14 Jun 2011

LulzSec strikes again, and U.S. Senate feels the pain

Prolific hacker group LulzSec has claimed another cyber scalp: the U.S. Senate.

"We don't like the U.S. government very much," began the announcement of the breach on the LulzSec website. The message went on to criticize the security of U.S. government websites.

LulzSec itself characterized this as a "small" hack, which has been borne out by computer experts. The deputy Senate Sargeant-at-Arms, Martina Bradford, asserted that the intrusion was limited to the public side of the Senate website, and did not access especially confidential information.

Nonetheless, the hack puts the Senate on a swiftly growing list of organizations compromised this year. LulzSec has claimed responsibility for incursions against Sony and PBS, among other targets, and other groups have attacked PayPal, MasterCard, Google, the EU carbon trading market, and other high-profile organizations. News of an International Monetary Fund hack recently broke, and today a South Korean official described increasingly sophisticated cyber attacks originating from North Korea.

Alarmed by this wave of computer crime, governments have begun to focus on cyber defense and response tactics. Last week, a NATO conference focused on these issues, and the European Commission formed a team to prevent and combat hacks of EU institutions.