The Desk appreciates the support of readers who purchase products or services through links on our website. Learn more...

Syrian Electronic Army hits TIME’s “Person of the Year” poll

syrian electronic army logoTIME Magazine’s annual “Person of the Year” online poll was compromised by the Syrian Electronic Army on Friday, the latest in a campaign of cyber attacks focused on the media by the pro-Syria group.

A hacker with the SEA confirmed to The Desk Friday afternoon that the group also compromised a Twitter account used by the magazine.

The group targeted an online vendor used by TIME Magazine called “Poptip.” SEA hacker Th3 Pr0 told The Desk in an interview Friday that the group sent out fraudulent emails to Poptip employees. Those emails purported to come from Poptip’s CEO Kesley Falter.

From there, hackers were able to gain access to what appeared to be one “super user” account, granting them access to any account run by a Poptip client. The SEA chose to target TIME Magazine, briefly compromising their Twitter account and the magazine’s annual “Person of the Year” poll.

Before the attack, pop singer Miley Cyrus was ahead in the poll, though this seems to have played no role in the SEA’s decision to target the magazine.

Poptip confirmed on Friday that one account had been compromised in a “phishing scam,” and that the company would suspend posting to Twitter from their platform out of an abidance of caution.

TIME Magazine has not yet addressed the attack.

For more than a year, the SEA has successfully launched cyber attacks against many western media organizations, including Thomson Reuters, the Guardian and Sky News.

In April, the group sent a tweet from a compromised Associated Press Twitter account claiming President Barack Obama had been injured in an explosion at the White House. The tweet sent the Dow Jones plunging more than 100 points before it became apparent the information was erroneous.

Though sometimes regarded as a nuisance by security experts, the group has managed to capture the attention of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Army, both groups having issued memos warning of future SEA attacks.

Photo of author

About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is the publisher of The Desk and reports on the business and policy matters involving the broadcast television, streaming video and radio industries. He previously worked for Thomson Reuters, Disney-ABC, Tribune Broadcasting and McNaughton Newspapers. Matthew is based in Northern California, has won numerous awards in the field of journalism, and is a member of IRE (Investigative Reporters and Editors).