Syrian Electronic Army: Why its Hacking Should Make Us More Worried Than Ever


The New York Times website suffered cyber assaults from the Syrian Electronic Army (SEA) on Tuesday causing the New York Times's website to be inaccessible many readers for two hours.

Unidentified affiliates of the SEA modified the website's domain name system (DNS) by targeting Melbourne IT, the company's registrar. After trying and failing to access the Times's website, many readers learned about the cyber assaults via Twitter. The SEA revealed itself as the culprit through tweets containing information from the New York Times's DNS registration. This action redirected users to Syrian servers linked to the SEA. Besides the army's social declaration, Twitter users Matt Johansen and Jaeson Schultz tweeted evidence about the SEA compromising and obtaining control of the Times's website.

This hacking demonstrates a considerable aptitude for cyber infiltration, but offers little insight of the motivation behind the attack. The company did not announce any stolen information from its databases, but did publicize its "accomplishment" of gaining access to it. Thus, it appears that the SEA attacks are a means of flexing its power throughout the western hemisphere.

The SEA is a crucial ally to Assad because of its previous cyber endorsements and capabilities in cyber infiltration. If possible, Assad could request the SEA to attack institutions of great significance such as banks, tech firms and internet retailers. The SEA threatens global security because its skills in cyber infiltration have enabled it to hack into some of the world's most renowned media outlets.

The attacks on the New York Times and other media outlets suggest that SEA affiliates are irritated with western civilization. United States and other western countries align themselves with activists who advocate for Assad's resignation from office. The SEA abhors the western media portrayal of Assad and punishes outlets by hijacking their websites or Twitter accounts, posting graphic memes, images or blocking messages. Besides the New York Times, other SEA victims have included Reuters, 60 Minutes, the Associated Press, Agence France-Presse, NPR, and Washington Post.

It amazes me is that the SEA consistently bypasses security parameters installed by the media outlets. This indicates that their technological expertise is considerable and perhaps greater than that of western nations.

The SEA wants the entire world to acknowledge its existence and capabilities in cyber infiltration. By attacking media outlets and websites, the SEA becomes increasingly infamous around the world. However, one question lingers: how long will it be before these hijacking result in its hijacking information?