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Pentagon social media accounts hit by pro-ISIS hackers
Leaks and propaganda followed.
The Pentagon is under cyberattack—or, at least, its social media accounts are.
The attacks on CENTCOM came at the exact same time as President Obama gave a speech on improving cybersecurity around the nation at an event hosted by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
The CyberCaliphate hackers made waves last week when they hacked several local media outlets and published private documents from local government servers.
“Pentagon networks hacked,” the hijackers wrote. “American soldiers, we are coming, watch your back. ISIS. #CyberCaliphate.”
The hackers released documents that include the personal information of American soldiers as well as “war scenarios” for conflict with China. On YouTube, they released Islamic State propaganda videos.
One Yahoo journalist reported that Twitter, not Central Command, was hacked. That doesn’t explain how CENTCOM’s YouTube page was simultaneously taken over as well.
Central Command is responsible for the American military in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Syria, the three theaters of war that the hackers cited as the catalyst for the cyberattack.
A Central Command spokesperson told the Daily Dot that they would provide a statement on the attack when they had investigated the matter.
Update 1:15pm ET, Jan. 12: Twitter has suspended the @centcom account. CENTCOM’s website also appears to be offline, though it is unclear whether this is part of a cyberattack or a move by the military agency.
Update 1:42pm ET, Jan. 12: CENTCOM says it it taking “appropriate measures” to deal with the attack:
CENTCOM off’l: “We can confirm that the CENTCOM Twitter and YouTube accounts were compromised earlier today,” taking “appropriate measures”
— Brett LoGiurato (@BrettLoGiurato) January 12, 2015
Asked about the hack on @Centcom, President Obama downplayed the incident in comparison to major attacks, like the recent hack of Sony Pictures:
Update 5:05pm ET, Jan. 12: In a statement to the press, CENTCOM confirmed the hijacking of its social media accounts and said that no vital military systems had been compromised, nor had the attackers shared any classified information. Here is the full statement:
Earlier today, U.S. Central Command’s Twitter and YouTube sites were compromised for approximately 30 minutes. These sites reside on commercial, non-Defense Department servers and both sites have been temporarily taken offline while we look into the incident further. CENTCOM’s operational military networks were not compromised and there was no operational impact to U.S. Central Command. CENTCOM will restore service to its Twitter and YouTube accounts as quickly as possible. We are viewing this purely as a case of cybervandalism.
In the meantime, our initial assessment is that no classified information was posted and that none of the information posted came from CENTCOM’s server or social media sites. Additionally, we are notifying appropriate DoD and law enforcement authorities about the potential release of personally identifiable information and will take appropriate steps to ensure any individuals potentially affected are notified as quickly as possible.
Update 10:15pm ET, Jan. 12: The @Centcom account is back online:
Photo via Jeremy Keith/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)
Patrick Howell O'Neill is a notable cybersecurity reporter whose work has focused on the dark net, national security, and law enforcement. A former senior writer at the Daily Dot, O'Neill joined CyberScoop in October 2016. I am a cybersecurity journalist at CyberScoop. I cover the security industry, national security and law enforcement.