One day after the New York Times Web site was offline for several hours due to what experts speculated was an attack, the site of the Washington Post was hacked, apparently by the Syrian Electronic Army. Officials at the Post said that the attack followed closely on the heels of the SEA hacking the Twitter account of one of its employees.
The attack on the Post’s site resulted in visitors to some of the paper’s article pages being redirected to the SEA site.
“A few days ago, The Syrian Electronic Army, allegedly, subjected Post newsroom employees to a sophisticated phishing attack to gain password information. The attack resulted in one staff writer’s personal Twitter account being used to send out a Syrian Electronic Army message. For 30 minutes this morning, some articles on our web site were redirected to the Syrian Electronic Army’s site. The Syrian Electronic Army, in a Tweet, claimed they gained access to elements of our site by hacking one of our business partners, Outbrain. We have taken defensive measures and removed the offending module. At this time, we believe there are no other issues affecting The Post site,” Post Managing Editor Emilio Garcia-Ruiz said in a statement.
The attack on the Post is the latest in a string of such attacks against media sites and social media accounts in the last year or so. In addition to the compromise of the Post reporter’s Twitter account, the SEA also has claimed credit for hacking the Twitter accounts of The Onion, the Associated Press and others. The SEA is a group of attackers who support the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. The group has been going after various media organizations for some time now.
On Wednesday, the New York Times home page was offline for about two hours, and the company said that the failure was the result of a bad update rather than an attack.
“The outage occurred within seconds of a scheduled maintenance update being pushed out, and we believe that was the cause,” said Eileen Murphy, a spokeswoman for the New York Times, told the paper on Wednesday.
Security experts had speculated on Wednesday that the Times outage may have been the result of an attack, as well.