News International’s websites are down. The Sun. The Times. The News International corporate site. LulzSec, the high-profile hacking group with previous successes against websites as diverse as the US Public Broadcasting System (PBS) and the CIA, has struck again.
“Arrest us. We dare you. We are the unstoppable hacking generation and you are a wasted old sack of sh-t, Murdoch. ROW ROW FIGHT THE POWER!” LulzSec tweeted just after the first round of attacks unfolded.
The first to go was The Sun. LulzSec announced its attack at 7.31am Australian eastern standard time. The Sun’s home page was redirected to a fake story about the death of Rupert Murdoch.
“Media moguls [sic] body discovered,” the story read. “Rupert Murdoch, the controversial media mogul, has reportedly been found dead in his garden, police announce. Murdoch, age 80, has said to have ingested a large quantity of palladium before stumbling into his famous topiary garden.”
Here was the first indication that other News International sites had been hacked: the fake story was hosted at www.new-times.co.uk/sun/.
About 30 minutes later, the site hosting the fake story was unreachable. Perhaps, as LulzSec claimed, it was overloaded by the huge number of click-throughs from its 287,000-plus Twitter followers. Perhaps it was just the website’s defences against distributed denial of service (DDos) attacks kicking in. Either way, News International soon blocked access to the fake story.
“So we have a better idea.” LulzSec tweeted. “Hold on …”
Less than half an hour after that, visitors to The Sun were instead redirected to LulzSec’s Twitter feed. News International issued a statement regarding the hack, publishing it on their corporate website. That, too, was hacked and redirected to the Twitter feed.
“This is just as fun on the inside,” LulzSec tweeted. “We are battling with The Sun admins right now — I think they are losing. The boat has landed… >:]”
“The breach was apparently the first hack of a major UK newspaper’s website,” The Guardian reported. That may well be true, but it was only the beginning.
Shortly after 10am, News International’s entire internet presence vanished. The company’s domain name system (DNS) servers that translate domain names such as thesun.co.uk into numerical internet protocol (IP) addresses were all returning the status code SERVFAIL. Server failure. Hundreds of internet domains have been taken down.
“News International’s DNS servers (link web addresses to servers) and all 1024 web addresses are down”, LulzSec tweeted at 10.06. But that falls sort of claiming responsibility. I suspect that in a last, desperate act of defence, News International killed its own internet presence.
At least they saved the village.
Throughout today’s proceedings LulzSec has continued to display its trademark cockiness. “We have owned Sun/News of the World — that story is simply phase 1 — expect the lulz to flow in coming days,” they tweeted immediately before the attack. And afterwards, “Thank you for the love tonight. I know we quit, but we couldn’t sit by with our wine watching this walnut-faced Murdoch clowning around.”
LulzSec’s Twitter follower count has now surged to more than 318,000.
Meanwhile, in a delicious irony, Murdoch’s Sky News mistakenly attributed the attack to Anonymous and “the Louise Boat”.
It’s not Rupert’s best day. Week. Month. Year… And we certainly haven’t seen the last of this.