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Multiple pages were posted in a defacement attack against PBS today.

The website was attacked for including criticism of Wikileaks in its recent FRONTLINE special "WikiSecrets".  (Source: PBS)
Fake stories include one that claimed late-rapper Tupac Shakur was discovered to be living

PBS has become the latest victim of a concerted hacking campaign.  The party responsible is a familiar one -- they're the same group that recently hacked Sony Corp.  But this time around their motives were different.  The hackers this time were using the hack to show their support for embattled website Wikileaks.

I. PBS Stirs the Pot With Wikileaks Special

PBS special "WikiSecrets" aired last Tuesday as part of the news agency's FRONTLINE program, which tackles tough issues.  The program offered a surprisingly comprehensive view that showcased various parties offering both the praise of Wikileaks and its chief (suspected) informant U.S. Army Spc. Bradley Manning, and criticism of the aforementioned.

But advocates of the controversial leaks site took issue with the negative portions of the program.  Particularly touchy to supporters was a section in which writers for the British newspaper Guardian claimed that Wikileaks founder Julian Assange had said that Iraqi and Afghani allies to the U.S. "deserve to die".  

As Guardian is an extremely prestigious publication, on par with The New York Times in the U.S., this was a heady accusation.  Supporters of the site blasted PBS and Guardian claiming that Mr. Assange's comment was taken out of context or fabricated.

Among those offended were a group of savvy hackers.

II. Tupac's Back?

On Sunday, the PBS blog "PBS Newshour" saw a surprising story get posted, claiming that late-rapper Tupac Shakur was back.  This wasn't some sort of strange take on the recent Meek Mill hit; it actually claimed the late rapper was found alive.

The post claimed that Mr. Shakur actually did not die from the 1996 shooting and was instead "alive and well in a small resort in New Zealand".  It cited "locals" as a source and claimed that Notorious B.I.G. was also alive and had lived in the town for some time.

Tupac Shakur, perhaps the most famous gangster rapper of the 1990s, was murdered in Sept. 1996.  Notorious B.I.G. (real name Christopher George Latore Wallace) was murdered soon after in March 1997.  The murders ended the multi-platinum careers of both artists and shocked the rap industry.

The murders have lent fodder to conspiracy theories -- both serious and sensational over the years, thanks to the unsolved nature of both murders and questionable ties between LAPD officers and thuggish Death Row Records CEO Marion "Suge" Knight, Jr.

PBS was left scrambling to remove the post and others.  The news organization posted a statement, commenting:

Last night there was an intrusion to PBS's servers. The erroneous information on the 'PBS Newshour' site has been corrected. The intruders also posted login information to two internal sites—one that press use to access PBS Pressroom and an internal communications website for stations.  

Teresa Gorman, who works in social media and online engagement for the PBS program "NewsHour," published a series of Twitter posts today commenting on the breach.  She comments, "If you missed it: our site has been accessed by hackers. Thanks for staying with us."

III. LulzSec Claims Responsibility for Post

In a series of updates on Twitter a team of hackers who call themselves "LulzSec" mocked PBS, pointing out the hack and eventually claiming responsibility for it.

The hackers wrote:
"Oh s–, what happened to @PBS?"

...then:
"What's wrong with @PBS, how come all of its servers are rooted? How come their database is seized? Why are passwords cracked? :("

After posting links to usernames and passwords, the group wrote:
"Oh yes, that's right... #Sownage tomorrow. We hope. We decided to obliterate @PBS instead out of distraction."

In addition to the Tupac page, LulzSec or its affiliates posted a story entitled "Unicorns Dragons and Chix With Swords".  They also created a page titled "FREE BRADLEY MANNING. F– FRONTLINE!" that contained the text "ALL YOUR BASE ARE BELONG TO LULZSEC."

Some of the pages are still available courtesy of Google's or Freeze.it's cache, though they've been removed from PBS's site [1] [2] [3].

LulzSec has released a longer statement via pastebin, commenting:

Greetings, Internets. We just finished watching WikiSecrets and were less than impressed. We decided to sail our Lulz Boat over to the PBS servers for further... perusing. As you should know by now, not even that fancy-ass fortress from the third shitty Pirates of the Caribbean movie (first one was better!) can withhold our barrage of chaos and lulz. Anyway, unnecessary sequels aside... wait, actually: second and third Matrix movies sucked too! Anyway, say hello to the insides of the PBS servers, folks. They best watch where they're sailing next time.

The statement was posted along with links to the "gathered" information here.

IV. Who is LulzSec?

The group's bio asserts:

We are LulzSec, a small team of 80-year-old men and people who smoke on webcam. Right?

The group, which says it has no affiliation with Anonymous (who shares similar adversaries) is part of the growing hacker/griefer web movement, that contains such players as GNAA (whose full name contains a profane racial slur) and the slightly more sedate Gnosis, who hacked Gawker Media last year.

LulzSec gained attention for being one of the groups to hack several Sony sites via SQL injection last week.  SQL injections attacks are considered rather "easy" hacks -- by contrast the PBS attack appeared much more sophisticated and in-depth.



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RE: Punish.
By Darkefire on 5/30/2011 7:47:50 PM , Rating: 5
This is getting ridiculous. They're attacking PBS now? Possibly the closest thing to a non-partisan news outlet we have left, and they deface the website over the simple report of a story? I fully support Wikileaks and the work they've done in bringing transparency to a world whose governments are trying their hardest to deceive their citizens, but between Assange losing his mind to paranoia and Anonymous mistaking anarchy for activism they've just about used up all the goodwill they've generated over the years. True revolutionaries succeed because they garner the public's support, but the cyberterrrorism we've been seeing over the past few weeks is doing almost the exact opposite. Time to pack it in, guys, we're not going to hide you among us if you keep breaking our shit.


RE: Punish.
By Amedean on 5/30/11, Rating: 0
RE: Punish.
By SPOOFE on 5/30/11, Rating: 0
RE: Punish.
By Belard on 5/31/11, Rating: 0
RE: Punish.
By Spookster on 6/2/2011 6:19:21 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
by Amedean on May 30, 2011 at 8:29 PM

For real, why don't they attack highly partisan media outlets like FOX News .... Cry me a fricken river for Wikileaks - lame nut hackers


If they hacked into Fox News and posted false or ridiculous stories would anyone even notice?


RE: Punish.
By Samus on 5/30/2011 10:35:34 PM , Rating: 5
Most ridiculous target, ever.


RE: Punish.
By mmatis on 5/31/11, Rating: -1
RE: Punish.
By overlandpark4me on 6/2/2011 8:11:46 PM , Rating: 1
Agreed, but I guess if he is way out to the left, you might think they are non-partisan. Still a funny as hell post.


RE: Punish.
By The Raven on 5/31/11, Rating: 0
RE: Punish.
By Arsynic on 5/31/2011 2:22:08 PM , Rating: 2
How can a network funded by the government be unbiased? They carry the water of the government on a daily basis.

It doesn't justify the hack by any means, but they are the network of our oppressors.


RE: Punish.
By hyvonen on 6/1/2011 5:41:32 PM , Rating: 2
PBS is heavily funded by donations from non-profits and viewers themselves.


RE: Punish.
By TheJian on 6/2/11, Rating: 0
RE: Punish.
By nxjwfgwe on 6/3/11, Rating: 0
RE: Punish.
By Wolfpup on 6/5/2011 4:25:03 AM , Rating: 2
I will say that that story was shockingly biased considering it was coming from PBS. I mean it barely touched on what was actually IN the leaks, and barely touched the fact that this is how papers operate. Instead they spend maybe 30-40 minutes of it just issuing vague defamation of you-know-who's character...as though a 22 year old getting upset when he's dumped is weird, and as though any of that is the story to begin with.

Someone I was watching it with wondered if they'd been pressured to go that route.

Now's replacement "Everything's Equal!" I'd expect this from...let alone corporate news, but Frontline?


"I mean, if you wanna break down someone's door, why don't you start with AT&T, for God sakes? They make your amazing phone unusable as a phone!" -- Jon Stewart on Apple and the iPhone














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