Islamic State Operations Security Guide Favors Communications Through Apple iMessage, Not Facebook


In a surprising revelation, it has come to light that the operations security guide of ISIS (now called the Islamic State group) prefers conducting communication via iMessage, Apple's popular messaging service, and not through Facebook.

After the devastating attacks on Paris last week, speculation was rife that the Islamic State deployed the Sony PlayStation as a tool for encrypted communications.

However, reports have suggested that the terrorists used a mobile phone and contrary to popular belief, did not send encrypted text messages to communicate with each other. This oversight enabled authorities to track and intercept their messages.

Now, the Combating Terrorism Center in West Point has stumbled on a 34-page booklet used by the Islamic State. This booklet is given to the terrorist group's recruits and it is believed that the booklet was originally written by Cyberkov, a Kuwait-based security firm.

Cyberkov created the document a year ago to aid journalists and political activists safeguard their identities, as well as those of their sources. However, it is opined that the Islamic State hijacked the OPSEC, or Operations Security booklet, and used it to teach its members the ways of keeping their identity, communications and location isolated.

The OPSEC document advises the use of certain messaging apps and avoidance of others such as Facebook. The latter's use should be avoided as communication through the social media site can be intercepted. The booklet also discourages the use of Dropbox and this is partly due to the presence of Condoleezza Rice, former U.S. Secretary of State, on its board.

The booklet favors use of iMessage as it is non-accessible by intelligence agencies, not even Apple.

"Use iMessage service subsidiary of Apple, which is encrypted service .9 (end to end) and secure and can not be for governments and corporate communications, even for Apple, monitoring and eavesdropping on them, and said so in dealing with law enforcement agencies," advocates the booklet.

It also advises using encrypted chat systems or VPNs, but suggest that the use of Sicher or Telegram is better as these are not based in the United States. The booklet also warns against the use of third-party apps instead of the official Twitter app, especially when one is using an iPhone or an Android handset for the purpose.

The document also advocates the use of secure encrypted handsets like Blackphone, turning off GPS and using fake Exif data to throw people off their trail.

Interestingly, the manual meant for the Islamic State recruits does not mention the use of the Sony PlayStation for carrying out encrypted communication.

The complete OPSEC handbook can be viewed online.

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