Newspaper scandal widens with claims malware used to hack computers

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Image: Luc De Leeuw/Flickr (Creative Commons)

More allegations are coming forward in the aftermath of the widely-publicised phone hacking scandal with people, such as former Prime Minister Gordon Brown, coming forward accusing newspapers of attempting to hack into victims’ computers via malware.

According to Sophos’ Naked Security blog, Brown claims in his speech to the House of Commons that it went far beyond hacking phones:

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. 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.

In addition, Dr Brooke Magnanti – known famous for her Belle de Jour blog and books – alleges that she was targeted in the attacks. She claims that it was sent as an attachment and the email came from a journalist from the Sunday Times – another UK newspaper owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News International. She says that it mainly due to expose the identity of her other persona, which was not revealed until very later on in 2009, again with the Sunday Times but she does say that she approached them.

These allegations could put News Corporation in more hot water than it is already thanks to the phone hacking scandal. And although News Limited, the Australian owners of its newspaper brands, has said that they are investigating internally of unauthorised payments, maybe it should also extend to whether it has hacked into other people’s computers.

It feels like this story has no ending – just more and more revelations of the dirty tricks of journalism.

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