By Debbie Gregory.
The Islamic State (IS) terrorist group has reportedly posted the names, photos and home addresses of 100 U.S. service members, most of them pilots. The IS has urged its sympathizers to carry out attacks against the service members and their families.
A group that is calling itself the “Islamic State Hacking Division” claims to have hacked into Department of Defense (DOD) websites, posting the information and the threat on a Jihadist website on March 20th. The terrorist group claimed on the site that the service members listed carried out bombings on IS targets in Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Somalia and Afghanistan. The IS posting called for its sympathizers to kill the service members “in their own lands” where they “walk their own streets thinking they’re safe.”
After checking the validity of the threat and information about the 100 service members, it has been determined that while the threat and call to kill Americans is real, the claim that IS hackers found their way into a DOD website is unfounded. Most of the information posted could be found in public records and on unrestricted websites. More than sixty of the service members on the list have been reportedly featured on the Defense Video & Imagery Distribution System (DVIDS), a public website run by the Department of the Army. In the DVIDS segments and other publicly viewed materials, service members were pictured with their names, ranks, Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) and often their home town and where they are stationed. This information could have easily led IS hackers to conduct simple research of public records to find additional personal information.
Other information that leads the Pentagon to believe that the IS hackers were not able to breach DOD records was that their list included personnel who have not been deployed, and whose occupational specialties would have nothing to do with direct U.S. efforts against the IS, in Iraq or in Syria.
Despite the validity of how the IS managed to retrieve the information, the threat and the danger are real. Service members need to be vigilant in their communities, especially in and around military installations. And those in uniform need to be careful about what they are putting on the internet. No one is suggesting that we allow terrorists to force service members to hide their pride in their service or their country, but taking extra security measures online is prudent to prevent identity theft as well as any terrorist threats.
The DOD has posted a wealth of resources and information for using the internet and social media, which can be found here.
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Military Connection: Islamic State Threatens Service Members: By Debbie Gregory