Syrian Electronic Army Hacks Washington Post Web Site

The SEA claimed that it hacked the Web sites of The Post, CNN and Time magazine “in one strike”The Washington Post’s Web site was disrupted Thursday morning by a hacker group sympathetic to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad that apparently launched a coordinated wave of attacks on American news outlets. A group calling itself the Syrian Electronic Army briefly succeeded in redirecting readers of some articles on to the SEA’s own site. The organization supports Assad, who has led a long, bloody campaign to crush a rebellion in Syria.

The intrusion lasted about 30 minutes and affected a number of foreign-news articles. “We’ve taken defensive measures, and at this time there are no other issues affecting the site,” said Emilio Garcia-Ruiz, The Post’s managing editor for digital.

The hacking follows a “phishing” attack by an unidentified source this week aimed at securing the passwords and log-in information of e-mail accounts maintained by Post journalists. The source of the attack sent e-mails to Post mailboxes that appeared to emanate from Post colleagues; the e-mails directed recipients to click a link and provide log-in data. That information could then be used by an outside source to gain unauthorized access to a computer network.

Post officials believe that the Syrian Electronic Army was also the source of the phishing scam.

In a tweet sent Thursday morning, the SEA claimed that it hacked the Web sites of The Post, CNN and Time magazine “in one strike.” The tweet indicated that The Post’s site was hacked through Outbrain, an ad network The Post uses to automatically suggest other stories that readers might like based on user profiles. . . .

Since 2011, SEA has claimed credit for infiltrating the social media networks of several prominent media and human rights organizations including the Associated Press, NPR, Al Jazeera and Human Rights Watch. This week, the group claimed it had successfully infiltrated SocialFlow, a company that helps users send automatic updates to their social networking accounts.

In April, the group took credit for breaking into AP’s Twitter account to send a false report that a bomb had gone off in the White House. The message sent the stock market into a panic, causing the Dow Jones industrial average to lose more than 100 points within two minutes.

Little is known about individual members of the SEA, which is politically aligned with Assad’s regime but has never been directly linked to the Syrian government.

Image: The SEA claimed that it hacked the Web sites of The Post, CNN and Time magazine “in one strike” (photo: Daniel X. O'Neil/Wikipedia)