Australia, US vow to step up online ISIS fight

Australia, US vow to step up online ISIS fight
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Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull vowed to tighten collaboration with the U.S. to counter terrorists’ “sophisticated” use of the Internet on Tuesday.

“We have to constantly lift our game in the way we engage with and tackle these extremists, particularly ISIL — but there are many others — as they operate in the cyber sphere,” Turnbull said, using an alternate acronym for the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), shortly before a meeting with President Obama. 

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In brief remarks before their bilateral sit down in the Oval Office, the two leaders touted their countries’ close relationship in their efforts to eradicate terrorism. Obama noted that Australia is the second largest contributor of troops on the ground in the campaign against ISIS.

“They have been a consistent and extraordinarily effective member of the coalition that has helped to deliver an opportunity for the Afghan people to govern themselves and to build up their security forces,” Obama said.

Turnbull singled out terrorists’ use of the Internet to spread propaganda, recruit members and plan attacks as a key concern.

“Archaic and barbaric though they may be, their use regrettably of the Internet is very sophisticated,” he said.

Over the last year, ISIS hacking groups have defaced media outlets’ websites, leaked U.S. military members’ personal details, taken over high-profile Twitter accounts, and even stolen credit card data.

The U.S. and its allies have struggled to counteract the attention and propaganda value these incidents have brought to the extremist group.

In recent months, the Pentagon has killed two ISIS hackers with drone strikes and orchestrated the overseas arrest of another man accused of hacking on behalf of ISIS, raising raising new questions about whether the military is targeting the group’s tech-savvy members.

Turnbull on Tuesday said Australia had been in talks with the U.S. intelligence community on ways to battle “violent extremists” use of the Internet.

“I’m pleased that we're going to be working on even closer collaboration there,” he said.