Pro-Syrian attackers have hit the Reuters news agency for the third time in a month, posting a hoax story on the company’s blog system claiming that Saudi Arabia's foreign minister Prince Saud al-Faisal had died.
The blog was noticed before being put live on the WordPress platform, Reuters said, but it is becoming clear that the company is now a favourite target for hackers with Middle-Eastern politics on their minds.
On 3 August, Reuters had to take down another fake interview with a rebel leader suggesting his army was retreating from the Syrian Government forces.
Two days later, the news agency’s @ReutersTech Twitter feed was hacked and renamed, again to promote the anti-rebel theme. Attackers were able to make 22 bogus tweets before control was reinstated to Reuters.
A Wall Street Journal report from 5 August claimed that the WordPress blogging version being used by Reuters was vulnerable to security issues and should have been updated.
Syrian hackers – for the most part pro-Government – have been making a nuisance of themselves since the country’s civil war escalated earlier this year. During most anti-government uprising in the region, opposition and rebels have been the big adopters of digital protest; in Syria’s case the Government forces seem to have learned a lesson to strike first.
As well as website defacements, there have been fake YouTube videos serving malware, campaigns to ensnare opposition supporters via Skype, and even a mysterious 40-minute period on 19 July this year when the country appeared to disconnect itself from the Internet.