Syria's Internet goes dark for several hours

After a more than seven-hour blackout, it appears the Internet has returned to Syria.

On Thursday morning several Internet monitoring firms began reporting a halt of online traffic in and out of the war-torn country. While it was clear something was amiss, it was unclear who or what was causing the outage.

In the past, divergent players such as the online hacking collective Anonymous or the Syrian Electronic Army -- a President Bashar Assad loyalist group -- have waged attacks on the country's Internet. However, Thursday's outage appears to have two different sources.

First, a group calling itself … Read more

Syrian Electronic Army hacks Forbes, steals user data

The Syrian Electronic Army has attacked Forbes, stealing user data and posting fake stories to its Web site.

The hacking group announced the exploit on Friday, showing several screenshots of the Wordpress-based backend of the Web site. The organization said in a tweet that more than 1 million user e-mails and passwords were successfully stolen and will be published at some point.

Forbes acknowledged that its Web site and publishing platform were the targets of a hack in a Facebook post on Friday. The company said e-mail addresses may have been exposed but passwords are encrypted. Still, Forbes … Read more

Military starts testing smart rifles for battlefield use

The US military spends a lot of time and money training world-class snipers, which could be why it's started to look into the use of computerized rifles that can make anybody a sharpshooter.

The Army has announced that it made its first purchase of six high-tech rifle kits from smart rifle-maker Tracking Point. The goal is to "begin exploring purported key target acquisition and aiming technologies," said Alton Stewart, the Army's Program Executive Office spokesman.

For Tracking Point, which typically markets its guns to hunters, the Army's use of its weapons is both a welcome … Read more

Driverless trucks get in shape for US Army convoy duty

Google may have the best-known driverless vehicles, but the US Army surely has the largest.

Defense industry heavyweight Lockheed Martin said Thursday that testing has wrapped up on a series of advanced tests in the Autonomous Mobility Appliqué System (AMAS) program for the US Army and US Marine Corps. The testing, Lockheed said, showed that fully autonomous convoys can operate in urban environments and with a mixture of vehicle types.

What challenges did these driverless vehicles face? The trucks had to navigate road intersections, oncoming traffic, stalled and passing vehicles, pedestrians, and traffic circles in test areas both rural … Read more

Microsoft employee e-mail also hit by Syrian Electronic Army

In addition to compromising some of Microsoft's social-networking accounts, the Syrian Electronic Army also accessed a "small number" of employee e-mail accounts, the company confirmed Wednesday.

The hacking group, which has taken responsibility for an array of breaches in the past couple of years, tweeted three e-mails over the weekend that appeared to originate from Microsoft employee Outlook Web Access accounts. The screenshots posted by the group included conversations among employees regarding recent compromises of Microsoft-owned Twitter accounts.

"A social engineering cyberattack method known as phishing resulted in a small number of Microsoft employee social media … Read more

Syrian Electronic Army hacks into Xbox Twitter accounts too

While it's been known for a couple of days that the Syrian Electronic Army hacked into the Microsoft News Twitter account, it's been revealed that the hackers also got into the Twitter accounts of Xbox and Xbox Support, along with Xbox's Instagram account, according to GameSpot.

The political hacking group that supports Syrian President Bashar Assad posted screengrabs of its exploits on its own Twitter account. The hack consisted of the Syrian Electronic Army writing messages on Xbox's accounts that read, "Syrian Electronic Army Was Here" and "Game On!" The group also … Read more

Microsoft's Twitter account: Don't use our e-mail

Sometimes, irony adorns Twitter like the sugar on a doughnut.

On Saturday morning, however, the Microsoft News Twitter account offered a curious instruction. It read: "Don't use Microsoft emails(hotmail,outlook),They are monitoring your accounts and selling the data to the governments. #SEA @Official_SEA16."

The accusation might be referred to as a Reverse Scroogling. Or, perhaps, a Microsofting.

As to the perpetrators, the "SEA" hashtag points to the Syrian Electronic Army, a hacking group sympathetic to President Bashar Assad.

The SEA has operated for some time now, hacking its way into places such as … Read more

Hackers taunt Skype: 'Stop spying on people!'

The publicity-minded Syrian Electronic Army on Wednesday targeted the public faces of Skype, posting antisurveillance messages to the video-chat service's blog and to its Twitter and Facebook accounts.

On Skype's Twitter account, for instance, this message appeared: "Stop spying on people! via Syrian Electronic Army." That tweet, noted quickly by The Next Web, was removed within an hour, but a record of it lingered a bit longer on Skype's Web site. (We've posted a screenshot below.)

The Skype blog carried a similar headline: "Hacked by Syrian Electronic Army.. Stop Spying!"

Like other … Read more

Military tech in 2014: Lasers, drones, and cyberops

Sometime in 2014, the US Navy expects to have a laser weapon aboard a ship in the Persian Gulf.

It won't at all, however, tip the balance of power there. The Navy sees the deployment of the USS Ponce with its single solid-state laser weapon as an "at-sea demonstration" -- and directed-energy gear like laser weapons at this stage continue to be much more about demos than about actual firefights of any consequence. Still, it's a sign of things to come, even if what happens in 2014 is only a tiptoe toward the longer-term future.

And … Read more

Army laser weapon KOs mortar rounds

It's another small step on the long march toward laser weapons.

The US Army said this week that its big, boxy HEL MD system turned in a bang-up performance in its recent shoot-'em-up on the test range. During a three-week run between November 18 and December 10 at the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico, the truck-mounted High Energy Laser Mobile Demonstrator (PDF) successfully engaged more than 90 mortar rounds, along with "several" unmanned aerial vehicles in flight.

No specifics were given on what exactly constitutes a successful engagement, but judging by various earlier tests … Read more