Teenage hackers have apparently traced a number of Islamic State Twitter accounts to internet addresses linked to Britain’s Department of Work and Pensions (DWP).
The group of four teenagers, who call themselves VandaSec, claim to have unearthed evidence that at least three accounts supporting the terror group can be traced to the government department’s London office.
The Mirror says the hackers showed them evidence the IP addresses linked to the accounts belong to the DWP. An IP address functions as an identification number, with every computer and smartphone in the world having a unique address.
“Don’t you think that’s strange?” one of the hackers said. “We traced these accounts back to London, the home of the British intelligence services.”
The revelation created speculation someone working for the British government was a secret extremist, or that security services had set up fake “honeypot” accounts to trap would-be jihadists.
However, the paper says that when it traced the IP addresses, they actually revealed a series of private transactions between the British government and Saudi Arabia.
Britain had sold the addresses to Saudi Arabia in October this year. Originally designated to the DWP, they were now owned by two Saudi companies, including Saudi Telecom.
It is likely the addresses were used by extremists only after the sale, but records of them had not yet been updated.
A spokesman for Britain’s Cabinet Office 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.”