Oh those dastardly hackers! Not only did they, Lulz Security, have some fun with PBS’ website over the weekend in retaliation for a Frontline expose on WikiLeaks and Bradley Manning — the young soldier imprisoned for allegedly leaking top secret files to Julian Assange — but they also hacked PBS’ online statement about the hack last night.
Here’s a closer look…
One of the geniuses behind the hacks who goes by the name of “Whirlpool” gave an interview to Forbes this morning, explaining that the group was motivated mainly by a desire to make people, including Bradley Manning, laugh.
“While our main goal is to spread entertainment, we do greatly wish that Bradley Manning hears about this, and at least smiles,” Whirlpool said.
Late Sunday night LulzSec posted a list of user names and passwords for admins of the PBS websites and their affiliated television stations, then injected a defaced page showing Nyan cat, an Internet meme, into the website.
The entire operation took several hours, but halfway through Whirpool says he proposed planting a fake news story on the PBS site in a bid to win more laughs. “I was gonna write about Obama choking to death on a marshmallow, but I figured Tupac would be funnier,” he says, adding that he typed up the article, which claimed the deceased rapper was alive and well in New Zealand, in about 15 minutes.
Once he had posted it through the PBS content management system, the hackers monitored PBS administrators as they disabled the file that allowed stories to be published in a bid to take it down, meaning no one at PBS could access any of the stories on its blog network. They were stymied at first because the hackers had also deleted the site’s user and admin accounts and created their own to lock them out for as long as possible. Eventually, the admins regained control from a backup database.
The hacker says the site’s content management system was “outdated,” which made it easier to break in and spread through the system. Three hackers initiated the attack, and were joined by a fourth towards the end.
I kinda love that this guy, after detailing the inner workings of hacker comedy, goes on to get a shot in about how “outdated” PBS’ content platform is, which, as any web geek knows, is the ultimate insult. Just fabulous.