The Twitter and YouTube accounts for U.S. Central Command, a military outpost that focuses on countries in the Middle East, were hacked Monday, a U.S. Defense official told NBC News’ Jim Miklaszewski.
The Twitter account was compromised around 12:30 p.m. ET, just as President Obama was delivering a speech on cybersecurity at Federal Trade Commission headquarters. “If we’re going to be connected, we’ve got to be protected,” Obama said, adding that he would introduce legislation to create a single national standard for cybersecurity.
“We can confirm that the U.S. Central Command’s Twitter and YouTube accounts were compromised earlier today,” a U.S. Defense official told Miklaszewski. “We are taking appropriate measures to address the matter. I have no further information to provide at this time.”
CENTCOM quickly regained control of its Twitter and YouTube accounts and was working to remove content posted by the hackers. Officials told NBC News that the accounts were not classified, and information posted on the accounts was also not classified. “This is clearly embarrassing, but not a security threat,” a Defense Department official told Miklaszewski.
White House press secretary Josh Earnest said the Obama administration is looking into the hack and takes it seriously. Earnest, however, cautioned that there is a “significant difference between what is a large data breach and the hacking of a twitter account.”
“We’re still examining and investigating the extent of this incident, but I don’t have any information beyond that,” he told reporters Monday at the White House.
Later Monday, CENTCOM released a statement acknowledging the hack, reiterating that the outpost’s “operational military networks were not compromised,” and promising that “operational military networks were not compromised.” “We are viewing this purely as a case of cybervandalism,” the statement says.
On Monday night, CENTCOM tweeted “We’re back!” as its Twitter presence returned. NBC confirmed with Central Command officials that their social media account was back online.
Central Command’s Twitter account was suspended shortly after 1 p.m. ET. The YouTube account, where two ISIS videos were posted, was also suspended. Despite the breach, the military command’s website and its operations appear not to have been hacked.
The Twitter page for U.S. Central Command displayed the words “CyberCaliphate” and “i love you isis,” a reference to the terror group the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. The account posted a series of tweets after being compromised, including “In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful, the CyberCaliphate continues its CyberJihad” and other threatening messages.