Modern field guide to security and privacy

Ratcheting up info war, Islamic State devotees post officials' information

Islamic State supporters published what appear to be names and e-mail addresses of former US officials and enlisted US Army personnel after Anonymous's operation to attack the militants on social media.

Peter Nicholls/Reuters
An Anonymous supporter wore a Guy Fawkes mask during a Nov. 5 protest in London.

This story has been updated.

Islamic State supporters have released what appears to be the personal information of former US government officials and enlisted US military personnel.

Twitter accounts tied to Islamic State (IS) published on Sunday the purported home addresses of ex-State Department and CIA officers as well as several dozen names and e-mails allegedly belonging to employees of the French Ministry of Defense. The information has not been verified by US officials.

Independent security analysts say releasing names and addresses of current and former officials suggests IS is ratcheting up its propaganda war by directly threatening high-profile figures.

"They're trying to stimulate interest in attacking senior officials, especially those interested in fighting ISIS," said Michael Smith II, chief operating officer of the defense consulting firm Kronos Security.

Mr. Smith said IS digital operatives have also rigorously advertised that they possess the addresses of even more current and former senior intelligence officials, including FBI Director James Comey and CIA Director John Brennan.

On Friday, IS supporters released names, e-mail addresses, and personal addresses of 160 members of the US Army and Marines and claimed to have obtained information on some 700 armed forces personnel. 

The Pentagon would not comment on the lists but independent security experts said the information appears to be real even though it may not be the result of recent hacks into military computers. 

"It is very likely that this is an authentic set of information," said Smith. "It does not benefit IS’s interest to publish false information."

The release of sensitive information about military personnel followed Anonymous's #TrollingDay campaign in which members and supporters of the online collective used Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to attack IS affiliated accounts.

The #TrollingDay operations is also part of a wider Anonymous campaign to thwart the IS presence on the Web that started after the Charlie Hebdo shootings in Paris and picked up after November's coordinated terrorist attacks there that killed 130.

The Search for International Terrorist Entities Intelligence (SITE) Group, a private intelligence firm in Washington, first reported the appearance of lists of military personnel Friday afternoon. SITE attributed the release to the Cyber Caliphate Army, a hacking group with known IS ties.

"We can’t confirm that there was any hacking," said Rita Katz, director of SITE, even suggesting that some of the information could be fabricated. "It seems that the group is taking lists from military websites, collecting information from Google, and possibly even releasing bogus information."

Ms. Katz said the Cyber Caliphate has been involved in similar campaigns recently. On Twitter, the group has previously appeared as the "Islamic Cyber Army," staging campaigns dubbed #AmericaUnderHacks and #FranceUnderHacks that release personal details about military personnel, under the impression that it’s private information that's been stolen from military computes.

Katz says the group has not yet released any information that can’t be found through public sources such as Google searches.

Still, she said, "since some of the lists released by the pro-IS group are copied from US military sites, it's troubling that people affiliated with IS are seeing lists affiliated with the military, regardless of whether it is publicly available or not."

Hackers associated with IS have stolen sensitive US military information previously. In October, US prosecutors charged Ardit Ferizi, a citizen of Kosovo living in Malaysia, with stealing the personal information of more than 1,000 US military and federal employees and passing that data along to IS.


You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.
Real news can be honest, hopeful, credible, constructive.
What is the Monitor difference? Tackling the tough headlines – with humanity. Listening to sources – with respect. Seeing the story that others are missing by reporting what so often gets overlooked: the values that connect us. That’s Monitor reporting – news that changes how you see the world.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to

QR Code to Ratcheting up info war, Islamic State devotees post officials' information
Read this article in
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today