Malware Hits News Corp Websites Down Under


Hackers managed to plant malware in a number of websites owned by Rupert Murdoch in Australia

Hackers have managed to plant malware on a number of websites in Australia belonging to News Corp, controlled by Rupert Murdoch, according to reports.

The revelation increases the pressure on the media company, which has been suffering in light of the phone hacking scandal in the UK, which has led to Murdoch withdrawing the bid by News Corp for control of BSkyB.

According to the Age, the websites of two Australian newspapers owned by Murdoch – the Herald Sun and The Weekly Times – were infected with malware.

Virus Warning

An apology on Melbourne’s Herald Sun website warned that visitors may have been exposed to a virus.

“The Herald Sun wishes to apologise to any readers who may have been affected by a virus that appeared for a short time on,” the newspaper said in a note posted to its website. “The offending virus and files were quickly removed and the site is operating as normal.”

It seems the malware took the form of a pop up window, and would only install if the user authorised it.

The Age reported that Peter Clark, who is the Herald & Weekly Times digital operations and business strategy director, blamed a hacking attack for the virus.

“The Herald & Weekly Times, publishers of, can confirm that we did have a hacking attack on the Herald Sun website on Monday 11 July,” he reportedly said. “The attack attached malware on some files on the site.”

“We have since addressed the issue, but we are not in a position to release any further details on the basis that it may provide information for further attacks,” said Clark.

Malware Hacking?

The malware incident in Australia comes after Gordon Brown, the former Labour Prime Minister, launched a heated attack on News Corp.

Brown was speaking in a rowdy debate in the House of Commons this week. He alleged that News Corp journalists didn’t just spy on celebrities and members of the public by listening to voicemail messages, but also used malware to hack into computers.

“Amassed against these guiltless victims and against a succession of other victims of crime whose names I know about and have seen, and have yet to be made public, was the systematic use of base and unlawful methods – new crimes with new names: blagging, hacking, Trojans to break into computers and not just phones,” Brown said. “It was not the misconduct of a few rogues or a few freelancers but, I have to say, lawbreaking often on an industrial scale, at its worst dependent on links with the British criminal underworld.”

And it seems as though at least one security expert agrees that Gordon Brown could be right.

“My suspicion is that Gordon Brown is right,” wrote Graham Cluley on the Sophos Naked Security Blog. “If an investigator thinks it is acceptable to break into mobile phone voicemail accounts and listen to messages without authorisation, are they going to have any qualms about sending emails with malicious attachments to the people they’re trying to dig the dirt up on?”

“The spyware Trojan area of the whole “hacking” scandal hasn’t been covered much in the media yet, but it may only be a matter of time,” he added. “Already there are some cases bubbling to the surface, such as the sex blogger “Belle de Jour” who claims she was sent malware by the Sunday Times.”

Cluley also pointed to a BBC Panorama programme earlier this year, that investigated claims that the News of the World had used computer Trojans to extract information from a former British army intelligence officer who had served in Northern Ireland.

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Author: Tom Jowitt
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