Screenshot from the ISIS app.

Screenshot from the ISIS app. Defense One

ISIS Communications App: Much Ado About Not Much

The group’s “secure messaging app” doesn’t work. Ghost Security Group backtracks on previous claim.

ISIS fighters may be handy with guns and knives but that doesn’t mean that they can code. Today, a cybersecurity research group that specializes in tracking ISIS online is backtracking on previous statements about one of the terror group’s software creations.

Earlier this month, the Ghost Security Group, a hactivist collective that splintered off from Anonymous after the Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris, identified a new ISIS Android application called Alrawi. In an email to Defense One, they wrote that the Alrawi app “does have encrypted communication features although rudimentary to Telegram or other more company created ones.”

But after questions from other news outlets and a weeklong investigation from the Daily Dot, the group wrote Defense One today, “The app appears to be a Bluetooth file sharing application created using software.” The statement clearly contradicts the group’s previous statement. Bluetooth file sharing has a maximum range of 50 feet. Above is a screenshot of the app, obtained by Defense One on January 27.

“There was another version of this same application which served as a rudimentary communications tool as previously reported … however it was an overall failure,” the group wrote.

Defense One was unable to confirm if that was true.

“Make no mistake the Islamic State has large ambitions and their use of apps will eventually become a common place [sic] event as companies grow tired of endlessly suspending extremist accounts IS will seek to migrate to platforms they can control but the dev behind Alwari won’t be the one to create that platform,” the group’s email said.