Over the weekend, the “hacktivist” collective known as Anonymous declared “total war” on Islamic State militants. On November 17 the group reported some preliminary results: more than 5,500 ISIS Twitter accounts had been taken offline as part of #OpParis. Now Anonymous is enlisting the help of ordinary citizens, by offering a step-by-step guide to “hacking” ISIS.
As some have pointed out, the main thing Anonymous is instructing people to do is not really hacking. They’re actually showing people how to find ISIS-run and ISIS-related websites, message boards, etc. and report what they find back to them.
Related: Can Anonymous Take Down ISIS? Hackers Declare ‘Total War’ On Terrorist Org After Paris Attack
If you don’t have any experience in this sort of thing, don’t worry. Anonymous has uploaded a document they call the “Noob Guide.” This guide gives you basic information about using services to protect your anonymity, such as VPNs or proxy servers. It also has links to several sites that offer password cracking tools and such. What it does is mainly point you toward information you would need to engage in hacking, and at the same time makes it clear that you shouldn’t trust anyone, not even members of Anonymous. The introduction contains this sobering warning: “NOBODY IS GOING TO JAIL FOR YOU.”
The second guide published by Anonymous is called their “Reporter Guide.” It tells how to launch “reporter bots” against Twitter accounts. The guide also provides a list of over 5,000 Twitter accounts that are referred to as “primary targets.” That guide is harder to find than the Noob Guide, and I couldn’t find it at all. Nor would I provide a link to it if I had found one — the potential for misuse is just too great.
By far, the easiest thing to do is locate websites that could provide information about ISIS to Anonymous. Their third guide, called the “Searcher Guide,” explains that, and that is the one we’ll cover in detail here.
First of all, this caveat: protect your identity! Before trying the steps below, hide yourself behind a VPN or proxy. While the steps for searching for ISIS websites do not call for you to do anything illegal, by not hiding behind one of those tools you could be exposing yourself and your personal information to both members of ISIS and members of law enforcement. At the very least your name could wind up on a terror watch list.
OK, with that out of the way, here are Anonymous’s instructions for searching for ISIS websites:
- Get Python at https://www.python.org/downloads/ unless you already have it. Python is a scripting language that will make some of what you are about to do easier. It’s pre-installed on Macs.
- Open Terminal (or Command Prompt for Windows) and type (without quotes) “python.”
- Next, you will go to the site where Anonymous has provided a list of search terms that will help you locate jihadi-related sites. Copy and paste this link into your browser: https://ghostbin.com/paste/oo4tb
- Copy the list of search strings, and paste it into your terminal program
- Decide what strings you want to search for. Anonymous recommends using three strings. Type this into terminal (replace ## with the number of your strings): print(str##+str##+str##)
- Copy the results, then go to https://www.google.iq, the Iraqi version of Google. Paste your search strings and hit enter to get the results.
Anonymous says if you find something that you think they should know about, “place your findings on ghostbin.com and share to the link to one of the channel operators and we can talk about what to do next.”
If you don’t want to bother with Python, you can get the list of search strings at the link above, and type them into your browser manually. But using Python will allow you to put together a variety of search terms without having to do a lot of typing.
I’ve tried this, and it works. But thanks to Anonymous’s release of this information, ghostbin.com has been a little slow at times. If you want to give it a shot, happy hunting! At the very least, the sites you’ll encounter will give you some insight into what members of ISIS believe. But remember: be very, very, very careful out there!
Featured image via Twitter