Late at night on April 15, NPR.org and several NPR-affiliated Twitter feeds were hacked into by an online Syrian counter-revolutionary movement, which vandalized the homepage and posted fake articles in protest of the network’s ongoing coverage of the Syrian civil war.
Five suspects, considered among the “most sophisticated hackers in the world” by authorities, were arrested and charged Tuesday (March 6) in Manhattan federal court with conspiracy in connection with computer attacks last year against PBS, Fox Broadcasting Co. and Sony Pictures Entertainment, reports CNN. A sixth suspect pleaded guilty in August to computer hacking and other crimes and has been cooperating with government investigators. On May 29, 2011, techs at PBS.org as well as the NewsHour and Frontline websites spent hours regaining control during the cyberattack (Current, June 13, 2011). The hack exposed contact information for hundreds of PBS staffers, stations, producers and press, as well as several internal PBS databases.
Software vulnerabilities, including an outdated operating system used by PBS.org, allowed the pirate band of hackers LulzSec to sail deep into the innards of the network’s main website over Memorial Day weekend. The marauders were retaliating for a Frontline documentary about WikiLeaks broadcast five days earlier. The hackers gave their assault a playful air, invading PBS NewsHour’s site and briefly posting a false report that the late rappers Tupac Shakur and Biggie Smalls were actually hanging out in New Zealand. Techs at PBS.org and at the NewsHour spent hours regaining control as the cyberattack exposed contact information for hundreds of staffers, stations, producers and press, as well as several internal PBS databases. Site managers “were playing cat and mouse” with LulzSec, said Travis Daub, NewsHour creative director.