The website for the United States National Security Agency suddenly went offline Friday.
NSA.gov has been unavailable globally as of late Friday afternoon, and Twitter accounts belonging to people loosely affiliated with the Anonymous hacktivism movement have suggested they are responsible.
Twitter users @AnonymousOwn3r and @TruthIzSexy both were quick to comment on the matter, and implied that a distributed denial-of-service attack, or DDoS, may have been waged as an act of protest against the NSA
Allegations that those users participated in the DDoS — a method of over-loading a website with too much traffic — are currently unverified, and @AnonymousOwn3r has previously taken credit for downing websites in a similar fashion, although those claims have been largely contested.
The crippling of NSA.gov comes amid a series of damning national security documents that have been disclosed without authorization by former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden. The revelations in the leaked documents have impassioned people around the globe outraged by evidence of widespread surveillance operated by the NSA, and a massive “Stop Watching Us” rally is scheduled for Saturday in Washington, DC.
DDoS attacks are illegal in the United States under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, or CFAA, and two cases are currently underway in California and Virginia in which federal judges are weighing in on instances in which members of Anonymous allegedly used the technique to take down an array of sites during anti-copyright campaigns waged by the group in 2010 and 2011. In those cases, so-called hacktivsits are reported to have conspired together to send immense loads of traffic to targeted websites, rendering them inaccessible due to the overload.