A lot of people are gawking at Gawker Media this morning, though not for reasons that will bring much cheer to its founder, Nick Denton.
Gawker, parent to popular blogs as Gizmodo, Lifehacker, Jezebel, and ValleyWag, was caught with its pants down around its ankles while wearing clown makeup after a hacker group calling itself Gnosis took over the site.
[ Also on InfoWorld: Hacked for the holidays! It's emerging as this year's Yuletide theme, between the Gawker attack and the WikiLeaks barrage. | For a humorous take on the tech industry's shenanigans, subscribe to Robert X. Cringely's Notes from the Underground newsletter. ]
Among other things, Gnosis took Gawker's souce code and posted it on torrent sites, hacked into Gawker's content management system, and posted a bogus story on the Gawker home page linking back to the source code torrents. That was just for starters. The group also broke into the site's database, gaining access to email addresses and passwords for all of Gawker's staffers and more than 1 million readers who'd registered with the site. These too found their way onto pirate torrent sites, free for the download.
Why is Gnosis picking on Gawker? Because it thought Gawker was picking on 4chan, the group of digital delinquents that spawned the vigilante group Anonymous, as well as most of the Internet memes that have annoyed people for the last decade, such as lolcatz and Rickrolling.
In fact, Gnosis hacked Gawker's internal chat software and shared this little snippet of internal dialog among the site's staffers after 4chan launched a DDoS attack against Gawker last July [some material removed]:
Maureen O. it appears that there is dissent among the 4channers as to whether 4chan's attack on us means 4chan is pathetic and unscary now.Hamilton N.
be sure to point out that they are dorks for doing that.
Brian M. The headeline of your post should be "Suck on This, 4Chan"
Maureen O. I like the call to make today Everybody Write About 4chan Day
Hamilton N. Nick Denton Says Bring It On 4Chan, Right to My Home Address (After The Jump)
Ryan T. We Are Not Scared of 4chan Here at 210 Elizabeth St NY NY 10012