The National Security Agency's website was down for several hours on Friday. But no one will confirm whether the outage was caused by a group of brash hackers attacking the website or if the hamster who normally keeps the place running simply stopped spinning on its wheel.
NSA.gov went out of service Friday shortly after 3 p.m., according to Gizmodo. Almost immediately some Twitter accounts loosely affiliated with Anonymous, the notorious hacktivist group known for executing distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks, started taking credit for the attack. Some other hacking groups claimed responsibility as well. But those all felt more like desperate stabs at undeserved Internet credibility than any hacker taking proper ownership for his or work. Some of hackers who jumped have reputations for falsely taking credit for attacks, too.
The official Anonymous social media accounts, the ones people trust, mostly made light of one of their biggest foes' most embarrassing moments:
Aww don't panic about http://t.co/BCCEvVEoQL being down. They have a backup copy of the internet.— Anonymous (@AnonyOps) October 25, 2013
As TechCrunch points out, the NSA's website isn't infallible just because the government agency behind it can hear and see almost everything happening at all times. The NSA has been felled by a simple DDoS attack before. The odds the attack was carried out by an irritated country, perhaps one of the 21 countries lining up to crow about spying through the U.N., are slim, and it's odd none of the major hacking groups have taken proper credit for the attack, especially all these hours later:
Anyway, congratulations to http://t.co/FieWUDhtGd for managing to get your website working after 11 hours.— emptywheel (@emptywheel) October 26, 2013
That could mean whoever is responsible doesn't want to draw the eye of one of the world's most powerful spying agencies, or it could mean Kibbles took a much-needed vacation. Maybe there's a much simpler explanation here: the wheels behind the scenes stopped spinning. The NSA told CIRCA there was no attack, that the outage was caused by an "internal error" that happened at an inopportune time:
"NSA.gov was not accessible for several hours tonight because of an internal error that occurred during a scheduled update. The issue will be resolved this evening. Claims that the outage was caused by a distributed denial of service attack are not true."
The truth is out there somewhere.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.