Tags: Emerging Threats | Homeland Security | ISIS/Islamic State | War on Terrorism | fbi | isis | social media

FBI: 'We're Past Going Dark' Tracking ISIS on Social Media

By    |   Thursday, 04 Jun 2015 08:32 AM

There are too many ways for the Islamic State (ISIS) to use encryption on various social media sites to spread its message, U.S. officials told a House Homeland Security Committee hearing Wednesday, warning there is no way to monitor all of the militant group's online communication.

"There are 200-plus social media companies," Michael Steinbach, who heads the FBI's counterterrorism division, told committee members, reports Fox News. "Some of these companies build their business model around end-to-end encryption. There is no ability currently for us to see that."

The encryption methods allow ISIS propagandists to send messages to as many as 200,000 people worldwide, it was pointed out during the hearing, and Steinbach warned members that "we're past going dark in certain instances. We are dark."

Part of the issue is that technology is developing faster than are laws that allow communications to be intercepted.

"The targets that are out there, we are monitoring them very closely for any type of action, any type of oversteps, any mobilization factors — and when we see those we're not taking a chance," he said, referring to the case in Boston this week in which police shot and killed a man who was allegedly plotting with a partner to kill police officers and outspoken anti-jihadist activist Pamela Geller.

In another recent case, suspects Elton Simpson and Nadir Soofi were shot and killed by a security guard in Garland, Texas, where they had plotted an attack on an event Geller was sponsoring.

Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul, R-Texas, said that even a warrant or a wiretap often is not enough to stop conspirators, as technology has gotten past that.

"Even if we have coverage by, let's say, a warrant or a wiretap, they can then jump into a message box and then to another platform that's called dark space that we can't cover and we don't know what those communications are," said McCaul.

John Mulligan, the deputy director of the National Counterterrorism Center, further said that ISIS leaders believe "they are able to organize people solely through social media," as "they believe they can enter into the dialogue and provide the tools, and they are not getting into very complex tools."

Earlier in the day, McCaul told Fox News that ISIS recruiters "know how to jump out of different platforms," and that he expected to hear from the FBI and other officials that "probably the biggest concern is what we can't monitor and what we don't know and what is occurring in the United States right now."

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There are too many ways for the Islamic State (ISIS) to use encryption on various social media sites to spread its message, U.S. officials told a House Homeland Security Committee hearing Wednesday, warning there is no way to monitor all of the militant group's online communication.
fbi, isis, social media, encryption, messages, terror
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2015-32-04
Thursday, 04 Jun 2015 08:32 AM
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