June 16, 2011

LulzSec Sets Its Sights On CIA Website

John Neumann for RedOrbit.com

The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) is not laughing but someone is. The hacker group LulzSec is still busy breaking into highly public sites, defacing pages and causing general mayhem, Reuters is reporting.

Lulz Security (LulzSec) is claiming responsibility for recent attacks on the US Senate, Sony Corp., News Corp. and the US Public Broadcasting System television network.

The public website for the CIA appears to be the latest target. It initially could not be accessed from New York to San Francisco, and Bangalore to London, on Wednesday. However, later in the evening service was available but sporadic. "We are looking into these reports," a CIA spokeswoman said.

Cyber security experts have downplayed the significance of these attacks by explaining the hackers are merely looking to show off and get attention.

On the CIA site, hackers would not be able to access sensitive data, Jeffrey Carr, author of the book Inside Cyber Warfare: Mapping the Cyber Underworld, told Reuters. "All they're doing is saying "ËœLook how good we are.' These guys are literally in it for embarrassment, to say "Ëœyour security is crap.'"

Panda computer security labs technical director Luis Corrons told the AFP news agency, "It's becoming a big problem, because at the end of the day these guys are doing whatever they want. This is showing us that we have a long way to go to protect our systems and our information."

"These guys are upsetting a lot of people," Corrons added. "They think they will never be caught, and that could be their biggest mistake."

LulzSec has become the darlings of hackers all over the world amid unrelenting reports of cyberattacks with apparent motivations ranging from spying and profit to glory and activism.

"As we get more connected more of the time, the number of potential attackers is growing because anyone can do it from anywhere in the world," Corrons continued. "As the number of potential attackers grows, the number of successful attacks grows."

LulzSec is believed to be related to the hacker collective known as Anonymous, but with more sophisticated tactics. LulzSec goes in and cracks computer system defenses instead of simply flooding websites with page requests. "In the Lulz group, they know what they are doing when it comes to breaking into places," Corrons told The Telegraph.

Along with Anonymous, LulzSec is raising the profile of hacker groups to be a major potential threat to online services. Hacktivists see themselves staging valid protests in the most high profile way possible, according to Peter Wood, founder of security consultancy First Base.

"The things they are exploiting at the moment are the sort of mistakes that organizations seem to have been making ever since they connected to the internet. Finally there are some players out there who are using them as a means to protest. Whether everyone agrees with them is a different question," Wood tells BBC News.


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