Update Saturday, October 26 PM:
The NSA site is finally back online. While there was no mention of the attack, the top story featured on the NSA site is, ironically, "General Alexander Statement Regarding Cybersecurity Awareness Month."
Original Report Follows:
The U.S. National Security Agency's website, nsa.gov, was knocked offline Friday afternoon, and as of Friday evening, it was still unavailable. Only a browser message indicating that the server was not responding appeared.
Sources quoted by various news agencies have speculated that the site has apparently fallen victim to a DDoS (distributed denial-of-service) attack, and that it was believed that the hacker group Anonymous would claim responsibility. However, as of the time of publication of this report, the group has not claimed responsibility.
DDoS Attacks Still Unstoppable
DDoS attacks are those in which data is sent to a particular server from many clients, with the goal of overwhelming or flooding the server with data and requests. In this manner, the server then becomes too busy to deliver its normal response, such as serving the requested Web page.
In many DDoS attacks, the multitude of requests are sent from computers which have been taken over by hackers through viruses that lie dormant on the computers of unsuspecting users. When the hackers “activate” the viruses and other malware, the users’ computers send the malicious requests to the target server -- in this case, that of the NSA.
Although DDoS attacks have been common for almost two decades, computer experts have been largely unable to prevent those attacks because they are unable to distinguish between legitimate Web traffic and malicious attack requests.
White House Denies NSA Spying
The NSA has recently come under fire for its electronic eavesdropping on millions of Americans, as well as citizens and even politicians of foreign countries, including U.S. allies like the U.K., France, and Germany. The latest NSA eavesdropping scandal was brought to light this week, as German government officials were furious at reported NSA spying on its Chancellor, Angela Merkel.
As a result of the NSA’a actions, The German Foreign Ministry confirmed Thursday morning that it had summoned U.S. Ambassador John B. Emerson for a tense discussion in which the Germans expressed in “no uncertain terms” their fury over the NSA’s actions.
On Wednesday, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney denied allegations of U.S. spying on Merkel.
Similar outrage was also expressed recently by France after allegations of widespread NSA spying on French citizens surfaced.
In light of the growing global resentment against the NSA, it is highly likely that today’s cyber attack is related to the anger widely felt in the U.S. and around the world.