The Syrian Electronic Army, a group of hackers that runs campaigns against Western media in support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, joined #OpTurkey, a cyberattack organized by Anonymous to protest the police violence in Turkey. In addition to shutting down and defacing more official Turkish websites, the two hacker collectives hacked into the Turkish Prime Ministry’s network (basbakanlik.gov.tr) and accessed email addresses, passwords and phone numbers belonging to Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan’s staff.
Erdogan has been a vocal opponent as Assad and supporter of the Syrian rebels.
The attack was carried out by an Anonymous hacker or hackers under the Twitter handle @AnonsTurkey and a Syrian Electronic Army group using @Official_SEA12. In a press release promoted by both accounts, Anonymous shared what it claimed to be the full list of usernames registered with the Turkish Prime Ministry. It claimed to also have phone numbers and passwords, but said it would not release them for two reasons.
1- Anonymous will not share any phone numbers because Anonymous respects people's privacy.
2- Anonymous will not share most of the email passwords because Anonymous does not believe in the full use of power against the weak.
Anonymous truly believes there is big lesson for those who think on the above 2 points.
Anonymous said it would disclose one password if necessary to prove that the hack was genuine. Additionally, Anonymous gave hacker tips and tools and wrote, “We condone use of such trickery to crack passwords and gain access to cosmic top secret information.”
The Syrian Electronic Army ignored this reasoning, and put up their own post that exposed the passwords of about 60 email accounts belonging to Erdogan’s staff. The difference is important, as the goals of the two hacker collectives are not always been congruent, and have sometimes been completely in oppostion.
While the Syrian Electronic Army is known for being supporters -- or agents -- of Assad, Anonymous has been strongly in support of the Syrian rebellion. Factions of Anonymous have organized #OpSyria movements to increase support for the Syrian revolution in the U.S.
Anonymous also avoids attacking media companies as a general rule. The Syrian Electronic Army has made its reputation for hacking major news organizations. Its most famous strike came in April, when it hijacked the Associated Press’ Twitter account to falsely claim that President Barack Obama had been injured by an explosion in the White House. The tweet temporarily caused widespread panic that triggered a very brief stock market crash.
While the Twitter accounts of the two hacker groups have been tagging and retweeting each other throughout the attack, the Anonymous press release doesn’t explicitly mention the Syrian Electronic Army. The extent of which these two are working together is unclear.
— Anonymous Turkey (@AnonsTurkey) June 4, 2013
IBTimes has asked other factions of Anonymous for comment on the apparent alliance, but has not received a response.
#OpTurkey began June 2 in response to a violent police crackdown of a peaceful protest in Turkey. Throughout #OpTurkey, hundreds of Turkish websites have been defaced or shutdown from DDoS attacks.
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