SYRIAN HACKERS apparently attacked the New York Times, Twitter and the Huffington Post UK on Tuesday, taking the news sites offline and preventing some users from accessing Twitter.
The hacking group called the Syrian Electronic Army claimed responsibility in a Twitter message posted just before the websites were redirected.
The New York Times set up alternative news websites within minutes of the attack, and a spokesperson said the outage was caused by a "malicious external attack". A spokesman for Twitter said that viewing of images was affected sporadically, according to an Associated Press report.
The websites were hit by an attack on their domain name system (DNS) registrar, Melbourne IT. Several domain names were redirected to servers at sea.sy hosted in Russia and controlled by the Syrian Electronic Army.
An activist claiming to represent the Syrian Electronic Army told the Associated Press that it attacked Melbourne IT to take down the websites and email services.
Alienvault Labs director Jaime Blasco researched the domains redirected to the SEA servers and posted the list at the Alienvault blog.
Blasco said, "Hackers who successfully break into Melbourne IT's systems - Melbourne IT serves as the registrar for some of the best known domain names on the internet, including Microsoft.com and Yahoo.com - could potentially redirect and intercept emails sent to addresses under certain domains. Users of sites that don’t begin with 'https' could have been fooled into entering passwords that could have been captured."
Twitter posted a statement on its status webpage on Wednesday afternoon. It said that its DNS provider's records for some of its customers were modified at 20:49 UTC on Tuesday night, "including one of Twitter's domains used for image serving, twimg.com".
As a result, Twitter said that viewing of images was "sporadically impacted". It reported that its domain record for twimg.com was restored by 22:29 UTC. It said that no Twitter user information was affected. µ
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