LulzSec has abandoned plans to release a cache of News International emails it claimed to have acquired during a redirection attack on The Sun website earlier this week. Instead the group says it plans to release select batches of the emails via a "partnership" with select media outlets, an approach akin to that applied by WikiLeaks to its controversial US diplomatic cable and war log releases last year.
The activist collective returned to action after disbanding last month in order to launch an attack on the Murdoch empire that resulted in surfers visiting The Sun being redirected towards a fake story on the supposed death of media mogul Rupert Murdoch. The group repeatedly said it had also extracted email archives during this hack, but uncharacteristically delayed their release. This distinguishes the hack from earlier Anonymous hacks on HBGary and ACS:Law, where email archives were uploaded by the hacktivists around the same time as the websites were defaced.
Sabu, a prominent affiliate of LulzSec, has repeatedly said the promised dump of emails from News International was imminent, most recently in a series of Twitter updates (here and here) on Thursday lunchtime, which claimed the group was sitting on an 4GB archive.
However, minutes later, Anonymous – the hacktivist organisation that re-absorded LulzSec after the latter group disbanded earlier this month – said it had abandoned plans to release these emails. "We think, actually we may not release emails from The Sun, simply because it may compromise the court case," it said.
LulzSec later said that it planned to release select extracts of the email batch via selected media outlets. "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," it said.
The names of the "media outlets" concerned have yet to be revealed. Any mainstream media outlet that published the information may have some ethical qualms about dealing with the anarchic hacking collective, whose previous targets have most controversially included the Arizona Police Department and SOCA, the UK policing agency.
Neither LulzSec or Anonymous, whose stock in trade has been denial of service attacks and information extraction against numerous targeted organisations, has shown any respect for legal niceties or possible collateral damage from its releases before.
Thus far, LulzSec has only posted email hashes of a small number of NI workers, along with the supposed email password of Rebekah Brooks dating from the time she edited The Sun.
News International responded to the attack by suspending access to its webmail and remote access systems and applying a forced password reset.
In what initially appeared as an attempt to divert attention away from the topic of the NI international hack, Anonymous posted various low-value NATO documents.
The "NATO Restricted" documents posted may sound impressive but this is in fact the lowest possible level of protective marking/classification.
"We are sitting on about one Gigabyte of data from NATO now, most of which we cannot publish as it would be irresponsible," the group said. ®