NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) – The New York Times website remained down Wednesday morning as a “result of a malicious external attack,” the paper said.
This is the second time this month the Times website has been knocked offline for several hours.
The site first became unavailable to readers around 3 p.m. on Tuesday. It was brought back online for a short time, only to be disrupted again.
A hacking group called the Syrian Electronic Army has claimed responsibility for the attack.
The Syrian Electronic Army has, in recent months, taken credit for Web attacks on media targets that it sees as sympathetic to Syria’s rebels, including prior attacks at the New York Times, along with the Washington Post, Agence France-Press, 60 Minutes, CBS News, National Public Radio, The Associated Press, Al-Jazeera English and the BBC.
A federal law enforcement official tells CBS News the FBI is looking into the hacking of the New York Times website, though an official investigation has not been launched.
Tuesday’s victims were hit by a technique known as “DNS hijacking,” according to Robert Masse, president of Montreal, Canada-based security startup Swift Identity.
The technique works by tampering with domain name servers that translate easy-to-remember names like “nytimes.com” into the numerical Internet Protocol addresses (such as “18.104.22.168”) which computers use to route data across the Internet.
Domain name servers work as the Web’s phone books, and if attackers gains access to one, they can funnel users trying to access sites like The New York Times or Twitter to whichever rogue server they please. Masse said DNS attacks are popular because they bypass a website’s security to attack the very architecture of the Internet itself.
“Companies spend a lot of time, money, resources and defending their servers, but they forget about auxiliary infrastructure that is integrally connected to their networks, like DNS.”
Cybersecurity experts said hijacking attacks are preventable if website administrators are meticulous about what code they bring into their sites.
The Times was offline for a few hours on Aug. 14 due to what the paper determined to be technical problem.
The Times has posted its content to an alternate site, news.nytco.com. Its app also appears to be unaffected by the hack attack.
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