Mobile messaging service Telegram, created by the exiled founder of Russia's most popular social network site, has become an important new promotional and recruitment platform for Islamic State.
The service, set up two years ago, has gained immense popularity in many parts of the globe as an ultra-secure way to quickly upload and share videos, texts and voice messages.
The number of active users of the service, around the world number 60 million.
According to security researchers, a new feature of Telegram, introduced in September, had emerged the preferred method for Islamic State to broadcast news and share videos of military victories or sermons, according to security researchers. The group claimed responsibility for the Paris attacks that left 129 people dead, and the bombing of a Russian airliner over Egypt last month, in which 224 people were killed, using the service.
According to Alex Kassirer, a counter-terrorism analyst with the New York-based private intelligence firm Flashpoint, IS uses Telegram broadcast channels to send releases aimed at recruitment, inspiration and motivation.
Meanwhile, Telegram said it was taking steps to stop ISIS extremists from using its technology to communicate and spread propaganda. In a blog post yesterday, Telegram announced it had blocked 78 ISIS-related channels, operating in 12 languages, this week alone.
"We were disturbed to learn that Telegram's public channels were being used by ISIS to spread their propaganda," the statement said. "We are carefully reviewing all reports sent to us at email@example.com and are taking appropriate action to block such channels."
"I think what we're going to learn is that these guys are communicating via these encrypted apps, the commercial encryption, which is very difficult, if not impossible, for governments to break, and the producers of which don't produce the keys necessary for law enforcement to read the encrypted messages," Michael Morell, a former CIA deputy director and a CBS News senior national security contributor, said on CBS's `Face the Nation.'