U.S. Press Freedom Tracker

Apparent cyberattack hits AP news website, causes brief outage

Incident Details


A man stands outside the New York headquarters of The Associated Press. The news agency was hit with an apparent denial-of-service attack on Oct. 31, 2023.

October 31, 2023

The news website of The Associated Press was hit by an apparent denial-of-service attack on Oct. 31, 2023, causing a partial outage on the site.

According to the AP, visitors to its apnews.com site on the afternoon of Oct. 31 were able to load the home page, but specific stories were either blank pages or error messages. The AP said the outage “appeared to be consistent with a denial-of-service attack.”

The AP said the issue was resolved by the morning of Nov. 1, and that the outage did not affect delivery systems to customers and its mobile apps.

A denial-of-service attack involves using a single connection to overwhelm a network server with data in order to disrupt its normal functioning and knock it offline. (A related type of attack, known as distributed denial of service, utilizes multiple sources to overwhelm the target server.) Both attacks are federal crimes under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.

The news agency’s report quoted Nicole Meir, an AP media relations manager, as saying, “We’ve experienced periodic surges in traffic but we’re still looking into the cause.” Meir added that the engineers would take care of one source of traffic, only to have it surge from another location.

An account holder identifying themselves as the spokesperson for the hacking group Anonymous Sudan said on Telegram Oct. 28 that the group would target Western news outlets in connection with their reporting on the Israel-Hamas war.

Anonymous Sudan posted multiple screenshots on its Telegram channel showing error messages from the AP news site on Oct. 31 and Nov. 1. Beginning Oct. 27, the group also posted screenshots of error messages from news outlets including CNN, The Washington Post, the New York Post and Britain’s Daily Mail.

The AP said that it had not been able to verify whether Anonymous Sudan was responsible for the attack. The news service did not immediately reply to an emailed request for updates on the incident.

The U.S. Press Freedom Tracker catalogues press freedom violations in the United States. Email tips to [email protected].