The Syrian Electronic Army (SEA) is one of the most notorious state-sponsored hacking groups in the world, and has gained access to the International Business Times's backend.
In most cases the Syrian Electronic Army takes down the site and posts pro-Syrian propaganda on the site's Twitter account. It is one of the only openly state-sponsored hacking groups, with its own Twitter account and site.
The International Business Times’ hack is much worse than previous attacks, and demonstrates the power of a state-sponsored cyber terrorism group. Not only did the Syrian Electronic Army get inside the site, it took over the CMS (content management system) and deleted an article relating to the Syrian violence.
On the front page of IBT, the hackers put a new placeholder saying:
“Hacked by the Syrian Electronic Army. This time we only deleted the article that content false information about Syria and the Syrian army. Next time, we will delete all your website.”
Having control of the CMS certainly gives the Syrian Electronic Army the power to delete every single article written by IBT and provided the news organisation does not have backups, this could result in a devastating loss of revenue.
It is unclear if the Syrian Electronic Army can keep a site down indefinitely, with most of the attacks the hack lasts a few hours. It would be hard for the Syrian Electronic Army to delete the site forever, due to backups and two-step authentication.
IBT appears not to be worried having already re-uploading the deleted article. The Syrian Electronic Army has not responded to the re-uploaded content.
Even though it is still unclear whether Syrian president Bashar al-Assad supports the cyber terrorist group, someone is funding the organisation to continue being a nuisance to news organisations and Twitter accounts.