'I caught a virus from Murdoch's organ' – famous secret hooker
Malware de Jour also hit Girl With One-Track Mind
Two prominent sex bloggers suspect the Rupert Murdoch owned Sunday Times of hacking into their computers using Trojan horse malware. The fears are not based on any hard evidence but are nonetheless sure to add further grist to the mill of the escalating News International hacking scandal.
Zoe Margolis, author of the celebrated "Girl with a one track mind" blog depicting her saucy boudoir escapades - who was outed by The Sunday Times in August 2006 - exchanged Twitter messages with Brooke Magnanti (AKA Belle de Jour, whose blog covered her adventures in prostitution) revealing their suspicions on Monday. The exchanges, recorded in a blog post by Sophos here, come amid the escalating crisis at News International that led to the closure of the News of the World last Sunday.
Magnanti (AKA Belle de Jour) has posted an article on the Sexonomics blog summarising why she reckons Sunday Times journalists tried to infect her PC with a Trojan back in 2005, shortly after the publication of her first book Intimate Adventures of a London Call Girl.
She reports that she opened a message sent to a webmail account associated with the original Belle de Jour blog. This message, sent by a Sunday Times journalist, contained an attachment that failed to download.
Magnanti opened the email from a library in Florida, where she was staying at the time, but didn't reply. In fact, she asked a friend based in Australia to reply in an attempt to throw her hunters off her scent.
Nonetheless, days later journos from the Sunday Times began asking the people who were hosting the site about whether Belle de Jour was based in Florida.
It could be that the original message was sent with a request that a reply be sent once it was opened and that this revealed her IP address. Alternatively a so-called "web bug" in an HTML-formatted email could have been used. Such bugs typically involve including a file - perhaps an invisible one-pixel image - which is hosted elsewhere: when the email is viewed the request for the file gives away the reader's IP address to the hosting server, unless appropriate precautions are in place. Malware need not be involved to explain what happened.
It would be rash and unfair to accuse journos at the Sunday Times of sending actual Trojans in the absence of the discovery of any malware. All this happened years ago anyway, so we'll probably never know the truth.
Magnanti said that she relates the story only as a cautionary tale to others. ®