using such methods to communicate. With the crackdown by authorities on recruits seeking to migrate to the lands of jihad, ISIS’s easy-to-use tips for secure communications is one way it is ensuring that the organization can maintain contact with potential recruits.
The article is divided into four sections. The first is an introduction to secure online communication, presenting basic knowledge on TOR, HTTPS and SSL. The second section includes basic guidelines for using PGP encryption and to set up a TAILS operating system (OS) for easy use of PGP encryption. The third section is on operating the TAILS OS and use PGP for communicating, and the last section explains how to install the OTR software in order to chat securely, using the XMPP/JABBER protocol.
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