Channel 4 blogs taken offline by Syrian Electronic Army hack attack


The blog of TV newscaster Jon Snow has been forced offline, along with several other Channel 4 blogs, after hackers from the Syrian Electronic Army (SEA) attacked the site and posted fake items about a nuclear attack by rebels in Syria.

The hackers, who back Presidents Bashar al-Assad, managed to gain control of Jon Snow's blog. A screenshot of the fake news item was captured by security blogger Graham Cluley.

On Monday a post appeared on the veteran journalist's blog entitled, "Nuclear strikes on Syria: the genie is already out of the bottle."

The Syrian Electronic Army claimed responsibility for the attack and posted a screenshot of what it claims is the administration panel for the Channel 4 blog, which is apparently Wordpress-based.

Cluley said he suspects Channel 4 may be running an old version of Wordpress that is "vulnerable to a security exploit that allowed the hackers to gain access, or that an administrator had his password phished."

In the last few days, WordPress has released the latest version of its blogging platform version 3.6.

At the time of writing, the Channel 4 blogs are still down with a picture of characters from Channel 4's sitcom The IT Crowd in their place.

"Although clearly embarrassing for Channel 4, the good news is that this appears to have been merely defacement. Imagine how things would have been much worse if the hackers had used the opportunity of breaking into a popular blog to spread malware to unsuspecting readers," said Cluley.

In April, the SEA hacked the Twitter account of Associated Press and tweeted that a bomb had gone off in the White House. This caused stock exchanges around the world to fall before the news was proven to be faked. It has also mounted hacking campaigns against a number of media targets, including the BBC, Daily Telegraph, Financial Times, The Guardian and many more.

As reported by IT Pro, the hackers 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".

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.