Family members of the troops in the 82nd Airborne Division have been receiving frightening and menacing messages on social media, prompting the division to be vigilant about their social media settings. As Military Times reports, some messages have included fake scenarios about kidnappings; one Instagram message sent by an account using deceased Iranian general Qassem Soleimani’s portrait as a profile picture stated:
If you like your life and you want to see your family again, pack up your stuff right now and leave the Middle East. Go back to your country. You and your terrorist clown president brought nothing but terrorism. You fools underestimate the power of Iran. The recent attack on your [expletive] bases was just a little taste of our power. By killing our general, you dug your own grave. Before having more dead bodies, just leave the region for good and never look back.
As Military Times noted, “The division’s 1st Brigade Combat Team deployed to Kuwait in early January as part of an emergency response to the region over heightened tensions with Iran.”
Lt. Col. Mike Burns, a spokesman for the 82nd Airborne Division, asserted, “Families have reported instances where they have received unsolicited contact with some menacing messaging. We have done several things to inform our paratroopers and families of these risks and ways that they can protect themselves. I also personally spoke to the brigade [Familiy Readiness Group] leaders today.”
Burns had previously spoken to Army Times, explaining that paratroopers had been instructed not to take personal communications devices, phones and laptops. He said, “Anything considered a personal electronic device. All those things. But banned is a harsh word. The decision was made so soldiers weren’t put at risk.”
Two U.S. sources informed Military Times that WiFi access was suspended because of potential hacking and the possibility of a leak of contact information. Another source claimed that the MWR network was compromised.
WTSP reported, “U.S. Central Command based at MacDill Air Force Base oversees the region. There are between 60 and 80,000 troops in CENTCOM’s Area of Responsibility … CENTCOM says the reported messages are not something they would track. They explained it’s each military unit (duty) to provide social media briefings to its members before any deployments.”
Guidelines posted by the U.S. Department of Security state:
Limit the amount of personal information you post — Do not post information that would make you vulnerable, such as your address or information about your schedule or routine. If your connections post information about you, make sure the combined information is not more than you would be comfortable with strangers knowing. Also be considerate when posting information, including photos, about your connections …
Take advantage of a site’s privacy settings. The default settings for some sites may allow anyone to see your profile, but you can customize your settings to restrict access to only certain people. There is still a risk that private information could be exposed despite these restrictions, so don’t post anything that you wouldn’t want the public to see. Sites may change their options periodically, so review your security and privacy settings regularly to make sure that your choices are still appropriate.