Taraf and Today’s zaman websites facing cyber attacks, halting access, blocked

Today’s Zaman’s website has functioned sporadically for the past week due to severe cyber attacks it is facing, causing temporary access problems for visitors, especially those outside Turkey.

Daily Taraf’s website has remained down since Sunday.

The attacks began as early as last week but gained momentum on March 30 when Turkey headed to the ballot box for the municipal elections. Readers have been at times unable to access the websites of the dailies Zaman, Today’s Zaman and Taraf, as well as the Cihan news agency since that date.

The Today’s Zaman website has previously faced such cyber attacks but none of them were as severe as the latest ones that started with the local elections weekend.

In the current wave of attacks, the Today’s Zaman website is being targeted by hundreds of thousands of computers in a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack, in which hackers bombard the website with requests, causing it to slow down or crash.

Also on March 30, the Taraf daily’s website was attacked by unidentified cyber groups. Taraf challenged the attack with a statement on its main webpage, noting that its website had been under an organized attack for the past week:

“To those creeps who are afraid of journalism, freedoms and Taraf,” the statement said, “those who are afraid of democratic elections, journalism and free media have staged a new attack and have hacked our website. They think that they are successful but they are the losers. It has been revealed how afraid they are afraid of Taraf and free journalism. They have shown us how powerful we are. It is no use even if you send [highly trained] soldiers or assassins. You cannot silence Taraf. We will continue with our website edition in the shortest time possible.”

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About yavuzbaydar

Yavuz Baydar has been an award-winning Turkish journalist, whose professional activity spans nearly four decades. In December 2013, Baydar co-founded the independent media platform, P24, Punto24, to monitor the media sector of Turkey, as well as organizing surveys, and training workshops. Baydar wrote opinion columns, in Turkish, liberal daily Ozgur Dusunce and news site Haberdar, and in English, daily Today's Zaman, on domestic and foreign policy issues related to Turkey, and media matters, until all had to cease publications due to growing political oppression. Currently, he writes regular chronicles for Die Süddeutsche Zeitung, and opinion columns for the Arab Weekly, as well as analysis for Index on Censorship. Baydar blogs with the Huffington Post, sharing his his analysis and views on Turkish politics, the Middle East, Balkans, Europe, U.S-Turkish relations, human rights, free speech, press freedom, history, etc. His opinion articles appeared at the New York Times, the Guardian, El Pais, Svenska Dagbladet, and Al Jazeera English online. Turkey’s first news ombudsman, beginning at Milliyet daily in 1999, Baydar worked in the same role as reader representative until 2014. His work included reader complaints with content, and commentary on media ethics. Working in a tough professional climate had its costs: he was twice forced to leave his job, after his self-critical columns on journalistic flaws and fabricated news stories. Baydar worked as producer and news presenter in Swedish Radio &TV Corp. (SR) Stockholm, Sweden between 1979-1991; as correspondent for Scandinavia and Baltics for Turkish daily Cumhuriyet between 1980-1992, and the BBC World Service, in early 1990's. Returning to Turkey in 1994, he worked as reporter and ediytor for various outlets in print, as well as hosting debate porogrammes in public and private TV channels. Baydar studied informatics, cybernetics and, later, had his journalism ediucatiob in the University of Stockholm. Baydar served as president of the U.S. based International Organizaton of News Ombudsmen (ONO) in 2003. He was a Knight-Wallace Fellow at University of Michigan in 2004. Baydar was given the Special Award of the European Press Prize (EPP), for 'excellence in journalism', along with the Guardian and Der Spiegel in 2014. He won the Umbria Journalism Award in March 2014 and Caravella/Mare Nostrum Prize in 2015; both in Italy. Baydar completed an extensive research on self-censorship, corruption in media, and growing threats over journalism in Turkey as a Shorenstein Fellow at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard.
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