Cyber Caliphate hacks military social media accounts
Hackers who claim affiliation with the Islamic State took over the YouTube and Twitter accounts of the United States military's Central Command recently. Does the attack have implications for ordinary Internet users concerned about data breaches and privacy?
Is cyber terrorism a real concern?
IS-affiliated hacker group "Cyber Caliphate" recently took over the U.S. military's Central Command social media accounts and published military documents, propaganda videos and hateful messages. The documents included some personal phone numbers and email addresses, as well as a few slides that were prepared by an independent research group, reported The Washington Post.
Cyber Caliphate had control over the accounts for approximately 30 minutes. While the YouTube and Twitter accounts were taken offline temporarily, the U.S. government indicated that the attack did not have serious repercussions. Central Command informed the public that no confidential information was stolen and that the U.S. Department of Defense was notified, reported Top Tech News.
"CentCom's operational military networks were not compromised and there was no operational impact to U.S. Central Command," the government said in a statement, according to Top Tech News. "CentCom will restore service to its Twitter and YouTube accounts as quickly as possible. We are viewing this purely as a case of cybervandalism."
A well-timed attack soon after presidential announcement
Ken Westin, security analyst for advanced threat detection firm Tripwire, told the news source that the timing of the cyber attack was not a coincidence. Interestingly, President Barack Obama recently announced new cyber safeguards, legislation and a national standard for protecting U.S. Internet users from data breaches.
"Major companies get hacked; America's personal information, including financial information, gets stolen. And the problem is growing, and it costs us billions of dollars," President Obama said, according to Top Tech News. "In recent breaches, more than 100 million Americans have had their personal data compromised, like credit card information. When these cybercriminals start racking up charges on your card, it can destroy your credit rating. It can turn your life upside down. It may take you months to get your finances back in order."
An annoying prank that may not be IS-affiliated
According to The Washington Post, Cyber Caliphate was already under FBI investigation for hacks into the Twitter feeds of media outlets in New Mexico and Maryland. Officials have questioned however, whether the group has any real affiliation with IS.
"We broke into your networks and personal devices and know everything about you. You'll see no mercy infidels. ISIS is already here, we are in your PCs, in each military base," the hackers wrote in one of their messages, according to the news source.
The Pentagon described the breaches as an annoying prank and further commented that they did not have an affect on military networks, classified information or operational data. Perhaps more will be revealed on the origin of the hacker group and whether their incursion into government social media accounts has any serious implications for civilians looking to protect themselves from data breaches.