NYT, Twitter sites hacked by Syrian Electronic Army

Written by Reuters | San Francisco | Updated: Aug 29 2013, 06:57am hrs
Media companies, including the New York Times, Twitter and the Huffington Post, lost control of some of their websites on Tuesday after hackers supporting the Syrian government breached the Australian internet company that manages many major site addresses. The Syrian Electronic Army, a hacker group that has attacked media organisations it considers hostile to Syrian president Bashar al-Assad, claimed credit for the Twitter and Huffington Post hacks in Twitter messages.

Security experts said electronic records showed that NYTimes.com, the only site with an hours-long outage, redirected visitors to a server controlled by the Syrian group before it went dark. New York Times Co spokeswoman Eileen Murphy tweeted the issue is most likely the result of a malicious external attack.

The Huffington Post attack was limited to the blogging platform's British web address. Twitter said the hack led to availability issues for 90 minutes but that no user information was compromised.

The attacks came as the Obama administration considers taking military action against the Syrian government.

The NYT, which identified MelbourneIT as its domain name registrar and the main hacking victim, told staff not to send sensitive emails from corporate accounts. MelbourneIT tracked the breach to an Indian internet service provider.

The SEA went after the company specifically to create a high-profile event, CEO Theo Hnarakis said. This was quite a sophisticated attack.