Updated: NYTimes.com down; paper suspects “external attack”

New York Times building logo, photo by Rani Molla

The New York Times website is experiencing an outage as of around 1 PM PT on Tuesday. (As of 6:20 PM PT, the site is still down.) This comes about two weeks after another outage. Unlike the previous outage, the newspaper is attributing this outage to an outside attack, and the Syrian Electronic Army has claimed responsibility for it.

Spokeswoman Eileen Murphy told me, “Yes, there is an issue and we are working to fix. Our initial assessment is that this is most likely the result of a malicious external attack.”

The Syrian Electronic Army, which was responsible for attacks on the Guardian, Washington Post and AP earlier this year, took credit for the attack on the NYTimes.com, and one on HuffingtonPost.co.uk, in a tweet late Tuesday afternoon. (Some security experts had already deduced that the SEA was behind the attack.)

Some users also report seeing a NYTimes.com homepage that reads “Hacked by SEA”:

Readers can still access a mobile site at news.nytco.com. (The mobile site was previously mentioned on Twitter as http://170.149.168.163; it looks as if the NYT has added it to its company domain.) On that mobile site, the NYT reported on the “external hacking attack,” and the company’s chief information officer, Marc Frons, attributed it to the Syrian Electronic Army “or someone trying very hard to be them.”

The SEA also claimed in a tweet Tuesday afternoon that it is responsible for an attack on Twitter (more on that here):

Screen Shot 2013-08-27 at 5.01.47 PM

NYTimes.com worked for me until about 1:30 PM PT, and since then I’ve been unable to access it. The site was accessible at GigaOM’s San Francisco offices throughout most of the initial outage that affected others, but went down around 2:30 PM PT, redirecting visitors to a completely different site with this error message:

NYT 8-27-13 hack error message

A Twitter spokesman said the company was looking into the situation but had no information to share. Twitter has remained up through the afternoon, although there’s definitely something weird going on.

This post was updated several times on Tuesday afternoon. 

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