The Hacking of the U.S. Military: The Florida Connection

News at Home
tags: terrorism, hacking, cyberterrorism

MARK WEISENMILLER is a author and reporter living and working in Florida. He has been a reporter, for various international news services, since his teenage years. Weisenmiller is the author and/or co-author of four books. Currently, he is working on Book Five, which will be a non-fiction book of reportage about China. That book will be the second published, in a planned series of such non-fiction books of reportage of various countries and regions of the world, that he will write.

The two U.S. military social media accounts that were hacked last week had major accounts in Florida. Is there something about Florida?

On January 12, a person, or persons, calling him and/or themselves CyberCaliphate hacked the Twitter and YouTube social network accounts of the headquarters of U.S. Central Command (or USCC; also known as CentCom). MacDill Air Force Base, in Tampa, is the base headquarters for USCC.

The first of the hacks occurred on Twitter and stated “ISIS (the international terrorist group) is already here, we are in your PC’s, in each military base.” The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) immediately began an investigation into the matter. As of press time, the FBI was still investigating the case.

USCC media relations personnel have been, and still are, reticent about talking about the topic of cyber hacking on USCC computers. Mark Blackington, a USCC spokesman, used the following phrase to answer half of the questions put to him by HNN: “As a matter of public policy, we don’t discuss specific security measures.”

Blackington did tell HNN that the hacking lasted 30 minutes and that “these sites (i.e., Twitter and YouTube) reside on commercial, non-Defense Department” social networks. He also noted that “Centcom will continue to evaluate cyber security measures and take any necessary steps” (to stop cyber hacking).” He did not elaborate as to what, specifically, those “necessary steps” would be.

USCC issued a press statement for reporters shortly after the cyber hacking became public and part of it read, “We are viewing this purely as a case of cybervandalism. In the meantime, our initial assessment is that no classified information posted (from the cyber hackers) came from Centcom’s server or social media sites.”

Here’s what is interesting about Florida. One week before the USCC hacking EnigmaSoftware.com--a Clearwater, Florida-based company specializing in the development of personal computer (PC) software--issued a study naming Tampa and Orlando as the two U.S. cities whose inhabitants are most likely to have their PC’s hacked. The study’s figures were for the year 2014.

Both cities have incredibly large averages, for their residents’ computers to get hacked into than the national average, according to the report. Tampa’s tenants experience various types of computer viruses that were 561.8 percent higher than the national average. Orlando’s residents had an easier time; their residents’ computer infections, per capita, was only 386.9 percent higher than the national average.

Even though there are, depending on how one defines computer security hacking prevention work, at least five Florida colleges and/or universities that offer courses on how to best protect people’s PC’s, Tampa and Orlando still earned the first and second place slots, in the category of Most Hacked American Cities, in the unsporting act of computer hacking. Why?

Three possible reasons: 1) Florida’s ever-growing population, especially in the last five to six years (with almost 20 million people, this naturally means that there are more chances for computer hacking), 2) a large sector of that population who are elderly and/or retired people (who are most susceptible to having their computers hacked), and 3) that long-time problem of the Internet: pornography. According to a Harvard University study in the EnigmaSoftware.com report, Florida has the ninth-most subscribers to pornography out of the 50 American states. Since the development and expansion of the Internet in the 1990’s, porn sites have been well documented to have, whether purposefully or not, affiliated computer viruses which pollute a person’s computer.

The history of computer hacking is over 100 years old. In June of 1903, John Ambrose Fleming, who was both an English electrical engineer and physicist, was scheduled to give a demonstration in London, England of the then-new discovery of wireless telegraphy technology (WTT). The presentation was to be held in an auditorium, in which a projector was set up for said demonstration. Before the exposition, Fleming thought that the WTT was “secure,” to use a word from the world of digital and electrical technology. He was wrong.

An English inventor named Nevil Maskelyne promptly broke into (the term “hacked” was not then used) the WTT during the demonstration and sent a number of Morse Code messages---most of which were malicious in content and which were amplified from the auditorium’s projector---heckling both Fleming and the WTT.

This Maskelyne was an eccentric---even by the wide latitudes of the British Empire English-ness. Compared to him, the famous fictional detective Sherlock Holmes (who was invented around this time period by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle) was as rational as a Chamber of Commerce member businessman. Yet, like Holmes, he was intelligent and shrewd. Besides being an inventor, Maskelyne was also a professional magician (so was his father). Maskelyne junior was one of those people who loved to take things apart, figure out how they work, and then attempt to build a better version. Today, we would call such a person an engineer.

How times and technology have changed.


Information from EnigmaSoftware.com; Wikipedia; and other news wire reports were used for this story.

Copyright:  Mark Weisenmiller 

comments powered by Disqus