M. Alex Johnson - Journalist at Large

Over at msnbc.com, I’m tracking the attack on the CIA’s website, allegedly by Anonymous.

There’s an interesting language issue here. Several major news organizations are reporting that Anonymous “hacked” the CIA. Maybe; maybe not. The CIA isn’t commenting.

Initially, it appeared that a straightforward DDoS flood knocked out cia.gov. That’s not a “hack,” which implies some sort of infiltration of the host or its servers. It’s an attack from outside.

(You can read the Wikipedia definition for DDoS here.)

As of this writing, the site has been down more than four hours, which is an unusually long time for a robust agency to recover from a DDoS attack. That raises the possibility that the site remains down for some other reason. It could be some other kind of penetrating operation, which you could call a hack. Or it could yet have been a DDoS assault, and the…

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