The last month has not been good for the Internet, with the websites of several major news organizations, including CNN, being hacked as well as most recently the sites of the New York Times and Twitter. But what is bad for online media just shows the growing power of hackers around the world. The attacks have also included a large part of the Internet in China during late August, in what is being called that country’s largest ever hack. The subjects of cyber attacks and security breaches are perfect research topics for your next computer science or technology course. Read on to learn more about computer hackers targeting the New York Times, CNN, Twitter, and more.
News organizations hacked
The New York Times website apparently first began encountering trouble around 3:00 p.m. EST on August 27, 2013, according to Twitter users. Heather Kelly updated on August 28, 2013, “Attack shuts down New York Times’ website” for CNN.com, that the attacks were believed to be caused by the Syrian Electronic Army (SEA), a group of hackers who are aligned with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
While this is not the first time the SEA hacker group has targeted members of the U.S. media, it does appear that this most recent cyber attack has taken on a new degree of sophistication. The group attacked the New York Times domain name registrar. Kelly quotes New York Times chief information officer Marc Frons as saying “It’s sort of like breaking into the local savings and loan versus breaking into Fort Knox. A domain registrar should have extremely tight security because they are holding the security to hundreds if not thousands of websites.”
A Twitter account that claimed to be the official account for the Syrian Electronic Army stated that the group had hacked into Twitter as well. Kelly reported that Twitter confirmed a “DNS issue with one of the domains used to host images.”
Around the world
Sunday, August 25, 2013, China experienced a cyber attack on a massive portion of its Internet. The blog RT.com posted on August 27, 2013, “‘Largest hack’ in Chinese history has Beijing stumped,” about the incident. The outages were reported by China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC), a government institution, that “said they were the result of twin denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks occurring in close succession, starting at 2:00 a.m. local time (6:00 p.m. GMT). The second attack was “long-lasting and large-scale,” Chinese state media reported.”
The irony is that China is no stranger to committing its own cyber attacks, including major DDoS hacks of its own. RT.com states in the same post that “In the first quarter of 2013, China was listed as the top source country for such attacks, according to a survey by security vendor Prolexic. The US ranked second on the list.” In fact, both countries have accused each other of large-scale cyber-espionage in the past. The tension between China and the U.S. in relation to cyber attacks only intensified with the recent revelations by Edward Snowden that the U.S. National Security Agency’s hackers had targeted China in the past.
Cyber attacks on the increase
As with all things technology-based, hackers and cyber attacks are rapidly developing with the times. ITBusiness offered a look at the changing tide of cyber attacks and what hackers are capable of in a slide show “The Evolution of Cyber Attacks.” The post states that “The cyber criminal community has evolved from pranksters, lone wolves and organized gangs to nation-states and hacktivist groups whose primary results have been increased costs and lost productivity.”
In the late 1990s, the biggest computer-based issues we faced were worms and viruses. Less than two decades later, cyber attacks have evolved:
According to the ITBusiness slideshow, “100 percent of over 2,300 global 2000 organizations surveyed acknowledged having attacks on keys and certificates in the last two years.” And the newest cyber attack of choice offers a wide reach, low visibility, few tools for responding to attacks and give hackers privileged status within the organization’s website. The result is that not only has the work of hackers grown, but also that cyber attacks are now often going unnoticed.
What do you think will cyber attacks start becoming more prevalent? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.