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Technology: The Hackers Of Damascus – Cyber Wars Of Syria

Okay, sometimes I may wax ‘conspiracy theorist’ on here from time to time, but this time I leave it to Stephan Faris of Businessweek. In an in-depth expose, Faris details the way tech is being used – for good and bad – in the Syrian conflict. THIS IS LIFE AND DEATH PEOPLE!

‘In the past year and a half, pro-government hackers have successfully targeted Facebook pages, YouTube accounts, and logins on Hotmail, Yahoo! (YHOO), Gmail, and Skype.’

That’s right. PRO-GOVERNMENT HACKERS. Now, this could be taken as legitimate counter-terrorism via Internet; noble e-soldiers fighting the good fight for their country. BUT consider the testimony of Taymour Karim, a 31-year-old doctor and anti-government protester:

‘Syrian captors beat him with their fists, with their boots, with sticks, with chains, with the butts of their Kalashnikovs. They hit him so hard they broke two of his teeth and three of his ribs. [But Karim] refused to give up the names of his friends…It didn’t matter. His computer had already told all. “They knew everything about me,” he says. “The people I talked to, the plans, the dates, the stories of other people, every movement, every word …My computer was arrested before me.”’

The same tech that Egyptians used to organize and encourage during their uprising and successful ouster of long-time dictator Hosni Mubarak has now been “figured out” by oppressive government regimes; and the consequences are deadly. In the West, hackers attack government and business systems; and they are indicted and tried in court…NOT BEATEN! There is such a thing as too far folks, and the Syrian government is taking it there. I know that, in an earlier write-up, I posted that ‘safe and secure’ is a delusion in the modern computing world; but damn. I did not report that compromised passwords result in folks being injured or possibly dying. Well, I am now. It even got kind of dangerous for Faris, as he gathered facts via online interview of the Special Operations Department of The Syrian Electronic Army. They tried to hack his email account shortly after initial contact. The subversion was thwarted though, and the SEA denies the incident. Here is what they did say, however:

‘…there is a big surprise from Special Operations Department coming soon, but I can’t tell you anything about it.’



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