Hacking the hackers: LulzSec came out of its weeks-old retirement yesterday to hack the websites of Rupert Murdoch’s News International papers.
Hacker collective LulzSec, which grew to fame on a series of high-profile hacks over the last 6 months, abruptly announced on June 25 that it was retiring and disbanding—the Lulz Boat was sailing away into the sunset.
Yesterday, a little over the three weeks later, the group reemerged with an epic series of hacks on the websites of Rupert Murdoch’s News International publications. New York Times reports that the site new-times.co.uk was co-opted to display the above article claiming that Rupert Murdoch had died of a drug overdose and was found dead in his “topiary garden.”
From there, LulzSec continued to toy with the News International sites, redirecting traffic from “The Sun” to their article on Murdoch’s death, shutting down the sites of other papers by changing their DNS addresses, and then redirecting traffic from “The Sun” to LulzSec’s Twitter page.
With most of its newspapers’ sites still down, News International tried to post a notice on its corporate site about the hacking. Traffic from the page hosting that notice was soon redirected to LulzSec’s Twitter page as well.
As LulzSec and its hacking counterpart Anonymous grew to fame with rival hacks this spring, the question repeatedly came up: Are there good hackers and bad hackers? What makes good hack versus an evil hack?
LulzSec was known for its anarchist penchant of disrupting order for its own sake—just “for the Lulz” as its site boasted. Anonymous, on the other hand, seemed bent on impacting the geo-political climate on behalf of democracy and individuals’ free will. Its hacks on the CIA, Iranian government and attempt to get Ben Bernanke to resign all seemed parts of an ideologically-informed worldview, whereas LulzSec seemed only after destruction.
With its retirement, LulzSec announced plans to combine forces with Anonymous members to form a new collective called AntiSec—which made us ask whether the LulzSec hackers were growing out of their petulant phase.
The News International hack retains LulzSec’s vicious humor, but seems to be a more principled, idealistic hack than the earlier ones that made the group famous. The irony of Rupert Murdoch’s institutions, embroiled in scandal over phone-hacking, itself being hacked, surely wasn’t lost on LulzSec.
As technologists grow more sophisticated and information hacks become an increasingly critical part of defense, as well as weaponry, the ideology of hacks—and hackers—will influence the world more and more.
But this seems to be the case of one good hack seeking retribution for News International’s evil hacks. Has LuzSec grown up after all?
Photo via NY Times