International terrorists have a lot of tricks up their sleeves when it comes to information gathering and recruiting and in today’s technologically advanced age, they’re using social media a whole lot more than the average person may realize.
When a lot Americans think of the image of a terrorist, they imagine a group of unkempt guys held up in a hole somewhere in the middle of a forsaken desert; however, intelligence experts warn that this is far from the reality.
Terrorist organizations such as ISIS have annual expenditure budgets that are in excess of a billion dollars and more closely resemble Fortune 500 corporations than the mental picture most westerners have of a handful of machine gunners riding in the beds of rusted Toyota pickups.
The terrorist state is actually a massive network of countless individuals — some of whom kill, while others are tasked with raising funds, gathering intelligence or recruiting and in 2017, just like all other organizations, they’re using social media to help them in their task.
Intelligence officials began taking a serious look regarding the level at which ISIS may be using Facebook when it was realized that a retired state trooper seemed to have been “hacked” by international terrorists, a little over a year ago.
According to reports, a fake Facebook page was set up using the identity of a retired Colorado State Trooper; however, individuals close to the officer did not take him for the Facebook-type and reported the suspicious account to proper authorities and after a short investigation, it was discovered that “an unknown person used the page to friend real police officers and Islamic State sympathizers,” reported the Denver Post.
According to an internal memo of the Colorado Information Analysis Center, law enforcement officials assessed “with high confidence that [the Facebook profile] was designed under false pretenses to gather information regarding law enforcement members… Some individuals are possibly members with radical Islamic ideology and anti-Semitic beliefs who have gruesome pictures of beheadings and killings on this social media site,” stated the memo, according to NBC News.
In the end, officials say that the officer was never in harm’s way and appeared to have been targeted merely for intelligence gathering; however, the incident serves as an excellent reminder of the importance of being careful who your friends are.
Military, law enforcement and government employees are among the most susceptible to this type of attack.
Following the Colorado incident, the United States Department of Defense issued a warning to personnel stating “U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command’s Computer Crime Investigative Unit are strongly recommending that anyone affiliated with the U.S. military, review their social media accounts to make sure they are using the best security settings to protect their online profiles… an individual’s online profile can provide cyber-criminals with an endless pool of personal information and potential targets to be exploited. As such, it is vital that individuals stay on the alert and be personally responsible for their online presence to protect themselves, their loved ones and the Army.”
The memo went on to advise soldiers to “be very selective who you invite or accept invitations from as criminals often use false or spoofed profiles to gain access to personal and private information, such as birthdates, marital status, and photographs… [which] can be used against you and your family.”
That’s a lovely thought, isn’t it: the next time you get that odd friend request from a scantily-clad woman or an unknown person that just doesn’t “feel” right, it could very well be ISIS.
Perhaps even more troubling is the thought that the guy at work you would pass in the hall every few days — you remember — the one who retired last year and you accepted his friend request shortly afterward, even though the two of you never talk… well he could actually not even know that account even exists and instead the person you’re friends with is actually a member of an international terrorist organization tasked with gathering information.
Oh dear, look at the clock. Sweet dreams!
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