Washington: The website of the popular American daily, The New York Times, has experienced an external attack as a result hundreds and thousands of netizens were unable to browse it for hours.
"Our Web site was unavailable to users in the United States for a period of time yesterday."
"The outage was the result of an external attack on our domain name registrar, and we are at work on fully restoring service," The New York Times said in a message posted on its website.
The New York Times chief information officer Marc Frons sent the same update internally to employees at 4:20 PM and advised them not to send out sensitive emails `until this situation is resolved,` according to a statement from the New York Times.
Frons said the attack was carried out by a group known as "the Syrian Electronic Army or someone trying very hard to be them.
"The Web site first went down after 3 PM; once service was restored, the hackers quickly disrupted the site again.
Shortly after 6 PM, Frons said that "we believe that we are on the road to fixing the problem."
The Syrian Electronic Army is a group of hackers who support President Bashar al-Assad of Syria.
Matt Johansen, head of the Threat Research Centre at White Hat Security, posted on Twitter that he was directed to a Syrian Web domain when he tried to view The Times’s Web site, the daily said.
"In terms of the sophistication of the attack, this is a big deal," Frons said.
"It`s sort of like breaking into the local savings and loan versus breaking into Fort Knox.
A domain registrar should have extremely tight security because they are holding the security to hundreds if not thousands of Web sites," he said.
The Syrian Electronic Army has frequently targeted the US news media, CNN said.
The group has hacked into the Twitter feeds of the Associated Press and The Washington Post, and on August 15 they briefly hacked the websites of several major news organisations, including CNN, redirecting them to a SEA page, it said.