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Pentagon official says CENTCOM Twitter hack a “prank”

A screen capture from the compromised US Central Command Twitter account as it appeared on Tuesday, January 13, 2015. [Image: The Desk]
A screen capture from the compromised US Central Command Twitter account as it appeared on Tuesday, January 13, 2015. [Image: The Desk]
A Pentagon official downplayed Tuesday’s vandalism of a social media profile used by a department agency as a “prank,” saying there’s no evidence that classified computer networks were targeted or compromised as a result of the attack.

Speaking to reporters, Pentagon spokesperson Col. Steve Warren said government officials were in touch with Twitter and Google’s YouTube after profiles on both social media platforms were compromised by an individual or group sympathetic with the Islamic State militia.

Pranksters commandeered the Twitter and YouTube profiles of the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM), replacing profile images with graphics depicting a flag symbolic of the Islamic State as well as publishing threats against American soldiers.

Warren told reporters that government computer servers did not appear to be affected by the attack.

“This is little more in our view than a cyber prank,” Warren said. “It’s an annoyance, but that’s all it is.”

Calling itself the “Cyber Caliphate,” the same group claimed responsibility for a similar wave of attacks against the social media profiles of two media organizations last week. Hackers altered the Twitter profiles of the Albuquerque Journal and Maryland CBS affiliate WBOC-TV.

While the accounts were compromised, hackers posted a series of images and documents it claimed it had taken from various computer networks in New Mexico and Tennessee. Among them were documents that had already been in the public domain as well as sensitive memos and reports that appeared to have originated from a Tennessee-based intelligence operation known as a “fusion center.”

The Albuquerque Journal regained control of its Twitter account later in the day. It is unclear why hackers decided to target the media organizations.

Defense News: Pentagon official downplays hack of CENTCOM Twitter account

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About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is the publisher of The Desk and reports on the business and policy matters involving the broadcast television, streaming video and radio industries. He previously worked for Thomson Reuters, Disney-ABC, Tribune Broadcasting and McNaughton Newspapers. Matthew is based in Northern California, has won numerous awards in the field of journalism, and is a member of IRE (Investigative Reporters and Editors).