NEW YORK CITY – The New York Times said its website went down Tuesday after what appeared to be a “malicious external attack.”
A security researcher said there were indications that the Syrian Electronic Army, which has attacked several media organizations, was the culprit.
Times spokeswoman Eileen Murphy made the announcement on Twitter, two weeks after the site went offline due to what the daily said was an internal server problem.
Her full tweet said: “re: http://nytimes.com – initial assessment – issue is most likely result of malicious external attack. working to fix.” The newspaper’s main Twitter account said shortly after 2000 GMT that the website “is experiencing technical difficulties” but that news was still being published via Twitter and other links.
Matt Johansen of WhiteHat Security said in a tweet that the technical aspects of the website during the outage were “pointing to Syrian Electronic Army.”
A message fired off at a Syrian Electronic Army account at Twitter proclaimed “Media is going down” and included links to the New York Times.
The SEA also claimed to have attacked Twitter, which remained accessible in the US.
The Washington Post website was hacked this month in an attack blamed on the Syrian Electronic Army, a group that backs embattled strongman Bashar al-Assad.
The Times said in January that hackers stole its corporate passwords and accessed the personal computers of 53 employees after the newspaper published a report on the family fortune of China’s Premier Wen Jiabao.
SecurityWeek Editor’s Note: The Syrian Electronic Army has been responsible for other recent attacks, including ones that targeted the AFP’s Twitter account and three CBS News accounts, in order to spread propaganda supporting Syria’s President Assad. In May, the group hacked into the Associated Press’s Twitter account and falsely reported that President Barack Obama had been injured after two blasts at the White House.