Hackers attacked the website of U.K. newspaper The Sun late Monday, posting a fake story claiming Rupert Murdoch had been found dead in his garden after ingesting a large amount of palladium, a chemical similar to mercury that is toxic in high doses.
The paper is owned by News Corp., which has been ensnared in a phone-hacking scandal for the past several weeks that has led to the News of the World tabloid closing and several criminal investigations.
A group called LulzSec changed the lead story on the site, and then had the page redirect to its Twitter feed, where it was releasing the cellphone numbers of several of the paper’s online employees. It also claimed to have accessed the company’s e-mail directory, and said it would begin releasing messages tomorrow.
“We have joy, we have fun, we have messed up Murdoch’s Sun,” the Twitter feed read early last night.
The chemical palladium is often used as a dental alloy. The name "palladium" has also been tied to the hackers, who have reportedly used the pseudonym to identify a member of Lulzsec collective, according to chat logs from the group's chat channel.
The phone-hacking scandal erupted when it was revealed reporters had accessed the voice mail of a 13-year-old murder victim, and erased messages as they listened for any information that would help them advance the story. Because messages were disappearing, the family falsely believed the teen was alive.
Several of the paper’s former editors have been interviewed by police and charged, and the scandal has also caused the top two commander’s of Scotland Yard to give up their posts. Mr. Murdoch and other executives are to appear before parliamentarians tomorrow, and there are several criminal investigations taking place.
News International – the company’s U.K. division – apparently tried to issue a statement explaining what was happening, but was in turn hacked.
The full fake story about Mr. Murdoch read:
Media moguls [sic] body discovered
Rupert Murdoch, the controversial media mogul, has reportedly been found dead in his garden, police announce.
Murdoch, aged 80, has said to have ingested a large quantity of palladium before stumbling into his famous topiary garden late last night, passing out in the early hours of the morning.
“We found the chemicals sitting beside a kitchen table, recently cooked,” one officer states. “From what we can gather, Murdoch melted and consumed large quantities of it before exiting into his garden.”
Chemicals found in house
Authorities would not comment on whether this was a planned suicide, though the general consensus among locals and unnamed sources is that this is the case.
One detective elaborates. “Officers on the scene report a broken glass, a box of vintage wine, and what seems to be a family album strewn across the floor, containing images from days gone by; some containing handpainted portraits of Murdoch in his early days, donning a top hat and monocle.”
Another officer reveals that Murdoch was found slumped over a particularly large garden hedge fashioned into a galloping horse. “His favourite”, a butler, Davidson, reports.
Butler Davidson has since been taken into custody for additional questioning.
With a report from gizmodo.com