Syrian Electronic Army hacks Skype’s social media accounts

A group of hackers claiming to be the Syrian Electronic Army (SEA) has accessed Skype's Twitter account and blog, posting anti-surveillance messages against Microsoft.

"Don't use Microsoft emails (hotmail, outlook). They are monitoring your accounts and selling the data to the governments," read one post on Skype's blog that has since been removed.

According to Skype, the posts were swiftly removed and no user information was compromised.

"We recently became aware of a targeted cyber attack that led to access to Skype's social media properties, but these credentials were quickly reset," Skype said in a statement.

The SEA first emerged in September 2012 and has previously hacked the social media platforms of media outlets it believed were sympathetic to Syrian rebels.

Last April the SEA targeted The Guardian's Twitter accounts, posting a string of Tweets publicising its organisation.

"Follow the Syrian Electronic Army... Follow the truth," one post stated on Guardian Travel.

In August the SEA achieved its biggest coup in successfully taking down the New York Times website, replacing its homepage with a "Hacked by the Syrian Electronic Army" banner.

Rik Ferguson, vice president of security research at Trend Micro, believes the method of hacking for the most recent attack would have most likely followed a similar pattern to that of previous attacks.

"Key individuals in the target enterprise would have received well-crafted and convincing emails, either with a malicious file attached, or containing a credible-looking link," Ferguson said. "Once compromised through either infection or phishing, then the account usernames and passwords would be available to the attacker, allowing further malicious activity."

In contrast to previous attacks, however, the latest stems from motivations seemingly unrelated to the ongoing civil war in Syria. Instead it is the revelations of mass surveillance on the part of the US government, leaked last year by former National Security Agency contract worker Edward Snowden, that have triggered the group to hack Skype's social media accounts.

Most recently in the ongoing NSA saga, Microsoft was implicated in revelations that the agency was using secret back doors to gain access to electronics as part of its covert Tailored Access Operations Unit.