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Early Thursday, a group of Syrian hackers managed to hack more than 60 sites belonging to new agencies, radio stations, football teams, humanitarian organizations and many more.The group of Syrian hackers involved in the web attacks is called Syrian Electronic Army (SEA) and wanted to tell the world “Happy Thanksgiving – You’ve been hacked by SEA”.
Among the news agencies affected by the hack are The Independent (UK), CNBC, CBS News (Canada), Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times, The Guardian, The Baltimore Sun, The Boston Globe, Toronto Star and many more. A full list was pinned by the AP journalist Andrew Peng 20 hours ago on Twitter.
Others sites affected were Microsoft, Logitech, Chelsea FC (UK), CVG, Gizmodo (Japan), Golf Channel, National Geographic, Red Bull, and UNICEF.
The SEA took responsibility for the attacks and said they were fighting for the Syrian cause. On a Twitter Message SEA said Happy Thanksgiving to everyone and warned the press that “ISIS are civilians”.
On early Thursday, users trying to post comments on news sites received instantly a common message – “You’ve been hacked by the Syrian Electronic Army (SEA)”. The message had the Syrian flag on it. IT security experts said the message did not affect all users. The most vulnerable were Apple users, although some PC Google Chrome users have also reported seeing the message.
Affected users were instantly redirected to another site where a pop-up window showed them they had been hacked by SEA.
At First, IT experts had no idea what actually happened– they weren’t sure if the news agencies’ sites were hacked or the devices of those using them, or both. Later they found out that only the web platform providing services for the comment section on those sites was compromised, since users were still able to use the live chat window to communicate.
The hacked web platform is called Gigya,com. Many news sites use it to let their users comment on their news articles. Gigya seemingly has been breached by the Syrian hackers on Thursday then had its traffic redirected to a third party site hosting SEA’s Thanksgiving message. It seems that this message also appeared on some sites of retailers involved in the Black Friday commercial rush. The National Retail Federation refused to comment.
Many news sites have temporarily disabled their news comment section until IT security specialists solve the problem.
“My biggest concern is that users who saw that message will believe they’ve somehow been hacked. We have no indication this is the case,”
an IT expert recently said.
Other security expert said that neither Gigya platform, nor any of its users or administrators and their data was compromised or at risk to be compromised.