In retaliation for Anonymous’ hack of the Syrian defense ministry webpage, a Syrian hacking force alleged to be called the “Syrian Electronic Army” struck back at Anonymous. How, you ask? They defaced Anonymous’ pet project, the social network AnonPlus, by replacing the homepage with the message above, including gruesome pictures of burned and mutilated bodies. Anonymous’ original hack was said to be in support of protesters in Syria and left a message encouraging the Syrian military to revolt against President Bashar al-Assad instead of supporting his suppression of the protests. The counter-hack attributed the current Syrian violence, depicted in the gruesome photos, to Syrian demonstrators instead.
The origin of the hackers was not mentioned on the defaced website. The attribution of this hack to the Syrian Electronic Army comes from a tweet by Citizen Lab, and the SEA are a recognized, public hacking organization, strikingly similar to Anonymous in their press and methods. They even have a bit of that Anonymous flavor to their message, stating that.
In response to your hacking to the website of the Syrian Ministry of Defence, the Syrian people have decided to purify the internet of [y]our pathetic website
This isn’t the first time there has been hacker in-fighting. Anonymous affiliate LulzSec attracted the ire of many smaller groups determined to uncover and leak information about members. The difference there is that they were generally smaller (generally in regard to members, definitely in regard to media presence) and they were usually operating behind the scenes to leak information. This is the first time we’ve really seen any potential for two relatively high-profile groups to start slinging mud at each other in public space. To boot, it shows that, for all their aggression, Anonymous hasn’t been playing defense very well.
Both of these groups clearly have large egos about them, neither are above cyber vandalism and their ideals are pretty fundamentally contradictory. It seems that we could have an interesting conflict on our hands. Whether Anonymous and the SEA will do anything but simply annoy each other and call each other names remains to be seen, but this emergence of an apparently apt hacking group that is not based around the lulz and does not seem to share the otherwise common ideal of “complete and utter freedom of information for everyone” could totally change the hacking landscape.