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Group5 is just the latest addition to an expanding cast of actors targeting Syrian opposition groups, and its entry into the conflict shows the continuing information security risks that they face.Syrians have experienced monitoring and blocking of their electronic communications for many years.This highly-connected environment enables them to be highly aware of changing events, and quickly mobilize resources.In addition, a number of online services, such as the Google Play Store, are blocked or restricted for Syria.This report describes an elaborately staged malware operation with targets in the Syrian opposition.
Group5 stands out from the operations that have already been reported on: some of the tactics and tools used have not been observed in this conflict; the operators seem comfortable with Iranian Persian dialect tools and Iranian hosting companies; and they appear to have run elements of the operation from Iranian IP space.
For the regime, a successful operation means a chance to regain visibility into the activities of groups within the geographic borders of Syria, while extending their reach outside into the diaspora.
For other groups, such as ISIS, the digital vulnerability of the opposition presents an opportunity to develop a capability against opposition communications.
However, the shift towards social networks and other online tools has created new opportunities for the regime to target the opposition.
Opposition members constantly share information, files, tools and programs, via social media.