The CIA is looking into reports that its public website, cia.gov, was taken down by a group of Internet hackers called "lulzsecurity."
At 5:48 pm on Wednesday evening a Twitter account called "lulzsec" or the "Lulz Boat" posted a message that said, "Tango down — cia.gov — for the lulz."
An hour later, The Washington Times could still not get on the website cia.gov.
Marie Harf, a CIA spokeswoman, said, "We are looking into reports of a cia.gov outage."
A website for "Lulz Security" directs one to a website that contains what appears to be hacked computer files from Sony, Nintendo and PBS among other groups.
"Lulz" is Internet slang for "hilarious." The website plays the theme to the 1970s-era ABC television program "The Love Boat." The files on the website include a screen shot of a PBS website story claiming rapper Tupac Shakur is alive in New Zealand.
Lulz Security claims to be a politically motivated group of hackers.
One release on their website claims they hacked and then published the user database of an FBI-affiliated website known as Infragard. "It has come to our unfortunate attention that NATO and our good friend Barrack Osama-Llama 24th-century Obama have recently upped the stakes with regard to hacking," a press release on the site says.
"They now treat hacking as an act of war. So, we just hacked an FBI affiliated website (Infragard, specifically the Atlanta chapter) and leaked its user base. We also took complete control over the site and defaced it, check it out if it's still up: http://infragardatlanta.org/"
Bob Gourley, a former chief technology officer for a U.S. intelligence agency, said Lulz Security is a well-known group of hackers in the cybersecurity community. "Who are they? Your guess is as good as any," said Mr. Gourley, who is now lead investigator for CTOVision.com, a computer technology company with a cybersecurity focus. "Their humor cracks me up, so I imagine we share a similar culture. They could be a collective of mostly U.S. and British computer scientists. If that proves true, what does that say about our notions of cyber deterrence?"
Mr. Gourley added: "I have mixed emotions over the antics of Lulz Security. Any unauthorized break-in should be investigated as a crime, and I hope all who participate in those crimes get caught. But as we learn about the forensics after their major attacks, they are going after enterprises that make poor choices when it comes to security. At some point we citizens should expect more from corporate America and our government when it comes to computer security. Do we blame Lulz for their attack against Sony, or do we blame Sony?"
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