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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?"

"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'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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Most of the Commenters are Reactionary
By monglerbongler on 5/30/2011 7:54:38 PM , Rating: -1
everyone flips out about this type of stuff. it has almost no economic effect whatsoever.

these companies employ full time IT staff, either through some form of hosting or in-house. These people are already on work, or are being paid to be "on call." the cost of paying them to come into the office, load backups of the website, and reset passwords is minimal.

the economic toll of simple vandalism is purely associated with the perception of the public. people loose trust in a company whose website is easy to hack and vandalize.

and they should feel that way. I would never invest my money in a bank with no cameras, no alarm, no vault door, and no security officer. I would not feel bad if someone robbed them. I would also feel that the robbery was not entirely the "fault" of the robber.

These people did not steal any sensitive information that would damage the livelihood of any individual. they did not destroy any sensitive irreplaceable data.

they did the equivalent of graffiti a building in water based paint.

RE: Most of the Commenters are Reactionary
By SPOOFE on 5/30/11, Rating: 0
RE: Most of the Commenters are Reactionary
By drlumen on 5/31/2011 2:41:08 AM , Rating: 5
So explain to me how does defacing a public news organization (even with chalk on an outside wall) help to bring light to any perceived government cover-ups or help to reduce the amount of suppression of information to the people of the world?

I only vaguely knew of wikileaks before all the Afghani papers, Manning, BankOfAmerica etal. but now I just see wikileaks and their self-proclaimed defenders of justice claims and recent actions as simply acts of desperation by rebels without a clue.

These wikileaks 'supporters' like to waive the banner that they are acting and doing this because our government is oppressing us all by keeping information from us. Information that should be free and open to the world. Then, to further that cause they retaliate against a public news organization. In this case, it appears they WANT censorship of the press but ONLY WHEN IT SERVES THEM. All other viewpoints be damned as theirs is the only one that matters? The government may not be perfect but I will take the gov't over some wikileaks fanatical manifesto any day!

With the recent revelations that Assange was trying to sell secrets to the highest bidder only confirms he does not give a crap about justice or government transparency or whatever tripe-du-jour he tries to shovel out. In fact, it proves that he is really a republican at heart!

By SPOOFE on 5/31/2011 6:19:43 PM , Rating: 2
So explain to me how does defacing a public news organization (even with chalk on an outside wall) help to bring light to any perceived government cover-ups or help to reduce the amount of suppression of information to the people of the world?

Uh, no, it doesn't work like that. You don't just get to invent stuff I have to explain, else I'd be demanding to know why you molest children. I compared the damage done to PBS to chalk drawings on a sidewalk; I made no assertion about bringing anything to light or any of that other nonsense you're spewing.

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