Clicking on the link leads, in fact, to the installation of malware allowing pro-Assad hackers to log keystrokes and to snatch screenshots of the target’s computer, which is effectively put under their control.
Other techniques have included hijacking email accounts of opponents to send out phishing messages to their comrades promising urgent information on the movements of government troops.
Tricking victims to install spyware on their computers, the hackers were able to amass a staggering amount of data, according to the report.
The researchers said there was no smoking gun but, they said, given that the hackers seemed mostly interested in specific battle plans, it suggests that the perpetrators may be connected all signs point to the regime of Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian president.
Catherine de Medici in the 16th century operated a “Flying Squadron” of beautiful female spies recruited for their skills teasing secrets from lovers at court.
And the Germans had seductress Mata Hari in the First World War.
"The attackers were interested in the kind of information that could yield a military edge to the regime," John Scott-Railton, an independent security researcher who worked on the report, told .
Laura Galante, a researcher at Fire Eye who also worked on the report, concurred.
If you forget your removal code, contact our customer service.We provide an easy way to find someone to talk to in modern messengers like Kik, Skype and Whats App.Search for suitable company from the listings or add yourself.Many Western journalists covering the Syrian conflict have suffered from these so-called phishing expeditions and regularly send alerts to each other warning of new malware techniques.But according to Fire Eye, a San Francisco-based company that advises corporations and governments on cyber threats, pro-Assad hackers also set up a matchmaking site—the company doesn’t give the name—populating it with women’s profiles indicating their age, location and interests, as well as other personal information. Cyber spooks groomed insurgent commanders, political activists and even aid workers on Skype, ensnaring them in “conversations with seemingly sympathetic and attractive women,” according to Fire Eye researchers.During those online exchanges, the women offered personal (malware-laden) photos.Once they were downloaded, Assad’s spooks could rifle through files, select data to copy, and follow up on the target’s Skype chat logs and contacts for more phishing expeditions.Since the start of the Syrian uprising in 2011, pro-Assad hackers have been targeting opponents using increasingly sophisticated malware and social media manipulation to trick rebel commanders and fighters as well as opposition politica figures into giving them access to their computers and smart-phones.Less sophisticated attacks have involved the sending out of mass emails urging recipients to click on a link to see the latest video showing the brutal tactics of the Syrian army or Assad loyalists.The files, while also displaying a photo, actually contained spyware designed to take control of the victim's computers, stealing documents, monitoring Skype chats, and identifying contacts.When approaching victims on Skype, the hackers also asked them whether they were using a computer or a phone, likely to choose the most effective malware to use against their victims.