The FBI announced this week that the Syrian Electronic Army has been added to its wanted criminals list. The SEA, a group of hackers that supports Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, has carried out a string of cyber attacks on various news outlets, government agency websites, and popular Twitter accounts recently.
The most recent attack happened on August 27th, when the SEA hacked and shut down The New York Times website for hours on end. After this incident, the FBI issued a security advisory that warned people of the capabilities and seriousness of this group.
"Over the past several months, the SEA has been highly effective in compromising multiple high-profile media outlets," said the FBI in their advisory. "In addition to Syrian hackers, groups or individuals sympathetic to the SEA may also be observed participating in CNO efforts against US Web sites and networks. Please maintain heightened awareness of your network traffic and take appropriate steps to maintain your network security. If you detect anomalous or malicious traffic or network behavior, please contact your local FBI Cyber Task Force."
The SEA has taken responsibility for cyber attacks on organizations like The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Guardian, E! News, The Associated Press, and more. In addition to hacking websites, the SEA has taken to Twitter accounts to relay a number of messages, including false reports of attacks on government buildings, fabricated stories about President Obama, and more.
In a recent email interview with news website Mashable, members of the SEA made clear that should an attack on Syria by the US actually occur, they will retaliate.
“The moment the US government breaks international law by attacking the sovereign state of Syria,” said the SEA member, ”it has given up any rights to complain about being targeted by us or any other group around the world, as it would have lost all legitimacy. Yes, we will target all of it.”
The SEA has now been added to the FBI’s wanted list, and will consider any supporters of the group as terrorists.