Terrorists just love the Android operating system. You won’t find an iPhone fan in the ranks of ISIS because the App Store strictly regulates which apps can be distributed on the platform. The Google Play Store has these restrictions as well, but unlike iOS, Android lets you install apps from unauthorized sources. Unauthorized sources like ISIS.
Yes, ISIS is developing apps. They’re up to at least six, in fact. The organization launched their first app back in November of last year that served to distribute news reports regarding terrorist operations in Iraq and Syria. In January they launched a radio-streaming app that also included daily motivating scriptures and chants. For toddler terrorists, ISIS has even developed an app that helps kids learn their ABC’s by matching them with jihadist-themed objects like cannons, tanks, and surface-to-air missiles. This bizarro-world, darkest-timeline Sesame Street app receives regular updates and is also available on Windows phones. You cannot make this stuff up.
But there’s a dark side to terrorist-developed apps. Well, I mean all of it is pretty dark, but this dark side presents trouble for devs hell-bent on mayhem and murder. Someone somewhere has started releasing modified versions of their applications that, ISIS believes, are using malware to spy on its users. On June 1, a notice rippled across terrorist social media warning of this threat:
Warning: Dubious sources published a fake version of the Amaq Agency Android app, aimed at breaching security and spying. We advise to avoid downloading any app, except via the official Amaq channels and recommend to verify with the officially published checksums before installation.
This would all be well and good, except that the aforementioned official channels are pretty flaky. ISIS services frequently go down, so frustrated jihadists often don’t have any choice but to download their APKs from mirrors or third party sources. Further warnings and notifications are being distributed across social media, but the organization is concerned that many key aspects of their communication systems could be fundamentally compromised.
It’s kind of an embarrassing situation for ISIS, as the organization prides itself on staying abreast of the latest social media technology. This also compounds growing difficulties that the group is facing in terms of staying organized. Hopefully the entities creating these apps will keep up the good work, because if there’s one group of people we enjoy seeing having IT problems, it’s terrorists. For once, we’re delighted to report on the spread of malware and Android security issues.
What do you think of the struggle ISIS is facing with these ‘fake’ terrorist apps? Let us know your take in the comments below!