Pro-ISIS group hacks U.S. military social media

The Pentagon says that the hacks were embarrassing, 'but not a security threat'

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The U.S. Central Command Twitter and YouTube accounts were hacked on Monday by people claiming to be Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) sympathizers, in a hacking described by a Pentagon official as “embarrassing.”

“In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful, the CyberCaliphate continues its CyberJihad,” the Centcom Twitter feed said.

The Twitter account published an alleged list of U.S. generals and addresses associated with them, titled “Army General Officer Public Roster (by rank) 2 January 2014.”

U.S. Central Command confirmed the account was hacked. Commenting on the hacks, a Pentagon official told U.S. TV network NBC News that the hack of the Centcom Twitter was embarrassing but “but not a security threat.”

A defense official told Reuters that images published on the Centcom Twitter feed do not appear to pose a security threat or include classified information.

Subsequent posts on the Centcom twitter account read, “Pentagon Networks Hacked! China Scenarios” and “Pentagon Networks Hacked. Korean Scenarios.

Centcom's account on video-sharing site YouTube was also hacked, and two videos were uploaded - with one, entitled "O Soldiers of Truth Go Forth" showing ISIS propaganda messages.Around 55 minutes after the first of the two videos were uploaded, YouTube suspended the account.

"This account has been terminated due to repeated or severe violations of our Community Guidelines," the message by YouTube read.

Paul Youtube
Paul Youtube

The hack comes just days after U.S. President Barack Obama said the age of technology and digital innovation has created enormous vulnerabilities for the U.S.

Other websites hacked

Hackers claiming to be Islamists have also hijacked hundreds of French websites since the attacks on the satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo, flooding them with jihadist propoganda.

Homepages of several French websites have been replaced by phrases like "There is no God but Allah," "Death to France" or Death to Charlie" written against a black background, often with the signature #OpFrance. The technique termed "defacement" consists of taking control of an Internet site and modifying its content.

Since last week's attacks in Paris that killed 17 people, various sites -mainly those of city halls, schools, universities, churches and businesses -have been hacked by groups claiming to be Islamists from North Africa or Mauritania.

Users were directed to a site broadcasting a fundamentalist speech when they logged onto the official website of the Lot department in south-west France. A Tunisian group calling themselves "Fallaga Team" claimed to be behind this incident.

A website showing a message in Arabic and another in French which said "I confirm that there is only one God and that is Allah. I confirm that Mohammed is the messenger of Allah" replaced the home page of the Caen Memorial, a museum and war memorial in the northern town of Caen.

"We are facing groups of activists who are forming and dissolving very quickly," said Gerome Billois, a cybersecurity expert at Solucom.

"I can't remember having seen such a big hacking campaign in such a short period of time," he said, adding that "several hundreds of sites had been affected."

"We can speak of cyberjihad, and hacking is just the tip of the iceberg and also the least dangerous since the only consequence is the display of an ideology," said Thierry Karsenti, European technical director at cybersecurity firm Checkpoint.

He added that it was technically fairly easy to take control of these sites given that they were either poorly protected or not updated regularly enough.

The same hacking techniques are being used by the opposing camp. After calls from the hacker group Anonymous to avenge Charlie Hebdo, activists claimed to have attacked jihadist propoganda sites.

"Wait for a huge reaction from us," the group said after launching a Twitter account called @OpCharlieHebdo following the Paris attacks.

The message on the social network said that the group, part of Anonymous, was fighting to "defend the freedom of expression and opinion."

(With AFP)

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