The Cyber Desk Review is a periodic report and analysis that addresses two main subjects: cyber-terrorism (offensive, defensive, and the media, and the main topics of jihadist discourse); and cyber-crime, whenever and wherever it is linked to jihad (funding, methods of attack). The Cyber Desk Review addresses the growing significance that cyberspace plays as a battlefield in current and future conflicts, as shown in the recent increase in cyber-attacks on political targets, crucial infrastructure, and the Web sites of commercial corporations.
Terrorist organizations use the Internet for a wide range of activities, including the dissemination of messages, making contact, recruitment of manpower, fundraising, propaganda, incitement, psychological warfare and intelligence. Cyber-defense activities by terrorist elements include the dissemination of information and guidebooks on the subject, the provision of guidelines regarding modes of action, encryption and transfer to the darknet, which they claim will improve the efficiency of traffic protection and anonymity on the part of the organizations themselves as well as their supporters. Such activities are designed to protect against tracking software used by intelligence agencies, activists and various Internet platforms operating against terrorist organizations on the Internet in general, and on social networks in particular.
The potential of cyberspace, including the Internet, was first recognized by terrorist organizations over a decade ago but in recent years there has been a significant increase in the scope of Internet use and in the level of sophistication with which it is used. At first, terrorist organizations operated using Internet sites only and later combined these sites with basic interactive elements. Today, through the use of social networks and various applications, these organizations operate on the Internet with full interactive features. The Islamic State is considered a pioneer in this arena and a leading player among terrorist organizations regarding innovation in the cyber world.
During the month of September 2016, members of Cyber Kahilafah began to promote and advertise the use of a technology called ZeroNet, which enables decentralized Web site hosting using a peer-to-peer (P2P) network. The obvious advantage of this technology, which was initially released in 2015, lies in the fact that a Web site’s data is stored on several computers simultaneously (as opposed to a central storage server) and, therefore, it is difficult to remove from the Internet. Web sites on this network can be accessed by installing an application tailored to a variety of computer operating systems. In addition, ToR can be used in order to increase users’ level of anonymity and to encrypt information traffic.