Anonymous releases how-to-hack guide for ‘n00b’ beginners who want to fight ISIS online

© Shannon Stapleton
Anonymous hackers want the public’s help in hunting out and shutting down social media accounts and websites affiliated with Islamic State. “The more the merrier,” the loose-knit hacktivist group said in a message, which included links to how-to guides.

Within days of the Paris attacks on Friday, Anonymous closed 5,500 Twitter accounts as Operation Paris (#OpParis) and Operation ISIS (#OpISIS) gained in popularity. On Wednesday, the total was more than 6,080, according to a USA Today report. By running a special website and chatroom, Anonymous, which is not centrally organized, hopes to give laymen the tools necessary to increase their tallies.

“Instead of sitting idle in the channel or lurking around and doing nothing, you can benefit greatly from the different tools and guides that have been provided to you,” the group wrote. “Your contribution means a lot and we encourage you to partake in all of the Op’s activities if you can, the more the merrier.”

Three guides have been distributed: the NoobGuide, the ReporterGuide, and the SearcherGuide. Noob “explains the basic principles of DDoSing, WiFi deauth, password cracking, and various other hacking terms.” Reporter “covers launching a reporter bot against a list of Twitter account IDs for discovering, reporting, and taking down ISIS-related accounts,” and Searcher shows “how people can help Anonymous find more ISIS websites/pages/information.”

Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) issued its own guide as well, which mostly has to do with internet safety, though it basically amounts to a list of basic tips, including not to “talk to strangers” or click on questionable links. It was, unsurprisingly, welcomed mockingly by much of the hacker community.

“The tips are some of the lamest and n00bish recommendations you’ll read and show the group’s lack of cyber skills,” Softpedia wrote in an article reporting the Anonymous guides.

Calling Anonymous “idiots,” Islamic State’s reaction was caught by the staff of The Hacker News, which was able to gain access to it through Telegram, a secret messaging app. Telegram announced it has deleted 78 Islamic State “channels,” though most accounts and messages have remained untouched by the move.

It’s not just Anonymous making cyber trouble for Islamic State. The Ghost Security Group, a volunteer band of hackers with ties to the US government, has been active since January.

“We’re playing more of an intelligence role,” Ghost Security’s nameless executive director told NBC News.

Kronos Advisory Chief Operating Officer Michael S. Smith II, a congressional terrorism adviser and defense contractor, is the group’s liaison to the FBI and other agencies who “appreciate the outside support,” he told NBC. “I have constant feedback to that.”

In a recent Foreign Policy interview, retired General and CIA Director David Petraeus said that what Smith showed him “would be of considerable value to those engaged in counter-terrorism initiatives.”

However, online vigilantism is a mixed blessing to some. Olivier Laurelli, a computer security blogger, said Anonymous was “embarrassing for the police more than anything else” in an AFP interview, adding that “To close those accounts is to leave police deaf and blind around some matters.”

“Twitter has been quick to close down a large number of accounts but I don’t know if it’s a good idea,” he said.