tip off

Greens hacked … Courier-Mail cull … Randy Virgin …

From the Crikey grapevine, the latest tips and rumours …

Hacked. An IT-savvy mole has tipped us off that the Australian Greens’ websites and membership database were taken offline yesterday due to a hacking episode. Our mole reckons the hackers allowed “arbitrary execution of code on the server”, and wonders if the Greens’ websites have been running unpatched for months. Our boffin wants to know if the hackers made off with Greens’ membership details and credit card numbers.

A spokesman for the Australian Greens told us:

All evidence points to it being an attempt to affect content on the site rather than an attempt to obtain data. References to Russian IPs and Viagra were found throughout the inserted code, which has since been removed. The likely origin was a botnet entering via a vulnerability in a content editing module that has since been patched. The most recent security patches have been applied to all of the modules the site uses.”

Here’s the offending code:

The Greens’ spokesman said there was no evidence that any membership information was downloaded, and all credit card information was separately processed in a different system, hence was unaffected.

Newsroom gossip from the C-MailOctober 9 is D-Day for staff at The Courier-Mail, we hear. That’s when they find out who will be culled from the newsroom in the latest round of redundancies at News Limited. Word is management didn’t get enough voluntary hands up — so some of those to go may be forced.

One person who seems to be leaving is Mike O’Connor, one of the paper’s most high-profile and most popular writers and columnists. Fellow columnist Des Houghton tweeted the news on Tuesday, but probably shouldn’t have — it was an open secret in the newsroom ahead of the announcement. His editor-in-chief David Fagan — who hasn’t quite figured out the vagaries of Twitter — told his 1146 followers in response:

We’re told Houghton, holidaying in Spain, may have copped a bollocking from Fagan via phone. (We asked O’Connor what the deal was via email but haven’t heard back.) Meanwhile, Brisbane readers report today’s Courier-Mail comes free with a copy of News Limited stablemate The Australian. We’re not sure that’s to the taste of the tabloid’s readers, but it will give circulation a nice boost …

Real estate biffo. Melbourne’s real estate advertising war continues unabated, with Metro Media CEO Antony Catalano writing to agents this week to warn them they could face “an excruciating premiership hangover” if they sign long-term contracts with rival Realestate.com.au before next Saturday’s AFL grand final. The News Limited-controlled house p-rn portal has apparently been trying to get agents to lock in to multiyear exclusivity deals to shut out Catalano’s half-Fairfax-owned venture incorporating The Weekly Review and tie-ups with Domain.

Some of those deals (click here to see a recent one) include legally questionable junkets such as “incentive trips” and a “catered agency breakfast”. Under the Victorian Estate Agents Act, agents must pass on any benefit to the vendor, given it’s actually their money paying for the ad. Which means unless a breakfast is itemised (eggs Benedict, cafe latte, etc) and flicked on, a stiff penalty will be issued by Victorian authorities. Crikey has been told there are several probes currently afoot.

What’s in a name? Continued … Tips has been having way too much fun handling our Crikey contest to find the best-named spokesperson, public figure or lobby group (the winning entry will be immortalised by First Dog on the Moon, who will judge the comp). We ran some entries yesterday; here’s more.

Ron Dullard is the director of Catholic Education in Western Australia. Scripture classes, anyone?

Randy Virgin is the treasurer of Green Star, an Alaskan NGO that promotes environmental business practices. The group recently organised a strip mob in a brewery, and we can’t help but feel that Randy was been behind it.

Cherry Ripe is the chair of the Australian Ark Commission, which is part of the Slow Foods movement and seeks to “catalogue foods at risk of loss”. It certainly can be hard to find a Cherry Ripe down the servo these days.

Former Tasmanian Senator Nick Sherry used to be the state secretary of the Liquor and Allied Trade Union — bottoms up!

Trevor Peeler is the long-time president of the Harcourt Fruit Growers Association. Let’s hope he grows apples as his talents would be wasted on peaches.

Neil Gamble used to be the boss at Star City casino.

Labor’s Michael Crutchfield used to be the member for the state Victorian seat of South Barwon. Our tipster thinks it’s funny that there was a Member Crutchfield and we childishly agree.

We’ve received many entries relating to the apt names of people and groups who are not really public figures, but judge First Dog has put his paw down. Can we just mention UK law firm Wright Hassall & Co, legal associate Sue Yoo (at US firm Sullivan & Cromwell), and WA environment department supremo Daniel Mony (apparently he is charge of corporate cards in the finance department). Then there’s Dr Rohan Wee, who contacted us to reveal that he used to “work as the doctor in a continence clinic. So, yes, you were seen by Dr Wee about your urinary incontinence. Sigh.”

We’ve also had a wistful tipster who has urged Tony Abbott to become one.

Can you top these entries? Drop us a line and make our morning at Crikey HQ.

*Do you know more? Send your tips to boss@crikey.com.au or use our guaranteed anonymous form.

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