A 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:
- LulzSec has struck before: They are the parties behind one of the hacks that have hit Sony in the past couple months, and in early May, they released details on thousands of contestants on Fox’s X-Factor, along with passwords for 363 Fox employees.
- Advocates for freedom of information, including hacker groups like Anonymous, have rallied around WikiLeaks and Manning since news of the leak broke.
- Wired gives some background on the offending episode:
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.