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A New Turn for Hacktivism

by Matt Metzner, published

On Thursday online advocacy and hacktivism took an interesting turn as pro-Assad Syrian hackers took over the Twitter account of Al-Jazeera’s ‘The Stream.’ The show is “a social media community with its own daily TV show on Al-Jazeera.” Stories on their webpage cover a range of issues and all include highlights from the social media community related to the highlighted topic.

Back to the hacking. From what I gather the group used the Twitter account of the show as a mechanism to distribute pro-Assad propaganda to their 41,887 followers. As many know, Syria is embroiled in a nasty civil war and credible information has been difficult to find. What stands out here is that the Assad supporters aimed to take over a credible news source as a tactic to distribute information.

Regardless of the message itself, hacktivism may never be the same. Multiple online advocates/hackers take over or take down websites as a means to distribute a message, interrupt a practice, or draw attention to an organization.

To my knowledge, these groups had not attacked America media outlets during these campaigns. This action though may place a target on the back of these outlets as hackers attempt to use credible news sources as a means to disperse their materials unknowingly to the public.

During the next big hacktivist push we should keep an eye on whether these outlets and accounts come under attack or if activists continue to target the websites and information infrastructure of the organization.

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