Chinese Hackers Take Down SportsNetwork

The SportsNetwork, a privately held sports website located in Hatboro, PA, has been under attack from hackers for about 24 hours. Early Sunday the site was defaced with “Tibet was, is and will always be part of China” messages. Engineers returned the site to normal, but late Sunday evening the site was again hacked and taken offline. The message in the image second above is now all that can be viewed on the site.

The site itself is relatively small, attracting just 264,000 visitors in February 2008 (Comscore, worldwide). But it also powers parts of other large sports sites such as CNN/SI. The domain, for example, is also down.

I called the general phone number at the site at 3:20 am PST and someone answered right away, confirming the hack and the fact that a team of engineers is trying to get the site back online.

It’s likely that this kind of activity will increase as Chinese frustration over western Olympic protests continues. Some Chinese are simply adding a “Love China” icon to their chat messages. Others are taking much stronger measures, and speculation continues as to whether the Chinese governmet is sponsoring the attacks.

Lots of buzz on this on Twitter right now (where most news seems to be breaking these days). Thanks to Christine Lu for the tip. More here as well.

Update: It’s possible that the hackers actually thought they were taking down CNN’s sports site, based on early Twitter messages boasting about it.

Update2: Christine Lu was able to grab an image of the original hack (now top image above), which links back to It’s almost certain that they thought the site was CNN’s sports property.