News International apologizes over stolen reader data

Posted by Kate Taylor

Sun reader data harvested in a hacking attack earlier this month has been posted on Pastebin.

The data - which includes names, addresses, dates of birth, email addresses and phone numbers - was harvested when the site was hacked on 19 July.

The hacker redirected visitors to, first, a fake story claiming that News International owner Rupert Murdoch was dead, and later the LulzSec Twitter feed.

The information was gathered by News International from entries to a series of competitions - including applicants for the Miss Scotland contest. This includes details of applicants' height, weight - and even the size of their breasts.

There's also data from a Sun forum for bullied people - a touch ironic, you might think, given the way the News International's been behaving recently.

It's all now been posted on Pastebin, by a hacker going by the name of Batteye.

"We will begin today be presenting to you, various files obtained from The Sun, a company within the News Corp group," he says.

"We will continue, then, by exposing the world for what it is; a less than perfect place where we cannot trust those who we ask to protect our information. We will continue, until the list has been exhausted, or until the world and mankind realizes that we must change how we
go on."

News International says it's contacting affected individuals directly, and that no financial or password information was compromised. But what has been released could be a boon for scammers.

"For instance, a cybercriminal could write to a beauty contest applicant, trick them into believing that it was the newspaper contacting them and attempt to steal money or further information," comments Graham Cluley of security firm Sophos.