New York magazine confirms outage was result of cyber attack

In a statement to Poynter Tuesday morning, New York magazine gave credence to a hacker's claim that its website was taken down by a pseudonymous assailant known as "ThreatKing."

"We believe the outage was the result of a deliberate attack on our site," said New York spokesperson Lauren Starke.

The magazine was silent on the cause of the outage Monday while it fought to restore access to its site. In a bulletin posted just before noon on Twitter, the magazine simply said it was experiencing "technical difficulties" and advised readers it was working on a fix.

The attack hit at an inopportune time for New York, which only hours earlier had posted a bombshell cover story containing testimony from 35 women who recounted tales of assault at the hands of comedian Bill Cosby. The story quickly garnered national attention from news outlets and journalists who admired its ability to drive the conversation surrounding allegations of sexual assault against Cosby.

Meanwhile, a hacker or group of hackers known interchangeably as @Vikingdom2017 and ThreatKing were claiming to wreak havoc on New York's site on Twitter and in statements to reporters. In successive tweets, Vikingdom claimed that it had launched a denial of service attack on the site, flooding it with server traffic to make the site unavailable. When asked by Poynter and others to justify the attack, the hacker gave conflicting responses, first telling The Daily Dot the attack stemmed from a dislike of New York and then telling Poynter the attack was provoked by "many reasons" including "pranks."

While New York battled to get its site back up (as of around 2. p.m. yesterday, access was restored) the magazine employed a number of tactics to make its cover story available. It posted excerpts of interviews with the women on Instagram, published the story in its entirety on Tumblr and promoted its off-site content using Twitter and Facebook. The whole ordeal was an object lesson in protecting access to important journalism in the face of technical adversity.

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    Benjamin Mullin

    Benjamin Mullin is the managing editor of He previously reported for Poynter as a staff writer, Google Journalism Fellow and Naughton Fellow, covering journalism innovation, business practices and ethics.


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