After the devastating attacks on Paris that left at least 129 innocent people dead, terror group ISIS is more in the spotlight than ever. People are anxious to know what the group is planning next. A new secret message application may hold a key clue.
The application, called Telegram, has been moved to the so-called Dark Web (visible websites that hide their Internet Protocol addresses). ISIS uses Telegram to make text messages invisible to government agencies. The group’s leaders encourage their followers to download and use the app. An unknown number of jihadists are using Telegram, as are drug dealers and other gangsters. However, what makes ISIS’ use of Telegram so insidious is that respectable, everyday citizens access and use it as well. In fact, Telegram users send over a billion messages per day.
After ISIS used Telegram to claim responsibility for the Paris attacks, CIA Director John Brennan issued a statement regarding the danger of this technology in terrorists’ hands. Without mentioning any apps by name, he said new technology is making it “exceptionally difficult, technically as well as legally” for intelligence organizations to uncover terrorist activities. Twentieth-century laws “cannot effectively deal with [the profusion of 21st-century technology],” he added.
Meanwhile, FBI Director James Comey and his supporters continue to push for more regulations regarding apps, email, and access to users’ private information. “Significant increase” in technological security has been reported, but Comey, Brennan, and other officials still worry that there are significant security gaps.
ISIS may not be tracking ordinary citizens through Telegram, but computer users are urged to stay vigilant online. Privacy settings on social networks and other apps should be set to the highest security level at all times. If you must use a credit or debit card online, especially on a social network, delete the information after use if possible. Always read and understand security terms and report cyber threats immediately.