Microsoft becomes latest hack victim

By James Riches topicIcon Internet News

Microsoft closes blog and social accounts amid security alert

Microsoft has become the latest high profile victim of the Syrian Electronic Army (SEA), with its official blog and two of its Twitter accounts temporarily falling under the control of the hacking group.

SEA members took over the Twitter accounts @XboxSupport and @MSFTnews, which between them have over 913,000 followers. They posted pro Syria messages and criticised Microsoft, claiming data from services such as Outlook and Hotmail was being passed onto the government.

Some messages also redirected visitors to SEA's own website and Twitter account, which displayed further messages accusing companies of selling private user data to the US government. The contact details of outgoing Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer were also published.

Microsoft briefly shut down the accounts as it attempted to regain control, citing "maintenance" as the reason. It later assured users that "no customer information was compromised".

The latest attack comes just over a week after the SEA managed to access Microsoft's Skype service, and marks the latest in a string of successful hacking attempts for the organisation.

Their previous targets include the BBC, The Guardian, Financial Times, Associated Press, Al Jazeera and another hacking group, Anonymous.

Tech firms struggling to stop hack attacks

The continuation of hacks such as these seems to suggest that these groups are unconvinced by attempts from tech companies to show they do not approve of government surveillance.

Last month eight leading organisations displayed rare unity in petitioning the US government to curb its surveillance practices.

AOL, Apple, Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Microsoft, Twitter and Yahoo indicated that they felt attempts to protect citizens had strayed too far into damaging the rights of individuals, but it appears the SEA still believes these groups must take a share of the blame.

Daniel Nolan, managing director at theEword, said: "These security breaches are becoming a regular feature, and that must be a worry for these companies as they hope to retain the trust of users. It's almost certain that the SEA is already planning its next attack, so these organisations will need to be alert to the danger."