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Syrian hackers retaliate, deface Anonymous' social network

Counters Anonymous' earlier sabotage of nation's Ministry of Defense site

August 8, 2011 02:29 PM ET

Computerworld - After the hacking gang Anonymous took credit for defacing Syria's Ministry of Defense website, a Syrian group today retaliated by posting gruesome photos on Anonymous' embryonic social network.

The defacement of AnonPlus -- the site Anonymous set up last month when it was booted off Google+ -- did not include the name of the group responsible.

AnonPlus site
A Syrian hacker group retaliated today by vandalizing AnonPlus, Anonymous' social network site.

The University of Toronto's Citizen Lab, based at the Munk School of Global Affairs, however, credited the AnonPlus defacement to the "Syrian Electronic Army" in a message posted to Twitter.

"In response to your hacking to the website of the Syrian Ministry of Defence, the Syrian people have decided to purify the internet of [y]our pathetic website," the defacement read.

The Syrian Electronic Army has been linked to defacements of sites that have posted content critical of the Syrian regime, which has been blasted by the U.S. for its brutal crackdown on anti-government protests.

Today, three Gulf countries -- Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Kuwait -- recalled their ambassadors to Damascus in protest of President Bashar al-Assad's suppression of the demonstrations.

The defacement of AnonPlus included grisly photographs of burned bodies and claimed that Syrian citizens and military personnel have been killed by demonstrators.

That retaliatory move followed an earlier defacement of the Syrian Ministry of Defense website by Anonymous, the loosely-organized group that has taken responsibility for defacing Turkish government sites, knocking PayPal offline and hacking law enforcement servers.

As of 2 p.m. ET, the Syrian site remained offline, although a screenshot of the defacement remain on the Internet.

"To the Syrian people: The world stands with you against the brutal regime of Basher al-Assad," the defaced site read earlier Monday. "All tyrants will fall, and thanks to your bravery Basher al-Assad is next."

The Syrian Ministry of Defense website is hosted by an ISP in Damascus, according to WHOIS records. Other sites belonging to the Syrian government are also located on the same ISP's servers, including the Ministry of Information, whose website remains online.

covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at Twitter @gkeizer, on Google+ or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed Keizer RSS. His e-mail address is gkeizer@computerworld.com.

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