The Syrian Electronic Army threatens to target the US government, and not with the types of attacks they’re usually launching.“SEA advises the terrorist Obama to think very hard before attempting ‘cyberattacks’ on Syria,” the hackers wrote on Twitter. “We know what Obama is planning and we will soon make him understand that we can respond.”
So far, the Syrian hacktivists have mainly targeted media organizations whose reporting they don’t like. Social media accounts have been compromised, and websites have been defaced. However, they claim that their attacks against the US government will not be of “the same kind.”
“The next attack will prove that the entire US command structure was a house of cards from the start. #SEA #CENTCOM,” reads the last tweet they posted.
The #CENTCOM hashtag suggests that the hackers’ next target is the US Central Command (centcom.mil).
The Syrian Electronic Army’s announcement comes shortly after the New York Times published an article about the United States’ intention to develop a battle plan against Syria. The use of cyber weapons is being taken into consideration.
The US first considered launching a sophisticated cyberattack against Syria back in 2011, shortly after violent demonstrations took place in the country. One former official familiar with the discussions from 2011 told the New York Times that the US was particularly interested in Syria’s missile production facilities and the country’s ability to launch airstrikes.
President Barack Obama has so far been against the use of cyber weapons against Syria, mainly because cyberattacks of this kind have the potential of transforming the nature of warfare.
Last week, the United States’ National Security Council held a meeting to discuss “old and new options” as far as a potential attack against Syria is concerned.
National Security Council representatives have refused to go into detail. However, they’ve reiterated the fact that the US has a wide range of tools at its disposal for protecting national security, including cyber tools.
Launching cyber warfare against Syria has both advantages and disadvantages. On one hand, cyberattacks cause less damage than airstrikes, so they could be viewed as humanitarian.
On the other hand, once a major player such as the US starts relying on cyber weapons, other countries might see it as “opening up a new realm of warfare,” Peter W. Singer, co-author of “Cybersecurity and Cyberwar: What Everyone Needs to Know” and a Brookings Institution scholar, told the New York Times.
It’s worth noting that if the SEA has announced its intentions to attack the US Central Command, they probably already have some sort of access to the organization’s systems.