"Hacktivists" Fight Terrorism From Their Home Offices

A informal network of civilians, some of them former military, are helping to fight terrorism by hacking into extremist Web sites and sending their findings to US intelligence agencies.

Article written by guest writer Kecia Lynn


What's the Latest Development?

Citizen "hacktivists" are working to infiltrate Web sites belonging to terrorist organizations and their supporters, supplying the US military and FBI with data that can be used to help identify individuals and activities. Because this network of individuals isn't "official" or organized, the data supply is "a one-way street," according to Jeff Bardin, a former Air Force linguist who has spent years developing various personas that he uses to penetrate terrorist sites. He became a hacktivist after entering Al Qaeda bulletin boards and seeing videos of attacks on US soldiers.

What's the Big Idea?

One US Special Forces officer says that the hacktivists' activities represent "a domain of warfare where an individual can make a difference." However, others worry that citizen interference could have a negative effect on existing intelligence efforts. While Bardin teaches a "Cyber Intelligence" online course in which he instructs students to obey the law, another hacktivist, known as The Jester, chooses to go beyond infiltrating the typical terrorist sites. He claims to have taken down Wikileaks and sites associated with an American extremist church. He says he wants to help disrupt terrorism but he doesn't want to be a government employee: "I feel I can be more effective overall this way."

Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com

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