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Syrian hacktivists hijack Telegraph's Facebook, Twitter accounts

Why social media needs 2-factor authentication... part VIII

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

Updated Twitter accounts run by the Daily Telegraph were hijacked by pro-Assad hacktivists from the Syrian Electronic Army briefly on Monday evening.

The UK broadsheet's Facebook account was also purloined by group in the latest in a growing line of similar attacks against high-profile media outlets including the FT, The Guardian, Associated Press, CBS, the BBC, Al Jazeera and even satirical magazine The Onion.

The hijacked @TelegraphNews Twitter account was used to punt pro-Assad propaganda as well as to brag about the reported takeover of other accounts including @TelegraphArt, @TelegraphFilm, @Tele_Comedy, @TelegraphSport, and @TelegraphBooks.

The offending messages were quickly purged after control of the affected accounts was wrested away from the hackers. However, a record of the offending messages can be found on the personal blog of veteran infosec expert Graham Cluley here.

The @TelegraphNews Twitter feed was hacked using a multi-stage phishing attack, the paper has confirmed. The Onion's social media feeds were hijacked in much the same way earlier this month.

The SEA's attack on The Onion ultimately succeeded in extracting passwords for email accounts charged with running social media feeds, at which point hackers would obviously have gained complete control over these profiles, allowing them to post whatever they wanted.

Twitter has told media organisations to be wary of this type of attack but until it introduces two-factor authentication, experience suggests this sort of account-hijacking assault will continue to be a useful outlet for propaganda for hackers affiliated with the SEA, who appear to have cornered the market for this sort of thing. ®

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