Hackers claiming allegiance to the Islamic State took control of the social media accounts of the U.S. military’s Central Command on Monday, posting threatening messages and propaganda videos, along with some military documents.
The command’s Twitter and YouTube accounts were eventually taken offline, but not before a string of tweets and the release of military documents, some of which listed contact information for senior military personnel. A Centcom spokesman confirmed their accounts were “compromised,” and that the military was investigating.
Virtually all of the documents posted appear to already have been publicly available online, but the incident is nevertheless embarrassing to the U.S. military. Centcom oversees the U.S. military campaign against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, and frequently posts videos of airstrikes on its social media accounts.
The first rogue tweet was posted about 12:30 p.m. and the account was not suspended for about another 40 minutes. The background and profile photo of the Twitter account were both changed to show an apparent militant and the phrases “CyberCaliphate” and “i love you isis,” using one of the acronyms for the militant group.
“AMERICAN SOLDIERS, WE ARE COMING, WATCH YOUR BACK,” one tweet said.
White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said the Obama administration is “examining and investigating the extent of the incident.”
“This is something we are obviously looking into and something we take seriously,” he told reporters Monday, adding he didn’t have a lot of information. He said that there is a “pretty significant difference” between “a large data breach and the hacking of a Twitter account.”
The Centcom YouTube page also appeared to have been hacked, with two Islamic State propaganda videos added to the page and the same “CyberCaliphate” banner posted. The YouTube account was eventually “terminated due to repeated or severe violations” of YouTube’s guidelines, the website said.
Central Command also maintains Facebook accounts, but it appears they were not affected.
It is not clear whether the hackers are actually with the Islamic State, sympathizers with the militants, or simply pulling a prank on the Pentagon. But J.M. Berger, an analyst and non-resident fellow with the Brookings Institution, said there is reason to believe it could be someone affiliated directly with the Islamic State.
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SOURCE: The Washington Post – Dan Lamothe