Outbrain Hacked by Syrian Electronic Army, CNN, Time and Washington Post Impacted

The hackers were preparing to hijack The New York Times as well

By on August 16th, 2013 06:48 GMT

The Syrian Electronic Army has done it again. They’ve hijacked the websites of some top media organizations after breaching the systems of Outbrain, a content recommendation service whose widget helps online publishers increase web traffic.

The impacted news websites are CNN, Time and the Washington Post. By compromising Outbrain’s systems, the hackers have been able to direct the visitors of certain articles to the official Syrian Electronic Army website.

“Earlier today, Outbrain was the victim of a social engineering attack by the Syrian Electronic Army,” Outbrain said in a statement.

“On the evening of August 14th, a phishing email was sent to all employees at Outbrain purporting to be from Outbrain’s CEO. It led to a page asking Outbrain employees to input their credentials to see the information,” the statement continues.

“Once an employee had revealed their information, the hackers were able to infiltrate our email systems and identify other credentials for accessing some of our internal systems.”

The “internal systems” compromised by the hackers include Outbrain’s admin console, which the Syrian Electronic Army abused to label the recommendations displayed by the Outbrain widget as “Hacked by SEA.”

The company shut down its systems to contain the attack. Currently, the service has been restored and their networks have been allegedly fully secured.

The hackers said they were preparing to hijack The New York Times just before the service was pulled offline.

In a statement published shortly after the incident, Washington Post representatives confirmed that the Syrian Electronic Army hijacked some of their articles via Outbrain.

The Post also revealed that it too was targeted by the hackers over the weekend. As you might remember, earlier this week, when the New York Post’s Twitter accounts were hijacked, the hacktivists also gained access to the account of Washington Post columnist Jason Reid.

The incident was apparently a result of a “sophisticated phishing attack to gain password information.”

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