Sunday, July 24, 2011

Who Hacks the Hackers?

Hacking has yet again jumped from the tech news section onto the front page. However this time it's not Julian Assange, Anonymous, LulzSec or any of the other usual suspects. This time it's Rupert Murdoch, "The News of the World" and one of the most powerful media conglomerates in the world who are the culprits.

By now the story is well known of how reporters from at least one of Murdoch's papers hacked into the voicemails and phone conversations of celebrities, political figures, 9/11 victims, murder victims and anyone else they felt could provide them with good material.

The ensuing fallout has been at times tragic with the principle whistle blower in the case having suddenly died under circumstances that are "unexplained," and comic with one protester interrupting a parliamentary hearing to throw a shaving cream-filled pie tin in Murdoch's face.

However while recent hackings have mostly been perpetrated by renegade, loose-knit bands of self-proclaimed "hacktivists," the Murdoch case involves more establishment figures such as journalists, British politicians and senior members of the police. How far up the chain-of-command these misdeeds reach remains to be seen but without a doubt this is one of the most scandalous cases of hacking ever to have taken place.

And while Anonymous and LulzSec have indeed wreaked havoc, they have done so largely in the name of a misguided sense of activism and free speech advocacy. Murdoch's papers hacked for a different reason; greed.

A privately held media organization invading the privacy of individuals to sell more newspapers is the kind of thing that keeps hackers like Anonymous and LulzSec hacking.

Not wanting to be outdone, members of LulzSec have already hit back by hacking into another of Murdoch's publications Sunday. Hackers breached "The Sun" and altered the headlines to issue a false story reporting the death of Rupert Murdoch. The hackers then redirected site visitors to the LulzSec Twitter feed.

As of Monday morning employees of Murdoch's newspaper group were being instructed to change their passwords in a company-wide effort to tighten security.

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