Despite the fact that at first, I thought it was just my fault that I couldn’t get on the New York Times’ website yesterday, it turns out that the news site, as well as Twitter and the Huffington Post, all briefly lost control of some of their sites yesterday after a hit from the Syrian Electronic Army group of hackers. That’s the same bunch that struck The Onion, the Associated Press, the Washington Post and a slew more in the past.
The problem seemed to stem from a breach of an Australian Internet company that manages the site addresses of a bunch of major players, reports Reuters. The SEA is claiming credit for at least the Twitter and HuffPo attacks using, aptly enough, Twitter to publish those assertions.
The NYTimes.com was the only site to suffer for hours on end — and as of this writing it still appears to be dark. It’s been publishing the news via Twitter instead. Experts say that before the site went down, it was redirecting visitors to a server controlled by the SEA.
Yesterday a spokeswoman said that the “issue is most likely the result of a malicious external attack.”
HuffPo was only hit at its British web address, and Twitter says the hack mucked up availability for 90 minutes but no user information was compromised.
SEA reportedly wormed its way into the sites by breaching MelbourneIT, an Internet service provider that deals with domain names. That company traced the breach to an Indian Internet service provider, saying two staff members from one of their resellers opened a fake email seeking login details.
“The SEA went after the company specifically to create a high-profile event,” CEO Theo Hnarakis told Reuters. “This was quite a sophisticated attack.”