CNBC, Telegraph and Independent Hacked by Pro-Assad Group

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Several news websites, including CNBC and Britain’s Telegraph, have been hacked by a group identifying itself as the Syrian Electronic Army.

Other media organizations affected include CBC News, the U.K.-based Independent, the London Evening Standard and the New York Daily News, according to reports on the companies’ websites and Twitter accounts.

The Syrian Electronic Army, which backs the country’s president, Bashar al-Assad, has in the past targeted the New York Times website and also claimed responsibility for hacking the Washington Post and the Financial Times last year, redirecting readers to its own websites and videos.

“This is their modus operandi and they are successful at big and loud campaigns like this,” said Raj Samani, chief technology officer for Europe, the Middle East and Africa at McAfee Inc., a computer security provider.

Some users of the sites were presented with a message telling them that they “have been hacked by the Syrian Electronic Army.”

According to the Independent’s news site, “the nature of the attack is still unknown -- and it is unclear whether the sites themselves are under attack, or the devices of those accessing them.”

“This is a fairly straightforward hack,” said Samani. “Such an attack would involve an element of social engineering in order to appear as an authorized party that can change such records.”

Members of the Syrian Electronic Army modified the domain name system of a particular site so that when a user types in the proper name it will redirect to their message, he said.

The hacker group has been active since 2011, though attacks increased in 2013, the Independent said without citing sources.

“Hello, we are aware the site has been hacked, with a note from the ‘Syrian Electronic Army.’ Tech people looking into it,” CBC Nova Scotia said in a Twitter post.