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17 May, 2013 22:50

Financial Times latest Western media outlet hacked by Syrian Electronic Army

Financial Times latest Western media outlet hacked by Syrian Electronic Army

Hackers continued needling Western media outlets this week, briefly compromising the web site and social media presence of the Financial Times on Friday, days after they took credit for launching a similar assault on the New York Times.

The Syrian Electronic Army (SEA) is a hacker collective that has made its name disrupting media outlets it perceives as against Syrian President Bashar Assad and sympathetic to Syrian rebel forces. The anonymous hackers have previously infiltrated the Associated Press, the BBC, Al Jazeera, and the Onion, a parody news site. 

Twelve posts were published on the Financial Times’ website Friday afternoon with the title “Hacked by the Syrian Electronic Army.” The news organization’s official Twitter feeds bore a similar message, reading “The Syrian Electronic Army was here.” One tweet, quickly removed, linked to a YouTube video of an execution. 

We have now locked those accounts and are grateful for Twitter’s help on this,” Robert Shrimsley, the managing editor of FT.com, said in the Financial Times. “Unfortunately this is an increasingly common issue for major news organizations.” 

Earlier this week the New York Times reported it “was subjected to denial of service attacks,” meaning the outlet’s web site was “temporarily unavailable to a small number of users.”

A screenshot from syrianelectronicarmy.com

By instigating a distributed-denial-of-service (DDoS) hackers falsify Internet users and turn them onto one specific page, overwhelming that site with traffic. The New York Times would not reveal whether the SEA or another group was responsible for the DDoS attack earlier this week. 

Real consequences of an attack showed themselves last month when the SEA announced, under the guise of the Associated Press’ Twitter, that the White House had been attacked and US President Barack Obama was injured. Stocks on Wall Street immediately plummeted before the confusion lifted. 

One SEA hacker, who identified himself as “The3 Pr0” to the New York Times, said the collective has little difficulty breaching high profile websites. Their method of choice, in the AP incident for example, had been to send out a net of duplicitous emails to reporters requesting log-in information. When the results come in the SEA simply uses that code to access whatever they can. The process is known as phishing.