Arik Hesseldahl

Recent Posts by Arik Hesseldahl

New York Times Goes Down Again, and This Time Hackers Are to Blame

new york times buildingThe website of the New York Times appeared to suffer its second service outage this month, and this time the company is blaming hackers.

Times readers on Twitter complained variously that the site appeared to go down sometime after 3 pm ET. (I have not personally experienced this problem from my home office in Manhattan today.)

Eileen Murphy, VP of corporate communications for the Times, said via Twitter that the service problems appeared to be the result of a “malicious external attack.”

nytimes-attack-082713

Shares of the New York Times Company fell by nearly one percent to $11.48 in after-hours trading, following Murphy’s tweet. During the regular session, the shares had fallen 35 cents, or nearly three percent, to $11.58.

It’s the second time that the Times’ website has had trouble. Earlier this month, the site went down for several hours, spurring lots of speculation that hackers were involved. It turned out they weren’t, at least that time. Instead, it was an internal technical problem that caused the foul-up.

Obviously, this story is still developing. Expect more information as it becomes available.

Update: There are some tentative claims pointing in the direction of the Syrian Electronic Army. Matt Johanson, head of the Threat Research Center at WhiteHat Security, snapped a screenshot that he released on Twitter of what he said is evidence that the NYTimes.com domain has, at least in some instances, been pointed to a domain operated by the Syrian Electronic Army.

The SEA, you’ll recall, is the pro-Assad collective of digital troublemakers who have generally stuck to hijacking the Twitter feeds of Western media organizations like CBS, the Financial Times and Thomson Reuters.

sea_twitter-hijack

Usually when a new round of coverage increases in the West about alleged chemical attacks and the possibility that President Obama might order some kind of military intervention in that country’s two-year-old civil war, you can bet that the SEA will make some kind of attempt to spread some of its pro-Assad propaganda.

Their efforts appeared to spread further than just the New York Times. Now the group is claiming to have hijacked the domain information for Twitter.com. Below is a screenshot said to have been taken by the SEA itself, taunting Twitter about its domain information. More on this situation as it develops.


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The problem with the Billionaire Savior phase of the newspaper collapse has always been that billionaires don’t tend to like the kind of authority-questioning journalism that upsets the status quo.

— Ryan Chittum, writing in the Columbia Journalism Review about the promise of Pierre Omidyar’s new media venture with Glenn Greenwald