Hack Of Gawker Media Sites Puts 1.3 Million Passwords At Risk

Individuals claiming responsibility for attack say they are not affiliated with Anonymous protests over WikiLeaks

Tim Wilson, Editor in Chief, Dark Reading, Contributor

December 13, 2010

2 Min Read

Individuals claiming to be part of the hacker group Gnosis are contacting the press to explain their attacks on the popular Gawker Media sites during the past 24 hours.

According to a report in the publication Mediaite, a member of Gnosis says his group's attacks have nothing to do with the group Anonymous, which has been launching DDoS attacks on major websites in protest over the treatment of WikiLeaks.

The writer says Gnosis has retrieved some 274,000 passwords of the nearly 1.3 million that reside in Gawker's extensive database. The group published an article on Gawker that contains a link to the compromised code, and it has reportedly sent samples of unhashed user data to some media.

But the attack has nothing to do with WikiLeaks, according to the writer. It was initiated primarily because of the "arrogance" displayed by Gawker administrators who were talking about WikiLeaks and suggested hackers should "bring it on."

"We went after Gawker because of their outright arrogance. It took us a few hours to find a way to dump all their source code and a bit longer to find a way into their database," the writer reportedly told Mediaite. "I mean, if you say things like ['bring it on'] and attack sites like [Anonymous], which we are not affiliated to, you must at least have the means to back yourself up. We considered what action we would take, and decided that the Gawkmedia 'empire' needs to be brought down a peg or two. Our group's mission? We don’t have one."

The writer says Gnosis intends the attack, in part, as a lesson on security.

"Gawkmedia has possibly the worst security I have ever seen," the writer says. "It is scary how poor it is. Their servers run horribly outdated kernel versions, their site is filled with numerous exploitable code, and their database is publicly accessible."

Gnosis has promised to publish "full source code" to the Gawker Media site, as well as a database dump and a document describing the site's security failings.

Gawker Media reportedly has told users they should change their passwords.

Have a comment on this story? Please click "Discuss" below. If you'd like to contact Dark Reading's editors directly, send us a message.

About the Author(s)

Tim Wilson, Editor in Chief, Dark Reading


Tim Wilson is Editor in Chief and co-founder of Dark Reading.com, UBM Tech's online community for information security professionals. He is responsible for managing the site, assigning and editing content, and writing breaking news stories. Wilson has been recognized as one of the top cyber security journalists in the US in voting among his peers, conducted by the SANS Institute. In 2011 he was named one of the 50 Most Powerful Voices in Security by SYS-CON Media.

Keep up with the latest cybersecurity threats, newly discovered vulnerabilities, data breach information, and emerging trends. Delivered daily or weekly right to your email inbox.

You May Also Like

More Insights