The Global Islamic Media Front, an underground propaganda division for Alqeda and other violent jihadist groups, has released what they call “The First Islamic Program for Encrypted Instant Messaging“, an instant messenger plugin working alongside another jihadist encryption tool called Asrar al-Mujahideen, already reviewed in my Mojaheeden Secrets post, consisting of nothing else than a PGP like public/private key encryption tool. This new plugin works with Pidgin an open source instant messenger compatible with all major IM networks like Yahoo Messenger, Google Talk, Jabber, ICQ and others.
The announcement includes a ten minutes video tutorial subtitled in English and hosted in Youtube, not containing any Alqeda branding to stop Youtube taking it down I presume. After watching the tutorial I can attest that the instructions were very accurate, whoever produced it was highly experienced in computer privacy tools and demonstrated how to use tor proxy to download Pidgin with Startpage set as their main search engine, which, unlike Google, does not keep IP records, other sophisticated anonymity technologies included configuring a Socks5 proxy so that not only the chat will be encrypted but the computer IP will be hidden from the other part.
The tutorial advised jihadists to only download the plugin from a trusted source and compare the public encryption key ID from the the person they are chatting with the key they have stored in Mojaheeden Secrets 2 to make sure nobody is stealing that person’s identity and replacing the encryption key with their own.
At first glance it might seem impressive that Alqeda supporters have their own high quality branded encryption software, it must work great for propaganda purposes and reaffirmation, however, they are not reinventing the wheel, OpenPGP is open source, it can be checked for backdoors and it has around for a long time, the plugin they are releasing closely resembles the OTR (Off-The-Record) anonymity Pidgin plugin that has been around for years, this is not a new security tool and the only concerning part is that Alqeda supporters are learning how the technology works, but they are also drawing attention to themselves by using a tool that only jihad extremists have access to, the CiA just has to love how Asrar al-Mujahideen is introducing its own “#—Begin Al-Ekhlaas Network ASRAR El Moujahedeen V2.0 Public Key 2048 bit—” tag in every single encrypted message it sends. American secret services packet sniffers must be busy tracking down where in cyberspace is people sending messages with those tags.
Global Islamic Media Front encryption tools only work in Windows, until jihadist discover the power of Linux or BSD they won’t do much damage in cyberwar since most companies and government servers normally run Linux, encryption will be also of little help to them if informers can be found inside the group.