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Hackers ­se Old Lure on Web to Help Syrian Government

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A fishing lure.

Syrian government hackers have stolen crucial battlefield data from rebels, according to a new study.


Hackers working on behalf of the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad have been very successful in stealing crucial battlefield data from rebels, according to a FireEye study examining the use of cyberattacks and espionage in the Syrian civil war.

The study details one incident in which a rebel fighter was contacted via Skype by someone purporting to be a young Lebanese woman. When the fighter asked for a picture of his new chatmate, the picture he received contained malware that copied data from his computer, including tactical battle plans and troves of information about the fighter and his comrades. There are suggestions that such cyberespionage operations have helped Assad's forces to thwart major rebel offensives.

The study also explores the more well known exploits of the so-called Syrian Electronic Army, which many officials believe to be based in Iran and largely confines itself to denial-of-service and cyber-vandalism attacks against targets in the U.S. like news organizations and banks.

However, the study found U.S. intelligence has had dramatic access to Syria's Internet backbone since 2010, when it intercepted several network devices bound for the Syrian Telecommunications Establishment and bugged them, a fact revealed in leaked documents provided by Edward Snowden.

From The New York Times
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