MIT website hacked over Aaron Swartz a second time

MIT website hacked over Aaron Swartz a second time

Summary: This morning MIT's website was hacked and defaced, with its nameservers changed. The site credited hacker FBI informant Sabu (LulzSec); the site autoplayed The Star Spangled Banner and stated "R.I.P Aaron Swartz."

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TOPICS: Legal, Security
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The website for MIT's was been hacked and defaced for around an hour this morning. It is now fully restored.

Screen shot 2013-01-22 at 11.39.19 AM

Upon visiting the site, The Star Spangled Banner song autoplayed and the site read, "R.I.P Aaron Swartz."

Upon loading the site read

R.I.P Aaron Swartz

Hacked by grand wizard of Lulzsec, Sabu

GOD BLESS AMERICA

DOWN WITH ANONYMOUS

reddit sucks, k hacked by aush0k and tibitximer

The page automatically played The Star Spangled Banner upon loading, and also contained blog post text from Swartz's website - specifically his post "Immoral."

The hack has a few people scratching their heads about how control of MIT's nameservers was gained.

Before its restoration, MIT's website records read (warning for graphic language):

Domain Name: MIT.EDU
   
   Registrant:
      Massachusetts Institute of Technology
      Cambridge, MA 02139
      UNITED STATES
   
   Administrative Contact:
      I got owned
      Massachusetts Institute of Technology
      MIT Room W92-167, 77 Massachusetts Avenue
      Cambridge, MA 02139-4307
      UNITED STATES
      (617) 324-1337
      cunt@mit.edu
   
   Technical Contact:
    OWNED NETWORK OPERATIONS
      ROOT
      US
      DESTROYED, MA 02139-4307
      UNITED STATES
      (617) 253-1337
      owned@mit.edu
   
   Name Servers: 
      FRED.NS.CLOUDFLARE.COM      
      KATE.NS.CLOUDFLARE.COM      
   
   Domain record activated:    23-May-1985
   Domain record last updated: 22-Jan-2013
   Domain expires:             31-Jul-2013

LulzSec claimed many high-profile attacks; today's hack on MIT included the name of hacker-informant "Sabu" who aided the FBI in apprehending members of LulzSec in exchange for a plea deal. Most known members of LulzSec have been arrested.

The attack on MIT's website was the second time in less than one week.

Reddit, Creative Commons and Demand Progress co-founder Aaron Swartz committed suicide in New York City on Friday, Jan. 11.

In September 2012, Aaron Swartz was charged with thirteen counts of felony hacking after a July 2011 arrest for allegedly scraping 4 million MIT papers from the JSTOR online journal archive.

JSTOR's academic paper database was recently made publicly available.

Tensions rise over Swartz suicide

Swartz's family issued strong statements after the tragedy stating that they felt MIT and an overzealous Department of Justice prosecution led to Swartz's suicide.

The first hack on MIT's website was claimed by Anonymous and contrary to some of Anon's other aggressive hacks, the hacktivists left a statement calling for a reform to computer crime laws and included an apology to MIT for taking over its site.

This recent hack is decidedly less "friendly."

MIT previously claimed to have played a neutral role in the prosecution of Aaron Swartz, however new information suggests that MIT likely played an active role in the prosecution.

Tensions over the prosecution and subsequent suicide of the young hacker seem to be climbing higher. 

Swartz's family have said that U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz’s office went over the top in its aggressive prosecution of the case.

Legal experts and digital rights organizations are calling on the awful series of events to be a wake-up call about the way cases such as this are handled.

A Whitehouse.gov petition circulated to have Ortiz removed from office. It currently has nearly 47,000 signatures. 

Reacting to the criticism against Ortiz, her husband attacked the Swartz family on Twitter with a series of erroneous statements and details about the case, later deleted along with his Twitter account. 

However, Ms. Ortiz is unmoved and unapologetic, saying that the suicide won't change anything around her office.

According to the Boston Globe,

[Ortiz] spokeswoman, Christina DiIorio-Sterling, said last night the Swartz case won’t affect the office’s handling of other cases. “Absolutely not,” she said. “We thought the case was reasonably handled and we would not have done things differently.

“We’re going to continue doing the work of the office and of following our mission.”

Topics: Legal, Security

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4 comments
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  • MIT website not fully restored as of 3:52 EST

    I write for the Knight Science Journalism Tracker at MIT (ksj.mit.edu/tracker), and it is still not appearing. I suspect other parts of the site might likewise be still awaiting restoration.
    Paul Raeburn
  • Juvenile

    These sorts of attacks might have some intimidation value, but I doubt it. They certainly don't change anyone's mind. I do see the day when "hactivists" of all political persuasions will routinely harass any and all perceived opponents, and I suspect it's coming soon.
    John L. Ries
  • Sign in please.

    Please sign the Whitehouse petition to make the DOJ pay for Aaron Swartz death.

    https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/appoint-independent-investigator-subpoena-power-investigate-instances-doj-bullying-extorsion-and/ZrDymCLq
    Neamul Nahid
  • Sign this Whitehouse petition

    Sign this Whitehouse petition to make the DOJ accountable for Aaron Swartz death https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/appoint-independent-investigator-subpoena-power-investigate-instances-doj-bullying-extorsion-and/ZrDymCLq
    Shadat Hosen