Just one day into the new year and the Syrian Electronic Army (SEA) has already made headlines after targeting the social media accounts of Skype, Microsoft's voice-over-IP service. The SEA claims Microsoft is "selling the data to the governments." In the attack, SEA hacked Skype's Twitter, Facebook, and blog. With access to these accounts, the SEA posted messages telling people to stay away from Microsoft services.
Skype was able to regain control of its accounts within a few hours after the posts went live and although it was able to delete the SEA's post on its Facebook page very quickly, the Twitter posts were not removed until later in the afternoon.
A Different Message
While the Syrian Electronic Army is not run by the Assad government inside of Syria, it has continued to support Bashar al-Assad's government during the war in his country. As a result, many of the SEA's attacks have had something to do with its pro-Assad message and in previous hacks, it has redirected Web sites to its own or posted pro-Assad messages on accounts.
The attack against Skype appears to be different, however. While the SEA made sure to include its name in some of the posts, the hack does not resemble the actions the SEA usually takes. Instead of promoting Assad or even using access to Skype's accounts to grow its following, the SEA took a stance against the U.S. government and in particular, what it says is Microsoft's decision to hand over user data.
The SEA may be late to the game in going after Skype as it was over a year ago when a set of early documents released by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden revealed that the NSA might be using Skype as a way to monitor communications between people in the U.S. and other countries.
In April 2013, the SEA hacked the Associated Press's Twitter account and in doing so, wrote messages claiming that the White House had been attacked and that President Barack Obama was injured. Although hacking Twitter accounts is nothing new, the SEA's posts worried massive amounts of investors, causing a $136.5 billion dip in the S&P 500.
Following the Associated Press hack, the SEA made the news again with a string of attacks against various news organizations including The New York Times and the Huffington Post. These attacks were centered around the increasing likelihood that the U.S. would intervene in Syria as a result of Assad's alleged use of chemical weapons in the country.
Although the U.S. military intervention never occurred, the SEA wanted to use its power to remove anti-Assad articles from the news sites and instead, replace them with an article revealing the "truth" about what was happening in Syria.