The Twitter account of the U.S. Central Command was hacked Monday and the group behind the attack posted threats to American soldiers, alleged contact information for military personnel and purported military scenarios in various world hot spots.
The account has since been suspended.
The attack appeared to be conducted by sympathizers of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) or a group affiliated with them. The account's photo was changed to show a face concealed by a scarf with the words "CyberCaliphate" and "i love you isis" written on the picture. The hackers posted their first message at 12:29 p.m. Monday, which read, "AMERICAN SOLDIERS, WE ARE COMING, WATCH YOUR BACK. ISIS." It included a link to a data storage site called Pastebin and the hashtag "#CyberCaliphate."
Over the next several minutes, the group claimed to have posted personal contact information for what purports to be current and retired American military personnel with messages such as, "We won't stop! We know everything about you, your wives and children."
We won't stop! We know everything about you, your wives and children. pic.twitter.com/ixz82lCDES— U.S. Central Command (@CENTCOM) January 12, 2015
Around the same time, the group appeared to take over the CENTCOM YouTube channel and began posting ISIS propaganda videos. The account was suspended shortly after the Twitter account was taken down.
In a statement Monday afternoon, CENTCOM said the attacks did not result in any operational impact and that its operational military networks were not compromised. The websites reside on commercial servers, not ones controlled by the Defense Department.
"We are viewing this purely as a case of cybervandalism," the statement said. "In the meantime, our initial assessment is that no classified information was posted and that none of the information posted came from CENTCOM's server or social media sites. Additionally, we are notifying appropriate DoD and law enforcement authorities about the potential release of personally identifiable information and will take appropriate steps to ensure any individuals potentially affected are notified as quickly as possible."
The FBI said it will investigate the breach and work with the Defense Department "to determine the nature and scope of this incident."
On the Twitter account the hackers also posted what appear to be military scenarios for China and the Korean peninsula, and a photo that appeared to be taken inside a military base with the words, "ISIS is already here, we are in your PCs, in each military base," but these claims have yet to be verified by the Pentagon.
CBS News National Security Correspondent David Martin reports that the military scenarios appear to have been produced by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and that the military rosters were not up to date, listing some generals who had moved onto other jobs.
He also said the contact information is "readily available" to people like reporters who cover the Pentagon.
"There's an awful lot of information that is pretty standard, run-of-the-mill information which just hasn't been released to the public and I think that's the category that this roster would fall into," Martin said.
The attack appeared similar to another cyber attack earlier this month in which a group calling itself the "CyberCaliphate" took over the Twitter feeds of two American news outlets as well as the website of a Maryland-based TV news station. The image on the Twitter feed of the Albuquerque Journal, one of the hacked news outlets, showed the same scarf-covered face and text.
Correction: An earlier version of this article attributed the CENTCOM statement on the hacking of its Twitter and YouTube pages to the Pentagon. The statement was from CENTCOM.