PBS Hack and LulzSec: Xeni on The Madeleine Brand Radio Show


Audio: MP3 Download.

I joined "The Madeleine Brand Show" today for a discussion about the marathon hack of PBS.org by a group calling itself LulzSec, or The Lulz Boat. They've published what they claim was the method used: in short, vulnerabilities in Movable Type, and related weaknesses.

As noted here on Boing Boing in previous posts, the hack was said to be in retaliation for the PBS Frontline "Wikisecrets" documentary, which was perceived by Wikileaks advocates (and whoever LulzSec is) to be unfair to the secrets-leaking organization and to accused leaker Bradley Manning.

Taking a news organization effectively offline to protest the content of its coverage is not exactly supporting free speech—but this was about lulz, not logic. And as I said on Twitter when news of the attack first broke: PBS doesn't operate like CNN or Fox News, with a centralized news production process. Attacking PBS like this because one episode of one show wasn't A+ is like firebombing an entire grocery store because one apple you bit was bad.

Of course, unlike a firebombing, PBS will recover just fine. While the hack was ongoing last night, the organization coped by publishing to Tumblr and interacting more directly on Twitter with viewers. But a bunch of poor IT admins at PBS HQ, and affiliate stations around the country whose logins and passwords were exposed, probably had a really crappy Memorial Day (and will have a lot of cleanup and stress in weeks ahead). None of this helps Wikileaks, Manning, or journalism.

From the show overview:

After hacking PBS.org, Lulzsec posted fake news stories, including one claiming Tupac was alive and living in New Zealand. They also exposed the site's inner workings and posted the login information for PBS member stations across the country.

Boing Boing followed the story closely. First, the hackers posted a story about how Tupac Shakur is still alive. Then the hackers hacked the PBS statement in response to the hack. And recently, the hackers released a statement, documenting how they carried out the operation.

Hackers attack PBS website over Wikileaks documentary
(The Madeleine Brand Show, SCPR)