Arik Hesseldahl

Recent Posts by Arik Hesseldahl

New York Times Website Is Down, Hackers Not Involved (And It’s Back Up)

The website of the New York Times has been unavailable since late this morning East Coast time, and while there are reports that it is the result of a denial-of-service attack by unknown parties, the Times has just said via Twitter that it is the result of an “internal issue.”

Update: As of 2:11 pm ET, the site is back up and running.

Earlier in the day, the Times had confirmed via Twitter that it was experiencing technical difficulties, but did not immediately elaborate on the cause. Calls to representatives for the New York Times Company have not as yet been returned.

Eileen Murphy, a spokeswoman for the New York Times Company just reiterated the “internal issue” comment via Twitter.

Speculation had earlier focused on a possible cyber attack, as it often does in these cases. There was even a report on the website of Fox Business citing “a source close to the matter” saying that the outage was indeed caused by an attack.

Whatever the cause is, the Times’ Internet infrastructure has suffered some kind of fundamental failure. A check of its nameservers, the servers that correspond the IP addresses to the domain name, are timing out. (You can run the same check I did right here:

Shares of the New York Times company fell by more than one percent to $12.05 by 1:50 pm ET today.

Naturally, there were a lot of a funny responses to the outage. The best came from The Onion:

The speculation about an attack is at least forgivable. Had it been confirmed as an attack, it would be the second significant cyber-security event to hit the Times this year. The first actually began in late 2012, and was the subject of a longish January story in which the newspaper documented in excruciating technical detail how it allowed hackers that it said were based in China access to its servers while documenting their behavior and tracking their moves.

The Times has long been a big target for digital troublemakers. Way back in 1998, its site suffered a brief defacement by a group of pranksters who have never been caught.

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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