They swore they “hacked military servers” to threaten U.S. troops. Actually, these self-proclaimed ISIS whiz kids basically cobbled together information that was already online.
So much for ISIS’s super-sophisticated hacker army.
A group calling itself the “Islamic State Hacking Division” posted the names, addresses, and photos of 100 U.S. service members on Saturday, claiming it had obtained the information by breaching military security.
As it turns out, the group didn’t need to hack the Pentagon. At least two-thirds of the troops on the ISIS “hit list” had been featured on public Defense Department websites designed to promote the military, The Daily Beast has learned.
Many service members were quoted or photographed in promotional stories talking about their work, often in the Middle East. Others were featured in news videos or in holiday messages to their families. Some were photographed after they returned home from long missions. Others were spokespeople or official photographers for the U.S. military.
Several troops featured in pieces talking about their missions in Iraq, Afghanistan, and in the U.S.-led ongoing campaign against ISIS. In at least one instance, two of the airmen on the “hit list” were featured in the same July 2012 photograph taken at Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana.
In counter-terrorism and cybersecurity circles, there’s been a long-running debate about just how skilled Islamic extremists groups have become in the art of network attack. Not long ago, for instance, hackers claiming to be part of a “Cyber Caliphate” took over the social media accounts of U.S. Central Command.