Anonymous vs Ghost Security Group vs Isis
Newly-assembled hacktivist Ghost Security Group is taking on Islamic State (Isis) sidelining AnonymousGetty Images

A group of hackers who have broken away from the Anonymous collective and have pledged to lead the cyber war against the Islamic State (Isis). The Ghost Security Group (GSG) hacktivists have criticised Anonymous by saying that their tactics are ineffective.

The breakaway group promised to considerably change the strategy in tackling IS's online accounts by monitoring them instead of hacking so as to help law enforcement agencies. The smaller group of vigilante hackers also claimed that it had prevented several terror attacks in the past. However, the claims have not been verified as yet.

In an interview with IBTimes UK, the director of the self-funded GSG -- who does not wish to be identified -- said: "The Islamic State is the most nefarious adversary the world has ever faced in modern times and for this reason we all must work together responsibly to combat their twisted ideology. This war must be fought on the ground, in the air and in the digital world and the latter is our place in this war on terror. We are the ghosts that they have created."

Security agencies including the ones in the US have not yet formally acknowledged that they are working with the group on anti-terror operations. GSG has also claimed they have brought down more than 110,000 social media accounts, belonging to extremists, apart from shutting 149 IS websites and deleting 6,000 ghastly videos from the web.

GSG significantly differentiates itself from Anonymous, a loosely-aligned collective, which lacks any formal organisational structure, though they have also launched a cyber-offensive against the IS separately. Unlike Anonymous, the newly-assembled clan prefers to cooperate with law enforcement agencies to effectively handle cyber jihadists.

The executive director, who goes by the ghost name DigitaShadow, went on to say: "Anonymous also for the most part lacks the skill required in identifying actual extremist social media accounts and websites, which we have seen many times in the past.

"To actually combat terrorism on a real scale it involves coordinating efforts with United States and other nation's governments to actually prevent attacks from taking place. When we collect data that may be prove to be useful in saving human lives and result in the capture of extremists this data is useless without close relationships with government officials. Simply put we have the data and they have the means to act on it," he said.

Below is the complete interview with the GSG executive director DigitaShadow

When and why did you break away from Anonymous?

We broke away from Anonymous because we feel that in order to fight terrorism on an effective scale it requires structure and leadership which is something that cannot be found in their collective. Anonymous also for the most part lacks the skill required in identifying actual extremist social media accounts and websites which we have seen many times in the past. To actually combat terrorism on a real scale it involves coordinating efforts with United States and other nation's governments to actually prevent attacks from taking place. When we collect data that may be prove to be useful in saving human lives and result in the capture of extremists this data is useless without close relationships with government officials. Simply put we have the data and they have the means to act on it.

How many members are there in the Ghost Security Group currently?

The core number of Ghost Security Group operatives stands at 14 however we are directly partnered with another organization known as Controlling Section or CtrlSec. They are responsible for the collection and termination of known extremist social media accounts and they also focus their efforts on the removal of extremist propaganda videos. Ghost Security Group puts its focus onto monitoring known jihadist websites both surface web and deep web including forums. Additionally we infiltrate extremist social media accounts and web assets in order to collect data to be passed to government officials through our official contact Michael S. Smith II which in turn presents our data to counterterrorism officials. With these entities combined we are able to cover social media, remove propaganda, collect vital data on the enemy and share our data with officials whom can assist us in preventing attack and making arrests.

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Who is funding your group?

We are entirely self funded and survive off of donations alone through our website at http://ghostsecuritygroup.com

When and why did you decide to take on the IS?

After the attacks against Charlie Hedbo in Paris, France on January 10th, 2015 many of us saw for the first time that anyone could become a victim of terrorism from the streets of Paris to hometown America and something had to be done. Our mission is to destroy propaganda, collect data to be used against the enemy which will result in the deaths or arrests of our enemies. This is a war to be fought on all fronts from the ground to cyberspace. With the work we do here we are able to actually save innocent lives and reduce the amount of enemy combatants on the ground coalition soldiers must face through the capture and/or deaths of extremists.

Could you please shed some light on your IS-related operations. What have you done so far and what you're planning to do?

To date we have been able to terminate over 110,000 extremist social media accounts, 149 Islamic State websites and over 6,000 extremist videos however we do not eliminate enemy web assets that have significant intelligence value as we prefer to collect valuable data and allow the enemy to make mistakes in which we will exploit them. To date we have also been able to assist in the prevention of multiple terror attacks in Tunisia, NYC and Saudi Arabia which contributed to the arrests of many extremists.

What's your assessment of IS so far?

The Islamic State is the most nefarious adversary the world has ever faced in modern times and for this reason we all must work together responsibly to combat their twisted ideology. This war must be fought on the ground, in the air and in the digital world and the latter is our place in this war on terror. We are the ghosts that they have created.

To what extent you're cooperating with law enforcement agencies? How's their response?

All data we collect is funneled to a national advisor to congress and COO of Krono's Advisory Michael S. Smith II. Mr. Smith acts as our bridge between ourselves and the United States government and we work together to take the war back to the Islamic State.

How do you respond to the accusations made by Anonymous that you're cosying up with the US government/security agencies?

As I previously mentioned Anonymous can collect all the data on suspected terrorists they can however that data has zero value without the connections to government we possess which makes us and select other groups the most effective.