ISIS sympathizers hacked a military non-profit’s Twitter account, threatened at least six military spouses online, and the President and his family. The non-profit, Military Spouses of Strength, was formed to give military spouses a place to feel safe, but became victims of a Twitter hack yesterday. The attack was led by apparent ISIS sympathizers. [editor’s note: we are not going to give them credit for the attack and are blocking their name].
According to CNN, threats came just a month after Liz Snell, a Marine wife, family activist, and founding member of Military Spouses of Strength, told CNN she wouldn’t allow the ISIS-related hack of the U.S. military’s Central Command (CENTCOM) Twitter account to deter her fight to help military spouses in distress.
The military spouses also identified in the attack had been quoted in the initial CNN article and have very prominent online profiles from activism and media publications. Amy Bushatz, an Army wife, said she received a friend request on her personal Facebook page from an account seemingly connected to ISIS. The friend request came from a person who identified himself as “Gaspar [name removed] Sadz” and his profile picture was a person’s head wrapped in a black-and-white checkered head scarf.
“I thought, well, that is creepy,” Bushatz said Tuesday.
When she went back to check out the person’s page again, it was gone. Then Bushatz learned about the threat on the military spouses’ Twitter account. Amy Buschatz is a reporter and editor for Military.com and refuses to live life in fear.
“Being in a military family is a vulnerable place to be,” Bushatz said. “So I would say being cautious isn’t a bad thing, but we’re not people who live in fear. If they think they can have control over us by frightening us, they’re wrong.”
The overall sentiment in the military spouse community is one of no fear. “We [military spouses/families] are hardly ISIS’s only targets. Any people other than those in their terrorist group are their targets. Journalists, humanitarians… the list goes on. While I will continue to be aware of my surroundings and social media presence, I’m not worried about these idiots”, said Leigh.
“So these threats… are just sympathizers waging a cyber war. I have images of sweaty fat men in their mother’s basements hacking things”, said another military spouse. Lupher said, “Bring it”, and similarly Spell said, “I’m ready and waiting.”
The real lesson here is don’t panic. “It always bothers me when we are quick to buy into the hysteria of any news story when it first emerges. Let’s let the FBI do their job. If it gives you peace of mind to change some of your settings or behavior online, please do so. But let’s all be cautious about putting even more stress on our military families by getting too worked up too soon. Military families have enough on their plate already”, said Whitehead.
How to Protect Yourself Online
Everyone should be worried about locking up their profiles, not necessarily because of domestic terrorism, but because of identity fraud. The point is you really don’t want to give any stranger your information. We’ve heard it all along with the military preaching OPSEC and PERSEC. You can make smart choices and protect yourself with some easy steps.
Do you use Facebook? Protect your Facebook profile easily with a few clicks. Know that when you belong to groups, people can click on your profile, but you won’t need to worry if you’ve already taken the necessary steps to protect your profile online. Obvious helpful hints are don’t post your profile pic with someone (or yourself) in a military uniform. Don’t give them information to find and don’t accept friend requests from people you don’t know.
Do you use a mobile device? Here’s how you can stop people from tracking where you are.
Do you use Twitter or other social media accounts? Make sure you have a two-step verification process for changing passwords. This means that the account can send you a text or email authorizing the change so someone can’t hack your account.
What to do if you feel something is wrong
Maybe something doesn’t feel right to you; it doesn’t matter if you’re driving around in town or feel that something has happened to you online. Please contact the authorities, that’s what they are here for. Call your local Police Department, or if you feel that you’re in an emergency situation, dial 911.
Let the police do their job, but also do yours. Keep your eyes open and take the necessary steps to safeguard your social media accounts and family when you’re out in town.