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Al Jazeera Says Pro-Syrians Sent Fake text messages

On Sunday, after dealing with an attack on their website earlier in the week, Qatar-based news organization Al Jazeera suffered another attack at the hands of pro-Syrian hackers. The news agency said on Twitter that their SMS news service was compromised, and used to spread propaganda.

In a message posted to Twitter on Sunday, Al Jazeera Arabic said that their SMS service was compromised by “pirates” who used the hijacked access to “send fake news with no basis.”

“The story that the Prime Minister [Sheikh Hamad bin Jassem –ed] has been the target of an assassination attempt in the royal palace is completely false,” the agency added. Shortly after the false report was published, several news organizations in Europe carried the reports on their own, citing Al Jazeera.

Shortly after the warning was posted, a pro-Syrian group called itself the Syrian Electronic Army claimed credit for the SMS hijacking. Last week, attackers compromised Al Jazeera’s DNS, using it to redirect visitors to their website to a pro-Syrian message denouncing Al-Jazeera's "positions against the Syrian and people and government"

The message went on to explain that the DNS compromised was in “response to your position against the people and government of Syria, especially your support of the armed terrorist groups and spreading false fabricated news."

Prior to the attacks on Al Jazeera, pro-Syrian hackers targeted outdated WordPress installations on the Reuters blog and used that platform to spread propaganda and other false news.

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Steve Ragan is a security reporter and contributor for SecurityWeek. Prior to joining the journalism world in 2005, he spent 15 years as a freelance IT contractor focused on endpoint security and security training.