LulzSec hacker Sabu: Murdoch emails 'sometime soon'
Secretive figure tells our man release is coming
The promised dump of its emails from News International by hacktivist group LulzSec failed to materialise on Tuesday. However a prominent affiliate of the group told El Reg that the release had only been delayed, rather than postponed.
The UK end of the Murdoch media empire was hacked on Monday night, so that surfers visiting The Sun's website were redirected towards a spoof story on the fictitious suicide of Rupert Murdoch. The hack involved exploiting weaknesses on a retired site, running Solaris, set up by NI at the time NI was building a paywall for The Times.
This pwnage was then used in a stepping stone attack that ultimately allowed the hackers to gain root on a server that gave them the ability to add a redirection script to the "breaking news" element of The Sun's website.
Hacktivists scoffed at Murdoch's expense over these antics, making comments such as "WE HAVE JOY WE HAVE FUN WE HAVE ROOT ON MURDOCH'S SUN!"
The deep level of compromised access demonstrated by LulzSec in running the fake story meant claims by hacktivists that the group had also gained access to NI's email database were all too plausible.
Sabu, a prominent affiliate of LulzSec, said via Twitter that the group was sitting on emails of News International staffers that it planned to release on Tuesday. "Sun/News of the world OWNED. We're sitting on their emails. Press release tomorrow," Sabu said on Monday.
In a follow-up message, Sabu challenged the Met Police (already on the defensive over the handling of the original NotW phone hack investigation, as well as accepting payments and favours from NI execs) to investigate LulzSec's hack on NI's email servers.
"We hereby challenge the authorities in the UK to investigate the hack on the mail server(s) associated to The Sun/NotW. #hackgate #antisec."
News International took its webmail and remote access systems offline and reset passwords as a remedial action following thesun.co.uk's redirection hack. Systems were restored on Tuesday morning, The Guardian reports.
This is a sensible precaution but it won't help NI if LulzSec did in fact manage to extract email archive files, as it claims it has. So far the group has only published email hashes of a small number of employees as well as the supposed email password of Rebekah Brooks at the time she edited The Sun. Brooks (who was called Wade at the time) seems to have used 63000 as her email password, the same number as The Sun's tip-line.
The more technically skilled members of Anonymous and LulzSec have previously released emails spools from organisations targeted for special treatment beyond standard denial of service attacks and webpage defacements. Both HBGary Federal and ACS:Law know this to their cost. In both these cases, email databases were released at the same time the websites of the targeted organisations were defaced.
This hasn't been the case in the News International attack, with the focus of online discussion among hacktivists turning to this week's arrest of suspected Anonymous members in the US and Europe. However, Sabu told El Reg via Twitter that more news on the claimed hack of News International emails had merely been delayed.
"We will release a press release about the mails sometime relatively soon," he said, without giving any particular deadline.
So, it seems, sysadmins and the rapidly dwindling senior execs at News International are not entitled to relax just yet. ®
"WE HAVE JOY WE HAVE FUN WE HAVE ROOT ON MURDOCH'S SUN!"
I think they are a bunch of arseholes but credit where it's due, that's actually very good!
"It's the job of the prosecution to prove...the validity of their evidence"
I'm not saying that if LulzSec hadn't hacked the emails, a prosecutor would get a free pass to admit them as evidence. My point is that any prosecution would now have a much harder time proving the emails have validity, maybe to the point where they can't prove it satisfactorily at all, than if LulzSec had just ****ed off. The obvious argument by the defence, that incriminating emails are just a LulzSec plant could turn out to be a golden bullet to protect criminals.
Sure, there's always doubt that a suspicious email wasn't the product of a disgruntled admin or whatever, but LulzSec didn't need to add to the bog standard reasons for questioning digital data. They're just giving the defence ammunition right now.
And another point that occurs to me - if and when all these emails hit the public domain, they'll be widely reported. What are the odds that WON'T prejudice a future trial?
There are two main possibilities in this that I see, especially given the timing that they claim access to the email database the day before the Murdoch's and co speak in the commons.
1) They don't have the email database, but claim they do to try and pressure the Murdoch's into telling the truth.
2) They do have the database but want to wait until after the Murdoch's speak so that they can then release things that prove the Murdoch's are in comtempt of parliament and deserve time in the big house as a result.
The longer it is until we see emails, the more likely the scenario is (1).