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New York Times hacked, Syrian Electronic Army takes credit (+video)

A political hacktivist group that has the backing of the Syrian president apparently hit The New York Times, along with Twitter and The Huffington Post UK edition.

NYTimes hacked by Syrian group
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Visitors to The New York Times website were greeted with blank browser screens for several hours on Tuesday, thanks to an attack claimed by the Syrian Electronic Army.

While the integrity of the Times’s website was not itself affected, those attempting to access that site through other servers around the world were redirected to Web addresses controlled by the SEA, several cybersecurity analysts told the Monitor.

At about the same time, Twitter and The Huffington Post UK edition were also the subject of cyberattacks apparently orchestrated by the SEA, according to Twitter accounts used by the SEA. Those attacks were confirmed separately by cybersecurity analysts contacted by the Monitor, who checked the SEA’s claims against Web addresses and Internet registrar sites.

Unlike the situation for the Times website, however, there were no immediately reported access problems for Twitter or Huffington Post users.

Analysts describe what happened to the Times as a DNS-type (or domain name system) attack. In such an attack, the website’s digital address is stolen from its rightful owner and then attached to a rogue site – in this case, the SEA home page, the analysts say.

“What The New York Times is trying to do is get their property back,” says John Bumgarner, a research director for the US Cyber Consequences Unit, a cybersecurity think tank. “Their website address was essentially stolen, hijacked away from them – and now The New York Times is scrambling to get full ownership back.”

It was the second time this month the Times site has gone down for an extended period, with the first time being attributed to internal technical server issues. Moreover, a hacker group also calling itself the Syrian Electronic Army claimed responsibility for a cyberattack that affected The Washington Post’s and CNN’s websites on Aug. 15.

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