‘IS hackers’ take down US Central Command websites

The messages shown on the US Central Command Twitter page. Picture: AP

The messages shown on the US Central Command Twitter page. Picture: AP

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HACKERS claiming to be working on behalf of Islamic State seized control of US Central Command’s social media ­accounts and posted home addresses they said belonged to generals and other military personnel.

A group calling itself The Cyber Caliphate and claiming association with IS militants last night took over the ­@CentCom Twitter account that represents Central Military Command at the Pentagon.

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The hackers tweeted the message: “American Soldiers We Are Coming, Watch Your Back. Isis. #CyberCaliphate”.

Links to confidential US army files featuring names and phone numbers of personnel were also posted, along with maps and PowerPoint presentation slides.

A YouTube site belonging to Central Military Command was also hacked by the group and a number of IS videos purporting to show military operations and explosions were posted to the account.

The hackers titled the Twitter page “CyberCaliphate”. The page read: “i love you isis.”

In a statement posted online the group stated: “In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful, the CyberCaliphate under the auspices of ISIS continues its CyberJihad.

“While the US and its satellites kill our brothers in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan we broke into your networks and personal devices and know everything about you. We won’t stop! We know everything about you, your wives and children. US soldiers! We’re watching you!”

A senior US defence official confirmed the two accounts were compromised. Pentagon officials later described the hack as embarrassing “but not a security threat”. The @CentCom Twitter account has now been suspended.

Most of the material was labelled “FOUO,” which means “For Official Use Only,” but none of it appeared to be classified or sensitive information, suggesting the hackers did not breach classified material.

One of the documents appeared to be slides developed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, depicting what it called “scenarios” for conflict with North Korea and China.

The tweets came shortly after US Central Command posted its own tweets about the US continuing to attack Islamic State terrorists in Iraq and Syria.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest cautioned against comparisons to the recent hack attack against Sony. He said: “There’s a pretty significant difference between what is a large data breach and the hacking of a Twitter account.”

The incident came just hours after hacking group Anonymous claimed responsibility for disabling an extremist website based in France – the first salvo in its online war against Islamic extremists in retaliation for last week’s Charlie Hebdo magazine massacre.

Anonymous took down the forum Ansar al Haqq yesterday and published a list of the other websites it intends to attack.

The campaign group posted a tweet on the @OpCharlieHebdo account boasting it had crippled the site. The message read: ­“Expect us. #JeSuisCharlie” – a reference to the campaign of solidarity launched worldwide in the wake of the atrocity.

The ansar-alhaqq.net page remained down for a number of hours last night, directing users instead to the search engine DuckDuckGo.

The nature and type of attack on the website is not yet known but in the past Anonymous has used Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) as a way of bringing down websites by flooding them with traffic until they go offline.

DDoS attacks were identified as the source of the problems with the Playstation Network, which went down over Christmas leaving gamers unable to get online. The group has also vowed to expose the Facebook accounts of extremists as part of its online war against jihadis.

Anonymous wrote: “Phase two of OpCharlieHebdo awaits. We will be releasing Jihad Facebook user profiles soon.”

The “hacktivists” have also ­attacked more than 30 alleged extremist Twitter accounts.

Anonymous announced its war on Islamic extremism in a video posted last week, saying it would target extreme social media accounts as part of efforts to protect freedom of speech. The warning came in the same video as a tribute to the victims of the attack on Charlie Hebdo.

A Belgian faction of the hacking group said in the message: “We are declaring war against you, the terrorists.”

Since it was posted on Thursday more than 6.5 million people have watched the clip, which shows a figure wearing the group’s signature Guy Fawkes mask.

In an earlier message posted on forum site Pastebin, the group addressed the “enemies of freedom of expression” and warned extremists: “Expect a massive frontal reaction from us because the struggle for the defence of those freedoms is the foundation of our movement.”

The message signed off by saying: “We will not forget. We will not forgive. Dread us.”

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