Reports by American cybersecurity watchdog FireEye now indicate that the Syrian opposition fighters might have been hacked by government sponsored agents who posed as women online. The revelation might just explain why the war in Syria has been such a difficult experience for the opposition fighters and government defectors.
In what must be the most unlikely of war techniques, the Syrian government led by Basher Al Assad seems to have used the internet to supplement its hardware in the military operation to kill off the uprising in Syria.
Reports emerging online now show that the government might have financed and run a program to infiltrate the computers of Syrian opposition forces and steal crucial information which then helped the government design its attacks and moves.
It is being reported that the Syrian opposition forces were invited to chat on Skype with attractive women who appeared sympathetic to the opposition’s cause. The typical chat would start of with political tones and get personal pretty quickly. The women-who in the real sense were agents using female avatars- would then seek to know what device the opposition fighter was using. This information would be useful in determining what kind of malware to send to the fighter’s device.
Typically, the women would collect personal information then start sending lewd photos and videos which the fighters would download onto their devices. What the fighters did not know was that the photos and videos were laced with malware which would then steal information on the devices and send it back to the agents.
It is reported that massive personal information was stolen this way. The agents posing as attractive women also managed to acquire information that could be actionable in the battle field such as information on crucial supplies such as food and medicine and the delivery schedules of the supplies, the timing for exchange of missiles and even the blood types of the fighters.
In addition, other information that might have been stolen included refugee information and information on the humanitarian volunteers that helped the opposition fighters.
It has also been reported that the operation was hugely successful. This is because the amount of data collected was very huge. The main reason why the data collected was deep and reliable is because the technique used was clever and hard to detect. The other reason why the operation was that successful is because the fighters were sharing smart phones and computers. An attack on one computer or device therefore yielded information from many people.
In addition to the Skype technique, the Syrian government is accused of having created many fake opposition websites and social media profile of people purporting to be sympathizers of the opposition. The fake websites and social media profiles contained links which contained malicious software which would install itself on devices when the links were clicked. The social media profiles and websites would encourage users to click and therefore infect their devices.
When contacted by tech blog Mashable, the Syrian Electronic Army denied any involvement. The exact words used were “We can confirm we did not pull off any hacks that involved women and malware.” The Syrian Electronic Army went further and said, “Keep in mind that we are not the only actors (in the war).”
Top/Featured Image: By njči from London, UK / Wikipedia (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:The_flag_of_Syrian_Arab_Republic_Damascus,_Syria.jpg)