Did You Hear About How ISIS Has A Sophisticated Training Manual For Encryption? Yeah, It Was Actually A Pamphlet For Journalists And Activists

from the fud-fud-fuddy-fud-fud dept

Did you hear that story about how ISIS is so sophisticated with encryption that they have a special “opsec” manual on computer security protocols? You might have, because last week it was all over the internet. Yahoo kicked it off with a story, claiming it was the secret manual ISIS “uses to teach its soldiers about encryption.” Wired followed up with its own story, as did The Telegraph. The “manual” was “discovered” by analysts at the Combating Terrorism Center, based out of the US Military Academy at West Point. Thankfully, Buzzfeed has the details, noting that the guide, created by a cybersecurity firm in Kuwait, named Cyberkov, is actually a guide for journalists and activists to protect their communications from oppressive governments. And there’s nothing particularly secret about it, as apparently it’s basically just repurposed stuff from the EFF’s website:

?Our guide is based on publicly available tools, instructions and best practices. The guidelines in our manual are sourced from the EFF [Electronic Frontier Foundation] and other sources of privacy organizations,? wrote CyberKov CEO Abdullah AlAli to BuzzFeed News in an email. He said his organization had no idea its guide had been repurposed by ISIS. He was surprised to see it cited in articles, many of which have been updated since they were originally posted to note the document?s origin, and ?even more shocked to see the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point simply Google-Translated it and claimed it as ISIS?s.?

Now, it does appear that some folks in ISIS may have sent around versions of the guide, but it sort of undermines the idea that they had created their own special set of guidelines to avoid being tracked, when all they’re doing is picking up publicly available information on security best practices.

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Comments on “Did You Hear About How ISIS Has A Sophisticated Training Manual For Encryption? Yeah, It Was Actually A Pamphlet For Journalists And Activists”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Brantly (who planted this lie) violated the West Point honor code

“For the past few days, many articles around the world started referencing an alleged ISIS OPSEC manual that is claimed to be unearthed by the U.S Military Academy Combating Terrorism Center at West Point by Dr. Aaron Brantly and other researchers.”

Dr. Aaron Brantly of the U.S Military Academy violated the West Point honor code:

“A cadet will not *lie*, cheat, steal, or *tolerate those who do*”


Anonymous Coward says:

>can we make good-guys only gear into a meme.

It’s not just gear anymore. There are, you know, numbers that only good guys can use, formulas only good guys can count, math facts that are only true in the presence of good guys.

And it’s important here to understand that “good” is a subset of “American”. No furriner, no matter how apparently good, can ever hope to use one of these special numbers, calculate one of these special formulas, or be aware in any way of these special math facts.

Which explains why there are so many people complaining that “secure backdoors” is an oxymoron.

You see, the existance of the numbers, formulas, and mathematical identities that allows the presence of “secure backdoors” CANNOT BE COMPREHENDED BY BAD GUYS AND FOREIGNERS. Which allows a simple way to determine who’s evil. ANYONE WHO DOESN’T ADMIT THE EXISTANCE OF SECURE BACKDOORS INTO ENCRYPTED MATERIAL is either a foreigner or a bad guy. There’s no point in arguing with them. Because of their status as evil-or-foreign, they live in a universe where secure backdoors are impossible. And Good[*] Americans live in that other universe, where secure backdoors can be called into being by legislative action, where PI can be 3 if needed, all square roots are rational and all primes factorable.

[*]For, of course, all values of “good” approximating “chiropteroid-excreta lunacy” to within the desired degree of delusion.

Anonymous Coward says:


The manuals aren’t the story. The real story is the idiot “news services” that create and pick up such stories. But then, you have to remember that these services are in the business of creating headlines and click bait for sales purposes. Whether the “story” is actually relevant or factual is immaterial – gotta get them sales, ya know.

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