Syrian Electronic Army Pilfers Viber Data

Tom Brewster is TechWeek Europe's Security Correspondent. He has also been named BT Information Security Journalist of the Year in 2012 and 2013.

London-based firm says no sensitive data is taken, but SEA claims responsibility for the attack

The Syrian Electronic Army, the pro-President Bashar al-Assad hacking crew, has claimed responsibility for an attack on popular London-based messaging firm Viber.

The Viber support page was hacked and that site remains down today. User data, including the IP address, country and device type of the Viber member, has been compromised.

According to various reports, the Viber support page was replaced by a message from the Syrian Electronic Army, claiming Viber was “spying” on its users – something the firm has wholly refuted.

Viber Desktop“We weren’t able to hack all Viber systems, but most of it is designed for spying and tracking,” the message read, including a table of user information.

Syrian Electronic Army strikes again

Viber said it was working to ensure something similar would not happen again, but insisted sensitive user data was not taken.

“Yesterday, the Viber Support site was defaced after a Viber employee unfortunately fell victim to an email phishing attack,” a spokesperson said.

“The phishing attack allowed access to two minor systems: a customer support panel and a support administration system. Information from one of these systems was posted on the defaced page.

“It is very important to emphasize that no sensitive user data was exposed and that Viber’s databases were not ‘hacked’. Sensitive, private user information is kept in a secure system that cannot be accessed through this type of attack and is not part of our support system.”

Viber’s Israeli connection – it has a number of development centres in the country – may be a chief reason behind the attacks on Viber. Israel has taken action to prevent weapons coming across the border and into the hands of Hezbollah, the Islamic organisation in Lebanon. Hezbollah has ties to the Syrian regime and has been fighting against rebel forces in the civil war.

This is the second time in a week the Syrian Electronic Army has hit a messaging app. The group claimed to have stolen 1.5 terabytes personal data of Tango users. The US company said over Twitter: “”Tango experienced a cyber intrusion that resulted in unauthorized access to some data. We are working on increasing our security systems.”

The Syrian Electronic Army has been busy this year, hitting various media bodies with spear phishing campaigns, including the Guardian and the Financial Times.

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