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30 April 2013, 16:00

Guardian Twitter accounts hacked by Syrian hackers

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Over the weekend, the Syrian Electronic Army (SEA) turned the focus of its campaign against Twitter accounts belonging to predominantly Western media on the Guardian. The newspaper reports that accounts including GuardianBooks, GuardianTravel and guardianfilm were hacked – all three accounts have now been suspended. The attackers have accused the Guardian of spreading lies and slander about Syria. A total of nine tweets were issued, some containing anti-Israeli statements and one stating "Syrian Electronic Army Was Here".

The Guardian said that the attack started with phishing emails to staff in which they were incited to click on certain links. The links enabled the hackers to compromise email and social media accounts. The "classic, if crude" attack was quickly discovered. The newspaper reports that it is working to resolve the problem. Initial investigations have revealed that the phishing sites were hosted in Cyprus and pointed to a US web site infested with malware.

In a further article, the newspaper examines how much is currently known about the SEA. The group is reported to have been founded in 2011 in the wake of the uprising against Assad and is now located in Dubai. Its attacks are aimed largely at media sources reporting on the civil war in Syria and what the SEA calls invented reports connected with the war. Last week, the Associated Press, and FIFA and its president Sepp Blatter were targeted.

According to the Guardian, Assad more or less admitted in a speech that the Syrian government is behind the SEA. The newspaper cites opposition activists as claiming that a Dubai company, run by Assad's billionaire cousin Rami Makhlouf, is sheltering the hackers, who are typically paid $500 to $1000 for a successful attack on a prominent target.

Twitter has now reacted to the repeated attacks on high-profile users of its service and has sent out a memo to news organisations, reports Buzzfeed. The memo includes a list of best practices that organisations should follow, including setting up a dedicated machine that is only used for accessing Twitter. When using this machine, Twitter recommends not opening emails or visiting any other web sites other than its service.


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