Syrian Electronic Army Claims Hack of Army Website

The Army’s official website was inaccessible Monday afternoon.

National Journal
Dustin Volz
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Dustin Volz
June 8, 2015, 11:36 a.m.

Hack­ers af­fil­i­ated with Syr­i­an Pres­id­ent Bashar al-As­sad swiftly claimed re­spons­ib­il­ity for knock­ing the U.S. Army’s web­site off­line Monday af­ter­noon.

The Syr­i­an Elec­tron­ic Army took cred­it for the hack of Army.mil on Twit­ter, post­ing a screen­shot of an im­age of the site with the pop-up mes­sage read­ing: “Your com­mand­ers ad­mit they are train­ing the people they have sent you to die fight­ing.”

In a state­ment, the Pentagon ac­know­ledged an in­tru­sion had oc­cured, though it did not con­firm the source.

“Today an ele­ment of the Army.mil ser­vice pro­vider’s con­tent was com­prom­ised,” Army Brig. Gen. Mal­colm Frost said. “After this came to our at­ten­tion, the Army took ap­pro­pri­ate pre­vent­ive meas­ures to en­sure there was no breach of Army data by tak­ing down the web­site tem­por­ar­ily.”

(RE­LATED: Ken Cuc­cinelli Asks Court to Block Obama Ad­min­is­tra­tion From Re­viv­ing NSA Spy­ing Pro­gram

Army.mil is in­ac­cess­ible. A cached ver­sion of the site prompts a pop-up that pro­claims “Hacked by the Syr­i­an Elec­tron­ic Army.” Upon clos­ing that win­dow, an­oth­er ap­pears: “Stop train­ing the ter­ror­ists!” fol­lowed by “Your gov­ern­ment is cor­rupt don’t listen to it!”

The Face­book ac­count for Fort Bragg in North Car­o­lina told its fol­low­ers to “avoid us­ing www.army.mil for the time be­ing.” It ad­ded that the site had was re­portedly down due to the ac­tions of SEA.

The pro-As­sad hack­ing has suc­cess­fully pen­et­rated the cy­ber de­fenses of a wide-ran­ging swath of me­dia web­sites in re­cent months, in­clud­ing CN­BC, For­bes and the Chica­go Tribune. Last month SEA briefly took down The Wash­ing­ton Post‘s mo­bile site.

The hack­ing group promp­ted a brief pan­ic at the stock mar­ket in 2013 when it hacked the As­so­ci­ated Press Twit­ter ac­count and tweeted falsely that the White House was un­der at­tack.

(RE­LATED: Sen. Pat Leahy De­nounces Alarm­ists Over Latest Massive Cy­ber­at­tack

The mil­it­ary has been sub­ject to cy­ber­van­dal­ism be­fore, but the Monday breach may be the first to dir­ectly af­fect one of its web­sites. In Janu­ary, hack­ers claim­ing to sup­port the Is­lam­ic State in Ir­aq and Syr­ia hi­jacked U.S. Cent­ral Com­mand’s Twit­ter and You­Tube ac­counts, but that breach did not im­plic­ate the mil­it­ary’s ac­tu­al net­works. A Pentagon spokes­wo­man at the time said that no clas­si­fied in­form­a­tion had been com­prom­ised.

Monday’s ap­par­ent hack comes just hours after Pres­id­ent Obama said at a press con­fer­ence in Ger­many that hacks are go­ing to con­tin­ue to grow more de­bil­it­at­ing un­til the gov­ern­ment does more to shore up the na­tion’s cy­ber de­fenses. Speak­ing about the massive theft of the per­son­al in­form­a­tion of four mil­lion former and cur­rent fed­er­al em­ploy­ees from the Of­fice of Per­son­nel Man­age­ment an­nounced last week, Obama urged Con­gress to quickly pass cy­ber­se­cur­ity le­gis­la­tion that his ad­min­is­tra­tion has re­ques­ted.

“Both state and non­state act­ors are send­ing everything they’ve got at try­ing to breach these sys­tems,” the pres­id­ent said.

It was not im­me­di­ately clear wheth­er the de­fa­cing of the Army web­site meant that any gov­ern­ment data was po­ten­tially at risk.

This story is break­ing and will be up­dated.

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