- The Washington Times - Friday, April 7, 2017

Thousands of compromising images of U.S. military personnel have been found on a “deep web” trading post linked to Russian hackers.

Nude photos and other potential blackmail material is for sale on AlphaBay, which hackers use for an assortment of illicit material ranging from child pornography to drugs. Evidence of the “kompromat” — or compromising material — was shown to Military.com Thursday.

The Naval Criminal Investigative Service, which is already handling the Marines United nude-photo scandal that broke in March, was coy when asked for comment.

“The NCIS-led task force made up of armed services investigative entities is following up on allegations of criminal activity associated with explicit photos being taken and/or posted on websites without permission,” NCIS spokesman Ed Buice said in a statement.

James Forest, a criminology professor at the University of Massachusetts Lowell, said that AlphaBay’s treasure trove of blackmail material gives officials a small taste of the hackers’ capabilities.

“If the Russians or another foreign country is able to do something like this, to tap into databases containing information on military personnel, capture it and use it for an advantage, they can do that for other types of sensitive information as well,” Mr. Forest said.

The newspaper said that foreign nationals are also infiltrating Facebook groups similar to the “Marines United” page. One group has 7,000 members and at least 10 administrators with links to Russia.

John Albert, a 30-year-old Marine Corps veteran who investigates such groups, told the newspaper that hackers are “taking over groups, pages, websites and then making them relate to current affairs.”

“Right now, the flavor is Marines United,” he said. “So this ‘group’ took over a page, changed the name and became a collection point for Marines United members and fans. It’s like war profiteering. I don’t know what the upside is for them — maybe just the money from selling the photos.”

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