Anne Sewell — Digital Journal April 30, 2013
The next target of the Syrian Electronic Army turns out to be some of the Twitter feeds of the popular UK newspaper, The Guardian. Apparently these attacks are ongoing today.
Recently Digital Journal reported on the attack on AP’s Twitter feed, where the Syrian Electronic Army (or SEA) infiltrated and sent out a tweet to the effect that the White House had been attacked and President Barack Obama had been injured.
Shortly prior to this, the activists took responsibility for hacking @60Minute, @48Hours and @CBSDenver, all three of which accounts are registered to CBS News. The BBC and NPR were previously victims of the SEA and recently, the group also managed to gain access to world soccer governing body FIFA’s official feed.
Soon after the Twitter stated that they would be rolling out a two-factor authentication system “soon”. However, it seems they haven’t achieved this soon enough.
The Syrian Electronic Army has now struck again, by hacking and hijacking the Twitter feeds of The Guardian.
The @GuardianSustBiz and @BusinessDesk accounts belonging to The Guardian started sending out messages of support for the pro-Assad group early on Monday, with one tweet from the Business feed reading:
“Follow the Syrian Electronic Army … Follow the truth! @Official_SEA12 #SEA #Syria”
The Guardian is reporting that the SEA is thought to have been operating out of a secret base in Dubai since leaving Damascus in 2012. According to opposition activists, they believe that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s billionaire cousin, Rami Makhlouf, is currently backing the group financially, and was responsible for moving the SEA out of Syria following its emergence in 2011.
James Ball, a data editor with The Guardian, has stated that the phishing attempts were “sustained” and included variations on emails attempting to steal login credentials from newspaper staff.
Ball tweeted yesterday, “The guys doing the Guardian phishing attack I mentioned yesterday (it’s SEA) are really very good: sustained, changing, mails today.”
A more recent tweet on James Ball’s Twitter feed on Tuesday morning reads:
“James Ball @jamesrbuk
The SEA attack on the G is *still* ongoing. New batch of phishing emails are almost all about phishing emails. Pretty devious, really.”
Reportedly in total 11 Twitter feeds were hit by phishing effort, including several of the Guardian’s editors as well as Guardian Stage, Guardian Film, Guardian Books and Guardian Music.
The group tweeted via @guardianbooks:
“We will keep hacking #Twitter accounts and cause for you problems if you keep suspending our accounts #SEA.”
RT Arabic was in touch with the SEA and asked what the specific motivations are for the spate of recent takeovers. An anonymous source within the SEA told RT that its activities are a response to the US media’s reporting of that country’s ongoing civil conflict:
“US news agency Associated Press, alongside other Western news outlets have been engaged in a media war against Syria. But with our infiltration, we have shown that we can fight off any assault.”
While compromised Twitter feeds are quickly suspended, the SEA is proving to be quite successful at drawing attention to itself and its aims, and once again stresses the need for much tighter security on the Twitter platform.