MIT website hacked in tribute to Aaron Swartz

Hal Hodson, technology reporter

A tribute to internet activist Aaron Swartz replaced the homepage for the Massachusetts Institute of Technology today, in an apparent act of protest over the university's role in the legal case that led up to Swartz's suicide on 11 Jan.

For a short time, visitors to the home page found a message that read: "R.I.P. Aaron Swartz. Hacked by grand wizard of Lulzsec, Sabu. God Bless America. Down With Anonymous." The background was watermarked with words from a blog post, written by Swartz, titled "Immoral".

Attributing the defacement to "grand wizard of Lulzsec, Sabu" lent the page a sarcastic air, as it's widely known that the former Lulzsec leader was outed as an FBI informant last year.

The attack on MIT's website came amid widespread criticism of how the university handled the case against Swartz, including an article in The New York Times that quoted Swartz's father as saying: "We don't believe [MIT] acted in a neutral way. My belief is they put their institutional concerns first."

According to MIT's service status page, network service was restored within the university as of 1:30 pm EST. The university had not yet returned New Scientist's request for comment when this story was published.

This is the second time since Swartz' death that the MIT site has been the target of attacks. Previously, an MIT sub-domain was replaced with a manifesto for reform of computer and copyright laws. The authors claimed to be operating as a part of the online activist group, Anonymous.

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