It is not uncommon for anyone with an email or social media account to have one or more of their accounts get “hacked.” Usually, a hack involves some malicious person posting or sending private messages from the compromised account, in order to try to obtain sensitive personal information or access to accounts. This deceitful tactic is commonly referred to as “phishing.”
If you’re lucky, a hacked account is just a nuisance. Common remedies range from changing passwords to closing the account and re-friending or re-connecting with your contacts. This week, the U.S. military experienced a hack of two of their social media accounts, and the results were more than just an annoyance.
The U.S. military’s Central Command (CENTCOM) is the theater level command center for all military operations in the Middle East, North Africa and Central Asia. This means that CENTCOM personnel have been responsible for coordinating and planning all combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. CENTCOM has been planning and ordering airstrikes against the Islamic State (also referred to ISIS or ISIL) in Iraq since August, and in Syria since September.
On Monday, January 12, 2015, social media accounts belonging to CENTCOM were hacked by a group that calls itself the Cyber Caliphate, which has claimed allegiance to the Islamic State. At approximately 12:30 Eastern time, a Twitter account belonging to CENTCOM began posting (tweeting) rogue comments. The account’s profile image was changed to display the name “CyberCaliphate” with an image that looked like an Islamic State militant, and the phrase “i love you isis [sic].” One tweet made from the hacked account said “AMERICAN SOLDIERS, WE ARE COMING, WATCH YOUR BACK. ISIS.”
A Youtube account belonging to CENTCOM was also hacked. Two Islamic State propaganda films were posted on the account before Youtube shut the account down.
Another tweet was accompanied by a photo of two females in uniform in an office with computers, one of whom was attempting to control what looks like a goat. The tweet attached to the photo said, “ISIS is already here, we are in your PCs, in each military base.”
While the hacked accounts and the threats that the hackers promised are disturbing, the public should not be too concerned at this point. No classified materials were compromised and no military networks were breached. The hack does not mean that military networks are in any danger, it just drives home what most of us already knew– social media sites aren’t always safe.
While the Islamic State can view the hack as a victory of sorts, their cyberattack has gained them nothing. CENTCOM’s Twitter and Youtube accounts were back up in a matter of hours.
An investigation is underway to attempt to locate where the hack originated from.
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Military Connection: Military Command’s Social Media Accounts Hacked: By Debbie Gregory