Believed ISIS Sympathizers Hack U.S. Military Twitter and YouTube Accounts
For about 30 minutes on Monday, Jan 12, the official Twitter and YouTube account for the U.S. military command in operations in the Middle East were hacked. It is believed that hackers behind this are sympathizers of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militant group that have taken control of parts of Iraq and Syria.
One of the tweets believed to be posted by the hacker during those 30 minutes when the U.S. military Twitter account was hacked read: “American soldiers, we are coming, watch your back, ISIS”.
The Central Command Twitter read, “In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful, the CyberCaliphate continues its CyberJihad.”
Other tweets read: “Pentagon Networks Hacked! China Scenarios”… “Pentagon Networks Hacked. Korean Scenarios.”
The hackers went further to publish a list with the names of the generals and their addresses. Central Command has since notified the Pentagon and relevant law enforcement agencies about the possible leakage of “personally identifiable information” and measures are being put in place to ensure “potentially affected” people are notified quickly.
U.S. officials later acknowledged the incident terming the “compromised” accounts as very embarrassing incident. It is said that the FBI has taken up investigations into the matter.
While addressing the press, Pentagon spokesman, Army Colonel Steve Warren, said that the Defense Department has taken the incident as nothing more than a “little more than a prank, or as vandalism. It’s inconvenient; it’s an annoyance but in no way is any sensitive or classified information compromised.”
Defense officials also made a press statement saying, “operational military networks were not compromised, and there was no operational impact.”
Josh Earnest, a White House spokesman, said during a press briefing that the act of hacking into U.S. military Twitter account was, “something that we take seriously”. He further downplayed the gravity by saying, “There’s a pretty significant difference between what is a large data breach and the hacking of a Twitter account.”
This latest hacking on the U.S. comes against the backdrop of U.S. President Barack Obama announcing on new proposals on Monday, aiming at revamping the American cyber security. President Obama said this, after a high-profile hacking incident targeting Sony Pictures for which the U.S. is blaming it on North Korea.
A good number of current and former U.S security and intelligence team said they have never before heard of the CyberCaliphate term being used. Some of them were skeptic of the group’s cyber skills and capabilities. However, the chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Homeland Security, Republican Michael McCaul of Texas termed the incident as “severely disturbing.”
McCaul said, “Assaults from cyber-jihadist will become more common unless the administration develops a strategy for appropriately responding to these cyber-attacks, including those like the North Korea attack against Sony.
The accounts now seem to be back to normal, if the following tweet made by the U.S. Central Command is anything to go by:
We’re back! CENTCOM temporarily suspended its Twitter account after an act of cybervandalism. Read more: http://t.co/hiwvSp3uWt
— U.S. Central Command (@CENTCOM) January 13, 2015
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