The Twitter and YouTube accounts of the U.S. military commancd were suspended yesterday, January 12, 2015, for a few hours after being hacked by a group claiming to be associated with Islamic State.
Pro-ISIS group hacks US Centcom Twitter handle
According to Centcom, the hack was a "cyber-vandalism" and not a serious data breach. It said in a statement that there was no operational impact and no classified information was posted.
One of the messages on Centcom's Twitter feed said: "American soldiers, we are coming, watch your back."
It was signed by ISIS, another name for the Islamic State. Some internal military documents also appeared on the Centcom Twitter feed.
"We are viewing this purely as a case of cyber-vandalism," it said. Later on Monday, its Twitter feed became visible again, although not active.
The hack embarrassingly happened as President Barack Obama was giving a speech on cyber-security.
In his speech, Obama reflected on major breaches like the recent hack of Sony Pictures, saying that the U.S. had been reminded of "enormous vulnerabilities for us as a nation and for our economy."
Obama's spokesman, Josh Earnest said the U.S is looking into the Centcom hacking. He said they were investigating the extent of the incident, and that there was a significant difference between a large data breach and the hacking of a Twitter account.
The White House says it is monitoring the extent of the hack. An unnamed Pentagon official told Reuters the hacking was an embarrassment but did not appear to be a security threat.
Also, Professor Alan Woodward, from the University of Surrey, said he did not consider the attack to be a major breach of security.
"I wouldn't say it's trivial, but it's just a slip," he told the BBC. "Twitter accounts are usually looked after by an individual in an organisation - it's very easy to give away that password.
"In terms of if this is a hack into something secret, or sensitive - no, it's not. An individual has made a slight mistake."
Subsequent posts on the Centcom Twitter account said: "Pentagon Networks Hacked! China Scenarios" and "Pentagon Networks Hacked. Korean Scenarios."
Some of the documents posted appeared to list names and phone numbers of members of the military as well as PowerPoint slides and maps.
The Centcom YouTube account was also hacked.
American and coalition war planes have been undertaking air strikes against ISIS in Iraq and Syria.
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