A hacker collective that supports Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, has claimed credit for hacking Skype's social media accounts.
The Syrian Electronic Army also posted the contact information of Steve Ballmer, Microsoft's retiring chief executive, on its Twitter account along with the message, "You can thank Microsoft for monitoring your accounts/emails using this details. #SEA"
That message was an apparent reference to revelations last year by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden that Skype, which is owned by Microsoft, was part of the NSA's program to monitor communications through some of the biggest US Internet companies.
A message posted on the Internet calling service’s official Twitter feed yesterday, apparently by the hacking group, read: "Don't use Microsoft emails (hotmail, outlook), They are monitoring your accounts and selling the data to the governments. More details soon. #SEA"
Similar messages were posted on Skype's official Facebook pages and on a blog on its website before being taken down in late afternoon. The SEA later tweeted out copies of the message "for those who missed it."
Representatives for Microsoft could not be reached for comment.
The NSA's practices essentially made Microsoft and other technology companies partners in government surveillance efforts against private citizens in the USA and elsewhere.
Last month Microsoft joined seven other top technology companies in pressing President Barack Obama to rein in the US government's electronic spying in a meeting at the White House.
Media companies, including the New York Times and the BBC, have repeatedly been targeted by the Syrian Electronic Army and other hacker activist groups that deface websites and take over Twitter accounts.