For the record, Rupert Murdoch is not dead.
He is in a lot of pain, however.
That pain is LulzSec, the "disbanded" splinter of the hactivist group Anonymous, which came out of pseudo-disbandonment yesterday to hack Murdoch's U.K. operation so hard that it shut down all remote access to its major papers in the U.K., turned off webmail and cut off existing employee accounts even within the buildings until employees created new passwords.
The attack started yesterday after LulzBoaters got into servers under the main site of The Sun, Murdoch's largest surviving publication in the U.K. and redirected readers to a fake story that reported Murdoch had been found dead yesterday after ingesting a large quantity of palladium (a poisonous rare-earth element similar to platinum) and "stumbling into his famous topiary garden late last night."
As far as anyone knows the octogenarian dictator of the world's largest media empire is as healthy today as he was a month ago – before his empire began to crumble under the revelation that his largest and most disreputable publication routinely hacked the phone mails of everyone from the royal family to the prime minister to a young girl kidnapped and later found murdered.
That scandal has, so far, forced Murdoch to shut down News of the World, gotten its top editor arrested, launched investigations at Scotland Yard and London's Metropolitan police into allegations even high-ranking cops had taken bribes from News of the World or other Murdoch papers, gotten Murdoch himself summoned to testify before Parliament, and played a role in the death of Sean Hoare, a former News of the World reporter who blew the whistle on the phone-hacking scandal by telling the New York Times that editors at the paper knew about and encouraged the practice.
Hoare, 47, was found dead in his apartment yesterday of unknown causes. An autopsy is being conducted, but police have only said they do not yet consider his death suspicious.
The irony of high-profile Murdoch properties getting hacked by people annoyed by phone hacking by News of the World is as rich as the irony of LulzSec retaliating against someone else for what it considered improper hacking behavior.
During its 50-day online crime spree, LulzSec showed so much brass and bragged so loudly about its abilities that it offended other underground members of the hacker community, who retaliated by outing the identities of some prominent LulzBoaters and revealing some of the group's less savory tactics.
The group theoretically disbanded in June, but has continued posting the results of its breaches, usually while identifying themselves as members of Anonymous first, and LulzSec later, if at all.
The Murdoch attack was a full-out, named LulzSec operation, however.
After heavy traffic crashed that site and Sun admins tried to correct the damage, LulzSec went on the offensive again, with a series of redirects to other sites that, at one point, included its own Twitter feed.
"We have joy, we have fun. We have messed up Murdoch's Sun," one Tweet read.The Sun's home page was up early today – including headlines as tasteful as "Woman eaten by lion in her own home," "Strauss-Kahn 'slept with the rape girl's mum,'" and "Babes urge girls to strip off for Putin."
It included two stories about Murdoch's travails with the phone-hacking scandal, but no mention of the war for possession of its own home page yesterday afternoon.
The only statement from the Murdoch empire was that it is "aware of the hacking attempt on the sun.co.uk last night and our sites are now back up. We do not have any further comment to add at this time."
As with all its successes, LulzSec crowed about this one under the Twitter hashtag #MurdochMeltdownMonday, play-by-play announcement of the whole attack and attempts at defense from The Sun and News International, which got the Lulz a couple of hours after TheSun.
LulzSec The Lulz Boat
7/18 4 pm
- The Sun's homepage now redirects to the Murdoch death story on the recently-owned New Times website. Can you spell success, gentlemen?
- It would appear new-times.co.uk has been hit so hard with redirects that it's now down. That would explain it... we're laughing quite hard.
- Within 30 minutes, pages are overloading, things are crashing! We are working our way through the cracks right now. Stay tuned for more.
- This is just as fun on the inside. We are battling with The Sun admins right now - I think they are losing. The boat has landed... >:]
- TheSun.co.uk now redirects to our twitter feed. Hello, everyone that wanted to visit The Sun! How is your day? Good? Good!
- How'd you manage to stab yourself in the back, Murdoch? How'd you get your arms to bend back like that? You old bastard.
- So News International released this AMAZING statement on The Sun: http://t.co/0J4qLZU We improved it for them though!Oh, we forgot to mention that we sailed over to News International and wrecked them too. Nearing 300,000 followers... full steam ahead!
- Arrest us. We dare you. We are the unstoppable hacking generation and you are a wasted old sack of shit, Murdoch. ROW ROW FIGHT THE POWER!
- News International's DNS servers (link web addresses to servers) and all 1,024 web addresses are down. --> @jamesrbuk
- This was the work of Lulz Security, dear media. We would like to give a shout-out to our bros at @AnonymousIRC though, we love those guys!
- Some... hacking... thing... it's wrong. We shouldn't go wuh-wuh-wrecking websites like that. The Louis Boat is a vessel of hate. :(
This is only the beginning. F*** you Murdoch. You are next," one post read in LulzSec's Twitter account just before the action started.
Classy as always.