Anonymous has broken into computer systems of Syria's Ministry of Presidential Affairs, with the hack collective exposing hundreds of emails including briefings to the Syrian president about the "easily manipulated " American psyche. Around 78 inboxes were targeted late at the weekend, Haaretz reports, belonging to presidential aides and other advisors at the Ministry. Not content with leaking the messages, Anonymous also revealed all of the passwords the loosely-associated online activist organization had acquired.
Although embarrassing for security reasons for the Syrian government, the leak also gives valuable insights into how top-level politicians perceive and are briefed on the west. One document prepared for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad ahead of his interview with ABC's Barbara Walters in 2011 was reproduced by the Foreign Policy blog, and included advice on how to manipulate American perception:
"It is hugely important and worth mentioning that 'mistakes' have been done in the beginning of the crises because we did not have a well-organized 'police force.' American psyche can be easily manipulated when they hear that there are 'mistakes' done and now we are 'fixing it.' It's worth mentioning also what is happening now in Wall Street and the way the demonstrations are been suppressed by policemen, police dogs and beatings" Leaked email from Sheherazad Jaafari
Poor password choice has been blamed for the attack, with some accounts using "12345" as the sole security. A list of passwords released by Anonymous suggests a huge proportion resorted to a simple string of numbers, while others included "iloveyou" and "GODisgreatand1".
No official statement has been made by the Syrian Ministry, though it's likely the accounts have been locked down since the documents were leaked.
[via Ars Technica]