Attacks/Breaches
4/23/2013
11:10 AM
50%
50%

Twitter Battles Syrian Hackers

Hacking group Syrian Electronic Army seizes CBS Twitter accounts and publishes links to websites that infect visitors with malware.

Anonymous: 10 Things We Have Learned In 2013
Anonymous: 10 Things We Have Learned In 2013
(click image for larger view and for slideshow)
[ Update: The Syrian Electronic Army claimed credit for hacking the Associated Press Twitter account Tuesday afternoon. About 1 p.m. ET, a faked post on AP's Twitter's feed claimed two explosions in the White House had injured President Barack Obama. AP suspended its Twitter account and said in a statement, "The AP twitter account has been hacked. A tweet about an attack at the White House is false. We will advise on acct. status." White House spokesman Jay Carney confirmed that the White House had not been attacked and said "the president is fine." ]

The hackers Syrian Electronic Army Saturday seized control of multiple CBS Twitter accounts, posting messages that redirected to malicious websites that launched drive-by attacks at browsers. Twitter responded by suspending the affected accounts and returning them to their rightful operators. Then it suspended the hacking group's own Twitter feed.

In response, the Syrian Electronic Army registered a new Twitter account at "@Official_SEA," which Twitter subsequently froze. Cue @Official_SEA3, which Twitter duly shut down, and so on.

By Sunday, the Syrian Electronic Army -- a self-described "virtual army" apparently sympathetic to the regime of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad -- had registered "@Official_SEA6." As of Tuesday, that account remained active, and the group even went as far as to trumpet the new name in a home-cooked YouTube video.

[ Protect your Twitter account. Read 5 Steps To Prevent Twitter Hacks. ]

"But you have to wonder how long before that one is also shut down by Twitter's security team," said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at Sophos, in a blog post.

On Monday, a tweet from that account linked to a picture purporting to be a data dump (aka dox) that included the email address, and phone and fax numbers, for Joseph "Sepp" Blatter, president of the worldwide soccer governing body FIFA. The same day, the Syrian Electronic Army also claimed to have taken over the Twitter accounts of both Blatter (@SeppBlatter) and the World Cup (@FifaWorldCup). Tweets from those accounts accused Blatter of corruption and suggested that bribery by officials in Qatar led to the country winning the hosting slot for the 2022 World Cup.

By Tuesday morning, however, both of those accounts had been expunged of the Syrian Electronic Army messages, and appeared to be back in the hands of their rightful operators.

The FIFA account takeovers followed the group's Saturday seizure of the Twitter accounts of both 60 Minutes and the Denver CBS affiliate. "By attacking Syria using terrorists the US regime hopes to bring a world government," read one tweet from the 60 Minutes account. Since the Syrian civil war began two years ago, the United Nations estimates that 70,000 people have died, although critics call that an underestimate.

Some of the tweets distributed from the CBS accounts included links to websites that attempted to launch drive-by exploits of browsers.

CBS officials confirmed the account takeovers Saturday and said the broadcaster was working with Twitter to "resolve the issue," reported The Independent newspaper in Britain.

The Syrian Electronic Army's Twitter account takeovers have largely focused on news targets. Earlier this month, the group claimed credit for taking over the National Public Radio Twitter feed. That followed a March takeover of multiple BBC Twitter accounts, including the weather feed, and posting reports such as "Saudi weather station down due to head-on collision with camel," as well as offensive rants, including some of an anti-Semitic nature. Last year, the group seized control of a Reuters Twitter account, using it to broadcast messages such as, "White house spokesperson says financial and technical support given to #AlQaeda operatives in #Syria."

In the wake of numerous high-profile Twitter account takeovers, security experts continue to urge Twitter users to use complex, unique passwords for the social media site. But they've also called on Twitter to begin offering two-factor authentication for account access, as Apple and Microsoft have recently done, following in the footsteps of Google and Dropbox.

Twitter does appear to be moving in the two-factor authentication direction -- which would block most types of account takeovers -- albeit at its own pace. Earlier this year, notably, the company posted a job advertisement seeking an engineer with expertise in "multifactor authentication and fraudulent login detection."

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
PJS880
50%
50%
PJS880,
User Rank: Ninja
4/29/2013 | 5:49:30 PM
re: Twitter Battles Syrian Hackers
Another attack on a company
that should have the utmost security measures in place. Still they are facing
known attacks and the attacks are getting the best of good old Twitter. It is
comical when you think about it. The Syrian Electronic Army actually has the gall
to try an open Twitter accounts with Twitter the company that they are aggressively
attacking. The ironic thing is that their accounts keep getting shut down, you
would think that by now Twitter would launch a offensive attack against the
hackers to better learn their whereabouts and as much information as they could
gather prior to shutting down their accounts.

Paul Sprague

InformationWeek Contributor
AustinIT
50%
50%
AustinIT,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/23/2013 | 7:55:16 PM
re: Twitter Battles Syrian Hackers
Now, where did I read that Twitter had already implemented TFA?
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Cartoon
Current Issue
Dark Reading Tech Digest, Dec. 19, 2014
Software-defined networking can be a net plus for security. The key: Work with the network team to implement gradually, test as you go, and take the opportunity to overhaul your security strategy.
Flash Poll
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2014-2208
Published: 2014-12-28
CRLF injection vulnerability in the LightProcess protocol implementation in hphp/util/light-process.cpp in Facebook HipHop Virtual Machine (HHVM) before 2.4.2 allows remote attackers to execute arbitrary commands by entering a \n (newline) character before the end of a string.

CVE-2014-2209
Published: 2014-12-28
Facebook HipHop Virtual Machine (HHVM) before 3.1.0 does not drop supplemental group memberships within hphp/util/capability.cpp and hphp/util/light-process.cpp, which allows remote attackers to bypass intended access restrictions by leveraging group permissions for a file or directory.

CVE-2014-5386
Published: 2014-12-28
The mcrypt_create_iv function in hphp/runtime/ext/mcrypt/ext_mcrypt.cpp in Facebook HipHop Virtual Machine (HHVM) before 3.3.0 does not seed the random number generator, which makes it easier for remote attackers to defeat cryptographic protection mechanisms by leveraging the use of a single initial...

CVE-2014-6228
Published: 2014-12-28
Integer overflow in the string_chunk_split function in hphp/runtime/base/zend-string.cpp in Facebook HipHop Virtual Machine (HHVM) before 3.3.0 allows remote attackers to cause a denial of service (application crash) or possibly have unspecified other impact via crafted arguments to the chunk_split ...

CVE-2014-6229
Published: 2014-12-28
The HashContext class in hphp/runtime/ext/ext_hash.cpp in Facebook HipHop Virtual Machine (HHVM) before 3.3.0 incorrectly expects that a certain key string uses '\0' for termination, which allows remote attackers to obtain sensitive information by leveraging read access beyond the end of the string,...

Best of the Web
Dark Reading Radio
Archived Dark Reading Radio
Join us Wednesday, Dec. 17 at 1 p.m. Eastern Time to hear what employers are really looking for in a chief information security officer -- it may not be what you think.