In what is being called an act of “cyber-vandalism,” US Central Command had their Twitter and YouTube accounts hacked by apparent ISIS sympathizers, the CyberCaliphate:
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 said later that the accounts have been taken offline while the incident is investigated more.
Does it worry anyone else that US Central Command, the military leadership responsible for waging war on ISIS, cannot even protect their social media accounts from hackers? Sure, Twitter and YouTube are not as important or as secure as some other cyber-assets of Central Command. But given the extremely digital nature of modern warfare, this is worrisome to say the least.
It also raises the question of who exactly was responsible for these cyber-attacks. They apparently originated from an IP address in Maryland, so we can’t rule out the possibility that this was a prank. But most of the signs point to this being perpetrated by hackers with direct ties to ISIS.
ISIS has been recruiting and training hackers more and more recently. Presumably with the eventual purpose of doing real damage to the US. Not just hacking some social media accounts, but accessing the power grid, or some other digitally controlled infrastructure, or a more sensitive classified data center.
And the US might be behind the eight-ball a bit on this one. Hackers are not typically sympathetic with the goals of the establishment, seeing as a good bit of their activities are illegal. Which means that hiring talented counter-hackers might be a challenge. ISIS apparently has little trouble recruiting criminals, cyber and otherwise.