Washington Post Website Hacked

Hackers hit the The Washington Post website Thursday morning, redirecting readers from certain stories to the website for the Syrian Electronic Army, a hacker collective supporting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

SEA reportedly hacked into Outbrain, a content recommendation company that helps media outlets increase web traffic, and claimed on Twitter to also have hit CNN and Time, according to the Daily Beast. The Twitter account is the group’s 16th, after Twitter closed its first 15 iterations.

The Washington Post issued this update before 1 p.m.:

“A few days ago, The Syrian Electronic Army, allegedly, subjected Post newsroom employees to a sophisticated phishing attack to gain password information. The attack resulted in one staff writer’s personal Twitter account being used to send out a Syrian Electronic Army message. For 30 minutes this morning, some articles on our web site were redirected to the Syrian Electronic Army’s site. The Syrian Electronic Army, in a Tweet, claimed they gained access to elements of our site by hacking one of our business partners, Outbrain. We have taken defensive measures and removed the offending module. At this time, we believe there are no other issues affecting The Post site.”

SEA spreads its pro-government message through spamming campaigns and by targeting political opposition, including news organizations and human rights groups. Its hacks mostly involve defacing Twitter and Facebook accounts.

Tuesday afternoon, SEA accessed accounts used by SocialFlow, a social media optimization company used by many media outlets in the country, including NBCWashington.com, the Daily Beast reported. The hackers hit the New York Post’s Facebook page, four New York Post journalists and a Washington Post columnist.

The group claimed to be behind the hack of the Associated Press in April that resulted in a false tweet saying President Barack Obama had been injured in a White House explosion. That tweet caused a temporary dip in the Dow Jones industrial average.

SEA’s relationship with the Syrian government has been debated in the past, but in an interview with the Daily Beast Wednesday, a hacker said the group is not a part of the regime or paid by it.

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