The Sun, NATO and others go down under low orbit ion cannon fire

HACKTIVIST GROUPS Anonymous and Lulzsec have been busy lately, hacking Rupert Murdoch’s tabloid rag The Sun, along with the NATO military alliance.

The hackers are sitting on an allegedly massive payload of internal emails from The Sun and some potentially devastating documents from NATO that could cause immense security risks in Europe. The question is, will they release these, and what more have the hackers in store for us?

The Sun, The Moon and The Stars
As the phone hacking scandal relating to the News of the World and other News Corporation titles rages on, Lulzsec decided to give them a little taste of their own medicine by hacking The Sun’s web site late on Monday.

At first the web site redirected to a fake news story claiming that Murdoch had died, but when that was taken down Lulzsec redirected readers of The Sun to its Twitter feed. Eventually the web site was taken offline, but it is now back to normal. This hack was apparently planned for as long as two weeks.

However, Lulzsec did a lot more than just get ‘news’ readers to check out its tweets. It also put up phone numbers of News Corporation workers and promised that more would follow.

That more was hinted at by Anonymous, which revealed that it had gained access to emails from The Sun and News of the World. One member of the group, who goes by the handle Sabu, tweeted, “Sun/News of the world OWNED. We’re sitting on their emails. Press release tomorrow.” He said there was as much as 4GB of emails to expose.

At the last minute, however, Anonymous decided not to publish the emails, claiming “it may compromise the court case.”

There appears to be some disagreement amongst certain members of Anonymous over this decision. A UK branch tweeted, “The court case was comprimised when NotW started paying the Met. It’s down to us to exact justice, not the corrupt police.”

It’s not clear if the publication of such emails would in any way endanger the possibility of convictions over the hacking incidents, but it seems that Anonymous isn’t willing to risk it.

We’re not entirely sure why Anonymous decided to wait until the last minute to pull the plug on its plans, however. Surely it would have considered the possibility of the publication compromising the police investigation before hyping up the release.

This anticlimax leads us to question if Anonymous really had the emails in the first place, or if it does but never intended to publish them from the beginning. With the inquiry into hacking that has gone on this week, with the Murdochs and Rebekah Brooks having been questioned in the House of Commons, Anonymous might have been playing scare tactics in order to get them and others to come clean about their alleged involvement.

This is not necessarily the end, however. After people expressed disappointment that the emails would not be published, Lulzsec tweeted, “We’re currently working with certain media outlets who have been granted exclusive access to some of the News of the World emails we have.”

The INQUIRER has asked for access to these emails.

Next Up, Mars: NATO
After the decision not to publish The Sun emails, Anonymous needed to provide something else to satisfy people. It did so in the form of restricted documents from the military alliance NATO.

It released two documents highlighting spending on security projects. While this looks bad for NATO, which should really have better web site security, the details aren’t particularly interesting or incriminating.

Anonymous claims it has 1GB of documents from NATO, “most of which we cannot publish as it would be irresponsible.” It said this data was accessed via “simple [SQL] injection”.

In a further taunt to NATO, the group tweeted, “Hi NATO. Yes we haz more of your delicious data. You wonder where from? No hints, your turn. You call it war; we laugh at your battleships.”

According to the Oman Daily Observer, NATO headquarters was coincidentally closed for a Belgian national holiday on the day Anonymous released some of its payload. Anonymous claims it was not aware of this at the time.

NATO has yet to verify that these documents are genuine, but from our inspection of them they appear to be the real deal.

“NATO security experts are investigating these claims,” said an anonymous spokesperson for NATO. “We strongly condemn any leak of classified documents, which can potentially endanger the security of NATO allies, armed forces and citizens.”

Anonymous responded by saying, “Guess what we did NOT leak?” This hints that the other documents it has at its disposal could create security risks for NATO if they were to get into the wrong hands.

Aiming For The Other Planets: Going Forward
While we await the possibility of seeing some of the News Corporation emails, or perhaps more documents from NATO, Anonymous and Lulzsec are setting their sights on other targets.

A UK branch of Anonymous that has tweeted about Operation Britain took down the web site They said they would keep attacking the web site “till he starts telling the truth.” However, it turned out that this was not his official web site, but rather one that slates him and other politicians, so they ceased their attack. It’s not yet clear if the hackers will go after official government web sites now.

A Colombian branch hacked the Facebook pages of Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos and former Colombian president Alvaro Uribe, asking citizens of the country not to celebrate, but to “demand your rights and liberties” instead.

Anonymous is also working on its own social network Anonplus after it was kicked off Google+ for breaking its terms and conditions. In an ironic twist, Sophos Security reports that Anonplus was hacked by Turkish hackers who don’t approve of what Anonymous is doing, telling it to “go to your doghouse”.

In response to the arrests by the FBI of over a dozen people suspected of involvement with Anonymous, the hacking groups said that they are here to stay and will fight against corruption and conspiracy.

A video was also released by Anonymous explaining some of its motivations. It said it was working towards “positive change”. It highlighted that Anonymous has no leaders, dose not centralise its operations and has “no targets, only outcomes”.

On Twitter the group said, “We’re not your enemy but your citizens! The sooner you give up, the less casualties we will have. Also: We didn’t start the fire.”

Another video makes use of the famous and powerful Charlie Chaplin speech from The Great Dictator, which Anonymous claims sums up its message.

Where it goes from here is anyone’s guess, but what is certain is that for the immediate future we can expect to see Anonymous hit the headlines with more hacks of the rich and powerful.