Military Times

CENTCOM Twitter hackers posted info for many retired generals

The Army is contacting a "significant" number of retired general officers whose personal information was posted online when hackers took over U.S. Central Command's Twitter account Monday, an Army official said.

Because the matter is under investigation, the Army is not releasing the exact number of general officers affected.

In one tweet alone, the hackers posted 46 Army email addresses, 23 home addresses and 18 personal email addresses for retired generals, including David Petraeus, Stanley McChrystal and Peter Chiarelli. The information appears to come from a General Officer Management Office roster.

Along with the contact information, the hackers also tweeted a threat: "AMERICAN SOLDIERS, WE ARE COMING, WATCH YOUR BACK!"

The Army hopes to contact all of the affected general officers "as soon as possible," said Army spokeswoman Lt. Col. Alayne Conway, who could not say how long the process will take.

"We have notified the appropriate authorities about the release of personally identifiable information in order to prevent that information from being used for illegal activities," Conway said in an email Wednesday to Military Times.

Reached by Military Times, some of the generals said they were unaware that their personal information has been posted online. None would comment for this story.

The hacking of CENTCOM's Twitter account comes amid fears that terrorists want to use social media to find out where troops live and kill them. Last year, the FBI reportedly warned service members to scrub their social media accounts of information linking them to the U.S. military to avoid being targeted by the Islamic State terrorist group.

Bryan Gorczyk, a cybersecurity expert and former FBI agent, does not believe that the contact information posted by the hackers puts the generals in more danger because most of the data is likely available elsewhere online.

"It's not good for that to be out there," said Gorczyk, who works at Renaissance Associates. "All this information is enabling in a very small way, but it is a very tiny piece of a puzzle that is going to be useful to you."

However, by putting the contact information out there, the hackers could make it easier to track these generals down, he said.

"If I knew there was a particular general officer, I could probably find him by searching if I look hard enough," Gorczyk said. "But now you've made it easy for me. Maybe I don't have the ability to look hard enough or I don't know what the person's full name is. So I don't know where to look. But now I have this document. Now I've got a whole list of names. They are all in one place.

"Does it make it easier? Yes. Is there a cause for concern? Absolutely. But if this were not out there, could that risk of harm still be there? Sure, if you worked at it; but you've just made it a lot easier."

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