Who Are the Syrian Electronic Army Hackers?

Skype breach shows the hackers are persistent, but not military-level.

The logo of the Internet telephone system Skype is displayed on a tablet on Jan. 2, 2014, in Paris.
By + More

[ALSO: U.N. Pleads for Billions to Help Syrian Refugees]

Anti-Assad activists say financial backing for the Syrian hacker group may come from Assad's billionaire cousin, Rami Makhlouf, according to an April 2013 article from the Guardian that cites Syrian dissidents and a former SEA activist. Makhlouf may house the group members, who allegedly receive sporadic technical assistance from Russia and $500 to $1,000 for successful security breaches, according to the report.

While the SEA is waging a propaganda war, they may also increase hacks against rebel supporters in Western countries. In October, the hackers targeted phone systems and emails of the Washington, D.C.-based Syrian Support Group, which advocates for the Free Syrian Army and has shipped more than $10 million in non-lethal U.S. government aid to the rebel forces, says Dan Layman, spokesman for the group.

The hacks have stopped in recent weeks after the Syrian Support Group got assistance from security agencies they preferred not to name, Layman says.

"They have been kind of a nuisance," Layman says. "The fact that they are trying to get into our computers indicates they are trying to get information that could be detrimental to rebel groups."

More News:

  • Opinion: Syria's Missed Chemical Weapons Deadline Exemplifies Obama's Lack of Leadership
  • Reports: Syrian Air Force Drops 'Barrel Bombs' on Civilians, Killing 76
  • U.S. to Reevaluate Contribution to Syria After Withdrawing Aid