April 30, 2013
UK’s Guardian Latest Victim In A String Of Twitter Hack Attacks
Michael Harper for redOrbit.com — Your Universe Online
The Syrian Electronic Army continues to target media sources, hacking Twitter accounts belonging to the UK´s Guardian over the weekend. The Guardian is the fourth media source to see its Twitter accounts compromised by the Syrian Electronic Army (SEA) so far this month. The hackers have been taking control of these Twitter accounts to post similar messages, often claiming the news sources aren´t being truthful and calling for readers to side with the SEA.
Several NPR Twitter accounts were hacked into earlier this month, followed by Twitter accounts controlled by CBS a week later. The Associated Press Twitter account was also hacked last week, leaving the cyber scoundrels free to post a phony tweet about an explosion in the White House.
The British newspaper confirmed this weekend they too had been hacked by the SEA and have since regained control of the compromised accounts. The BBC had their Twitter accounts hacked by the same group last month.
"We are aware that a number of Guardian Twitter accounts have been compromised and we are working actively to resolve this," said a spokesperson for the Guardian in a statement to the Associated Press. On their website, the Guardian claims the SEA is specifically targeting western media sources “in an apparent effort to cause disruption and spread support for President Bashar al-Assad's regime.”
In two examples of these hacked Tweets, the SEA posted messages which read: “Follow the Syrian Electronic Army“¦Follow the truth! @Official_Sea12 #SEA #Syria.”
The Guardian said they didn´t notice they had been hacked until several staff members began reporting they had received unusual emails. According to the BBC, these SEA hackers were able to take control of the @GuardianBooks, @GuardianTravel and @GuardianFilm Twitter accounts.
Cybersecurity experts and analysts claim the SEA aims to disrupt and embarrass their victims, and that they choose their targets based on who they believe they can most easily exploit. In an interview with the Guardian, one unnamed analyst said the SEA has begun targeting western media lately to “generate publicity” for their cause.
The Guardian believes the SEA was able to gain control of these accounts after sending emails with infected links to staff members. Those staffers who clicked on these links had their email and Twitter accounts compromised, giving the SEA access to the accounts. The same method was used when the SEA broke into BBC and AP Twitter accounts.
The SEA call themselves "a group of enthusiastic Syrian youths who could not stay passive towards the massive distortion of facts about the recent uprising in Syria.” This has led the group to target western media sources to combat what they are calling “fabricated news.”
According to Jared Keller, social media director for Bloomberg News, these SEA attacks have been ongoing for several years, and at this point the attacks have all but become routine.
“Every few months we can expect to see a media outlet or government institution hijacked by the Syrian Electronic Army and they have hit basically every media outlet on the planet from ABC News, to Reuters to now the Associated Press,” said Keller in an interview with the BBC.