Tech Savvy Terrorists

The core of ISIS operating in Iraq and Syria is “really opsec heavy,” using encryption and learning from past mistakes to try to keep their movements and motives secret, said Richard Ledgett, the deputy director of the National Security Agency. ISIS grew out of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, dating back to the surge during the Iraq War, so the core of the group is “very communications savvy” in command and control, said Ledgett at the Defense One Tech Summit on Friday. The group’s leadership understands how to look for the effects of military actions taken against them, attempts to secure vulnerabilities, and often changes the way they communicate, Ledgett said. This has shown to fray recently, with the group this week executing dozens of its own to try to track down any spies who gave up information that led to the death of one of its top leaders, CNN reported. The group also is adept at using different communication tools, Ledgett said seemingly hinting for more support from tech leaders who say their apps are not being used for nefarious purposes. “[There are] not too many people who could say bad guys aren’t using their stuff,” he said.