recommended reading

How Hackers Compromised Links in an Obama Twitter Account: Through Email

Quartz has confirmed with the Barack Obama campaign staffer whose email inbox was splashed across the Twitter account of the Syrian Electronic Army that her Gmail account, and those of “lots” of other staffers, was compromised over the weekend.

This suggests a fairly straightforward explanation for how Obama’s Twitter account, with 39 million followers, is as of this writing sending users who click on its links to a video created by the Syrian Electronic Army:
1. Through a “phishing” attack, the Syrian Electronic Army (SEA) gained access to multiple Gmail accounts belonging to Organizing for Action, Obama’s grassroots campaign organization. In most phishing attacks, a fake email with a booby-trapped link is sent to targets, who may be redirected to sites where they’re asked to re-enter their login and password. This is a favorite tactic of the SEA.
2. Probably using a password obtained through a compromised Gmail account, the SEA got access to the campaign’s account with a link shortening service, ShortSwitch.
3. The hackers then changed all the links in the Obama Twitter feed belonging to OFA to redirect to a video created by the Syrian Electronic Army.
A screen shot posted by the Syrian Electronic Army suggests that members of the SEA also accessed Organizing for Action’s account at Blue State Digital, a service that has helped Obama’s campaign build a number of sites.
It may be that this was how the SEA got access to ShortSwitch, but it’s not clear if that’s a possibility. Quartz contacted Blue State Digital, which declined to comment immediately.

Threatwatch Alert

Thousands of cyber attacks occur each day

See the latest threats


Close [ x ] More from Nextgov

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Modernizing IT for Mission Success

    Surveying Federal and Defense Leaders on Priorities and Challenges at the Tactical Edge

  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

  • Effective Ransomware Response

    This whitepaper provides an overview and understanding of ransomware and how to successfully combat it.

  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.