Analecta Cyber Company Blog: CENTCOM Twitter, YouTube hack traced to Maryland, home of the NSA

2015-10-21

CENTCOM Twitter, YouTube hack traced to Maryland, home of the NSA

Hackers managed to access the Twitter and YouTube accounts United States Central Command’s, or CENTCOM, uses for its forces in the Middle East.



The Central Command oversees U.S. forces battling militants in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan. In a statement, CENTCOM said its Twitter and YouTube sites were compromised for about half an hour. A Pentagon spokesperson admitted that the hacking incident was viewed as more serious than just a little prank. He added that no Pentagon systems involving operational military networks were compromised and as the investigation into the incident continues, both sites have momentarily been taken offline. He also asserted that there was no operational impact to the entire Central Command.
A group calling itself the CyberCaliphate took credit for the attack. But another group, identifying itself as Anonymous, said that it had traced the source coming from Maryland. For now, no official confirmation has been made.

An information security expert from Stanford University said that social media accounts such as Twitter and YouTube were habitually hacked just by guessing passwords or answering security questions.

As a countermeasure to this kind of attack, the CENTCOM’s Twitter security has been increased. A user from a different Internet address would have to answer multiple security questions in order to change the password. This means only legitimate CENTCOM employees have access to the account.