Syrian Electronic Army Reemerges, Hacks Thomson Reuters' Twitter Feed
July 30, 2013

Syrian Electronic Army Reemerges, Hacks Thomson Reuters’ Twitter Feed

Michael Harper for - Your Universe Online

The Syrian Electronic Army (SEA) has struck again, this time taking control of financial information firm Thomson Reuters' Twitter feed. The group hacked into the account yesterday afternoon and began Tweeting political cartoons that showed their support for Syrian President Bashar Assad.

The SEA later confirmed they were responsible for the attack and the @ThomsonReuters account was suspended shortly thereafter. The financial information firm also confirmed the hack, but only said they were investigating the event. The Thomson Reuters hack is another in a long line of Twitter attacks to come at the hand of the SEA. So far this year the politically-driven group has hacked into the accounts for the Associated Press, CBS news stations, The Guardian and NPR.

"Earlier today @thomsonreuters was hacked. In this time, unauthorized individuals have posted fabricated tweets of which Thomson Reuters is not the source," explained a spokesperson for Thomson Reuters in a statement to Cnet following the hack. "The account has been suspended and is currently under investigation."

According to Cnet, the SEA took control of the account around 3:30 pm PDT and began sending out violent and controversial political cartoons to the followers of @ThomsonReuters.

Buzzfeed captured screenshots of each of the images before they were removed when the account was taken offline. Many of these political cartoons had pro-Assad sentiments, showing the SEA's support of the Syrian president. Though they support the local government and oppose rebel, outsider groups, it's not known if the SEA is officially sanctioned by the Syrian government or a rogue group operating on the fringe. Roughly 45 minutes after the SEA obtained control of @ThomsonReuters, Twitter suspended the account. The SEA took responsibility just before, saying only "Always via Syrian Electronic Army (@Official_SEA12) #SEA #Syria#SyrianElectronicArmy."

Twitter hacks by the SEA and others became an emerging trend earlier this year with several popular news organizations and other businesses losing control of their feed to others.

Several NPR Twitter accounts were hacked in early April, followed by Twitter accounts controlled by CBS a week later. The Associated Press Twitter account was also hacked this spring, leaving the cyber activists free to post a phony tweet about an explosion in the White House.

Following a hack of their Twitter accounts, the Guardian claimed the SEA aims to exploit western news sources to spread support for President Bashar al-Assad's regime.

In response to the growing number of hacks, Twitter rolled out two-step authentication in May. This extra security measure locks down a Twitter account by requiring two types of passwords before access is granted. When a user types in his/her password to access the account, another secure, one-time password can be sent to their cell phone. Without this second password, a user (or hacker) cannot gain access to the account.