Cyber Jihad Marketing: Yelling FIRE! In A Crowded Theater
Recently, a reporter that I know came to me asking if I would look at this ICIT-Brief-The-Anatomy-of-Cyber-Jihad1 and give input on it. They wanted to have my opinion because the firm that wrote it was seeking a reporter to flog it on their news site. I told the reporter after looking at the “analysis” this exact quote; “This report is the marketing equivalent of yelling fire in a crowded theater” Well, it seems that CNBC bought it though and my hand has been forced to write about this travesty. ( CNBC Report that forced my hand ) I told the reporter to back away slowly and to their credit they did. CNBC not so much. So here I am going to outline how this report is full of marketing and cognitive bias and wild assumptions. Oh, and that is if you can get past the hyperbolic language in the first graph…
I shit you not..
Cyber Caliphate & Junaid Hussain:
The report goes on a long time talking about Da’esh and their origins. While much of that data is right on the report starts to go off the rails once they begin talking about the “cyber” part of the picture. They start off by talking about Juny and his cybering, the defacements out there, and the propaganda war that is still ongoing by the likes of Da’esh, AQAP, Boko Haram, etc. Which is all fine, mostly accurate, but then they start to talk about “possible capabilities” after they just pretty much said “They aren’t that capable” Cognitive dissonance much there guys? The truth of the matter is that to date, the propaganda war is the biggest and most dangerous war here, not the so called cyber war that this “analysis” is pimping. I have been following this stuff since 2001 and Juny is the new Younis Tsouli really, both were/are moderately skilled in hacking but not much more than that. Both were much more a propaganda figures, and more dangerous in that capacity than any of their hacking skills. In fact, in the case of Younis, he got the heat and popped for that very reason, he was making a splash and attracting followers. Juny had that very same skill set and became much bigger a deal because he caught the zeitgeist for the jihobbyists out there with his mouth on Twitter. This is why he was killed with a hellfire, not because he hacked any big databases or got the real dope from some hack. In short, both were a danger because they had followers, and those followers were radicalising off of their jihadi bluster online and caches of propaganda from the main marketing teams of their respective terrorism groups. (AQ for Younis and Da’esh for Juny)
Of course the report would not be scary enough without the “Cyber Caliphate” an operation that Juny lamented was just him, no one else, before he got whacked on Telegram. That’s right kids, Juny was pimping something and making shit up. Once Juny got whacked you know what happened? Groups of guys like Team Fallaga took up the mantle and went on to deface pages like the dickens! “OOH SCARY DEFACEMENT BRO” While the report states this, and some of the other information I just mentioned, they then go on to analyse and say that these guys aren’t capable now but someday… SOMEDAY they could be. Oh really? You don’t say! Sure it is possible but it is not likely. Given that most APT activity takes money, time, and cohesion, the jihadi’s are all over the place and usually small disparate groups of skiddies, not solid hackers. So, the scare tactic of analysis is way off the mark in this report and this is why I told the reporter to step back slowly from their pitch. If this group had left it at that, it could happen but it is not likely I would have had some respect for them. Instead they chose the other scare the client into buying shit route. As for Cyber Caliphate and all their other silly acronyms, none have shown that they are a credible threat to much else than an insecure web page. No real data has been hacked and their “data drops” of enemies to kill have all come from open sources on the internet. Sure, is it problematic that they are doing this? Sure. Is it a clear and present danger of cyber capabilities that they could strike the grid next?
I need not say more right?
… But I will.
DO YOUR GOD DAMNED HOMEWORK AND QUITE THE FEAR MONGERING FOR MONEY!
CYBER JIHADI DARKNETS
Of course these guys could not miss an opportunity to scare and of course they had to use the scary “Dark Net” or “Deep Web” I have been on the dark net for a long time and I will tell you I have found a few sites but nothing there is that scary. In fact, to date, the sites either have been hacked soon after and taken down, or just sit unused. So really, the dark net is no threat here. Sure, the jihadi’s are using technology to obfuscate their chats now and trying to hide in the “deep web” of un-spidered content but the reality is most of this stuff is non operational. What the jihad today (Da’esh) wants mostly is to radicalize and activate those in the US like Omar Mateen without even really having contact with them.
So, the darknet… Not so much a terrorist haven kids. Sorry
Overall Analysis of Scare Marketing and Cognitive Bias
This report is a travesty of a tissue of what if’s that really is just a pulp thriller wannabe disguised thinly as a marketing piece cum serious analysis of Jihad online.
Please believe none of it.