The public website of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, the CIA, was knocked offline Friday evening, and a person claiming to be associated with the hacker group Anonymous took credit for the outage on Twitter.
“[C]ia.gov DOWN. #UMAD?#Anonymous,” tweeted one Twitter user, whose name was not given, at 3:10 p.m ET, the Russian news outlet RT reported.
At the time of this posting, the CIA website was still offline and has been for approximately two and a half hours.
“We are looking into these reports,” said CIA spokeswoman Jennifer Youngblood, CNN reported.
However, there is some doubt over whether this is a true “Anonymous” operation in the sense that involves any of the group’s regular participants.
A search of Twitter’s publicly available tweets by TPM did not reveal that tweet quoted by RT, and other accounts under the banner of Anonymous have mainly re-tweeted the link to the RT report. A widely cited tweet by the account YourAnonNews reading “CIA TANGO DOWN: https://www.cia.gov/ #Anonymous,” also linked back to the RT report.
As Gizmodo pointed out, the operator of that account seems as bewildered as anyone as to what’s actually going on, later tweeting: “go figure, RT got it up from me, u retweeted and other news sites post your tweet pl0x (this msg will self destruct in T-2 lol.”
As Gizmodo points out, the length of time that the website has been unavailable and the lack of chatter about the outage on any Anonymous IRC (internet relay chat) channels, one of the loosely-knit group’s preferred methods of communication, indicates that it may not be the work of any of its regulars.
The Alabama Department of Homeland Security also confirmed to CNN that several state websites had been hacked and information compromised.