Security researchers announced Friday that
they have found new evidence to bolster claims from the National
Security Agency that terrorists have altered their countermeasures
in the wake of the Edward Snowden revelations.
“Al-Fajr, one of Al-Qaeda’s media arms, released a new Android
encryption application [in] early June 2014 on their website,
referring to how it follows the “latest technological advancements”
and provides ‘4096 bit public key’ encryption,” intelligence firm
Recorded Future said in a Friday report.
The report added that Global Islamic Media Front, another arm of
Al Qaeda, just released a “new version” of Android crypto
“Interestingly, between these two new product releases this
continues the bet on mobile and Android as the preferred platform
for these groups,” the report said. “The large availability and
affordability of Android phones, especially in underdeveloped
countries, is probably the reason for this.”
The research comes a month after new NSA Director Michael
Rodgers said he had seen terrorists groups “make changes.” But, he said, “you have not heard me as the
director say, ‘Oh my God, the sky is falling.’ I’m trying to be
very specific and very measured in my characterisations.”
The new report quotes a GIMF statement on a download page, in
which suspected terrorists urge each other to “[t]ake your
precautions, especially in the midst of the rapidly developing news
about the cooperation of global companies with the international
intelligence agencies, in the detection of data exchanged over
The report concludes that “it’s pretty clear” that there is an
“increased pace of innovation in encryption technology by Al-Qaeda
post Snowden.” The encryption, the report added, “is based on best
practice, off the shelf, algorithms.”
What’s more, the latest crypto tools follow other crypto
programs terrorists have developed following the Snowden leaks.
Recorded Future reported in May that three of the tools were created
within five months of The Guardian first publishing
the Snowden leaks in June 2013. Citing NSA
documents, The Guardian wrote that the US government had
access to all the metadata of telephone calls originating or ending
in the US.
One of the earliest post-Snowden crypto releases Recorded Future
noted was Tashfeer al-Jawwal-a mobile program developed by the
Global Islamic Media Front and released in September.
A second, Asrar al-Ghurabaa, was released by the Islamic State
of Iraq and Al-Sham in November, around the same time the group
broke away from the main Al-Qaeda group following a power struggle.
The third program is known as Amn al-Mujahid and was released in
December by Al-Fajr.
Recorded Future has a summary of various crypto tools if you’re interested in
This article originally appeared on Ars Technica.