On Syria’s digital battlefield, hackers loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad are defeating the rebels' cyber militias.
Just as the Syrian opposition leans on the West to supply weapons and other military aid, rebel hackers depend on the international community to help bolster their tactics.
But even as the conflict reaches new stages of violence – more than 70,000 people have been killed so far – support among international hacker communities is waning.
Last year, rebels enjoyed massive support from international hacker collectives like Anonymous, which launched several attacks on the Assad government. Early in 2012, Anonymous said it accessed several regime email accounts, including an account belonging to the Syrian president. Anonymous renewed their pledge to support Syrian hackers last November as the Assad regime threatened to shut down internet access across the country.
But after several arrests and convictions, Anonymous’ OpSyria seems to have ground to a halt. Without wider international support, Assad's Syrian Electronic Army’s dominion in the Syrian internet war is all but unchallenged.
In recent weeks, the Syrian Electronic Army has launched a number of successful campaigns, seizing control of social media accounts belonging to a broad range of news organizations and nonprofit foundations. The Syrian Electronic Army says western news organizations are outlets for Syrian rebel propaganda.