New York Times Blames New Website Outage on 'Malicious External Attack'
The New York Times website remained down for some users on Tuesday evening as the site grappled with an apparent "malicious external attack," in the words of a company spokeswoman.
In an email to staff, Marc Frons, chief information officer at the Times, said the website's domain registrar Melbourne IT was hacked "by the Syrian Electronic Army or someone trying very hard to be them."
Mr. Frons also cautioned Times staffers to avoid sending sensitive emails until the matter was resolved. External emails sent to Times employees on Tuesday were bouncing back to senders, apparently as a result of the attack.
By Wednesday morning, the site seemed to be up and running again.
The Times website went down after 3 p.m. ET in New York and elsewhere. Although the Times did not immediately pin the blame on any organization, some people said the Syrian Electronic Army had appeared to take credit in a graphic that briefly took over the Times homepage:
This was the NYT homepage for a few minutes earlier pic.twitter.com/p8zJA96Nmn— Megan Hess (@mhess4) August 27, 2013
The Syrian Electronic Army is a group of hackers who support Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Earlier this month, the Syrian Electronic Army hacked the Washington Post's site, where for a brief time visitors were redirected to the organization's page. The Post was only the latest in a string of news organizations targeted by the group this year.
Also on Tuesday afternoon, Twitter was briefly hindered -- though it wasn't knocked out of service entirely -- by an attack for which the Syrian Electronic Army took credit.
When the Times site went down, some readers took to Twitter to inquire about the outage or make jokes warmed over from two weeks ago, when the Times experienced its last website outage. The company blamed that episode on a regularly scheduled internal update. As it did two weeks ago, the Times resorted to publishing important stories on its Facebook page.
The Wall Street Journal, for its part, tried to take advantage of the Times' troubles the same way it did last time:
Free read @WSJ paywall is down— WSJ Communications (@WSJPR) August 27, 2013