The Islamic State militants have been using social media tools extensively for not just spreading its ideology but also in combat. However, ISIS supporters have now asked the 'brothers' to keep away from WhatsApp as its unsafe security protocol makes it vulnerable to snooping by NSA or GCHQ.
WhatsApp, which has a user base of 500 million people, is a cross-platform instant messaging service to send messages, including video and audio.
The ISIS militants as part of their propaganda have used several social media tools such as Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, and even WhatsApp. A technical expert for ISIS in an Arabic-language forum, which uses encryption tools to provide complete anonymity to the user, has asked the other Islamic State fighters not to use WhatsApp, as it can be a security threat.
In the pro-jihad forum, the ISIS technical expert, who goes by the name of S3cur1ty11, said: "WhatsApp is famous among ordinary Muslims... but it certainly is not the most secure. A Christian [indirect reference to the West] who knows the weakness in its security can easily penetrate the device and can then [the West] can use it against their war against the mujahedeen."
"There are some serious flaws with WhatsApp through which NSA or British intelligence agency GCHQ can intercept and even manipulate the brother mujaheds," S3cur1ty11 stated.
The ISIS expert requesting all 'mujahidin' from shunning WhatsApp, said, "...soon will have a post on alternative messaging tools, which are much safer."
Earlier this year, a report by a researcher from security consultancy Praetorian had claimed that WhatsApp can easily be manipulated by NSA or any intelligence agency.
The most serious problem with WhatsApp is with its secure sockets layer (SSL) encryption, which is susceptible to several well-known attacks that allow people monitoring a connection between the two end-points to decipher and in some cases manipulate the traffic as it passes through.
Reports have noted that ISIS has extensively been using WhatsApp even in its combat operations.
According to Al Monitor, during combat operations, the ISIS armoured unit or fighter units communicate through WhatsApp on their positions during the combat.
ISIS also uses WhatsApp for disseminating propaganda messages via social media to enemy fighters and civilians living in the targeted urban settlements to demoralise and dishearten them, the report noted.
In September, following the arrest of Mufid Elfgeeh, 30, of Rochester, a Yemeni native and store owner, it had emerged that he used both WhatsApp and Twitter to recruit university students on behalf of ISIS.