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Corporate hacking: It’s more than just voicemail, more than just Murdoch

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When the hacking group known as Anonymous managed to make its way into the website of the U.K. tabloid The Sun, it announced itself in rather grand fashion. There was a fake story about the death of Rupert Murdoch, CEO of News International, the company at the center of recent controversy surrounding charges of hacking. Anonymous also left its mark by redirecting traffic from the News International web site to Anonymous’ own Twitter feed.

You never hear of such shenanigans going on when corporations are the ones doing the hacking. That’s because the hacking itself isn’t the goal. It’s the method by which the goal is sought. We talk to Paul Roberts, editor of, the security blog at Kaspersky Labs. He says while everyone has been talking about News International’s alleged voicemail hacks, there’s another investigation being carried out regarding hacking into email. “In March of this year,” he says, “the BBC did widespread investigations into allegations that News of the World‘s Irish editor had commissioned a former British intel officer to hack into emails of a senior IRA figure who is believed to be a double agent, and sent some of those emails to News of the World Irish edition editor.”

Roberts says that if the allegations about News International prove to be true, it would not be the first time such actions have taken place. HP dealt with allegations of corporate hacking in 2006; the security company HB Gary Federal has been involved in a hacking controversy with Anonymous recently.

We also talk to Kevin Mitnick. He’s a former hacker who served prison time for his transgressions and is now a computer security consultant, helping companies protect themselves against security threats. Mitnick says News International’s alleged actions are unusual but not unprecedented. “I had two clients taken out of business because their competition had hired unscrupulous people to do illegal techniques,” Mitnick says. “These were companies that ran e-commerce sites and you have unscrupulous people that hire hackers to take the competition out, and I was personally involved in two cases as investigator and expert witness to try to identify any evidence that pointed to the competitor.”

Mitnick says that the way corporate hacking works is usually for the company to go through several layers of middlemen to get information. Somewhere down the line, information is gained through illegal methods but the company can still claim plausible deniability as to knowledge of the action.

Also in this program, some robots have formed a band and they’re playing Marilyn Manson music.

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