Video of Abu Bakr al Baghdadi shows how ISIS, other terror outfits misuse technology

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First Published 30, Apr 2019, 7:37 PM IST
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Video of Abu Bakr al Baghdadi shows how ISIS, other terror outfits misuse technology
Highlights

This is not the first time that encrypted chat platform Telegram has been used to communicate or propagate banned terror outfits. According to experts, after Twitter and Facebook launched a crackdown against the accounts operated by terror sympathisers, they switched to Telegram.

New Delhi: Islamic State (ISIS) honcho Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi shocked the world after his video praising the Easter Sunday bombings in Sri Lanka surfaced. A video from the dreaded terrorist has surfaced for the first time since 2014. The 18-minute video was published by the outfit’s al Furqan media group on messaging service Telegram, bringing back to focus on how such apps are the first choice for terror groups to communicate.

This is not the first time that encrypted chat platform Telegram has been used to communicate or propagate banned terror outfits. According to experts, after Twitter and Facebook launched a crackdown against the accounts operated by terror sympathisers, they switched to Telegram.

These platforms are used not only for communication but also for fresh recruits. ISIS used the app to recruit the perpetrators of the Christmas market attack in Berlin and claim credit for the massacre. A Turkish prosecutor found that the shooter behind the New Year Eve attack at the Reina nightclub in Istanbul used Telegram to receive directions from an ISIS commander in Raqqa.

ISIS has effectively exploited the power of technology to fuel its rise around the globe, from streaming and file-sharing platforms to messenger applications and social media services. Similarly, banned terror outfits in India are misusing technology to spread their wings.

Indian security agencies have raised concern over tracking of users on Telegram. They demanding that Telegram release more of its user information or provide a “back door” for intelligence agencies to access encrypted messages, but Telegram is in no mood to oblige.

The app has a feature to self-destruct the messages. Since the messages are encrypted as well, it becomes very difficult for law-enforcement agencies to probe their origins.

Telegram claims its cloud chat data is stored in multiple data centres around the globe that are controlled by different legal entities spread across different jurisdictions. The relevant decryption keys are split into parts and are never kept in the same place as the data they protect. As a result, several court orders from different jurisdictions are required to force them to give up any data.

What is Telegram?

Launched in 2013, Telegram is similar to WhatsApp or other messaging apps but its main selling point is security. It claims all its activities – including chats, groups and media – are encrypted, meaning even if they are intercepted, they won’t be visible without being deciphered first. However, some security experts have cast doubt on how secure Telegram is.

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