Sky apps "hacked" by Syrian Electronic Army

Hackers calling themselves the Syrian Electronic Army (SEA) broke into BSkyB's Google Play Store account and defaced its web page.

The satellite broadcaster's Sky News app page had its screenshots replaced with an announcement "The Syrian Electronic Army Was Here".

At the same time, the company's Twitter account was also taken over with the hackers sending out a message stating: "Both Sky+ and SkyNews Android apps were replace [sic]. please uninstall."

Claims the apps had been hacked into may have been exaggerated with a simple graffiti attack a more likely explanation.

A spokesperson for BSkyB confirmed that it did not issue user guidance urging people to uninstall its apps.

The hack also redirected the the developer's help email address to the SEA.

The Sky Go, Sky+, SKY WiFi and Sky News apps all appeared to have been targeted in the attack, but the company said in a statement that "Sky Android apps previously downloaded by Sky customers are unaffected and there is no need to remove them from an Android device."

Former Reuters social media editor Matthew Keys was sent screenshots of the defacement. He said a hacker with the SEA confirmed to him that the group was responsible for the attack. Three days ago, the Twitter account of ITV News was also taken over by the same group.

Keys said the hack came after a story was published that implicated the group in a failed attack against the water supply control systems in Haifa, Israel. The group told Keys reports of its involvement were "untrue."

Sophos security expert Graham Cluley said now the apps are unavailable, it "also means that they cannot be downloaded to check for signs of malware or tampering."

In a blog post, Cluley added that people should "retain a healthy skepticism about implicitly trusting warnings that have only been shared via Twitter, especially when the reported attack relates to a group with a history of hacking the Twitter accounts of media organisations."

Rene Millman

Rene Millman is a freelance writer and broadcaster who covers cybersecurity, AI, IoT, and the cloud. He also works as a contributing analyst at GigaOm and has previously worked as an analyst for Gartner covering the infrastructure market. He has made numerous television appearances to give his views and expertise on technology trends and companies that affect and shape our lives. You can follow Rene Millman on Twitter.