News International fell victim to computer hackers last night when a group targeted The Sun’s website.
Hacking collective LulzSec, which has previously targeted companies including Sony, claimed via messages on Twitter that it carried out the hijack.
Visitors to The Sun’s site last night were redirected to new-times.co.uk and a hoax story headlined “Media mogul’s body discovered”.
It claimed Murdoch had been found after he had “ingested a large quantity of palladium”.
After that site stopped working, The Sun address was re-directing to LulzSec’s Twitter account, which claimed to be displaying “hacked internal Sun staff data” in one entry.
A News International spokeswoman confirmed the company was “aware” of what was happening, but made no further comment.
The Sun’s website later appeared to have been taken down.
Another hacking collective known as Anonymous claimed to have staged a cyber-attack which shut down The Times’ website.
LulzSec is a group of hackers which has claimed responsibility for various high-profile computer attacks on bodies including FBI partner organisations, the CIA, the US Senate and a pornography website.
In the UK it also carried out a distributed denial of service attack – where large numbers of computers overload a target with web requests – on the Serious and Organised Crime Agency website.
The group’s name comes from the word lulz, which is online slang for laughter at someone else’s expense.
Second NoW journalist worked for Met
Meanwhile, it has emerged that a former senior News of the World journalist was carrying out potentially sensitive work for Scotland Yard while employed by the paper, it has emerged.
Alex Marunchak had been employed by the Metropolitan Police as a Ukrainian language interpreter with access to highly sensitive police information.
In a statement, Scotland Yard confirmed he had been on the force’s list of interpreters – providing interpretation and translation services for victims, witnesses and suspects who do not speak English – between 1980 and 2000.
It acknowledged that his employment “may cause concern”, adding that some professions might be “incompatible” with such a sensitive job. It said the force’s language services were now looking into the matter.
“Since the records system became electronic in 1996, we know that he undertook work as a Ukrainian language interpreter on one occasion in 1997 and six in 1999, as well as two translation assignments, totalling around 27 hours of work. It is likely he undertook work prior to 1996 as well,” the statement said.
“Interpreters are vetted by the MPS and all sign the Official Secrets Act. They are employed on a freelance, self-employed basis.
“We recognise that this may cause concern and that some professions may be incompatible with the role of an interpreter.”
The disclosure comes after the Yard had to admit that former News of the World executive Neil Wallis was employed by the Met as a part-time PR consultant – a disclosure which triggered the resignation of the commissioner, Sir Paul Stephenson.