The pro-Assad hacking collective known as the Syrian Electronic Army (SEA.sy) has been very busy recently. In late April SEA hacked the Twitter account of the Associated Press and tweeted that a bomb had exploded in the White House, injuring President Obama. Consequently, the Dow Jones industrial average dropped 150 points, erasing $163 billion in market value. Other take downs by SEA include CBS, NPR, BBC, The Financial Times, The Daily Telegraph, Sky News, and the American satirical newspaper The Onion. In May they leaked a bundle of documents that "exposed the hidden face of Qatar," and there has been word that they are on the verge of exposing details about the Saudi weapons' trade. I talked to a member of the Syrian Electronic Army about their past, present, future, and favorite super villain below.
Wilson: Hello. Thank you for taking the time to have this conversation. Is there a specific handle that you go by?
SEA: No problem, sorry about the delay, times have been very difficult in Damascus. My name is A1.
Wilson: Earlier this month you gained access to the Twitter account of the British Broadcaster ITV. The day before the hack Twitter implemented a two-factor authentication process to safeguard accounts specifically because of the Syrian Electronic Army, but it hasn't managed to stop you. Is there anything that can stop you?
SEA: The nature of networking systems relies on trust and well-designed systems. As such, there is no system that cannot be hacked. All it needs is good technique, up to date knowledge and most importantly, persistence.
Wilson: Your attacks mostly come in the form of phishing schemes. Some people believe these to be less advanced attacks than say those used by the Chinese. What would you say to those people?
SEA: While on the surface, a phishing scheme is a simpler attack, it is only a vector commonly known as social engineering, to another form of security hole. We have exploited all kinds of flaws in our target's systems. Phishing was often only the first step.
Wilson: What was the dumbest password you found after hacking these accounts?
SEA: Believe it or not, the password that secured the Qatari foreign ministry email system was 123456.
Wilson: The Syrian Electronic Army recently breached the Saudi Ministry of Defense. You are preparing to leak a correspondence that deals with a number Saudi arms deals. Can you say anything else about this?
SEA: Unfortunately as we are preparing to release these leaks we cannot yet publicly speak about them. Please stay tuned for more details!
Wilson: Some journalists have been saying that SEA is at war with Anonymous. While the Syrian Electronic Army is a centralized unit, we know that Anonymous is not. Who is it in Anonymous that you don't like? Are people making this into something it isn't? Is this a manufactured war?
SEA: I think you've answered it, it's mostly a manufactured war. There are people who affiliate themselves with Anonymous who back us and there are those who have absorbed the lies of the gulf and NATO media about Syria. There is no one that specifically comes to our attention from Anonymous and the behavior of those that are signed up to the Obama's agenda in Syria are mostly dismissive of the SEA.
Wilson: What is it about Qatar that made you want to penetrate their government. Do you consider Al Jazeera to be part of the Western news force?
SEA: Al Jazeera was the tip of the spear when it came to the war on Syria and furthermore Al Jazeera is the only station that promotes the ideology and narrative of Al Qaeda openly. This war was largely a media war until the conspirators obtained a critical mass of Wahabbi terrorists that they dropped their masks. This doesn't stop Qatar from being the enemy of the Syrian people, nor will we ever forget what this nation has done to ours. We will not stop attack Qatar and all its interest until this state returns to what it was before British colonialism: Non-existent.
Wilson: Because of the lack of journalists in Syria, there is a propaganda war happening on Youtube. It seems like the rebels are the ones posting most of the videos. Are there any channels that show pro-Assad soldiers or videos? Is SEA the answer to rebel propaganda?
SEA: There are quite a few journalists in Syria but a lot of journalists have been assassinated or kidnapped due to their coverage by the terrorists in Syria. As such, the number of journalists willing to risk their lives has decreased. The terrorists are paid by Qatar for every video posted on Youtube. They are indeed posting the most videos but these same videos have been used to condemned them, so this strategy has clearly failed. On the other hand, the SEA has used the internet to reveal the truth to the people in a new form of digital guerrilla-warfare or as some have called it.
Wilson: Earlier this month a video was posted of a man named Abu Sakkar, the founder of the Homs Farouq Brigade, eating the heart of an Assad Soldier. If you could say something to this man what would you say?
SEA: We say that your lack of morals and your beast like-nature is not welcome in Syria and we have our confidence in our army who will definitely bring you and your band of terrorists to justice.
Wilson: Have you lost any friends or family during the Syrian conflict?
SEA: I have personally lost two family members and a dear friend during the Syrian conflict. The sadness never goes away but I persist in order that my Syrian people will live to see a brighter future and for the memory of my late family and friend.
Wilson: When you are not causing havoc in the west, what are you doing?
SEA: Personally, I'm mostly studying, I guess some of the other members are working.
Wilson: What are your favorite TV shows, movies, musicians, writers?
SEA: I guess I can't be too specific in this regard but I will say that I am a great fan of the older media from America, before the 2000s where things have seemingly taken a down turn. Recent good work include Inception which was a great movie.
Wilson: Do you consider yourself to be a hero or a villain?
SEA: Definitely a hero, though I guess in the perspective of enemies that respect us, they would view us as anti-heroes.
Wilson: Who is your hero?
SEA: For me, it is Hector from Homer's Iliad. Somehow reading through it again reminds me of the conflict of Syria. That or Batman.
Wilson: Who is your favorite villain?
SEA: I guess its hard for anyone not to empathize with Magneto from the X-Men.