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‘Iranian Cyber Army’ hack of Twitter signals cyber-politics era

Activists of all political stripes are expected to more aggressively pursue their ideological adversaries by any means necessary in cyberspace. On Thursday, Twitter was attacked for a second time, with an unknown group called the Iranian Cyber Army claiming the strike.

By Michael B. FarrellStaff writer / December 18, 2009

Military security experts say cyberattacks on Twitter and other social networking sites portend a new kind of warfare in which financial institutions, electrical grids, and computer networks could be targeted.

Koji Sasahara/AP

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Politics online is becoming just as volatile as politics on the street. Just take Twitter. On Thursday night it was attacked for a second time, supposedly by politically motivated hackers with an ax to grind over how the popular mini-blogging site has evolved into a useful tool for activists.

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An unknown group called the Iranian Cyber Army claimed the latest strike. It successfully redirected Twitter traffic to a website that contained an anti-American message. The group has also claimed attacks on the website belonging to several Iranian opposition groups.

In August, Twitter was hit in a cyberattack that also took aim at Facebook and Google. The target of that strike was believed to be a Georgian blogger and popular online critic of the Kremlin for its actions in the 2008 war with Georgia.

“This is just politics of the future,” says James Lewis, a cybersecurity expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. “This is better than spray paint but it’s roughly in the same family.”

Web becomes forum for political speech

As the Web emerges as the primary forum for political speech, activists of all stripes are expected to more aggressively pursue their ideological adversaries by any means necessary in cyberspace. They’ll blog, they’ll tweet, and even hack into high-profile sites to broadcast a political message.

Dave Marcus, director of Security and Research and Communications at McAfee, told eWeek that “hacktivism” is the new political norm in cyberspace. ”Activist groups want millions of people across the world to see their message, and this time they did it by architecting a re-direct on Twitter.”

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