Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The Syrian Electronic Army strikes again. I speak.

As the U.S. spearheads an international military buildup outside Syria in response to the Assad regime's apparent use of chemical weapons against its people, a shadowy group known as the Syrian Electronic Army is taking center stage in a growing proxy war that takes the conflict online and global. The SEA fights not with guns, but with keyboards, hacking major websites like the New York Times, the Washington Post, and even Twitter itself, in a bid to raise awareness and focus world attention.

You may recall the SEA is the group that hacked Twitter in April, falsely tweeted that a White House bombing attack had injured President Obama, and temporarily sent the Dow Jones down by 140 points as panicked investors hit the sell button. They're good at this kind of thing, and their recent pattern of behaviour suggests they're getting better and bolder.

I don't write this to glorify them, or hackers in general. But one of my goals as a technology journalist is to make the difficult-to-understand easier for everyone to understand. And as this murky subtext to a fast-eroding, massive-scale tragedy continues to unfold, I consider myself lucky to be able to share what I know and help put it into something approaching a realistic perspective. Hard to conceive when we're talking about a dirty civil war that's already consumed too many lives, but still, if we can't repair the world in one fell swoop, we can start the process one conversation at a time. And so that's what I'm doing today.

I spoke by phone with Todd Battis on CTV's Canada AM this morning. The audio is here. Full video available here. Alternate video link here.

I also chatted with CTV News Channel's Jacqueline Milczarek and will post a link once it's available online.

Update: If your favourite website has been hacked by a DNS-type attack, here's how you can still get access to it:
  • Load the following website into your browser:
  • Type in the address (e.g. of the website you wish to access.
  • Click the "Check" button.
  • Look over on the right and you'll see the following message: PINGING CTV.CA @
  • Copy the numbers and paste them into your browser. Hit Enter and the website will load.
  • Even if the site is under DNS attack, you can still access it by using its numeric address.

1 comment:

sage said...

I was amused at this, but the fake claim on an attack on the White House makes me wonder how much stock they shorted and reaped the benefits of a quick drop in the Dow. As for Syria, they're all crazy and I hope we'll stay out but I'm not holding my breath.