Misuse of a secure browser

International drug cartels and weapons traders used these facilities without being tracked by the authorities.

Hyderabad: The dark-net browser Tor (The Onion Router) and its android app Orbot which provides absolute anonymity to users are widely used by privacy activists and even journalists for positive purposes, but the same came in handy for terror modules because they provided utmost secrecy for the users, cyber security experts say.

International drug cartels and weapons traders used these facilities without being tracked by the authorities. After an initial communication through regular channels, the ISIS suspects of Hyderabad have only used Tor and VPN networks for anonymous surfing and TrueCrypt and the ThinkPad used external hard drives for encrypting data as instructed by their foreign handlers.

Official sources say that the massive crackdowns on ISIS sympathisers in 2014 and in the beginning of 2015 were based on tracking of their digital footprints. Many youngsters including a few from Hyderabad were tracked down by intelligence agencies based on their social media activities. After this period, the ISIS handlers have asked all the fighters and sympathisers to move to Tor for more secure communication. “The tech savvy members of the outfit periodically issued instructions asking fighters to abstain from using social media like Twitter and Facebook and move to specially set up forums in deep web using Tor,” said a senior cop from Hyderabad.

The ISIS handlers also provided step-by-step instruction guide for using the forum, with screenshots. The guide carried instructions for using the forum’s private messaging system to communicate with other forum members.

Sympathisers are invited to collect a username and password by contacting the author of the guide via a special email account. A detailed manual was released by ISIS named “Ways of Hiding from the Crusader Alliance,” which was widely circulated on Twitter in 2015. It contained ways to securely use Tor browser.

The NIA officials, who are investigating the ISISI module in Hyderabad, state that the members have installed Tor in their computers and have the app Orbot in their phone. The operatives are also well-trained to skim through the active jihadi forums in Darknet.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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