Jihadi ‘Help Desk,’ Tech Channels On Telegram And Twitter Offer Tech Support, Tutorials, Up-To-Date Cyber Security Info

February 8, 2016

Introduction

Jihadis are enjoying, it appears, the services of a technical “help desk” on the secure messaging app Telegram and on Twitter. The help desk is part of a larger network that caters to jihadis’ technical needs, and includes channels and accounts on those platforms and on a forum dedicated to technical matters as well.

In the last year jihadis have intensified their effort to provide their counterparts with technical know-how on a variety of topics such as mobile phone security, and cyber security-related information in general. The information has generally focused on raising jihadis’ cyber security knowledge and awareness with regard to their operations online. Most recently, these efforts have culminated in the establishment of the Electronic Horizon Foundation (EHF), a joint effort of several entities like Tiqani Al-Dawla Al-Islamiyya (the “Islamic State Technician”) and the Information Security channel, a top disseminator of cyber security information, and a technical channel on Telegram, respectively. One of the EHF’s top goals is to hamper electronic surveillance of the mujahideen by Western intelligence services.

Details about the size of this techno-jihadi nexus, such as its manpower, identity of its personnel, or the level of their technical skills, are not known. It, however, appears to be manned by tech-savvy and dedicated individuals of varying backgrounds and technical skill levels.

The nexus operates primarily on Telegram but has a presence on Twitter as well. The shift to Telegram follows a recent trend among jihadi individuals and groups alike in adopting the platform, which has been increasingly sought for its relativesustainability and security.

Jihadis have long sought technical information, which has been confined in the past to various password-protected jihadi forums. However, the freedom and ease by which they can now obtain that information is alarming, especially when such information is shared over private and secure channels.

Below is a celebratory announcement about the establishment of the EHF, which it says was conceived “after a full year of technical support,” with the aim of “unifying the technical and security efforts, and uniting the ranks of the mujahideen’s supporters.”

The Nexus

The nexus spans a number of platforms and offers a variety of services. In the last year, much of the content was posted on Twitter; however, the flagging and shutting down of those accounts has led to a migration to Telegram. Twitter nonetheless continues to be used, and, as of this writing, the EHF Twitter account and its corresponding technical support account remain active.

One central entity in the nexus is the so-called Islamic State Technician (IST), who has been instrumental in publishing technical content catered especially to jihadis’ needs for months. IST-related accounts on Twitter have been removed in the last year, but he remains present on Telegram and can be contacted directly as well.


EHF-related technical channels and accounts (links redacted by MEMRI)

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