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Hackers Bring Down New York Times Website

Syrian Electronic Army believed to be behind the hacking of the New York Times website.
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 8/28/2013, 2:16 AM

Hackers (illustration)
Hackers (illustration)
AFP/File

The website of the New York Times was hacked on Tuesday for the second time in two weeks, reports NBC News.

A group known as the Syrian Electronic Army is believed to be behind the hacking attack, which comes as the United States weighs how and where to respond to a chemical attack on civilians near Damascus.

About 90 minutes after the New York Times' site became inaccessible, the newspaper acknowledged the issue at 4:37 p.m. ET with a post on Twitter saying the "site is experiencing technical difficulties. We are working on fully restoring the site."

New York Times corporate communications spokeswoman Eileen Murphy said in a tweet that an "initial assessment" showed the "issue is most likely" because of a "malicious external attack."

Security experts pointed to the Syrian Electronic Army, an online group that supports Assad, as the reason for the attack. Officials told NBC News that the FBI is "aware of the hack and is looking into it."

The group also claimed credit for hacking into Twitter's registry account and changing information there. "We're looking into this," a Twitter spokeswoman told NBC News.

SEA posted bragged about its exploit on its own Twitter account, writing, “Hi @Twitter, look at your domain, its owned by #SEA :):”

The Times had similar website problems August 14, but they were resolved relatively quickly.

On August 15, the Washington Post's website was hacked for about 30 minutes, with some readers redirected to the website of the Syrian Electronic Army. The SEA also took credit for hacking the Twitter account of news organization Thomson Reuters in late July.

Last April, the SEA took control of the Associated Press' official Twitter feed, and sent out a false message about two explosions at the White House and injury to the president.

Several weeks later, the group hacked the Twitter feed of satirical U.S. news website The Onion, posting comments and photos in line with similar intrusions at other news organizations.

"UN retracts report of Syrian chemical weapon use: 'Lab tests confirm it is Jihadi body odor,'" said one tweet posted by the hackers.

Another tweet said, "UN's Ban Ki Moon condemns Syria for being struck by Israel: 'It was in the way of Jewish missiles.'"