WASHINGTON -- The Washington Post’s website was hacked, sending some users who tried to access its stories to a Syrian hacker site.
The readers were redirected to the page of the Syrian Electronic Army, a group that backs Syrian President Bashar al- Assad, the Post said in an online note today. The publisher said it fixed the site after it had been compromised for about 30 minutes this morning.
The hacker group gained access to a staff writer’s computer account after a series of sophisticated phishing attempts, Managing Editor Emilio Garcia-Ruiz said via e-mail. Phishing is a method of prompting a person to enter a username and password by presenting a fake login page.
The attack resulted in some readers being redirected to the SEA’s website, according to Garcia-Ruiz. “We have taken defensive measures and removed the offending module. At this time, we believe there are no other issues affecting the site,” he said.
The Post is at least the fourth news organization that has been targeted by the Syrian Electronic Army this year. In April, the group claimed credit for infiltrating the Associated Press Twitter account and posted an erroneous message saying the White House had been bombed, sending markets down 1 percent in a matter of seconds. The group has also hacked the Financial Times and ITV, the U.K.’s biggest commercial TV station.
The Graham family, which controls Washington Post Co., agreed this month to sell the newspaper to billionaire Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon.com Inc., for $250 million. The family had sought an owner with large resources who could fund the money-losing newspaper going forward.
Bezos, who acquired the paper as an individual, said in a statement at the time that he understands “the critical role the Post plays in Washington, D.C., and our nation.” The newspaper is the largest published in the U.S. capital and closely read in political circles.
Washington Post Co. retains other assets such as the Kaplan education business and plans to change its name after selling the newspaper.