Attacks/Breaches
5/16/2013
12:04 PM
50%
50%

Who Is Syrian Electronic Army: 9 Facts

Syrian hackers claim to battle American imperialism, media bias and Angelina Jolie.
Previous
1 of 9
Next


Beware patriotic Syrian hackers holding a media grudge.

That's one takeaway from the ongoing exploits of the Syrian Electronic Army, a self-described group of grassroots Syrian hackers who support Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

During the country's two-year -- and counting -- civil war, the Syrian Electronic Army has been deployed as a propaganda tool to correct perceived slights or misinformation being disseminated via media outlets that the group sees as sympathetic to Syrian rebels. Its modus operandi is to compromise the Twitter and Facebook accounts of its targets, which are predominantly media outlets. The group's most well-known exploit to date was seizing control of multiple Associated Press (AP) Twitter feeds, then using them to issue bogus messages, including the following alert on April 23: "Breaking: Two Explosions in the White House and Barack Obama is injured."

In the wake of that tweet, the White House confirmed that the president was unharmed, that there had been no explosions and that the FBI was investigating the hoax tweets. Due to automated high-speed trading systems set to monitor Twitter feeds, however, the news triggered a temporary downturn in the U.S. stock market that briefly erased $200 billion in value. According to Th3 Pr0 (pronounced "the pro"), the self-described 18-year-old "leader of special operations department" for the Syrian Electronic Army -- personal website tagline: "proud to be pro-Assad hacker" -- the hack was in retaliation for Network Solutions having seized the group's domain names, as well as for the United States "supporting the terrorist groups in Syria."

"We generally target the most malicious media, especially those who refuse to cover both sides of the war," a member of the SEA's "Special Operations Division," known as the Shadow, told Vice magazine.

Other media outlets targeted by the group have included CBS, AFP, Sky News Arabia and E! Online, with the hackers using a seized Twitter feed at the celebrity news site to announce earlier this month that Justin Bieber was gay, before telling Bieber fans they'd been "trolled." That followed its March compromise of multiple BBC Twitter accounts, which the group used to post anti-Semitic rants as well as to offer the following report via the BBC's Twitter weather feed: "Saudi weather station down due to head-on collision with camel."

In May, meanwhile, the group seized control of the Twitter account for satire site the Onion. "UN retracts report of Syrian chemical weapon use: 'Lab tests confirm it is Jihadi body odor,'" reported one hoax tweet. Another said that the Onion's CEO said he regretted "taking Zionist money to defame Syria."

Obviously, the hacking group has its own perspective on not only the Syrian conflict, but what constitutes balanced reporting. For example, another hoax tweet -- posted to a hacked a Reuters Twitter account last year -- read: "White house spokesperson says financial and technical support given to #AlQaeda operatives in #Syria."

As that tweet illustrates, the Syrian Electronic Army persistently attempts to reframe the country's civil war as a conflict perpetrated by foreign powers that are arming terrorists and bringing them into the country in a bid to overthrow the legitimate Syrian government.

The hackers' perspective parallels more widespread, pro-Assad propaganda based on accusing many Western media outlets of not just bias, but also "persistent media warmongering, faking news and fabricating … stories." That's according to a report on the Syria News website, which claimed that "terror NATO sponsors" were "airlifting, training, arming, financing and smuggling Al-Qaeda terrorists" into Syria.

Photograph courtesy of Flickr user Christiaan Triebert.

RECOMMENDED READING

Anonymous OpUSA Hackathon: Mostly Bluster

Twitter Battles Syrian Hackers

Twitter Preps Two Factor Authentication After AP Hoax

How Syrian Electronic Army Unpeeled The Onion

Syrian Hacktivists Hit Guardian Twitter Feeds

Syria Back Online After Internet Blackout

Previous
1 of 9
Next
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Cartoon
Current Issue
Dark Reading December Tech Digest
Experts weigh in on the pros and cons of end-user security training.
Flash Poll
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2014-3407
Published: 2014-11-27
The SSL VPN implementation in Cisco Adaptive Security Appliance (ASA) Software 9.3(.2) and earlier does not properly allocate memory blocks during HTTP packet handling, which allows remote attackers to cause a denial of service (memory consumption) via crafted packets, aka Bug ID CSCuq68888.

CVE-2014-4829
Published: 2014-11-27
Cross-site request forgery (CSRF) vulnerability in IBM Security QRadar SIEM and QRadar Risk Manager 7.1 before MR2 Patch 9 and 7.2 before 7.2.4 Patch 1, and QRadar Vulnerability Manager 7.2 before 7.2.4 Patch 1, allows remote attackers to hijack the authentication of arbitrary users for requests tha...

CVE-2014-4831
Published: 2014-11-27
IBM Security QRadar SIEM and QRadar Risk Manager 7.1 before MR2 Patch 9 and 7.2 before 7.2.4 Patch 1, and QRadar Vulnerability Manager 7.2 before 7.2.4 Patch 1, allow remote attackers to hijack sessions via unspecified vectors.

CVE-2014-4832
Published: 2014-11-27
IBM Security QRadar SIEM and QRadar Risk Manager 7.1 before MR2 Patch 9 and 7.2 before 7.2.4 Patch 1, and QRadar Vulnerability Manager 7.2 before 7.2.4 Patch 1, allow remote attackers to obtain sensitive cookie information by sniffing the network during an HTTP session.

CVE-2014-4883
Published: 2014-11-27
resolv.c in the DNS resolver in uIP, and dns.c in the DNS resolver in lwIP 1.4.1 and earlier, does not use random values for ID fields and source ports of DNS query packets, which makes it easier for man-in-the-middle attackers to conduct cache-poisoning attacks via spoofed reply packets.

Best of the Web
Dark Reading Radio
Archived Dark Reading Radio
Now that the holiday season is about to begin both online and in stores, will this be yet another season of nonstop gifting to cybercriminals?