Syrian Electronic Army claims Obama social media hijacking

Hacked non-profit emails gave access to URL shortener ... and mayhem!

Barack Obama in the Oval Office

The Syrian Electronic Army has been up to its old tricks again, this time claiming to have infiltrated president Barack Obama’s official Twitter and Facebook accounts, and re-election web site.

A series of tweets were sent from @BarackObama account and updates were made to the president’s Facebook account on Monday linking to a YouTube video from the pro-Assad hacktivist collective.

Rather than hack the accounts themselves, those responsible appear to have achieved their aims by compromising URL shortening service ShortSwitch, researchers at Symantec said.

The website donate.barackobama.com was temporarily redirected to the Syrian Electronic Army site, according to The Hacker News.

Some tweets from the SEA’s official account seemed to confirm the reports.

It appears the SEA got the info it needed to launch its attack by hacking staff emails from the non-profit which runs Obama’s website, Twitter account and Facebook account - Organizing For Action (OFA).

The SEA told Mashable that OFA staff “didn't even enabled (sic) two-step verification” on their Gmail accounts.

As pointed out by Symantec, the OFA emails could have been targeted in the same way as those at The Onion earlier this year, with staff sent phishing emails linking to spoofed Google Apps login pages.

The security firm had the following advice for Google Apps users and admins:

Two-factor authentication for email is an important security feature that should be enabled. In the scenarios such as the one above, two-factor authentication would have helped the staff members of OFA mitigate an attempt by hackers to obtain access to the Obama campaign’s Google Apps email account.

If you are a Google Apps administrator, Symantec Security Response recommends turning on the two-factor authentication feature. Follow these instructions to allow two-factor authentication (2-step verification).

Google Apps administrators also have the option to “enforce” two-factor authentication, making it mandatory for all users of that domain. Please refer to Google’s help page for how to enable this feature.

The Syrian Electronic Army has claimed several high profile successes in the past few months, including web site defacements of CNN, Time and other media companies, and a data slurp of chat app Tango.

Obama's social media accounts and web site now appear to be back to normal. ®

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