As the United States and other world powers continue to debate a possible military intervention in Syria, the hacker collective Anonymous has gone ahead with its own intervention, taking on its Syrian counterpart — the Syrian Electronic Army.
It's a shadow war happening online between two amorphous, grassroots groups. And Anonymous dealt the first blow.
Last week, Anons began releasing data they stole in April after infiltrating a server used by the Syrian Electronic Army. Over the weekend, someone began dumping it all on the so-called "deep web," a portion of the internet that isn't accessible by traditional browsers or search engines.
While the Syrian Electronic Army is mostly made up of supporters of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and may receive some material support from the regime, the organization does not appear to have any official relationship the government, something that appears to be confirmed in the data leaked by Anonymous. The Syrian Electronic Army has claimed several high-profile security breaches recently, including hacks on the websites of the New York Times, the Washington Post and the US Marine Corps.
Anons said the data released identifies the Syrian Electronic Army's core leadership, their methods, personal emails, usernames and passwords used by its members.
“I imagine them as an Assad cronies’ notion of the Chinese Cyber Army, on a shoestring budget,” one Anonymous member, involved in the analysis of the data, told GlobalPost.