Things got a little strange in the world of major newspaper websites this week, starting with the New York Times‘s website shutdown after their expose on the Clinton Foundation. Things got even weirder when visitors to the Washington Post‘s website were redirected to a sight belonging to Bashar al-Assad’s Syrian army.
The Washington Post was hacked Thursday morning by the Syrian Electronic Army, the paper announced in an editor’s note. Some users visiting the newspaper’s site reading certain stories were being redirected to the hacker group’s site:
“The Washington Post Web site was hacked today, with readers on certain stories being redirected to the site of the Syrian Electronic Army. The group is a hacker collective that supports Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. The Post is working to resolve the issue,” the note said.
This looks to have been little more than a prank wrought by pro-Assad hacker geeks, but cyber security threats are a very serious matter. This is why the House passed the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) on April 18th. The bill has gotten a bad rap among privacy watchdogs, but in reality it would allow government and businesses who choose to cooperate the opportunity to share information about cyber threats — malware, viruses, hackers, etc. The shared information is basically anonymous and doesn’t compromise anyone’s online identity. Unfortunately, the Senate has not acted on the bill, and the President even threatened a veto. The Syrian hackers give us yet another reason why cyber security is critical, and why the Senate should take a hard look at passing CISPA to ensure that hackers like these don’t get the chance to wreak any more havoc on the United States.