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Preventing Radicalisation Online through the Proliferation of Harmonised ToolkitS

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - PROPHETS (Preventing Radicalisation Online through the Proliferation of Harmonised ToolkitS)

Reporting period: 2018-05-01 to 2019-10-31

The core aim of the project is to examine the process of online behavioural radicalisation and how it leads to hate speech, terrorist financing, terrorist-generated content, terrorist recruitment and training.
More specifically, PROPHETS maps out, cross-validates, and examines the processes, mechanisms, and the means by and through which online behavioural radicalisation occurs and leads to the four outcomes. The project also attempts to mitigate online behavioural radicalisation that incites terrorism by building resilience in people and wider society. The project will achieve its objectives through developing a number of tools to enhance LEAs’ proactive online preventive and investigatory skills, in line with the national legislations of the member states, concerning the area of behavioural radicalisation linked to terrorist activities online. PROPHETS will focus on understanding the process of behavioural radicalisation and will address the relational dynamics between radical behaviours and the above mentioned four key areas.


PROPHETS will realise its core vision through the following key objectives.
1) Online Awareness, Capacity and Resilience Building
2) Understanding Online Material
3) Identifying Underlying Psychological Traits
4) Recognising Ethical, Moral and Legal Concerns
5) Exploring Cybercrime as a Service
6) Policy Shaping, Training and Public Engagement
7) Tools to Enhance Capabilities and Counter Radical Behaviours
Objective 1: Online awareness, capacity, and resilience-building
- Case study of the Hacking Team data breach, the WikiLeaks Vault 7 series, and the Pegasus case to analyse the social and ethical implications of radicalization awareness and prevention management
- Investigation of the role citizens, LEAs, and security professionals play in prevention operations and how these different roles relate to a more global system of general prevention
- Analysis of the intelligence-led policing approach, its applicability in different EU countries with different powers of LEAs, and its actual efficacy for radicalization prevention
- The subsumption of national programs, strategies, and interventions used to combat radicalization processes by building resilience among vulnerable populations such as adolescents and young adults

Objective 2: Understanding online material
- A survey in several European countries (experts, stakeholders, practitioners) regarding counter-radicalization activities of vulnerable individuals in the respective nation
- Literature review on the current state of the art cybercrime types, subdivided into hardware, software, and network attacks, including examples of countermeasures
- Desk-based research (PESTL analysis and evaluation) of contemporary cybercrime in the UK, Italy, Germany, Estonia, and the Netherlands regarding (a) the emerging threats and (b) the historic evolution of specific technologies and their level of impact upon the PESTL areas

Objective 3: Underlying psychological traits
- Extensive literature review and case studies to identify, understand, and explain psychological factors associated with radicalization and prevent violent extremism
- Study and summary of radicalization models, including recent developments, merging them into risk factors
- Case studies of radical cases to determine how and in what way the internet plays a role in the radicalization processes of vulnerable individuals
- Analysis of the interplay between terrorist, mafia, organized crime, and gang environments and their association with radicalization
- Case studies to explore the progression from “vulnerable” to “influential” individual and the influence different sub-cultures have on this process since radicalization results from a multifactorial interaction of risk factors, access routes, and triggering events

Objective 4: Ethical, legal and moral concerns
- Analysis under which legal measures it is possible to profile influential and vulnerable individuals in different European countries
- Design of a roadmap with a comprehensive strategy granting legality, legitimacy, and ethical conduct within all PROPHETS products regarding functionality, testing, training, awareness-raising, and project exploitation with a special focus on the analysis of the specific points of view of the different first-line practitioners and stakeholders with respect to legal, ethical, and societal aspects

Objective 5: Exploring Cybercrime as a Service
- The first LL in Italy will take place in January 2020. Experts have been appointed and invited and the document on the content of the LLs has been created and circulated.

Objective 7: Tools to enhance capabilities and counter radical behaviours
- PROPHETS platform: initial technical specifications, architecture design, GUI, and integration of several Online Monitoring and Situational Awareness Tools.
- Policy Making Toolkit: mock-up version and basic functionality.
- Online Monitoring and Situational Awareness Tools: initial prototype version incorporating several functionalities (social media monitoring, descriptive analytics, text-based clustering, social network analysis, and their accompanying visualisations).
- Expert Notification Portal: back-end architecture, mobile (iOS) application, and mock-up desktop version
Beyond the state of the art:
1. Identifying new challenges, vulnerabilities and recommendations in behavioural radicalisation and radicalisation-related online activities validated through use cases, existing projects and end-user engagement.
2. An investigative platform for monitoring, detecting and countering radicalisation-related online activities.
3. Increase resilience and understanding and cooperation through new analysis, understanding, and platform.
4. New methods to make policy dynamically, proactively and reactively, review existing EU wide structures and policies, allow for a homogenous approach that will encompass and encourage information sharing.
5. Open source tools and training will be cost-efficient, and empower LEAs to act upon detecting, reporting threats etc., increase empowerment and decrease feelings of insecurity.
6. Discovery of existing and emerging radicalisation-related online activities and CT threats and vulnerabilities over the internet.

Expected results:
- A human factors approach to understanding the radicalisation behaviours from a vulnerable and influential perspective.
- Evidence-based case studies supporting the development and validation of three investigative tools to support LEAs and citizens/employees in dealing with radicalisation-related online activities.
- A strong iterative approach to development, based on constant, direct input from end-users.
- Automated investigation support, including the profiling of risk sites and actors for influencing and encouraging behaviour towards committing, supporting and engaging with radicalisation-related online activities.
- A real-time approach to analysing content and alerting LEAs of possible radicalisation-related online activities.
- A policy-making toolkit that aims to enable the creation of more effective, data-driven, and creative cybersecurity policy across the EU.
- Expert advice portal that expands the capacity and skillset of LEAs responding to, or proactively monitoring radicalisation-related online activities, allowing greater access to interoperable advice, recommendations from
multi-agency security stakeholders.
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