New York Times Latest SEA Target


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In a late Tuesday afternoon digital attack, the New York Times, Twitter and The Huffington Post became the latest reported victims of the Syrian Electronic Army (SEA). If you are looking for the latest crossword or list of best sellers, patience is a virtue.

The New York Times is offering workaround solutions. Much of Twitter remained accessible and, according to a statement by the company, the hackers only harmed Twitter’s product between approximately 5pm and 6:30pm (Eastern). Neither company has verified the SEA as the culprit but the breach came through the companies’ domain name registrar, Melbourne IT.

The SEA claims responsibility for site outages beginning late Tuesday afternoon, ominously tweeting (if one can tweet ominously), "Media is going down." The group supports Syrian President Bashar al-Asad though they deny actual ties to Damascus, and their motives seem tied to 1) self-promotion and 2) punishing what they perceive as anti-Asad Western media, according to Washington Post blogger Max Fisher. The group was initiated with the first Syrian uprisings of May 2011 and their inaugural assaults aimed at media outlets, nonprofits and Facebook pages of President Barack Obama, as an example.

Previous SEA attacks targeted the Guardian, the Associated Press, Agence France Presse, National Public Radio and the Washington Post, which blogged today, "Just weeks after The Washington Post had our own run-in," with the group. Twitter suffered a rash of outages last January and the Times suffered an outage last week (due to internal causes).

These attacks come on the heels of escalating tension between the West and Syria as we witness the aftermath of the 21 August chemical attacks. Tuesday’s statements by US officials directly associate the Syrian regime with the incident. That said, there is no obvious, direct causality between the actions of Asad’s regime and the SEA attacks.

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