Syrian Hackers Strike

Collective linked to Anonymous attacks Israeli system, The Onion's Twitter feed

Guy Fawkes mask associated with Anonymous / AP
May 6, 2013

A hacker group known as the Syrian Electronic Army (SEA) claims to have "penetrated" one of Israel's central Internet infrastructure systems in Haifa in response to an Israeli attack over the weekend on Syrian weapons shipments.

The Anonymous-affiliated SEA, or SCADA Attackers, announced Monday afternoon that it had "penetrated one of the main infrastructural systems (SCADA) in Haifa and managed to gain access to some sensitive data," according an email announcement by the group released on Pastebin, a site often used by Anonymous members.

The SEA also appeared to have hacked on Monday the Twitter feed affiliated with the parody news site The Onion.

"BREAKING: #TheOnion readership mass confusion as Syrian Electronic Army takes over," the group tweeted Monday afternoon via the Onion's account. "All demand a permanent column."

The group has sent a serious of sometimes humorous tweets via the account.

"UN [United Nations] retracts report of Syrian chemical weapon use: 'Lab tests confirm it is Jihadi body odor,'" read one tweet.

The Onion has yet to comment on the supposed hack.

The group claims that it is "now able to cause irrecoverable damages to the Israeli’s infrastructural systems," in its email announcement, which included links to several screenshots of the purported hack attack.

The hackers said their actions are a reprisal for Israel’s multiple airstrikes on Syrian weapons compounds suspected to be housing sophisticated Iranian arms meant for the terror group Hezbollah.

"This message carries a serious caution to the Israeli statesmen," the group said. "They should know that not receiving a quick reaction to such childish ventures, does not show the Syrian inability in doing so, but it is based on wisdom and humanity considerations."

SCADA are online control systems that typically manage industrial or government sites, including electrical grids, generators, and water treatment plants, among others.

Israeli officials have yet to acknowledge or publicly comment on the hacker group’s claims.

It is not the first time Anonymous-affiliated hackers have targeted Israeli SCADA systems.

A hacker posted a list of Israeli SCADA sites and login details in January 2012.

"The pastebin post contains a list of IP-based URLs that allegedly correspond to Web administration interfaces of systems that are used to monitor automated equipment in industrial facilities," PC World reported at the time.

"Most of the URLs in the original post are no longer accessible. However, the hacker has since released a second list which contains newly found Israeli SCADA systems," the report stated.

The Department of Homeland Security noted in a 2011 report that Anonymous was gaining the ability "to take over critical IT infrastructure," E-Week reported.

"Experienced and skilled members of Anonymous ... could be able to develop capabilities to gain access and trespass on control system networks very quickly," the DHS report stated.

The SEA is also responsible for the recent takeover of Twitter accounts belonging to the Associated Press and the Guardian newspaper.

The SEA encourages Internet users to revolt against Israel’s military actions.

"Also an advise to those who left their homelands for many years, dreaming a happy and safe life," the group said. "Do the best to express your objections to Israeli policies, since we do not like to see innocent people getting killed in Texas, US, but this time in Haifa."