PBS Site Pwned By Hacktivists; Tupac, Unfortunately, is Still Dead

By Veronique Greenwood | May 31, 2011 3:04 pm

pwnedA hacked page on PBS’s site announces the perpetrators.

What’s the News: On Sunday night, PBS found itself the victim of a cyber attack by the group LulzSec, which hacked PBS’s site in retaliation for a Frontline episode about WikiLeaks whose tone they found unfavorable. The first evidence? A post on the NewsHour blog alleging that rapper Tupac Shakur, who died in 1996, was still alive and well in New Zealand. PBS responded quickly, but as late as Monday night at about 5:50 pm, according to Boing Boing, LulzSec still had access to the site. Their motivation, the group says in an interview with Forbes, is a mixture of “lulz and justice.”

What They Did:

  • On Sunday night, LulzSec released the IP addresses of PBS servers and e-mails and passwords for 200 PBS employees, PBS bloggers, and 1,500 members of the media on PBS’s press list, saying “We just finished watching WikiSecrets and were less than impressed…say hello to the insides of the PBS servers, folks. They best watch where they’re sailing next time” (see here for their full statement). In addition to the Tupac news post, which PBS has removed, they inserted a page featuring the meme Nyan Cat and the words “All your bases are belong to LulzSecs,” as well as other fake pages.
  • In an interview with Forbes this morning, one of the four hackers involved said that he hoped the PBS stunt provided some comfort to Bradley Manning, the soldier who is under suspicion of having leaked US military secrets to WikiLeaks. “While our main goal is to spread entertainment, we do greatly wish that Bradley Manning hears about this, and at least smiles,”  he said.

What’s the Context:

On May 24, Frontline aired an hour-long documentary, “WikiSecrets”, that profiled suspected WikiLeaks leaker Bradley Manning. WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who was interviewed at length for the documentary, roundly criticized the piece even before it aired, writing that the program was “hostile and misrepresents WikiLeaks’ views and tries to build an ‘espionage’ case against its founder, Julian Assange, and also the young soldier, Bradley Manning.”

The Future Holds:

  • According to the group’s tweets, AT&T may be their next target: “AT&T aren’t going to enjoy what The Lulz Boat is cooking,” they wrote on May 17. They’ve also said that they are launching a new attack on Sony.
  • It’s not clear what actions LulzSec’s victims will take. The recent rash of attacks on Sony, in which 77 million users’ information was stolen, appear to be in retaliation for its law suit against hackers who figured out a way to run “homebrew” programs on the PlayStation 3 last year.
  • Dennis

    Sorry, I disagree.

  • -_-

    You’re a huge tool Dennis.

  • http://HomeInspectionMarketingCenter.com Home Inspector Training

    So we have wiki leaks and now PBS has been hacked, I am beside myself. Please, no more rumors. Let Tupac RIP! — His music is what we have to remember him by and his films.

  • Dennis

    The size of my tool is none of your business.
    You are correct, but still…

  • GuruOfChem

    Can we please not deem this “hacktivism” and instead call it what it is – theft and vandalism. And get off your 1st Amendment high horse before you respond – yes, these technotwits have the right to express their opinion, but not by damaging other people’s property and stealing and publishing confidential and personal information about PBS employees, most of whom had NOTHING to do with the program in question. The language in their statement is threatening – these are bullies, folks, who lack even the courage of a schoolyard bully as they hide behind the anonymity of the Internet. Why we laugh this off and tolerate it is beyond me…

  • Jay Fox

    @5 Guru:
    I’ll second that!
    Two wrongs do not make a right.
    And the bully language, ha! Their grammar needs work.

  • Katharine

    So is Francisco Franco.

  • WinSpn

    Anyone named Dennis always turns out to be a person who loves comic books and jerkoffs after every meal and during episodes of Family Ties.

  • Dennis

    Never much into comic books, I like a cigarette after every meal, was never a fan of Family Ties.
    I do like to jerk off after every time I get flamed in a comment thread though. Oooh yeeeaaah.

    I won’t go into what kind of person anyone who gets all butt-hurt over an insult to Tupac Shakur turns out to be.

    BTW – doesn’t anyone moderate these comments?

  • Aleksandar Kuktin

    They are not stealing anything. They are merely “unlawfully copying” stuff.

    (The difference is not only academic, but real. When you steal a car from someone, that someone does not have his car anymore. BUT! When you unlawfully copy a file from someone, that someone still has the very same original file which you copied. In reality, this is a HUUUGE difference.)

  • http://discovermagazine.com Iain

    Unlawful copying Ha! Good one Alek, how about if I unlawfully copy anything I want of yours? Like your license plates, then you can have a copy of the police photo showing somebody with your plates running red lights. It’s not theft, you still have your plates. Just unlawful copying, this is a HUUUGE difference.

  • http://slickphpsoftware.com/?hop=maximdel Mia Foster

    He left behind a grieving mother, myriad fans, relatives and friends.
    This is no joke. A talented young man was cut down in his prime, and the killer has gone free all this time.

  • Miles

    @Iain, Unlawful copying is the correct term, though counterfeiting is technically correct as well – think of it this way: if someone unlawfully copies your money they effectively counterfeited your money; they didn’t steal your money. This case further involved an invasion of privacy that is a much bigger deal than the unlawful copying.

    Still, your example involves not only unlawful copying, but fraud. The big crime in your scenario was framing someone else for your crime, not the unlawful copying used to do so. It’s like claiming that buying sudafed is the major crime when cooking meth.

  • -_-

    Dennis: You didn’t insult Tupac. You said that you’d rather he be dead than alive. I couldn’t care less if you like his music or not. Comments like that are inappropriate and wrong. You don’t even deserve a response but I’d hate to let even more people get away with reducing the value of human life because you have different opinions.

  • http://d g


  • http://Idfk?FB? Autumn

    Lmfao, yes hackers. (Y)

    I love when people stir up stuff like this. :’)

    Hey, at least they stood up for what they believe in. This is a lot more effective than protesting on the streets, don’t you think? 😉

  • Idlewild

    I agree with #5. Anyone who backs up these people does’t know what it’s like to have their e-mail made public to the internet. PBS employees didn’t have anything to do with this–the producers of frontline did. They didn’t need to be targeted. How is this standing up for what they believe in? What will this accomplish? This is just a childish waste of time. Sharing people’s contact information and passwords is akin to aiding and abetting indentity theft. It could even be considered harassment, imagine how many Lulzsec following, meme spouting 4chan /b/ tards are giving them perverted emails right now?

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