The Syrian Electronic Army took advantage of the relative calm of New Year’s Day to make a loud statement about the NSA’s surveillance program and Microsoft’s alleged participation in it. The group compromised the Twitter account and blog of Microsoft’s Skype service and posted anti-surveillance messages on both, which were later removed.
On Wednesday afternoon, the official Skype account on Twitter posted a message that accused Microsoft of monitoring users’ Hotmail and Outlook.com email traffic and selling it to the government.
“Don’t use Microsoft emails (hotmail,outlook), They are monitoring your accounts and selling the data to the governments,” the message said. It was later removed from the Skype Twitter feed. Shortly thereafter, Microsoft officials regained control of the account and apologized to users for the attack.
“You may have noticed our social media properties were targeted today. No user info was compromised. We’re sorry for the inconvenience,” the message said.
Microsoft, along with other tech players such as Google, Apple and Yahoo, have been implicated in some of the leaks from former NSA contractor Edward Snowden regarding the agency’s surveillance capabilities. Some of the leaks have suggested that those companies have provided direct access to their networks or services to the NSA, an allegation that all of the companies have denied. Officials from those companies have said that they only provide information when required by law or a court order.
The SEA attackers also posted a similar message on the official Skype blog. The SEA has claimed responsibility for a long list of attacks in the last couple of years, including compromises of the New York Times and the Washington Post. The group has specialized in compromising the social media accounts of a variety of old-school media organizations and often espouses messages in support of the Syrian government, which has been under fire.