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LulzSec, Social Engineering and MoveON’s Black Hat Online Campaign

Politics Goes BlackHat – MoveOn Spams the Internet and Manufacturers Buzz

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The Robin Hood inspired Hacking Movement, “LulzSec”, has been making constant headlines by hacking into major corporate computer networks across the net. Usually with some public proof and a reasoning that they are retaliating for a corporate misdeed.

This vigilante style is easily appreciated. We all love it when the underdog strikes back. Sony chose to pursue legal action against an individual for attempting to make the console more open for the user community and LulzSec chose to strike back by causing millions of dollars in damages and exposing the poor network security of the corporate Giant.

Gamers on the PlayStation network likely had millions of mini heart attacks when they couldn’t get their online fix but otherwise the young and passionate seem to love the modern-day Robin Hood story. Proof that “the people” can still win against corporate mega giants.

Even the crowd that one would expect to be more “responsible” – the older geeks and technophiles, seem to give LulzSec some nods of approval. LulzSec is exposing that corporations need to invest in better network security, not store unencrypted passwords and in general be better stewards of private information. Some may question whether the stated motives are true or simply a story to use while having fun wreaking havoc but pity for mega corporations seems to be nearly non-existent.

After reading through the LulzSec twitterfeed and the occasional post, I don’t think anyone has ever claimed that they aren’t enjoying every minute of it, and why wouldn’t they?

 

Moveon goes blackhat

Its hard to misunderstand #fun#fun#fun, isn’t it?

 

Trend Jumping and the MoveOn Hijack

 

The constant news and buzz surrounding this movement is hard to miss. An entire untapped demographic exists, one that believes in “people power” yet has no true leaders or purpose. Lulzsec has exposed that it is there, but the majority of followers for the most part don’t have the skillset to be anything but spectators.

Smart marketers and campaigners love a good trend and will always attempt to piggyback on new trends and find opportunities within. Some obvious piggybacks would be in regards to computer security, privacy and password protection. But, Moveon.org seems to have taken it a step farther. Engineering a news story and using the trend for free publicity amongst the buzz created by Lulzsec.

 

The Faux Fox News Hack and Black Hat Comment Spam.

 

While reading a LulzSec inspired story about the PBS hack and the fake TuPac Resurrection story, I saw an interesting comment:

 

UPDATE: Fox is of course saying this didn’t happen. So I will maybe post a video explaining how I did it later.

Hello

Monday night I hacked into the FoxNews news ticker on 6th avenue in NYC.

Here’s the video. If you’d like to know why, just read the message in the hack.

I accessed the Fox ticker basically to get your attention. Also because Fox deserves it: they’re the 24/7 mouthpiece of the right wing. They are huge perpetuators of the big lie.

This country isn’t broke. Question is: where is the money going?

Americans have a right to know their pockets are being fleeced by corporations and tax breaks for the ultra-wealthy and we can no longer tolerate the deceit FoxNews is perpetuating.

For the record, I am not connected to Anonymous or any of the recent attacks on the PSN, PBS, Nasdaq or So-net.

We are being lied to and you cannot stop Americans from fighting for the truth. Sorry my friend is somewhat annoyingly enthusiastic in the video but it’s one of the best hacks in recent memory so cut her a break.

This is an interesting comment, when stumbling onto it, I felt like I had infiltrated breaking news within a sub-culture. A Hacker was announcing another “conquest” and it wasn’t being reported by major news sources. I excitedly followed the username link to see the video.

The Fox News  Ticker Hack Video

 

The video shows what appears to be handheld video, a mad scramble from a subway and then an excited group watching the successful hack of the news ticker, the message changing from something involving trucks and oil to a message about unions and the American economy.

 

The Full Fox News Hack Message is as Follows:

We are being lied to.

Right wingers are destroying the middle class and trying to kill our unions. The country is not broke.

“We are the richest country in the world.

USA is twice as rich as China.

Our economy is bigger than most of Europe combined.

We are not broke.

We are being lied to.

We will rise up

We will fight back.

We will spread the truth.”

 

Whether I agree or disagree with the message and related politics aside, the presentation was powerful. Exciting and intelligently designed. The video starts with a closeup of a young girls rear and is choppy and amateur, it seems very authentic … but so did Cloverfield.

 

I was taken back by the comments in the video, they were very angry and “anti-liberal” with the required “fake” claims that come with any Youtube video. I disregarded them and followed the link within the video that claimed to explain the meaning behind the hack.

 

“Go To june23rd.org and all will be revealed”

I was stunned when the link led to “http://www.rebuildthedream.com” a MoveOn.org landing page. I was stunned and quite impressed. Now that I knew it was all part of a clever campaign, two questions came to mind.

  1. Was the Fox Hack real?
  2. How “lucky” was I to stumble onto that comment?

 

The Fox News Hack was Fake

The hack was fake, no need to analyze the date of the original message to compare to the release of the video, or two guess about the bystanders reactions or wonder whether the ticker would flash or show colors when “taken over” …

The MoveOn site clearly states “Watch the videos from the faux Fox News hack”

 

Comments across the web about Fox News Hack

The original comment that attracted me made me very curious. Just how clever were these organizers and campaigners?

I did a quick search for parts of the comment in quotes (an exact match search) and found 8,120 matches for the comment. All of these duplicate comments were made between May 30th and June 1st. A small percentage of the results were stories like this one that duplicated the quote, most discussing the “hack” or debating whether the hack was real.

 

The Buzz is Huge but this also means that the campaigners have gone blackhat. Granted, they could have hired manual submitters or used volunteers, but if 8k comments how up then likely 20-30k comments were submitted. That is quite an output for a 3 day span and points to the use of comment spam software usually reserved for Black Hat marketers and SEO specialists.

 

blackhat political campaigns
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Stay tuned for further analysis of the marketing, propaganda and technical techniques used to create this social engineering feet. Subscribe to our feed and leave a comment about what questions this story raises for you. The battleground for your hearts and minds is getting ever more clever, are you savvy enough to know when you are being rolled?

 

 

  

 

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  • Article by Joshua Gallagher

    avatar Joshua Gallagher is a writer and web developer who frequently writes about technology, marketing and web design and networking concepts.
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