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Syrian Electronic Army attacks Twitter and NYT

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With war against Syria looking ominously likely, the Syrians have already made a pre-emptive strike against two of the pillars of western civilisation. Oh, alright, some hackers calling themselves the Syrian Electronic Army have managed to interfere with Twitter and the website of the New York Times.

The name might make them sound like an early 80s synth-pop combo, but the SEA mean business. At least the kind of business that entails denying access to the NYT site for news-surfers. The site was down for several spells, during which hacking expert Matt Johansen of WhiteHat Security, tweeted that the website had briefly indicated a Syrian Electronic Army domain.

The newspaper itself did not go into details, but admitted that the issue was the "likely result of malicious external attack." The NYT has previously been on the receiving end of hackers from China. The SEA had already made sporadic attacks on other news outlets, including The Huffington Post, The Washington Post, Associated Press and New York Post (they seem to have it in for sundry Posts).

No disrespect to the NYT, but the attack on Twitter might have been more keenly felt, striking directly against the jaded Westerner's right to offer sarcastic jibes about Miley Cyrus or Ben Affleck whenever they get the urge.

The source was traced to domain name registry Melbourne IT. The hackers used a technique called DNS hijacking, involving altering domain name servers. "We are currently reviewing our logs to see if we can obtain information on the identity of the party that has used the reseller credentials," Melbourne IT spokesman Tony Smith said. "We will share this information with the reseller and any relevant law enforcement bodies. We will also review additional layers of security that we can add to our reseller accounts."

Ultimately the hacking emanated from the same addresses as Syrian Electronic Army's website sea.sy. Unsurprisingly, given Russian support for the Assad regime, this is hosted in Russia.

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