(Updated to reflect comment from Microsoft)
The new year was not even a day old before we already had the first major cyber attack of 2014. The next 12 months are going to be fun!
Skype's Twitter account, Facebook page and blog were all breached on Wednesday, with a group called the Syrian Electronic Army (SEA) taking credit. The group used the opportunity to accuse Microsoft of spying on its users, and then selling user information to government officials.
Now, the offending post have all since, of course, been taken down. But some other news outlets, including TheNextWeb, were able to get screen shots.
Around noon, the SEA sent out its first tweet, in which it accused Microsoft of "spying on people":
The group also posted a message on Skype's Facebook in which it said the company was "monitoring your accounts and selling it to the governments":
And, finally, the SEA took over Skype's blog, adding the headline, "Hacked by Syrian Electronic Army... Stop Spying!":
Skype acknowledged the incident in a tweet, in which it acknowledged, and explained, the situation. The company also said that the SEA had no gotten its hands on any user data.
You may have noticed our social media properties were targeted today. No user info was compromised. We’re sorry for the inconvenience.— Skype (@Skype) January 2, 2014
“We recently became aware of a targeted cyber-attack that led to access to Skype’s social media properties, but these credentials were quickly reset. No user information was compromised," a Microsoft spokesperson told VatorNews.
What the SEA was obviously referring to in their posts was Microsoft's alleged involvement in the PRISM program, in which companies, like Microsoft, along with Yahoo, Google, Facebook, AOL, Skype, YouTube and Apple, were all accused of letting the government have unfiltered access to their servers.
Since then, Microsoft has denied that it willingly let the government have access to user data. It has also tried to clear its name following those accusations.
Microsoft was one of the companies that filed a motion to be allowed to reveal the number of Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) disclosures requested by the government. And, earlier this month, the company took part in an open letter to President Obama, in which it urged him to reform, and restrict, how much surveillance the government is legally allowed to do.
Of course not everyone believes Microsoft when it says it wasn't opening its doors to the goverment, least of all SEA.
The hacking of Skype continues the trend of high profile tech companies facing security breaches, which began last year.
Companies that were hit included Twitter, Facebook, Zendesk, Apple, and Microsoft. In March, they hit note taking app Evernote, and in July Apple’s Developer Center was hacked as it was gearing up to launch its much anticipated iOS 7.
Twitter accounts for Jeep, Burger King, the Wall Street Journal, 60 Minutes and the BBC were also victims last year.
The SEA itself took responsibility for two major hackings in 2013.
First, in April, the group hacked into the Associated Press's Twitter account and wrote that someone had set off two explosions at the White House, injuring the President. Then the group attacked the website for the New York Times in August.
Microsoft and Skype could not be reached for further comment.