New York Times hit by massive cyberattack less than 24 hours after publishing Snowden interview

// August 14th, 2013 // Hacking and Security

The New York Times building

Less than 24 hours after the New York Times posted an article in which Snowden expressed his distrust for American media outlets, Fox News (sorry about the source, but it is an interesting story) is reporting that the media giant’s website was hit by a massive DDoS cyberattack.  Both the newspaper, nytimes.com, and its corporate site went down about 11:30 AM ET displaying “HTTP 503 Service Unavailable” to visitors who attempted to access the site.

According to Fox, the newspaper, which has been the target of Chinese hackers in the past, is believed to be working with outside security consultants to assess the threat.  On its official Twitter account, the New York Times said it was “experiencing technical difficulties” and that “we expect to be back up shortly”.

New York Times tweet about website being down

Times reporter Charlie Savage noted in a tweet that the outage seemed to involve the entire NYT network.

New York Times tweet hinting that cyberattack may be targeting the entire NYT network

The Times has not said whether the sites’ technical difficulties are due to a cyberattack. In May, a denial-of-service attack by unidentified hackers made the website unavailable to what was described by the paper’s spokesperson as a “small number of users.” In January, the paper reported that it had been subjected to a breach in its computer systems by hackers after publishing an investigative report months earlier.  After the attack, the Times reported that its computer systems had been infiltrated by Chinese hackers, who stole reporters’ passwords and hunted for files on an investigation into the wealth amassed by the family of a top Chinese leader.

It is suspected by some that the Chinese hacker group is once again behind the current NYT attack.  On August 13, FireEye reported that the hacking group from China who were responsible for the first New York Times attack were active again with a retooled kit.

The attackers behind the breach of the New York Times’ computer network late last year appear to be mounting fresh assaults that leverage new and improved versions of malware. The new campaigns mark the first significant stirrings from the group since it went silent in January in the wake of a detailed expose of the group and its exploits — and a retooling of what security researchers believe is a massive spying operation based in China. The newest campaign uses updated versions of Aumlib and Ixeshe.

Although likely not related, it is interesting to note that all of this comes on the heels of a massive Microsoft outage – Skydrive, Outlook, and other MS services were also reported down during the time of the New York Times attack.

As of now, officials are unsure where the attack is originating from.  Maybe a new web design courtesy of the NSA?  The Chinese coming back to gather information on the Snowden case? Or did Fox News simply blow it – again?

Sources: CNN, Fox News, Marketwatch, Hollywood Reporter, Media Gazer, Business Insider, FireEye




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