A group claiming to be the Syrian Electronic Army was able to take down the New York Times on Tuesday by hacking into a web site in Australia, The New York Times said in a statement.
The group gained control of the Times’ domain name registrar, Melbourne IT. A domain name registrar is a site that sells domain names and controls a domain name server (DNS). DNS is the server that sends you to a web page when you type a URL address into your browser, such as nytimes.com.
By hacking into the DNS server, the group could redirect the traffic going to nytimes.com. The Syrian Electronic Army also said it hacked Twitter. Twitter reportedly also uses Melbourne IT.
Melbourne IT is the dominant provider of domain name services in Australia, partly because it long had the monopoly on allowing the registration of .com.au site names. It claims to have more than 350,000 worldwide customers. It current CEO announced plans to step down yesterday — via redwolf.newsvine.com