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Pentagon: Hacking of CENTCOM Site a 'Prank'

January 12, 2015 (Photo Credit: Aaron Mehta)

In a cyber attack on a Pentagon social media account on Monday, a group calling itself the "CyberCaliphate" hacked into to the Twitter and YouTube accounts of the US Central Command, posting lists of retired officers and the phone numbers, email addresses of US generals, and several Power Point screenshots showing what claim to be US intelligence assessments of North Korea.

But Pentagon spokesman Col. Steve Warren told reporters that while CENTCOM is "taking a look at that now and doing the analysis right now...there's no evidence that any DoD system, computer or network has in any way been compromised."

The DoD is currently in contact with YouTube and Twitter to make sure that its accounts are secure, but Warren said that "this is little more in our view than a cyber prank. It's an annoyance, but that's all it is." He stressed that "it in no way compromises our operations ….this isn't our Web site, this is our account."

Likewise, Ben FitzGerald, director of the Technology and National Security Program at Center for a New American Securitysaid that the severity of the hack depends on how one looks at it.

"Do you choose to view this through the prism of technical security, or ISIS' ability to spread its message?"

The hack "shows how relatively easy it is to get a win in an information dominant society" he said. And despite the fact that as far as we know no government systems had been breached, the hack is still a politically and even militarily significant act.

"For people with no tech background in the Middle East and the US, they're not getting the nuance of what's happening there. The costs are so low, but the effect could be significant."

The hack, he said, "is not consequential at all, but for zero dollars this 'cyber caliphate' has made a mark."

On Monday afternoon, CENTCOM issued a statement confirming the hack, saying that "we are taking appropriate measures to address the matter. Our initial assessment is that no classified information was posted. When we have more, we'll be sure to let folks know."

Twitter: @paulmcleary

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