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Syrian Electronic Army hackers target Facebook

06 Feb 2014
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The Syrian Electronic Army (SEA) has come to blows with Facebook, following claims it successfully managed to compromise some of the social network's systems.

In a post on Twitter, the SEA claimed to have broken into a Facebook administrative panel at domain name system (DNS) provider MarkMonitor.

The attackers claimed that while in they had managed to tweak details in Facebook's WHOIS records.

WHOIS is a query response protocol used by many businesses. Information available using WHOIS includes everything from the registration dates, the name servers, domain names and administrative and technical contact information. This means the SEA could theoretically have made further changes in Facebook's systems if they managed to compromise the records.

A source familiar with the matter, however, confirmed to V3 that Facebook was never hacked by the SEA and at no point was any user traffic compromised. They also confirmed none of Facebook's servers or IP addresses were changed and that there was no redirection to another site.

At the time of publishing MarkMonitor had not responded to V3's request for comment.

The SEA has a track record of breaching media and tech companies' systems to deface their homepages or redirect users to a site displaying a political statement from the hackers. In the past big-name publications, including The New York Times have fallen victim to the SEA.

Security experts have said evidence suggests the SEA did not manage to breach Facebook's systems in any serious way, though Sophos senior security advisor Chester Wisniewski confirmed that they definitely came close.

"I was watching this in real time and there appeared to be a struggle for control around 11.49pm UTC, with MarkMonitor winning the war at 11.56pm UTC," he said in a blog post.

The SEA also claimed to breach Yahoo, Google and Amazon using a similar tactic, though at the time of publishing none of the companies had responded to V3's request for comment.

Dealing with hacktivist groups such as the SEA has been an ongoing headache for law enforcement.

Documents leaked by whistleblower Edward Snowden earlier this week showed that the GCHQ targeted members of the Anonymous collective with denial of service (DoS) and phishing attacks during its 2011 operations.

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Alastair Stevenson

Alastair has worked as a reporter covering security and mobile issues at V3 since March 2012. Before entering the field of journalism Alastair had worked in numerous industries as both a freelance copy writer and artist.

View Alastair's Google+ profile

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