Here's The Messaging App ISIS Have Been Using To Communicate To Its Followers

According to the creators of the app, it's more secure than other apps like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger.

Cover image via thedailybeast

After the attacks on Paris last Friday which resulted in the death of at least 120 people, ISIS has since claimed responsibility of the attack through a messaging app called Telegram

There were seven coordinated terror attacks in Paris carried out by militants, killing at least 129 people. The first attacks were launched virtually simultaneously, with two explosions close to the Stade de France at just after 9.20pm local time, four miles apart. The explosions came as a large crowd were enjoying the first half of the international friendly between France and Germany

For years, terrorist organisations like the Islamic State have been finding a suitable platform to propagate ideals and messages. With secure messaging apps like Telegram, the search seems to have come to an end.

Image via R-E-E-D

Telegram is a new messaging app that promises 'super secret chats' and it has become popular for ISIS and other terrorist groups. ISIS is also using Telegram to broadcast big messages on the app's "channels," which are devoted to a variety of topics. It was on the official ISIS channel that the group said the Paris attacks would be the "first of the storm."

So, what's so special about Telegram?

For starters, it is a messaging app that offers end-to-end encryption and self-destructing messages.

Image via Telegram

Telegram gives you the ability to send messages and photos with a self-destruct timer, much like another popular app. Like Snapchat, it's still possible to screenshot these images or texts before they disappear within the 'secret chat'.

Within a secret chat, documents, videos, locations and searched images can all be shared, last from two seconds from up to a week. The app prides itself on its enhanced security, which it attributes to time-tested algorithms which combine security with high-speed delivery and reliability.

Started by brothers Nikolai and Pavel Durov from Russia, Telegram uses a special algorithm that encrypts all messages. So confident is the company in their technology that it held a cracking contest to beat their security system - no one was able to crack the code.

Image via Telegram

The current round of our contest to crack Telegram’s encryption ends with no winners. Despite the $300,000 bounty and the fact that contestants could act as the Telegram server passing info between the users (i.e. use any kinds of active attacks, manipulate traffic etc.) no one could decipher their Secret Chats by the beginning of February.

The company claimed that there are more than 500 million users sending over 1 billion messages per day - somewhere in that mix are an unknown number of jihadists

The service has a reported 60 million monthly active users and sends 12 billion messages a day, including some that are undoubtedly related to terrorist activity.

ISIS has announced many of its activities and claimed responsibility for attacks in different Middle Eastern countries, including a bombing in the Yemeni city of Aden on Twitter and most recently on Telegram.

According to reports, ISIS distributes between 10 to 20 messages and videos a day. Many jihadi-groups buy weapons off the app too.

A screenshot of the official ISIS channel on Telegram.

Image via International Business Times

"The official ISIS channel which has over 9k followers distributes between 10 and 20 ISIS statements and videos a day. Some terror groups are using Telegram to fundraise. On certain jihadi-related channels, users are asked to donate and pick where their money would go. For example, users can pick out the type of weapons their money would be spent on," said Laith Alkhouri, director of Research at Flashpoint Global Partners.

However, the company is unapologetic with the concerns of terrorists using the app - citing the right to privacy is much more important than the fear of terrorism

Telegram co-founder, Pavel Durov.

Image via Techcrunch

Our right for privacy is more important than our fear of bad things happening, like terrorism," Telegram co-founder, Pavel Durov said on stage at TechCrunch Disrupt in San Francisco in September, when asked about IS using the platform.

"Ultimately, the ISIS will always find a way to communicate within themselves and if any means of communication turns out to be not secure for them, they'll just switch to another one. So I don't think we're actually taking part in these activities... I still think we're doing the right thing, protecting our users privacy."

While apps like SnapChat and Secret have claimed to be privacy-focused apps, they have suffered from information leakage and privacy disclosure. For now, Telegram is ISIS’s new “it” app—until they find another.

Image via Telegram

Telegram is only one in a string of messaging systems ISIS has employed to protect its communications, as claimed by U.S. officials. And some apps that have marketed their privacy-enhancing features, such as Snapchat and Secret, have either disclosed their users’ supposedly private information, or have been shown to be vulnerable to hacking. In other words, they’re not-so-secret after all.

Hacktivist group Anonymous has announced an all-out cyberwar ISIS. What will they do?

After the Paris attacks, ISIS have issued a threat to the USA and other countries:

You may be interested in: