Both accounts have several hundred thousand social network subscribers. The “Turkish cyber army Ayyildiz Tim” claimed responsibility for this hacking, in the name of the defense of the foreign policy of the Turkish president Erdogan.
An unexpected advertisement for Turkish President Erdogan. Hackers took control on Monday, January 20, of two widely followed Twitter accounts: that of Bruno Jeudy, political journalist of Paris Match, and that of François Fillon, the former Prime Minister of Nicolas Sarkozy.
Under these two names, hackers have released messages defending President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's Turkish foreign policy. Still under these false identities, they called two Kurdish organizations, the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and the Syrian Kurdish Militia YPG. The attack was claimed by “Turkish Cyber Army Ayyildiz Tim“.
What happened ?
In the afternoon of January 20, geopolitics researcher Colin Gérard noted on Twitter the hacking of Bruno Jeudy's account. The tweets of this well-known French journalist, specialist in internal politics, are indeed strange:
Bruno Jeudy's Twitter account was hacked by Turkish hackers.
The question I ask myself is why him in particular? pic.twitter.com/agB3yMru4u
– Colin Gerard (@_ColinGerard) January 20, 2020
Hackers publish this message signed by Bruno Jeudy on Twitter: “I support the operations of the Peace Fountain led by Turkey [qui] “were carried out against the GPJ / PKK terrorists who were admitted worldwide. I also condemn the attacks against the Turks in France. We love you Turkey”.
Allusion to the military offensive launched by Turkey against Kurdish forces in north-eastern Syria, in October 2019. As part of this operation called “Spring of Peace”, Ankara had attacked the YPG, the Syrian Kurdish militia, supported by several Western countries, which had fought against the Islamic State. This Kurdish militia, as well as the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), are treated as 'Terrorists' in the tweet, which thus uses the terminology of Turkish President Erdogan.
Bruno Jeudy had already been the victim of a hacking on the part of this “Turkish cyber army” “a year and a half ago”, he told AFP. Monday January 20, hackers also used his account to send private messages “with a link to several political figures, including Christophe Castaner, the Minister of the Interior”. But also “François Fillon”, indicated Paris Match. Following this sending of a private message, the former prime minister then lost control of his Twitter account.
After Bruno Jeudy, François Fillon's turn pic.twitter.com/DSwbJ2x2PZ
– Paul Aveline (@PaulAveline) January 21, 2020
The former presidential candidate Les Républicains was also hacked into his account on the professional social network Linkedin, as this journalist from BFMTV shows.
François Fillon's LinkedIn account now links to a Turkish site pic.twitter.com/LGZeipUns3
– Elsa Trujillo (@Elsa_Trujillo_) January 21, 2020
What are the motivations of hackers?
Cyber hackers have both demonstrated their skills and promoted the nationalist policy of the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Specialist in French politics, Bruno Jeudy believes that the cyber attack of which he was the victim is mainly motivated by the visibility of his account, with 440,000 subscribers.
On the other hand, François Fillon, who has 618,000 subscribers, had defended on Twitter, on October 8, 2019, the Kurds attacked by Turkey. He had estimated, as his tweet below proves, that the Syrian Kurds had led “the war on Islamic totalitarianism“by fighting ISIS. So we can imagine that his account was targeted more precisely.
In the war on Islamic totalitarianism, there are two rules: one does not betray one's allies, the Kurds, and one does not flatten oneself before one's friends, the Americans, who for two decades have not shown proof of great lucidity in the Middle East.
– François Fillon (@FrancoisFillon) October 8, 2019
Has this cybergroup claimed other actions?
Yes. Pro-Erdogan cyberactivists have repeatedly signaled themselves, recalls the specialized computer magazine 01.net. “In 2018, Turkish 'hacktivists' of the Ayyildiz Tim group, for example, hacked the Twitter accounts of two Fox News commentators to post political messages and converse in private messaging with Donald Trump, details the media. Access to the accounts was obtained beforehand by a phishing operation. A year earlier, the same group managed to hack the Twitter account of Dutch editorial writer Joos Lagendijk. They took advantage of this access to send messages privately to their contacts, incorporating a booby-trapped link “. The same technique seems to have been used in France on Monday January 20.
In 2011, Humanity already devoted an article to these hackers. “It is an originality that Turkey shares with very few countries: it has heterogeneous groups of nationalist and often Islamist hackers. Talented computer scientists who have been attacking anyone who has scratched the image of Turkey and Islam for several years “, explained the newspaper.
The name “Turkish cyber army”, he went on, covers several groups which “prevail for several years”, including Ayyildiz Tim. Among the French victims, “UMP deputy Valérie Boyer, who defended the law repressing the denial of genocides, including that of the Armenians”, or the audiovisual group TF1. “It is important to note that Turkey is a particularly repressive country in terms of the Internet, but that these nationalist hacker groups clearly do not seem to be worried by the authorities”, again emphasized Humanity.