Among the stolen material were satellite images and maps, the timing of raids and lists of weapons and equipment to be used.“Between at least November 2013 and January 2014, the hackers stole a cache of critical documents and Skype conversations revealing the Syrian opposition’s strategy, tactical battle plans, supply needs, and troves of personal information and chat sessions belonging to the men fighting against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces,” Fire Eye concludes.In total, it said, 7.7GB of data had been stolen, including more than 240,000 messages, 31,000 conversations and 64 separate Skype account databases.But those hackers were more focused on propaganda and waging an information war. They also sought— and still do— to disrupt and disable pro-opposition websites.The activities of the hacker group that Fire Eye unearthed are more espionage-focused, using a greater range of malware that has been customized and developed to be more insidious.And unlike previous hacking, the primary command and control servers being used are not located in Syria, suggesting the hackers are either based outside the war-torn country or the kind of servers needed for the espionage are not available for them inside Syria.In 2012 there were media reports of a three-day training course organized by Syrian intelligence in Lebanon for pro-Assad Internet activists, some of whom were Lebanese members of Hezbollah groups.Forget pillow talk, the spyware they can insert in a victim’s computer will give them the full monty.
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.
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.
Still, several presidents have acted outside that act's constraints.
Congress is supposed to have final authority to declare war, but 1973's War Powers Act lets the president temporarily deploy troops or launch attacks without congressional approval.