A group of Syrian hackers broke into the Haaretz Group's email server on Friday. According to members of the group, known as the Syrian Electronic Army, they gained access to 80 email accounts and passwords of Haaretz employees, including some belonging to senior editors, journalists and management at the paper.
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On Friday morning, an email made to look like it was sent from the newspaper's publisher, Amos Schocken, was sent to Haaretz employees, asking them to click on an attached article link.
"Dear, please read the following article," the message said with a subject line marked "Important." The link was to an article on website of the British daily The Guardian, about talks between the United States and the Syrian opposition. "Well done," the message to Haaretz employees concluded. After clicking on the link, Haaretz Group employees were directed to a page requesting them to enter their email password, which was then used by the hackers to break into their work email accounts.
A short while after the email was sent, Haaretz's email server shut down; however, it appears that internal company email correspondence fell into the hands of the hackers. The Haaretz Group has responded by saying that all employees' email passwords will be changed on Sunday and that it will step up its server's security. Readers' personal information and other information from Haaretz Group websites was not broken into or taken by the hackers.
Hackers belonging to the Syrian Electronic Army wrote on the group's website on Friday that, "the next time we will attack government websites in Israel." The attack comes after reports in the Syrian and international media of alleged Israeli attack on Syrian soil earlier this week.
In recent months the number of hacker attacks on government and media websites has increased. In the last week, The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal have announced that their websites were hacked or defaced by Chinese hackers.
Previously in January and October 2012, Haaretz servers were attacked by hackers. A hacker group identifying themselves as Anonymous Palestine took responsibility for the attack a year ago and later apologized.
"We are sorry, we didn't know that Haaretz is a good newspaper, we sorry about this, and be sure no one will attack u again," the group wrote on their Twitter account.