WASHINGTON — The Obama administration has not officially identified the Islamic State as the culprit behind Monday’s cyber attack on the Twitter and YouTube accounts of the United States Central Command.
Centcom oversees the U.S.-led airstrikes against the Islamic State (IS, ISIS, or ISIL) in Iraq and Syria.
President Obama on Tuesday said “Islamist jihadist sympathizers” infiltrated the social media accounts, adding that the Centcom hack shows a need to fortify cybersecurity in the U.S.
Rep. Ryan Zinke (R-MT), a former Navy commander and Congress’ only SEAL veteran, said Obama has failed to prepare the U.S. for cyber warfare.
“This administration isn’t even using the words Islamic terrorist in the same sentence,” he told Breitbart News. “Islamic radical terrorist organizations, there is a myriad of them. I think we need to call it as it is. I think that cyber attacks are a real threat.”
“If Centcom can be hacked without an immediate response, that makes a lot of our systems seem vulnerable,” he added.
When Breitbart News asked who was responsible for hacking the Centcom social media accounts, the Pentagon said the FBI and the Department of Defense (DoD) are looking into it.
“The FBI is investigating the recent intrusion involving Centcom social media accounts and continues to work with the DoD in order to determine the nature and scope of this incident,” Commander Elissa Smith, a Pentagon spokeswoman, told Breitbart News on Tuesday.
The Pentagon maintains that Centcom’s operational military networks were not compromised and there was no operational impact to U.S. Central Command.
Centcom dismissed the attacks as “cybervandalism.”
“This is little more than a prank or vandalism, and it’s inconvenient, and it’s an annoyance, but that’s all it is,” added Col. Steve Warren, a Pentagon spokesman on Monday.
“Cyber Caliphate,” a jihadist hacker group claiming to be working on behalf of ISIS, took over Central Command’s Twitter account, posted pro-jihadist artwork and personal information of U.S. soldiers.
“In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful, the CyberCaliphate continues its CyberJihad,” said one post on Twitter said. “We won’t stop! We know everything about you, your wives and children,” read another.
Commander Smith said “the 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.”
“U.S. Central Command’s Twitter and YouTube sites were compromised for approximately 30 minutes yesterday,” she explained. “These sites reside on commercial, non-Defense Department servers and both sites were temporarily taken offline while they looked into the incident further.”
Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told “Fox News Sunday” last weekend that the United States does not have the upper hand in the military realm of cyber.
When asked how vulnerable the U.S. is to a cyber Pearl Harbor, Dempsey said, “Cyber can be incredibly destructive. It can be disruptive.”
“It can disable critical infrastructure, which could lead to loss of life. And I think those capabilities are out there,” he also said, later adding that, in every domain, the U.S. generally enjoys “a significant military advantage. But we have peer competitors in cyber.”
Rep. Zinke echoed Gen. Dempsey, saying that the U.S. is vulnerable to cyber attacks.
“We as a society are going to be vulnerable because we enjoy freedom of speech and freedom of communication and they’re not going to change our values,” exclaimed the former Navy commander.
Rep. Zinke told Breitbart News that state-sponsored cyber attacks should be considered acts of war. He believes ISIS has the capability to carry out a cyber attack against the U.S.
“We all have to remain vigilante and understand this enemy is an enemy of ideology and they’re not going to beat us, but we have to put them on the run and stop this playing defensive on our part,” proclaimed Zinke.
“We need to respond and not allow our enemies to beat us over our head everyday,” he added. “What that does is it fuels the idea that somehow they can beat us, they can win. They can’t win because we’re not going to let them. We need to be on the offense.”