Syrian Electronic Army Hacks Jon Snow’s Blog, Posts About Fake Nuclear Bomb
The flag of Syria.
CREDIT: Public Domain
The Syrian Electronic Army, a group of hackers who support Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, has pulled off yet another high-profile hack. And this time, their target was Jon Snow's blog.
No, not that Jon Snow. Reporter, blogger and real-life person Jon Snow of Britain’s Channel 4 News keeps a blog on the Channel 4 website entitled Snowblog that covers international news.
On Monday a post appeared on Snow’s blog entitled “Nuclear strikes on Syria: the genie is already out of the bottle.”
The post claimed that a nuclear weapon had gone off in Syria, but it was rambling and poorly written, first suggesting that the weapons belonged to Assad’s forces and were accidentally triggered in an attack on a weapons cache, then claiming that the alleged attacks were a “tactical nuclear strike” that supposedly wouldn’t cause massive radiation fallout.
This is all bogus, of course. Channel 4 quickly shut down the blog and soon after the Syrian Electronic Army claimed credit for the post. The hacking group also posted a picture of what appears to be Channel 4's Wordpress-powered content management system, a view only an administrator should be able to see, as proof that they were able to break into the system.
Channel 4’s blogs, including Snow’s, are all still offline at time of writing.
Security expert Graham Cluley suggested a possible reason for why the Syrian Electronic Army was able to break into Channel 4’s website: WordPress has recently released an update to its blogging platform, version 3.6, and if Channel 4 hadn’t yet downloaded the update they would have been vulnerable, wrote Cluley on his own blog.
Alternatively, suggested Cluley, the Syrian Electronic Army may have just used a phishing scam, which is when scammers trick people into revealing passwords by pretending to be a reliable contact or by creating fake password reset notifications. It’s not a high-tech trick, but if the “bait” is good enough to trick the intended target phishing is very effective, and the Syrian Electronic Army has been known to use it.
The SEA’s previous media targets have included CBS, NPR and The Onion. In April, the SEA also hacked the Associated Press’s Twitter account and tweeted from it that a bomb had gone off in the White House. The stock market briefly plummeted before the hack was uncovered.