BBC Twitter accounts hijacked by pro-Syrian hackers

21 March 2013
By Sofia Mitra-Thakur
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A pedestrian walks past the BBC Broadcasting House in central London

A pedestrian walks past the BBC Broadcasting House in central London

Several official BBC Twitter accounts were hacked today by what appeared to be pro-Syrian government hackers.

The @BBCWeather, @BBCArabicOnline and @BBCRadioUlster accounts, which between them have more than 120,000 followers, were targeted by a group calling itself the Syrian Electronic Army.

It sent a series of tweets from the accounts, including several with anti-Israeli sentiments on the day that US president Barack Obama visited the country.

A BBC spokesman confirmed the security breaches, saying: "We're aware that in the past few hours several BBC Twitter accounts have been hacked. We're actively working to resolve this asap."

The first tweet sent by the hackers read: "Syrian Electronic Army Was Here via @Official_SEA #SEA #Syria" and another "Long Live #Syria Al-Assad #SEA".

In apparently anti-semitic posts, tweets were sent saying: "Forecast for Tel Aviv on Saturday - 5000 degrees Kelvin with northern fog and eastern high pressure front," followed by: "Tsunami alert for Haifa: Residents are advised to return to Poland."

Another seemed to criticise the UK government, saying: "Edinburgh storm warning station decommissioned after maintenance fund diverted to arming Syrian opposition."

Others criticised the governments of Qatar, the Lebanon and Turkey.

Another said: "Saudi weather station down due to head on-collision with camel".

A post on the @Official_SEA account said: "@BBCArabicOnline &@bbcweather &@bbcradioulster was hacked by Syrian Electronic Army#SEA #Syria"

The cyber attack came on the seventh anniversary of Twitter being launched.

A message posted this afternoon on the @BBCWeather account read: "Sorry about that, we were hacked. Normal service resumes."

The BBC was the latest media company to be targeted by the SEA, which says it is "supporting the Syrian people against #FSA (Free Syrian Army) terrorism".

Others targeted in the past include the Agence France-Presse news agency, whose @AFPphoto account was taken over last month and images purporting to be from the warzone in Syria were posted.

The group has previously claimed credit for hacking the Twitter and Facebook accounts of Sky News Arabia, Al-Jazeera Mobile, German broadcaster German Deutsche Welle, France 24 and Israeli newspaper Haaretz.

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