01:58 GMT28 February 2021
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    77th Brigade is the British army's mysterious and highly controversial online psychological warfare unit - the creation of which was apparently supported by the Institute for Statecraft, the shadowy UK and NATO-funded parent of Integrity Initiative - staffed by both full-time soldiers and part-time reservists.

    Little is known about the true nature of its activities — its official website states its responsible for "[challenging] the difficulties of modern warfare using non-lethal engagement and legitimate non-military levers as a means to adapt behaviours of the opposing forces and adversaries". Some suggest this is a euphemism for hacking, spreading propaganda on social media, discrediting individuals, and organizations and countries criticizing the British state and NATO, and other dubious cyber activities.

    Whatever the truth of the matter, what's clear is the division's information security precautions, and sense of humour, are both lacking — for an individual managed to easily take over the Brigade's official Twitter.

    Dan Lafayeedney (ex-SAS) of the Institute for Statecraft Discusses His Organization's Support for 77th Brigade
    Dan Lafayeedney (ex-SAS) of the Institute for Statecraft Discusses His Organization's Support for 77th Brigade

    'Bad Guy'

    Interviewed by tech magazine The Register, the man, who identified himself as "boredbloke", said the Brigade was a "juicy target" for hacking, and spotted an obvious "gaping hole" which would allow him — and any other malign actor — to easily take over the account.

    "Had a 'bad person' spotted the same hole, it would have led to chaos and at the least embarrassment; at the worst, something much more sinister or damaging," he said.

    As he wasn't a 'bad person', he attempted to report the vulnerability to the Army, but struggled — on top of the difficulty of finding the right contact to whom he could relay the information, he was worried about potential reprisals against himself. After all, he said "there are numerous examples of grey-hats telling organisations about gaps in the fence but then immediately ending up in the cross hairs".

    'boredbloke' taunts British army on Twitter via the 77th Brigade Account
    'boredbloke' taunts British army on Twitter via the 77th Brigade Account

    Eventually, he decided to alert the Brigade by taking over the account — eventually, after goading several official British Army's Twitter accounts, @77th_Brigade was eventually recovered by the military, although the 'gaping hole' remained.

    "I assumed they would have had the whole Brigade trying to get control of an account I had just dumped back into the wild. But nobody did. It just sat there. So I tried to get it back. And it worked, I got it back for the second time — but in this case I had warned them, told them, explained it in direct messages, yet I could still do it," he said.

    Since the incident, the army seems to have successfully and permanently taken back control of the account and locked the account to shield its activities from public view. Intriguingly, a military spokesperson claims the 77th Brigade has no social media accounts, and the account was in fact a 'parody' — although at one stage it clearly had a presence on Facebook, among other platforms.

    twitter hack, hack, Hacked, information warfare, 77th Brigade, United Kingdom
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