New York Times, Twitter hack means wars being fought offline and online

A couple of weeks ago, the Washington Post — which along with a couple of other big news outlets was hacked — said the Syrian Electronic Army, which took responsibility for the attack, “may just be getting started.” This week, amid discussions of a military attack against Syria after the country’s reported use of chemical weapons last week, the hacker group took credit for attacks on the websites of the New York Times and Twitter.

After hours of downtime for the New York Times website Tuesday, the SEA, which is pro-Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, said on Twitter this morning that its hack attacks are over. The group basically said it couldn’t handle all of the NYT’s redirected reader traffic.

and

The NYT tweeted today that its website still isn’t loading for some readers. Tuesday afternoon, the New York Times was pointing its readers toward a mirror site, and warned its employees about sending sensitive information by email.

Twitter confirmed it was looking into an attack but said no user information was compromised; its site appears to be back to normal today.

A couple of key points from all the coverage:

This time around, the SEA attacks were more sophisticated because they involved hijacking domains, according to the New York Times’ chief information officer. “It’s sort of like breaking into the local savings and loan versus breaking into Fort Knox,” Marc Frons said. Before the recent attack on the Washington Post, one prominent attack for which the SEA claimed responsibility involved hacking into the Twitter feed of the Associated Press to falsely report that President Obama had been hurt in a White House attack. (Twitter later heeded the call for two-factor authentication.)

The SEA reportedly also hacked the MelbourneIT, the domain server provider used by the New York Times.

In addition, in case we need to be reminded, it’s inevitable that virtual wars will now be a standard feature of real-world wars. “Website defacements … are more about image and propaganda than anything else, but the ubiquity of the World Wide Web and the amplification power of computer networks guarantee that information operations are more important than ever,” Kenneth Geers, senior global threat analyst for cybersecurity firm FireEye, told the Los Angeles Times.

Also from the LAT: “As long as media organizations play a critical role as influencers and critics, they will continue to be targets of cyber-attacks,” said Michael Fey, chief technology officer for Intel-owned security company McAfee.

 

Photo: Screen grab of nytimes.com

 

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