Browsing 'cyber security' News

Hack - JPG version


A group claiming to be part of the Syrian Electronic Army (SEA) briefly hijacked three official Twitter accounts belonging to the popular Spanish football team FC Barcelona last night.

During the hack, the SEA, an infamous group of hackers that supports embattled Syrian President Bashar Al Assad, criticized Barca’s sponsorship agreement with Qatar, repeatedly tweeting:

“Dear FC Barcelona management, don’t let the Qatari money funds you, it’s full of blood and kill (sic).”

Combined, the three Barca accounts have more than 20 million Twitter followers. The Spanish and Catalonian-language Twitter handles were only taken over for about 10 minutes, while it the English-language account took a bit longer to recover, reports.

The attack comes a day after Qatar Airways flew its first airplane – a Boeing 777 – adorned in Barca colors to Doha. The team has been sporting the national carrier’s logo on its jerseys since August, as part of a five-year sponsorship agreement with Qatar Sports Investment.

Previously, Qatar Foundation was the team’s main global sponsor.

Last fall, during the transfer of sponsorship, Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker told journalists that the airline “would be displaying Barca at all the world’s major airports.”

FC Barcelona is expected to receive some $45 million a season to sport Qatar Airways’ logo through 2016.

History of attacks

This is not the first time the SEA has targeted Qatar, which the group has tried to punish for its support of rebels inside of Syria and calls for Al Assad to resign.

Last October, the group apparently took control of Qatar’s .QA domain and shut down several government websites, including the Ministry of Interior, the Supreme Education Council and the Emiri Diwan.

In April, the SEA hacked FIFA’s Twitter accounts and posted accusations that Qatar bought the 2022 World Cup. And the month before that, hackers took over Qatar Foundation’s social media accounts.

Also last year, it hacked the Doha-based and Qatar-funded Al Jazeera, among several other of the world’s most popular news organizations.

In the wake of attacks like these, Qatar has been seeking to bolster its cyber security.

Part of those efforts involve the passage of a new cybercrime law that is primarily focused on preventing online fraud and attacks on computer networks.

The legislation received approval from both the Cabinet and the Advisory Council this month, and awaits the Emir’s signature. Free speech advocates are closely watching the law because it may also contain broader provisions governing what people can post online.


Qatar Foundation’s Student Employment Program website has apparently been taken down by a group of Turkish hackers going by the name Spy-Hatz – Sifereciler.

The website was replaced with a page bragging about the hack this morning, before it was taken offline completely.

QF’s Hamad Bin Khalifa University Student Center confirmed the problem, saying they were working on it: lists student jobs across Education City, and allows candidates to upload their resumes (CVs) to be reviewed by employers.

Given that no specific messages were left by the group about the attack on their own forum or on social media, it appears to be an opportunistic hack, rather than a targeted one, i.e. taking advantage of web security loop holes. 

Just this week, Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar hosted a discussion on cyber security, highlighting the gaps in business and government education in particular. According to CMU professor Raj Reddy, who spoke at the event, organizational problems and a lack of awareness at big companies can often lead to the spread of viruses, malware and other problems.


(Hat Tip: @mydailyq for letting us know)