Assad supporters hack Outbrain, a content-recommendation service

A group of pro-Assad hackers redirected traffic from three major US news sources through their content-recommendation service, Outbrain.

Syrian Electronic Army
A screenshot of the Syrian Electronic Army's Twitter account. Despite the group's modest number of Twitter followers, it has perpetrated multiple attacks on several media outlets.

A group of hackers from the Syrian Electronic Army hacked into Outbrain, a content recommendation service used by major news outlets. 

The attack occurred on Thursday morning, and affected the Washington Post, Time, and CNN. The SEA tweeted that hackers were able to access the media companies through a vulnerability in Outbrain, a company that all three companies use. Certain articles on these new sites redirected readers to the Syrian Electronic Army's main website. The Washington Post reported that its readers were sent to the Arabic version of the SEA website. 

Outbrain was aware of the leak, and has since fixed the security breach, according to a blog post from the company. The affected companies have also corrected the security breach. 

"We've taken defensive measures, and at this time there are no other issues affecting the site," said Emilio Garcia-Ruiz, the Post's digital managing editor in an article printed by the Post on Thursday after the SEA attack. 

The Washington Post was targeted earlier in the week in a series of phishing attacks, by what the news organization believes to have been the SEA. The source of the attack sent emails to Post mailboxes that appeared to be from Post colleagues, which directed recipients to click a link, and provide log-in data, according to an article by the Post. The data would have presumably given the outsider access to the Post's computer network. 

The SEA is a pro-Assad group, independent of the regime, that targets Western and Arabic media outlets that it claims unfairly portray the Syrian conflict, according to the group's website

The SEA gained media attention when it infiltrated the Twitter account of BBC's weather service, changing weather predictions on the media organization's microblogging account. Further attention was given to the group after it hacked into the Associated Press's Twitter account in April of this year, and tweeted that there had been an explosion in the White House. This fake tweet caused the Dow Jones to drop by up to 140 points.   

The group of hackers has also infiltrated the BBC, the Financial Times, National Public Radio, as well as the Onion. 

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