The Syrian Electronic Army has claimed responsibility for hacking into multiple news websites on Thursday, including the New York Times, CBC and the Telegraph. Visitors saw this pop-up message: “you’ve been hacked by SEA.”
Most of the news organizations hit were in the UK and the US. US sites hit included the New York Times, the Chicago Tribune, CNBC, CBC and Forbes.
The SEA said on its Twitter feed that the attacks were designed to coincide with the Thanksgiving holiday in the US.
"Happy thanks giving, hope you didn't miss us! The press: Please don't pretend #ISIS are civilians. #SEA,"said the Tweet.
Happy thanks giving, hope you didn't miss us! The press: Please don't pretend #ISIS are civilians. #SEA pic.twitter.com/ZXzMWbXoYp
— SyrianElectronicArmy (@Official_SEA16) November 27, 2014
In the UK, affected media organizations included the Telegraph, the Independent and the Evening Standard.
A part of our website run by a third-party was compromised earlier today. We've removed the component. No Telegraph user data was affected.
— The Telegraph (@Telegraph) November 27, 2014
“A part of our website run by a third-party was compromised earlier today. We’ve removed the component. No Telegraph user data was affected,” the newspaper insisted on its Twitter feed.
The Chicago Tribune has been hacked by the Syrian Electronic Army, as have Forbes & the Telegraph, per Twitter search pic.twitter.com/GvxZpe8ECC
— Ross Pickering (@RossPickering) November 27, 2014
The Independent has tweeted that it’s aware of the hacking and that it’s only affecting a small number of users.
Hello, we are aware the site has been hacked, with a note from the "Syrian Electronic Army." Tech people looking into it #cbcns
— CBC Nova Scotia (@CBCNS) November 27, 2014
Reportedly, the hack came through the popular Gigya comment platform.
The NHL's website was hacked by the Syrian Electronic Army? Can they fix GCL while they're there?
— Kevin Power (@Kpower90) November 27, 2014
The Independent later reported that the hackers attacked the Gigya DNS entry at GoDaddy - a domain registrar that manages domain names, but “the Gigya platform itself was not hacked.”
The SEA has engaged in a number of operations in recent months against Western media websites, and is perhaps best known for claiming to have compromised the Twitter account of the Associated Press last year. Once that account was commandeered, the SEA erroneously reported that an explosion had occurred at the White House.
They also compromised CNN’s Twitter and Facebook accounts and The Time magazine Twitter feed.
In January, the SEA gained unauthorized access to social media accounts affiliated with Skype and posted messages critical of the Microsoft-owned product and the US government’s relationship with Silicon Valley. In February, the group reportedly accessed the email accounts of Forbes’ employees and then took control of associated blogs.
The group went as far as allegedly penetrating the network of the United States Central Command and hacking into Barack Obama’s Twitter and Facebook.