Terrorists Pivot on Communication Strategies in Wake of Snowden Leaks

The intelligence firm Recorded Future has revealed they they have been tracking a sharp increase in the number of cryptographically-concerned apps being downloaded and distributed for the Android operating system, and that by using IP locater services, were able to discern that a large percentage of those new downloads were coming out of countries in the Middle East known to contain radical Islamic groups who train and harbor the terrorist elite.

Many of the suspected targets receive information about the latest encryption schemes through one of Al-Qaeda’s major media arms, known as Al-Fajir, and will regularly look to the news outlet for updates on the latest software that will help to keep their plans and movements under the radar of the United States and European governments.

“Al-Fajr, one of Al-Qaeda’s media arms, released a new Android encryption application [in] early June 2014 on their website, referring to how it follows the “latest technological advancements” and provides ‘4096 bit public key’ encryption,” intelligence firm Recorded Future said in its Friday report.

While the basis of their research is a little shaky, they were able to provide several instances where information was traded to known cells that have had connections to militant groups in the past.

“Interestingly, between these two new product releases this continues the bet on mobile and Android as the preferred platform for these groups,” the report said. “The large availability and affordability of Android phones, especially in underdeveloped countries, is probably the reason for this.”

High-ranking members of the NSA, including its head James Clapper, have been droning on with a rhetoric similar to this outcome since the leaks first started back in June of last year. They claimed that while they weren’t against the idea of being more transparent with the American people, they also ran the risk of tipping off potential terrorists who could use that information for their benefit, ducking and weaving any acknowledged

Of course, the argument falls short once you realize that the primary tool these networks of terrorists use to communicate with each other (Tor) is still a thorn in the agency’s side, one has to wonder if the revelations actually changed anything about the way they operated in the first place.

Other signals that anti-American organizations are wising up to new encryption efforts come in the form of warnings posted on several central hubs for surveillance-dodging applications, including the main webpage for the Global Islamic Media Front, a known ally and propaganda manufacturer for the Al-Qaeda enterprise.

Recorded Future has reason to believe that three of the tools now available on the site were created within the first five months of the Snowden leaks becoming public knowledge, and that much of the terrorist community was quick on their feet to respond to the newly available information by removing their activities from IRC, as well as ceasing all Skype calls between various divisions of their makeshift army and the central commanders who oversee the network as a whole.