Hacker collective LulzSec revealed a new, more mature side Thursday when it reported it was delaying the release of the News International-owned Sun newspapers' e-mails to ensure that the data didn't affect the UK's ongoing phone-hacking court case.
Working With The Media
The news that LulzSec was working with "selected" media outlets to ensure that its data release didn't affect the UK courts' ongoing case against News International came yesterday via a post on the group's Twitter page.
The two tweets revealed that LulzSec was delaying the release of the Sun's e-mails for moral rather than practical reasons:
"We think, actually we may not release emails from The Sun, simply because it may compromise the court case. But.. http://t.co/VcE4QCL."
Followed by: "We're currently working with certain media outlets who have been granted exclusive access to some of the News of the World e-mails we have."
Lulz Chasing Roots
LulzSec first gained mainstream significance after it hacked tech giant Sony.
In its opening salvo the group cited Sony's handling of the PlayStation Network outage and the network's continued weakness as its primary motivation. The attack led many to believe that the group followed a similar hacktivist code to that of its 4Chan-born sibling Anonymous.
This theory was later questioned as the collective began attacking increasingly random targets.
LulzSec's anarchistic approach to hacking peaked when the group released the personal information of as many as 62,000 random internet users.
The statement released in celebration of its one-thousandth tweet served to put an end to this theory once and for all. In it LulzSec once again reiterated that its attacks are done purely for the entertainment of its contributors:
"This is the lulz lizard era, where we do things just because we find it entertaining. Watching someone's Facebook picture turn into a penis and seeing their sister's shocked response is priceless.
"Receiving angry e-mails from the man you just sent 10 dildos to because he can't secure his Amazon password is priceless. You find it funny to watch havoc unfold, and we find it funny to cause it."
Later, despite its constant reiterance that it was simply "in it for the Lulz," LulzSec became one of Anonymous' closest allies in its ongoing Operation Anti-Security campaign -- often abbreviated to AntiSec.
This alliance could be seen as the first stage of LulzSec's journey to current "responsible" approach to hacking. It showed LulzSec for the first time directing its hacks and cyber-attacks against targets for an ongoing cause, in this case Anonymous' ongoing protest against internet censorship and moderation:
"We encourage you to spread the word of AntiSec far and wide, for it will be remembered. To increase efforts, we are now teaming up with the Anonymous collective and all affiliated battleships.
"As we're aware, the government and whitehat security terrorists across the world continue to dominate and control our Internet ocean. Sitting pretty on cargo bays full of corrupt booty, they think it's acceptable to condition and enslave all vessels in sight.
"Our Lulz Lizard battle fleet is now declaring immediate and unremitting war on the freedom-snatching moderators of 2011."
Since becoming a part of AntiSec, LulzSec has taken on a slightly more serious tone.
When the group targeted the News International owned Sun newspaper's Web site earlier this week, it cited the organization's involvement in the recent phone-hacking scandal as its primary motivation.
The phone-hacking scandal, while beginning at the turn of the century, only came to prominence earlier this month.
The scandal escalated after it was revealed that the now discontinued News of the World newspaper had hacked the phone of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler.
Upon further investigation, it soon came to light that numerous celebrities and politicians -- including then-UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown -- had also had their phones hacked.
The scandal has since reached global proportions spreading to the U.S. and seeing media tycoon Rupert Murdoch forced to answer questions at a British Parliamentary Hearing. Murdoch described the experience as "the most humbling day of my life."
The fact that LulzSec hit a target over an issue that annoyed its alleged six members is nothing new. What is new is that not only did the group hit its target, but that it did it with a focused goal passed simple disruption. The new behaviour indicates that LulzSec for better or worse, have taken on a more serious -- and perhaps by extension more dangerous -- set of ethics.
Whether the group will continue to function "responsibly" remains to be seen, but for the moment it seems that Anonymous hacktivism may have rubbed off on the "lulz lizards."