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Surprising Science

Hacking the U.S. Senate, Just for Fun

What is the significance of the hacking of the U.S. Senate’s website? Should we be concerned about the small, “just-for-kicks” release of some internal Senate data?

What’s the Latest Development?

A former Homeland Security cyber official describes it as, “the equivalent of burglarising the Senate and bragging because they managed to steal a bunch of souvenirs from the gift shop.” Yes, the Senate’s website was hacked over the weekend. But hacker group Lulz Security did not reach behind a firewall into a more sensitive portion of the network. Lulz, which has previously claimed to have hacked into Sony’s website and the US Public Broadcasting System (PBS), said it was “a small, just-for-kicks release” and that “we don’t like the US government very much.”

What’s the Big Idea?

Sergeant at arms Terrance Gainer told the Reuters news agency in early June that the Senate had been the frequent target of hacking attacks, with tens of thousands thwarted each month. The break-in is just the latest in a series of embarrassing hacks against companies and organisations. The IMF, Lockheed Martin Corp, Citigroup Inc, Google and Michaels Stores have all been hit. But this is “an especially embarrassing incident for the US Senate, because they are often asking others to explain why their cybersecurity programs have failed.”


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