New York Times Web site shuts down for two hours

August 14, 2013

The Web site for the New York Times was inaccessible for about two hours Wednesday as the company struggled with a technical glitch that also affected its corporate site and its mobile-device apps.

The disruption lasted from about 11:10 a.m. to 1 p.m., a company spokeswoman said, and the site continued to struggle with some technical problems into the afternoon. The exact cause of the disruption was still unclear.

“We believe the outage is the result of an internal issue,” said Eileen Murphy, a spokeswoman for the New York Times Co.

When asked whether the company might have been the victim of a cyberattack, Murphy said the company had “no reason to believe” that such an attack had occurred.

Last year, the Times was one of several media outlets targeted by hackers thought to be based in China. According to a Times story on the four-month attack, the intrusion began on the day that the paper published an exposéof then-Prime Minister Wen Jiabao of China. The attacks, the paper said at the time, were “consistent” with tactics used in Chinese military attacks.

The Chinese government denied that its military was involved in any such attacks.

The Washington Post reported at the time that its computer systems had been infiltrated by hackers who targeted The Post’s main information technology server and several other computers.

On Monday, the security firm FireEye wrote in a company post that hackers tied to last year’s attacks on the Times were active again and appeared to be “mounting fresh assaults” after several months of inactivity. But the disruption of the Times’s site Wednesday didn’t appear to have the same attributes as the attacks against the paper last year, said Darien Kindlund, FireEye’s manager of threat intelligence.

“We certainly see threat actors like this go after large-scale media outlets in general, but they’re not motivated to disrupt operations,” Kindlund said. “They want to [collect information] without tipping their hand that they were there.”

While the Times’s site was inaccessible, several employees took to Twitter to reassure readers that they were aware of the problem and that it was being fixed.

Some employees shared updates on their stories over social media; others offered tongue-in-cheek alternatives for readers while the site was down.

“Just wander on down to 40th Street and 8th Avenue where I will deliver a dramatic reading of our lede NYT story,” wrote Michael Roston, the Times’s staff editor for social media.

Follow The Post’s new tech blog, The Switch, where technology and policy connect.

Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post.
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