, Washington, Jan 13 – A group declaring support for Islamic State jihadists hacked US Central Command’s social media accounts on Monday, forcing the military to take down the command’s Twitter feed.
In an embarrassing propaganda setback for the US military, a black-and-white banner with the words “CyberCaliphate” and “I love you ISIS” replaced Central Command’s usual logo on Twitter and YouTube before the pages were suspended.
But the military downplayed the effect of the hacking, saying no sensitive computer networks were penetrated and no state secrets were revealed.
“Our initial assessment is that no classified information was posted and that none of the information posted came from CENTCOM’s server or social media sites,” the command said in a statement.
The command has notified law enforcement agencies about “the potential release of personally identifiable information and will take appropriate steps to ensure any individuals potentially affected are notified as quickly as possible,” it said.
The hacked Twitter feed posted what appeared to be an office phone directory of officers that was slightly out of date.
The Pentagon, which devotes a great deal of effort to its social media accounts, said the incident amounted to mere digital “vandalism.”
“Centcom didn’t get hacked. Twitter got hacked,” Colonel Steven Warren told reporters.
“It’s important to keep this whole thing in perspective. This is little more than a cyber prank. It’s an annoyance,” he said. “It in no way compromises our operations.”
Before the Twitter feed was suspended, the hackers wrote on the seized account that the self-styled CyberCaliphate “is already here, we are in your PCs, in each military base.”
Another post said: “American soldiers, we are coming, watch your back.”
Central Command, based in Tampa, Florida, oversees the US-led air war against the group in Iraq and Syria, as well as other American operations in the Middle East and Horn of Africa.
– No major data breach –
In another embarrassing twist, the hack came as President Barack Obama was delivering a speech on cyber security.
The White House said there was no sign that sensitive data had been exposed.
“It’s a pretty significant difference between what is a large data breach and the hacking of a Twitter account,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters.