The National Security Agency is no stranger to controversy and rumors. On Friday the shadowy government agency’s website went dark, causing rumors to circulate that the agency was a victim of hacking. The NSA, of course, denies these claims.
In an official statement, the NSA claimed the cause for the server’s non-response was due to an internal error. The statement went on to say that the server was undergoing a routine, scheduled update when the error occurred. The NSA’s internal information technology team worked diligently to correct the error and restored the site within several hours.
Hacker Groups Take Responsibility for Outage
The official report did not stop rumors from buzzing the Internet Friday night. Many users believed that the agency’s website was indeed hacked. A group with the Twitter handle @annoymousAsia posted a tweet that alluded to their responsibility in hacking the site. “We sail strong #tangodown#nsa.”
Other tweets from handles belonging to the Anonymous group included, “So if it’s a attack coming from me, or maybe from a country? won’t say! It’s just looks like a start of a cyber war.” These claims are still unsubstantiated now that the website is accessible once again.
The group claims it used a distributed denial of service, or DDoS, attack. This type of attack floods a website with traffic, overloading the servers causing them to shut down, collapsing the site. A DDoS attack is an unsophisticated way to bring down a website as it isn’t meant to reach the internal network of a particular site. Despite the rumors and online claims the NSA continued to deny the attack. In their statement reporting the internal error, they categorically deny the use of a DDoS attack on their system.
There was little sympathy and plenty of ridicule for the downed NSA website. Some online followers made comments that the NSA could still be followed on Tumblr. Another follower, AnonyOps, tweeted that people shouldn’t panic just because the NSA site was down, “they have a backup copy of the internet.”
No Love for the NSA
The NSA has come under fire lately for its foreign and domestic surveillance tactics. Many Americans feel the NSA have overstepped their bounds by monitoring everything Americans say or do online, on the phone, and, when possible, through the mail. The NSA’s surveillance officially started in 2001 under the guise of protecting the United States against possible terrorist attack. The government agency was supposed to be limited to a very select group of people.
The NSA, however, did not limit themselves to the select group. In recent months information has brought to light the amount of surveillance they have conducted. Since the beginning of October the agency has been accused of tapping over 35 foreign national’s phones. Millions of personal emails and instant messages have also been exposed as being in the hands of the NSA.
In the last few weeks, United States citizens took to the streets of Washington to protest the surveillance. In an effort named “Stop Watching Us,” members of all parties came together to put a stop to the efforts of the NSA. They also protested the surveillance of 35 foreign heads of state, many of which are Allies, through phone surveillance.
By Denise Sullivan