A US marines recruitment website, www.marines.com, was hacked and defaced by hacktivists from the infamous Syrian Electronic Army over the weekend.
The official Marines website (www.marines.mil), hosted on the United States Department of Defense's domain, was not affected, although it is likely the SEA were hoping for headlines that attributed the hack of the military domain to them.
The site that the SEA hit doesn't even belong to the US Marines: a little WhoIs poking quickly reveals it was registered by J Walter Thompson, an organisation that bills itself as "the world's best-known marketing communications brand" but, so far as The Register is aware, has only a relatively limited standing army and nearly no first-strike capacity. The jobs site is operated by the US Marines Recruiting Command.
The hack followed US President Barack Obama's announcement that he is seeking Congressional approval for a military strike on Syria, in response to reports that the Assad regime was using chemical weapons against the Syrian people.
Last week the SEA denied that its own web server had been hacked back in April and further denied that a voluminous data leak had occurred in connection with the "hack". The incident followed days after high-profile DNS redirection attacks by the pro-Assad hacktivists on the New York Times and Twitter.
The SEA, which specialises in hijacking the Twitter feeds of high-profile media organisations to post propaganda messages, has been operational for at least two years. Over recent months it has assaulted VoIP services such as Viber.
Its most recent DNS-redirection hacks combined with talk of military action by the West have raised the ante in cyberspace, with the group now facing off against US patriot hacker The Jester (here and here) among others – including a previously unknown American character, who calls himself "Oliver Tucket". Tucket last week claimed to Washington Post reporters that he had broken into insecure Syrian government servers.
Attacking the US Marines website is likely to add fuel to the flames of a cyber-skirmish that has so far largely centred around the publication of login credentials and threats to expose the real-world identities of members of the SEA hacktivist crew. ®