Syrian Electronic Army Has Regime's Back In Cyberspace

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A screenshot of a tweet from the Associated Press on April 23, 2013. (WJLA)
A screenshot of a tweet from the Associated Press on April 23, 2013, after its Twitter account was hacked. (WJLA)

A pro-Syrian government group has successfully attacked major news organizations and activists to counter what it says are "massive distortion of facts about the recent uprising in Syria."

The British newspaper, The Guardian, became the latest institution to be hacked by the Syrian Electronic Army.

The list includes Oprah Winfrey, ABC News, the U.S. Department of Treasury, the BBC and NPR.

Most of the attacks have been on the order of pranks, but last week, the pro-Syrian government group successfully hacked the Twitter account of the Associated Press (@AP) to send out a false news tweet: "Breaking: Two Explosions in the White House and Barack Obama is injured."

It took stock markets about 3 minutes to figure out that the tweet was fake, but in that time, the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped by more than 150 points.

Washington Post foreign policy blogger Max Fisher says the attack shows that the group could do serious harm if it wanted to.

Fisher says The Syrian Electronic Army is notable for another reason: In every other Arab country affected by pro-democracy uprisings, anti-government activists have dominated cyberspace.

In the Syrian case, the pro-government cyber army has successfully denied that advantage to the regime's opponents.

Recent pieces by Max Fisher:

Additional reading:


This segment aired on April 29, 2013.


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