Arik Hesseldahl

Recent Posts by Arik Hesseldahl

Syrian Hackers Turn Tables, Hack The Onion’s Twitter Account


The Syrian Electronic Army, the pro-Assad propaganda group known for attacking Twitter accounts operated by numerous Western media outlets including National Public Radio, the BBC, CBS, the Associated Press and numerous others, has notched another paragon of journalistic virtue on its belt: The Onion.

The satire news site, known best for occasionally confusing other media organizations and public people who aren’t in on the joke, has, in a sinister way, been subjected to a taste of its own medicine.

“UN retracts report of Syrian chemical weapon use: Lab tests confirm it is Jihadi body odor,” one message said, according to a report by the New York Times. The attack appears to have been in response to an only partially satirical Onion essay, written by a fake Bashar al-Assad, that carried the headline, “Hi, In The Past 2 Years, You Have Allowed Me To Kill 70,000 People.”

Following the tried-and-true rule of not letting a heckler have the last word, The Onion responded with a story about the attack. Datelined from the Syrian capital of Damascus, it opens:

“After hacking into The Onion’s Twitter account earlier today, members of the Syrian Electronic Army confirmed that the organization simply wanted to have a little fun before soon dying at the hands of rebel forces.”

Briefly suspended, The Onion’s Twitter account is back online. Its first few tweets: Security tips, naturally.

The Onion’s Tips On How To Prevent Your Major Media Site From Being Hacked
The Onion

Move site to a new web address every few minutes #HackPreventionTips
The Onion

Onion Twitter Password Changed To OnionMan77 | ‘That Ought To Do It,’ Company Sources Confirm
The Onion

What’s not funny is what’s going on in Syria right now. Over the weekend, a rocket attack widely believed to have been carried out by Israel’s air force caused some huge explosions in the real Damascus. (See the video below, via Reuters.) The attack targeted some weapons said to be destined for the Iranian-backed militant group Hezbollah. And of course it’s taking place against the backdrop of the ongoing civil war against the Assad regime, in which some 75,000 people are said to have died. That part is no joke.

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There was a worry before I started this that I was going to burn every bridge I had. But I realize now that there are some bridges that are worth burning.

— Valleywag editor Sam Biddle