August 11, 2022

Hackers Post Fake Tupac Shakur Article on PBS Site

The PBS Web site briefly carried a fake article claiming that the famed rapper Tupac Shakur was alive and living in New Zealand after a group of hackers took over the organization’s computer systems on Saturday night.

In  addition to posting the fake news article, the group, which identified itself on Twitter as @LulzSec or The Lulz Boat, began posting passwords and e-mail addresses of people from a wide range of news organizations and other information belonging to PBS.

As late as 2:30 a.m. on Monday, PBS had still not regained control of its Web site as the hackers continued to post defaced pages.

Comments posted by LulzSec indicated that the group was unhappy with a Frontline program about WikiLeaks that recently shown on PBS. The group began posting messages on Twitter about midnight on Sunday: “What’s wrong with @PBS, how come all of its servers are rooted? How come their database is seized? Why are passwords cracked?”  That message was following by a succession of follow-up posts with links to lists of passwords and other data.

Shortly afterward, it appeared that PBS was aware of the intrusion and the news organization posted statements acknowledging the hack, and pointing out that the article about Tupac Shakur was a fake.

A NewsHour employee, Teresa Gorman, replied to questions on Sunday on the Twitter site, noting that the article about the rapper, who died in Las Vegas in 1996, was fake.

The article was posted at 11:30 p.m. on Saturday on the PBS NewsHour news blog, “The Rundown.”

The group posted a list of the material it had taken and a brief commentary: “Anyway, say hello to the inside of the PBS servers, folks. They best watch where they’re sailing next time.” The posted material included a version of the defaced page with the fake article, passwords for the new organization’s MySQL database, station passwords, Frontline logins, a map of the organization’s internal network and other material

The group has attacked other media organizations in the last month, according to Secure Business Intelligence, including Fox News and the “X-Factor” television show.

While the intruders asserted they were not affiliated with the group Anonymous, which has attacked corporate Web sites in a show of support for WikiLeaks, they may have left a clue in the form of a puzzle inserted both in the fake article and in a posting on Twitter later in the evening.

A portion of a message on LulzSec’s Twitter page mentions “a line that reads ‘yank up as a vital obituary,’ which we’ve so far been unable to comprehend.” Rachel Bevilacqua, an independent blogger who contacted The New York Times, said “yank up as a vital obituary” is an anagram for the Internet identities of four members of the group Anonymous: Topiary, Kayla, Sabu, AVunit. The four names have emerged from research done by one of the independent groups attempting to trace the identities of Anonymous, which has defended WikiLeaks in a series of Internet attacks. 

She noted that it was impossible to determine whether the hint was actually a calling card or a red herring to point suspicion at a rival group.

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