The hacker group Lulz Security, or LulzSec, on Wednesday said it had knocked the US CIA public-facing website offline, BBC News reported. The claim came later on the same day that the group had set up a telephone hotline to take requests for hacking targets.
"Tango down - cia.gov - for the lulz," the group said on its Twitter account. Lulz is Internet-speak for laughs, according to the Wall Street Journal.
The CIA site, cia.gov, initially couldn't be accessed from New York to San Francisco, and Bangalore to London, Reuters reported. Later on Wednesday evening, service was sporadic, but there was no evidence that sensitive data in the CIA internal computer network had been compromised.
A spokesman for the CIA, Preston Golson, said the agency's website was malfunctioning, but couldn't provide any details.
"We're looking into the matter," he said.
LulzSec, a hacker group that is believed to be made up of former members of the hacker activist organization Anonymous, claimed earlier this week that it had hacked the US Senate's public website, and posted computer files obtained in the attack on the Internet, according to Bloomberg News. The LulzSec hackers, who Barrett Brown, an informal spokesman for Anonymous, said are based mostly in the US and Europe, have announced their attacks on Twitter and on the group’s website, lulzsecurity.com.
LulzSec portrays itself more as pranksters and activists than as people with sinister intent, but its members have been accused of breaking the law and are wanted by the FBI and other law-enforcement agencies, Reuters said.
The hotline telephone number that the group set up on Wednesday spelled out "LULZSEC" and had an area code in the US state of Ohio, AFP reported. A recorded greeting had a man speaking with an exaggerated French accent explaining that "Pierre Dubois and Francois Deluxe" were unavailable because they were up to mischief on the Internet.
According to a GlobalPost article earlier this month, Spanish police arrested three hackers from the Anonymous group for online attacks on Sony PlayStation and the governments of Egypt, Libya and Iran among others. The article goes on to say:
LulzSec earlier this month claimed to have broken into a Sony company network, stealing the personal data of more than a million users, including passwords and email addresses, in the latest of a string of attacks on the Japanese company. The group said it had hacked the servers that run SonyPictures.com, part of Sony’s movie and television operations.
The cyberattacks on the US Senate and the CIA follow more than two weeks of hacks by the group, targeting the computer networks of the Japanese technology giant Sony Corp., PBS, the television network Fox, and the Atlanta chapter of a US Federal Bureau of Investigation affiliate called InfraGuard, Bloomberg News said.
“We don’t like the U.S. government very much,” LulzSec said in a release earlier this week that accompanied the posted technical data from senate.gov, the Senate website, which cyber-security experts said confirmed they had hacked the server, the Wall Street Journal said. When the group posted the information from the Senate site, it also posted the question, "Is this an act of war, gentlemen?"