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News | March 2, 2015

CID Lookout: Protecting your social media accounts

In January 2015, the Twitter and YouTube accounts of U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM)
were hacked and defaced. In February 2015 a Twitter account dedicated to military spouses
was hacked and defaced, and Newsweek’s Twitter account was also commandeered. In each case,
alleged violent extremist groups spewed threats and anti-U.S. rhetoric.

Spreading propaganda is hardly a new tactic. However, hijacking personal, corporate and
government social media is a more recent phenomenon and demonstrates a level of
technological adaptability and competence. There are steps the greater Army community
can take to protect themselves and their online presence.

"Social networking sites empower people to connect and organize with others based on
common interests, background and associations," said Daniel Andrews, director of the
Computer Crime Investigative Unit. "Indeed, these technologies have impacted modern
society and are interwoven in daily activities. Unsurprisingly, criminal elements and
adversaries also harness the power of social networking sites to conduct surveillance and
otherwise further their causes. Our goal is to help users understand online risks and make
informed decisions to mitigate those risks, ultimately leading to safer online activities."

As a result of recent world events and a continual effort to protect the force, special agents
with the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command’s Computer Crime Investigative Unit
(CCIU) strongly recommend that anyone affiliated with the U.S. military, review their social
media accounts to make sure they are using the best security settings to protect their online

With that in mind, CID provides the following information to help the greater Army
community protect themselves online and significantly reduce the chance of becoming a
victim of cybercrime.

 Do not accept friend/follower requests from anyone you do not know; independently
verify identities.
 Securely configure your social networking accounts to minimize who can see your
 Be cautious when accessing online accounts from public Wi-Fi connections.
Someone might have installed software capable of capturing your login credentials
and other sensitive information.
 Do not use the same password for all of your accounts.
 Use strong, unique passwords. Consider passphrases for an additional level of

Tips to Avoid being Socially Engineered via Phishing Emails:
 Be suspicious of unsolicited email messages from individuals and companies. If an
individual claims to be from a legitimate organization, try to verify their identity with
that organization.
 Do not use contact information provided in the email or on a website connected to the
 Do not respond to email solicitations.
 Do not follow links sent in email solicitations.
 Do not provide personal, financial, or account (username and password) information
to email solicitations.
 Pay attention to the URL of a website in email solicitations. Malicious websites may
look identical to a legitimate site, but the URL may use a variation in spelling or a
different domain.
 Employ the use of a spam filter.
 Treat all e-mail attachments with caution. Turn off the option to automatically
download attachments.