The Syrian Electronic Army (SEA) has reportedly hacked into the DNS accounts for Twitter and the New York Times. The Twitter attack is particularly disruptive because it has made viewing images on Twitter.com and in some apps very difficult.
A DNS record is what translates the readable domain name (like Mashable.com) into an IP address that connects to a web server.
The New York Times website briefly displayed an SEA-themed message on its main page. Meanwhile, the SEA appears to have redirected the nameservers for Twitter’s image domain, twimg.com, elsewhere. The New York Times addressed the hack in a post to its site later Tuesday evening.
As a result, images on Twitter are not showing up. Hacking or taking over a domain record isn’t the same as hacking into the server of a website. The net result, however, means that individuals attempting to access a site may be taken elsewhere.
On Twitter, the SEA claims that it has taken over the domain name and DNS settings for Twitter.com. This has been hard to verify, however, because there appears to be a domain name collision that makes finding information about the Twitter.com domain difficult.
The SEA is also claiming responsibility for taking over the Huffingtonpost.co.uk domain name, however, our own DNS checks still show AOL as having control of the domain and name servers.
At the time of writing, the SEA’s website was also down.
We’ve contacted Twitter: A representative says the company is looking into the issue.
UPDATE, 6:26 p.m.: The Syrian Electronic Army took control over the domains of The New York Times and Twitter by compromising MelbourneIT, a domain name registrar, according to HD Moore, a researcher at security firm Rapid7.
“All three domains use MelbourneIT as their domain registrar,” said Moore, referring to nytimes.com, twitter.com and TWImg.com. “Once access to the registrar is obtained, the SEA can redirect all DNS, email, and web traffic going to these sites to a server of their choosing.”
Moore noted that other domains, like AOL.com, Yahoo.com, Google.com, and Microsoft.com are all registered with MelbourneIT.
Additional reporting by Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai
Image: Mashable compsoite; iStockphoto, simonox; Screenshots: The New York Times, OS X