Hackers Defaced Angry Birds Website Because Security Agencies Used It To Spy On You

Video game developer Rovio has confirmed that hackers defaced its Angry Birds site with an image entitled Spying Birds, featuring an NSA logo.

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Syrian Electronic Army ally allegedly defaces Rovio's Angry Birds website over reports that company shared user data with US and UK surveillance agencies

An attacker hacked "The Official Home of Angry Birds" website Tuesday. Gone was the official Angry Birds graphic, replaced with a "Spying Birds" logo.
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Above it, one of Finnish gamemaker Rovio's trademark red birds sported a National Security Agency (NSA) crest, while a "bad piggy" rolled away.

The company said it did not "collaborate or collude" with any government spy agency. It added it had quickly fixed its site.

Rovio's website apparently remained hacked -- or at least defaced -- only for a few minutes before the company took the website offline.

An employee works inside an office of Rovio, the company which created the video game Angry Birds, in Shanghai June 20, 2012.

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About 90 minutes later, reported Finnish news outlet Helsingin Sanomat, the game developer had the site restored, with the rogue artwork expunged. "The defacement was caught in minutes and corrected immediately," said marketing manager Saara Bergstrom.

"The end user data was in no risk at any point. Due to how the internet name resolution works, for most areas it was not visible at all, but some areas take time for the correct information to be updated. This attack looks to be similar to the New York Times attacks from last year."

Who hacked Angry Birds? According to the Syrian Electronic Army (SEA), the site was hacked by a "friend" of the group.

"The attack was by 'Anti-NSA' Hacker, He sent an email to our official email with the link of the hacked website," read a tweet from an official SEA account.

Rovio says it identified the hack and removed the spoof image within "minutes"

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But was Rovio's website hacked -- for example to redirect site visitors to drive-by-attack websites -- or simply defaced? A Rovio spokesman didn't immediately respond to an emailed request for comment on that question.

"At this stage it's not clear if Rovio's web servers were compromised or if the hacker managed to hijack the firm's DNS records and send visiting computers to a third-party site carrying the image instead," said security researcher Graham Cluley in a blog post.

The attack appears to have been inspired by a report published this week which suggests that since 2007, US and British spy agencies have been regularly intercepting mobile app data

On Monday, the New York Times, ProPublica and the Guardian all posted copies of documents obtained from whistle-blower Edward Snowden that suggested the NSA and Britain's GCHQ had worked together since 2007 to develop ways to gain access to information from applications for mobile phones and tablets.

They said that a GCHQ report, dated 2012, had specifically referred to their ability to snatch details about a user if they had installed Angry Birds on to an Android device.

The report said that the data could include information about the owner's age, sex, location and even if they were currently listening to music or making a call. It added that the range of information depended in part on which online advertising network Rovio sent the details to.

In the wake of that report, Rovio has strongly denied facilitating surveillance of its customers in any way

"Our fans' trust is the most important thing for us and we take privacy extremely seriously. We do not collaborate, collude, or share data with spy agencies anywhere in the world," said Mikael Hed, CEO of Rovio Entertainment, in a statement released Wednesday.

While you played Angry Birds, NSA played you!

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Rather, he pointed to advertising networks as the most likely culprit behind intelligence agencies grabbing mobile users' personal details.

"As the alleged surveillance might be happening through third-party advertising networks, the most important conversation to be had is how to ensure user privacy is protected while preventing the negative impact on the whole advertising industry and the countless mobile apps that rely on ad networks," Hed said.

"To protect our end users, we will -- like all other companies using third-party advertising networks -- have to reevaluate working with these networks, if they are being used for spying purposes."

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