It’s been a rough week for several major US media outlets. Following Wednesday morning’s outage of the New York Times website due to an internal error, the Syrian Electronic Army hit The Washington Post, Time and CNN websites on Thursday, redirecting visitors to its homepage.
The SEA was able to hit several websites through a shared vendor, content recommendation service Outbrain. By getting into its admin panel, the SEA was able to target its clients, who include The Washington Post and CNN, Mashable says. The SEA injected malicious code into the Outbrain widget served on The Washington Post website.
This is a new method for the SEA, who in the past has used phishing attacks to target media employees, and Twitter accounts. A few months ago, the SEA hacked the AP’s Twitter handle to say the White House was bombed, causing the stock market to fall by $136 billion.
In a blog post, The Washington Post says that the SEA “targets both dissidents within Syria and ‘sympathizers’ outside the country. But that ‘sympathizer’ label appears to be applied to anyone who talks about the Syrian conflict in almost any context without expressly endorsing the Assad regime.”
Recently, the group has started using Trojans and targeting VoIP services, which could mean that the attacks on publishers and media websites are just beginning of a long string of much more serious attacks.
Compliance with the Iran Threat Reduction and Syria Human Rights Act of 2012 recently forced Network Solutions to shut down three Iranian websites and seize 700 domain names registered to Syrian organizations.