Hackers Embarrass Reuters News Agency

Dennis Faas's picture

Hackers who support the Syrian government may be responsible for two separate attacks on the Reuters news agency. The hackers' efforts apparently caused false information about the political and military situation inside Syria to appear on the news agency's website.

The first hack damaged the Reuters blogging platform, a section of the agency's website that allows Reuters correspondents to write personal accounts and opinion pieces under their own name.

It appears Reuters reporters can post directly to the site, which may have made the hacker's job easier.

Fake Interview Posted On Reuters Website

The hackers apparently posted several bogus articles on the blogging platform, as if they had been written by real journalists.

One of these was an interview with the head of Syria's main opposition group, the Free Syrian Army. It claimed Riad al-Asaad would withdraw his forces from a key battleground in the ongoing conflict.

Reuters has since confirmed the posting was entirely false. News staff in that region report Riad al-Asaad's forces remain where they were. (Source: reuters.com)

Hackers later seized control of a Reuters Twitter account dedicated to reporting technology news. They changed the account's name to ReutersME, giving the bogus impression it was an account manned by the company's Middle East correspondent.

The hackers then flooded the account with false news stories, many reporting the same false "news" as the bogus interview and mentioning heavy losses among opposition forces.

Reuters Twitter Lists Bizarre Lewinsky Claim

The hackers raised a major red flag with one tweet by referring to the US Secretary of State: "[Hilary] Clinton vows to 'make Egyptian pay a heavy price' after being humiliated with chants mentioning Monica." (Source: csmonitor.com)

"Monica" of course refers to an episode that took place while Secretary Clinton was First Lady of the U.S. and her husband was President, between 1993 and 2001.

At best, the hackers' success will cause only embarrassment for the agency. At worst, it could negatively impact Reuters' legitimacy as a news source.

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