Syrian Electronic Army hacks Blythewood's community webpage - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina |

Syrian Electronic Army hacks Blythewood's community webpage

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BLYTHEWOOD, SC (WIS) -

When Blythewood Mayor Mike Ross got the call from state IT experts, he thought it was a joke. A hack? On the city's website? Wait, a hack on the city of Blythewood's website?

Ross quickly discovered it was no laughing matter.

"It really scared me initially," said Ross. "I thought, 'What has happened? What's going on here?'"

Hackers hit the website Blythwood uses to promote events, rerouting viewers to a YouTube video by a group called the Syrian Electronic Army.

"It's just violence anger," said Ross. "I think a man had a foot on a man's head denouncing western civilization."

Blythewood's IT experts pulled the website and restored it. It's separate from a government site where billing information is stored. But why compromise a simple information site? Computer experts say to test their hacking skills.

"If you go after something like Blythewood and the effect is more like malicious mischief than actually going after a fixed target, then maybe the response won't be so great," said Dr. Duncan Buell with USC's Computer Science and Engineering Department.

The group may have even targeted the wrong town.

"We downloaded that file and sent it to SLED to the FBI and to the IT people of South Carolina so they can look into it more to make sure it was nothing more," said Ross.

The same group has targeted the Wall Street Journal and Associated Press's Twitter account. It's a warning to smaller communities who use the web hosting company GoDaddy.com. Blythewood is one of those communities.

"Almost nobody goes after a particular person to do password attacks, they look at the whole list of people and they start trying to crack passwords looking for someone with a weak password," said Buell.

Blythewood has since implemented more password protections and encourages other small towns to do the same.

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