A group of teenage hackers claim to have uncovered a link between UK government IP addresses and Islamic State Twitter accounts.
The group of four teens, calling themselves VandaSec, showed Mirror Online evidence that appears to link at least three ISIS-supporting Twitter accounts to the Department of Work and Pensions’ London HQ.
These accounts were used by IS to carry out online recruitment and spread their propaganda, and on first inspection seem to be based in Saudi Arabia – but when you use specialist tools to look deeper they appear to come from the DWP.
One of the VandaSec hackers asked Mirror Online: “Don’t you think that’s strange? We traced these accounts back to London, the home of the British intelligence services.”
The findings have got people wondering what’s going on, are they accounts set up by MI5 to trap potential terrorists, or is someone from the DWP running pro-IS social media feeds? But The Mirror‘s investigations have led to another explanation – a series of unpublicised transactions that saw the UK sell a load of IP addresses to Saudi Arabia.
The government sold a number of their addresses to two Saudi Arabian firms in October this year, and they’re now being used to spread ISIS’s hate-filled propaganda.
At first DWP denied owning the addresses, but computer expert Jamie Turner did a little digging and found records of the sales, discovering a large amount were transferred to the Gulf state.
Turner said the addresses were likely to still show up as registered at the DWP because they’d not been updated yet. And the government office has now admitted selling them to Saudi Telecom and the Saudi-based Mobile Telecommunications Company, saying they had no control over how the IP addresses are now used.
A Cabinet Office spokesperson said:
The government owns millions of unused IP addresses which we are selling to get a good return for hardworking taxpayers.
We have sold a number of these addresses to telecoms companies both in the UK and internationally to allow their customers to connect to the internet.
We think carefully about which companies we sell addresses to, but how their customers use this internet connection is beyond our control.
— Peter Brookes (@BrookesTimes) November 28, 2015
As we reported previously, the link between ISIS and Saudi Arabia, and the UK’s continued support of our ‘allies’ in the Gulf state, is a major stumbling block in our mission to defeat the Islamic State.