NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) – The same day Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said the NYPD was on high alert following an ISIS video threat, the group may have hacked the U.S. Central Command’s Twitter and YouTube sites.
As CBS2’s Dick Brennan reported, the hackers claimed to represent the Cyber Caliphate, part of ISIS. But they have not been identified and nothing classified was leaked.
But nonetheless, the hack raised serious questions about security, and how vulnerable we may be.
The sites were taken over Monday by hackers claiming to be working on behalf of the Islamic State militants.
The hack apparently started at 12:30 p.m. with a message sent via the Twitter account for the U.S. Central Command, or Centcom, that read, “American soldiers, we are coming, watch your back. ISIS.”
A message went on to say that “ISIS continues its CyberJihad,” adding “we broke into your networks and personal devices and know everything about you.”
“ISIS is already here, we are in your PCs, in each military base,” the message read. “We know everything about you, your wives and children.”
Further Tweets on the page included names, phone numbers and email addresses of various military commanders. A list of retired generals and their contact information was also posted.
Various military scenarios involving North Korea and China were also posted.
The military suspended the Twitter site and terminated the YouTube site. This is not the first time that U.S. government websites or other accounts have been hacked. It was not clear whether the site was attacked by the insurgent group or by sympathizers.
The White House says the U.S. is taking the hack very seriously, but asked that it be kept in perspective.
“This is something we’re obviously looking into, and something we take seriously,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest said. But he cautioned against comparisons to the broader hack attack against Sony. “There’s a pretty significant difference between what is a large data breach and the hacking of a Twitter account,” he said.
Cyber and privacy expert Mark Rasch agreed that it all could have been far worse.
“The fact that the Twitter feed for Centcom was hacked is not that significant,” he told CBS2’s Tony Aiello. “If the documents themselves were stolen from Centcom — that is significant.”
The hackers also took over the CentCom YouTube page and posted ISIS propaganda videos, raising questions about just how hard it was to secure the system.
“This isn’t the most difficult thing of do, but it does take some element of technical skill, as well as targeting, to be able to do this,” said Mitch Silber of K2 Intelligence.
Nonetheless, some critics said the U.S. is falling behind when it comes the propaganda war.
“While extremism has been around for some time, the extremists seem to be using certain kind of 21st century communications tools more effectively than we are to spread their message and to radicalize,” said Dave Ibsen of the Counter Extremism Project.
There was no mention of the hack on U.S. Central Command’s official web page.
A senior defense official confirmed that the two accounts were compromised and said U.S. Central Command was taking appropriate measures to address the matter. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the official was not authorized to speak about it publicly on the record.
The FBI was investigating the hack late Monday, and said in a statement that it “continues to work with the Department of Defense in order to determine the nature and scope of this incident.”
The hack came as new video surfaces of Hayate Boumeddiene, the woman wanted in connection with the French terror attacks. Authorities said she is seen with a male companion entering Turkey.
Meanwhile, French police said they fear as many as six terror cell members could still be on the loose following the attacks.
In Paris on Sunday, more than a million people joined 40 world leaders in a show of solidarity against terrorism. But no top-level U.S. official was there, and on Monday, White House officials admitted they goofed.
“Some have asked whether or not the United States should have sent someone with a higher profile than the ambassador to France, and I think it’s fair to say that we should have sent someone with a higher profile to be there,” Earnest said.
On Thursday night, nine NYPD officers were on their way to Paris to attend the funerals for the French police officers killed in the terror attacks last week.
Check out additional coverage from our colleagues at CBSNews.com.
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