Attack on Central Command Twitter and YouTube accounts came hours before President Obama was due to outline plans to strengthen cybersecurity provisions
Social media accounts linked to the US military have apparently suffered a cybersecurity attack from hackers claiming to support the terrorist Islamic State militant group.
The @CENTCOM Twitter account, representing the command that oversees operations in the Middle East, was reportedly hacked and defaced with messages (pictured below) praising Islamic State for around 30 minutes.
Messages included the apparent posting of names and addresses of US military figures and their families, although Central Command was quick to point out that this information was not classified to begin with.
Central Command’s YouTube account, which currently features videos posted by the U.S. military of air strikes on Islamic State targets in Syria and Iraq, was also altered to feature two videos titled “Flames of War ISIS Video” and “O Soldiers of Truth Go Forth.”
“American soldiers, we are coming, watch your back, ISIS”, the hackers allegedly wrote on the account during the attack, which was described as, “little more than a prank” by the US military.
“It’s inconvenient, it’s an annoyance but in no way is any sensitive or classified information compromised,” said Pentagon spokesman Army Colonel Steve Warren.
Other messages posted included “In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful, the CyberCaliphate continues its CyberJihad,” and “Pentagon Networks Hacked! China Scenarios” and “Pentagon Networks Hacked. Korean Scenarios.”
The header image of the Central Command Twitter account was also changed to show a figure in a black-and-white head scarf and the words “CyberCaliphate” and “I love you ISIS.”
However the account is now back under control.
The White House was also quick to play down the attack, which was described by spokesman Josh Earnest as “something that we take seriously.”
Earnest was keen to add, however, that “there’s a pretty significant difference between what is a large data breach and the hacking of a Twitter account.”
However, questions were raised as to the authenticity of the attack, with infamous hacking group the Syrian Electronic Army saying on its Twitter feed that the hack resembled an inside job.
“We don’t buy it, #IS scum aren’t interested in hacktivism, only hacking people’s heads off. Whoever hacked CENTCOM is pretending to be them,” the account said this morning.
The attack also came just as President Barack Obama was announcing new proposals aimed at bolstering American cybersecurity after high-profile hacking incidents including those against Sony Pictures Entertainment that U.S. officials blamed on North Korea.
This includes support for efforts to give liability protection to companies that quickly share information about attacks, but will require strict protections for personal information, the White House said in a statement.
The President will also propose new powers for law enforcement to investigate and prosecute cybercrime, including measures to allow for the prosecution of the sale of botnets, and would give courts the power to shut down botnets responsible for distributed denial of service attacks.
Other measures would be aimed at deterring the sale of spyware and would make selling stolen credit card information overseas a crime, the White House said.
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