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Privacy Government United States Politics

"Anonymous" Hacks Palin's Private Email 1733

Posted by kdawson
from the should-have-used-hushmail dept.
netbuzz writes "'Anonymous,' best known for its jousts with Scientology, has apparently hacked Sarah Palin's private Yahoo email account. Contents, including sample emails, an index, and family photos, have been posted by Wikileaks, which calls them evidence that the GOP vice presidential candidate has improperly used private email to shield government business from public scrutiny." Note that there is no easy way to tell if the material on Wikileaks is genuine or a hoax. Update by J : Genuine.
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"Anonymous" Hacks Palin's Private Email

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 17, 2008 @06:37PM (#25046083)

    Attacking Scientology is one thing. We all know that it is a crock of crap. However, when somebody hacks a VP candidate, the FBI and Secret Service will react strongly.

    • by joshtheitguy (1205998) on Wednesday September 17, 2008 @06:39PM (#25046105)
      Try telling Tom Cruise that Scientology is a crock. I'd imagine he'd scream incoherently at the top of his lungs, jump up and down then rip your face off.
      • by Beached (52204) on Wednesday September 17, 2008 @06:42PM (#25046175) Homepage

        He and John are still in Stan Marsh's closet, so noone will hear them.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 17, 2008 @06:53PM (#25046339)

        HEY TOM CRUISE!!!!

        If you're reading this, then I tell you that your hokey sci-fi, pseudo-religion CULT is a crock of crap.

        And I also think you're a faggot weenie too.

        So there.

        PS: Your acting sucks too.

    • by Bill, Shooter of Bul (629286) on Wednesday September 17, 2008 @06:40PM (#25046121) Journal
      I, for one, think the laws should be applied equally to all parties regardless of their insane beliefs.
      • by ptbarnett (159784) on Wednesday September 17, 2008 @08:38PM (#25047885)

        There's a posting here from someone that observed the entire episode:

        The story behind the Palin e-mail hacking [michellemalkin.com]

        Pre-emptive warning: it's a partisan blog, but the explanation is quoted in full.

        Short version:

        • After Palin's email addresses were publicized, the account was locked by all the people trying to login.
        • Someone went through the password recovery dialog and was able to guess answer "Where did you meet your spouse?".
        • He looked through all the emails, was disappointed that he couldn't find anything incriminating.
        • Announced it on /b/
        • Someone else reading /b/ changed the password and notified a friend of Palin.
        • The account has since been deleted.

        The original cracker attributed his /b/ posting to another yahoo.com address. He claims to have done all this through a single proxy, but admits that he is a bit scared of the FBI at the moment.

        • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 17, 2008 @09:17PM (#25048439)

          If you believe ANYTHING on /b/ you have no idea what that board is about.

          That includes the person that thinks they know what happened.

          No facts, no truth.

        • by Walkingshark (711886) on Wednesday September 17, 2008 @10:54PM (#25049467) Homepage

          Um, first of all if you want to know the truth, ask Michelle Malkin what it is and then believe the exact opposite. Thats her super power. Second, check this excerpt out from the article:

          Palin has come under fire for using private e-mail accounts to conduct state business. Critics allege that she uses the account to get around public records laws, as the Bush administration has also been charged with doing.

          An index of the e-mails in her inbox, which includes sender, subject line and date sent, indicates that Palin received numerous e-mails from her aides in the governor's office, some of which could be work-related.

          An e-mail from her press secretary, Meghan Stapleton, indicates the message is about the "Motor Fuel Tax Suspension".

          The subject line of an e-mail from Randall Ruaro, her deputy chief of staff reads, "Draft letter to Governor Schwarzenegger." Another one from Ruaro says, "Please approve" and another one is about "Court of Appeals Nominations."

          Other e-mails from Ruaro indicate they're about employee and budget issues for the DPS. DPS is how Alaska refers to its Department of Public Safety.

          Palin's chief of staff, Michael Nizich, sent her an e-mail August 22 with the subject line, "Using Royalty Oil to Lower the Cost of Fuel for Alaskans." The subject line of another e-mail from Nizich reads "CONFIDENTIAL Ethics Matter."

          E-mails from the governor's scheduler, Janice Mason, indicate that they're about Palin's schedule for the week of August 10.

        • by Charles Dodgeson (248492) * <jeffrey@goldmark.org> on Wednesday September 17, 2008 @10:55PM (#25049475) Homepage Journal

          Someone went through the password recovery dialog and was able to guess answer "Where did you meet your spouse?".

          Can someone give me the rationale for those password recovery mechanism that are usually far weaker than the passwords themselves? They seem like such a blatantly bad idea, that I must be missing something in failing to understand why they exist at all

        • by Spazmania (174582) on Wednesday September 17, 2008 @10:56PM (#25049487) Homepage

          Someone went through the password recovery dialog and was able to guess answer "Where did you meet your spouse?".

          What's with that anyway? Sites insist on a long gobbledygook password (God forbid we use something that doesn't have digits and capital letters) and then let us change the password by typing in something where a list of 100 covers about 99% of the answers. Just how stupid are these supposed security experts?

    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 17, 2008 @06:46PM (#25046237)

      This was on CNN a few minutes ago and they confirmed that the Secret Service was already involved in the investigation.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 17, 2008 @06:50PM (#25046301)

      On one hand.. I agree they crossed the line.. on the other I kind of understand people's motives. Now I am in no way shape or form advocating hacking someone's email account, but there's something important to consider here. There's a great article at NY Times [nytimes.com] which talks about Palin's rise in politics. Here's one excerpt:

      Interviews show that Ms. Palin runs an administration that puts a premium on loyalty and secrecy. The governor and her top officials sometimes use personal e-mail accounts for state business; dozens of e-mail messages obtained by The New York Times show that her staff members studied whether that could allow them to circumvent subpoenas seeking public records.

      If she does infact use her private email address for correspondence with other staff members or governmental bodies, can you really consider it a private email account anymore? I'm not asking for response from slashdotters with analogies here, but if she does infact potentially use her personal email to avoid subpoenas then why the hell should it be considered personal. She is paid by the taxpayers and they have a right to know what is going on. Why have her staff members been studying the use of personal email accounts for official business anyways?

      Maybe the deal with her using personal email for work is just a rumor, and maybe the whole deal with "Anonymous" is not true, but still things aren't just black and white here.

    • by philspear (1142299) on Wednesday September 17, 2008 @06:52PM (#25046323)

      I would imagine though that hacking into a yahoo e-mail account, even if it's a political figure, is not really going to get any serious penalties. It's not like they hacked into a government e-mail account. It's also not as if she has launch codes yet. McCain has to be elected, then die of a heart attack for her e-mail to be of much real importance. ... of course, if she did, they would probably end up in her yahoo account. And we'll be dead soon anyway. As Matt Damon said, someone who belives in creationism should not be an (old) heartbeat away from the football.

      But I suspect secret service is investigating mostly to determine if there's a real security risk IE if she e-mailed out that there was a spare key to her house under a fake rock in the garden, or she was going to be in room 287 of the doubletree hotel.

      • by moderatorrater (1095745) on Wednesday September 17, 2008 @07:13PM (#25046627)
        Yeah, ever since Bourne Identity, I've come to rely on Matt Damon's advice more and more. I mean, I betrayed the organization because it was right, and he's got kick-ass fighting moves. That's the guy I want my political commentary from!
      • by TubeSteak (669689) on Wednesday September 17, 2008 @07:13PM (#25046629) Journal

        But I suspect secret service is investigating mostly to determine if there's a real security risk IE if she e-mailed out that there was a spare key to her house under a fake rock in the garden, or she was going to be in room 287 of the doubletree hotel.

        I suspect the Secret Service is investigating mostly because this is high profile and will end up being publicly embarrassing. Not so much to Palin as to the people she was communicating with.

        No doubt someone archived the entire account in their e-mail program and will dump it all online sometime before the election.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 17, 2008 @06:57PM (#25046397)

      As much as I think Scientology is a dangerous cult, the actions of Anonymous to date have been demonstrating that they are just a group of dangerous radicals. Anonymous is dangerous because they attack and slander groups they disagree with and hide behind masks so that their opponents can not adequately defend themself. Now, I know many of the people who hate Sarah Palin and the Republicans won't see a problem with this, but for a moment imagine how you would feel if a similar group performed the same action on Barack Obama (or a political leader in your own country) and see how 'wonderful' it would be.

      • by philspear (1142299) on Wednesday September 17, 2008 @07:07PM (#25046523)

        Right, remember this is the same group that hacked an epilepsy support page to try to induce seizures. Also realize this is pretty much the opposite of constructive: Palin is being used as a distraction to keep us from thinking about real issues. This only furthers that distraction. It would be one thing if they found evidence of corruption, but this is merely digital tabloid fluff.

        Anonymous is doing this entirely to feed their own egos.

        • by h4rm0ny (722443) on Wednesday September 17, 2008 @07:23PM (#25046783) Journal

          Anonymous is doing this entirely to feed their own egos.

          Anonymous most likely are doing this because they got lucky. I would guess hack attempts are made at a number of public and political figures. If they have a successful strike, then I'd expect them to run with it. I wouldn't overplay the deliberateness of this.On the other hand if a possible vice- or actual president is daft enough to have unencrypted emails floating round a public system, then it's hardly surprising those emails surface. And anyone can be Anonymous - that's it's greatest strength (even more so than the technical competence of some of its members).

          Now if they have found that she was conducting official business through private email accounts and was doing so to avoid scrutiny, then that is interesting.

        • by Digital End (1305341) <<excommunicated> <at> <gmail.com>> on Wednesday September 17, 2008 @08:02PM (#25047371)
          Anonymous isn't a group any more then the western hemisphear is a group. There's not exactly an application. All this means is someone from 4chan got into her account and posted it for a laugh. Also: " It would be one thing if they found evidence of corruption, but this is merely digital tabloid fluff. " You won't find anything if you don't look.
        • by commodoresloat (172735) * on Wednesday September 17, 2008 @08:13PM (#25047579)

          There's no evidence that Anonymous was behind the epilepsy thing, and many have suggested that Scientologists did it to discredit Anonymous.

      • by Bonker (243350) on Wednesday September 17, 2008 @08:05PM (#25047439)

        they are just a group of dangerous radicals

        You're giving 'Anonymous' a bit much credit there. Anonymous doesn't have an agenda, per se. They do it for the Lulz [encycloped...matica.com]. Scientology is an easy target. Mrs. Palin is, if anything, an easier target due to her sudden and dramatic rise. I have no doubt in my mind that if Anonymous could find Mr. Obama's personal email account, they would do the same thing with exactly the same glee.

        'Anonymous' extends from the anonymous posting habits on 4chan and certain other message boards, where it's easy to bullshit, dickwave, and otherwise behave in a sociopathic manner. They hate because it's fun and not because it serves any purpose. It's not about supporting one candidate or the other. It's about hatred, misanthropy, ego gratification, and taking sadistic pleasure in torturing someone. Bigotry, sexism, and racism probably play into the mix as well.

        Anonymous published Mrs. Palin's email address with exactly the same glee that they would report a Camwhore's secrets to her family and school administration.

    • Who did? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by jcr (53032) <{moc.cam} {ta} {rcj}> on Wednesday September 17, 2008 @07:37PM (#25046957) Journal

      It's entirely likely that some scientologit did this and claimed that "anonymous" was behind it. Google for "operation freakout" for another example of the criminal nut-cult framing an innocent party for a crime.


  • No way to tell? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Naughty Bob (1004174) * on Wednesday September 17, 2008 @06:38PM (#25046097)

    Note that there is no easy way to tell if the material on Wikileaks is genuine or a hoax.

    Translation: Wikileaks has been down for hours.... Wonder why?

  • by benjackson520 (778024) on Wednesday September 17, 2008 @06:40PM (#25046137)
    http://blog.wired.com/27bstroke6/2008/09/group-posts-e-m.html [wired.com]

    It has been confirmed by her campaign and Amy McCorkell, the sender of one of the emails that has been posted.
  • by krog (25663) on Wednesday September 17, 2008 @06:40PM (#25046139) Homepage

    This might be the first time the Secret Service has encountered the Streisand Effect.

  • Probably Genuine (Score:5, Interesting)

    by amaupin (721551) on Wednesday September 17, 2008 @06:43PM (#25046193) Homepage

    Note that there is no easy way to tell if the material on Wikileaks is genuine or a hoax.

    Wired has confirmed [wired.com] from one sender, Amy McCorkell, that the displayed message from her to Sarah Palin is genuine.

  • Hacking? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Gr33nNight (679837) on Wednesday September 17, 2008 @06:44PM (#25046201)
    Since when is it 'hacking' to guess that her email password is her zip code? You can't hack stupidity and ignorance.
  • by philspear (1142299) on Wednesday September 17, 2008 @06:45PM (#25046209)

    Sarah Palin is proof that there is no glass ceiling for women, as long as you're not ugly, have fufilled your reproductive obligations, don't have any actual power, will be subordinate to a man, seem clueless, and hiring you will keep a black man out of the white house.

  • by gillbates (106458) on Wednesday September 17, 2008 @06:47PM (#25046261) Homepage Journal

    This wouldn't have even been an issue if she'd used encryption.

    Maybe high-profile leaks like this will help convince the public at large that encryption is beneficial, even if you aren't doing anything wrong.

  • by LordKronos (470910) on Wednesday September 17, 2008 @06:49PM (#25046283)

    This is a really good reason why they should NOT be using their private email. Sure, using the government systems opens them up to having their corruption on record, but having it on something like Yahoo mail opens it up to something like this, potentially exposing WAY more information than that. Not that government email is unhackable, but I'd certainly expect it to be at least a little bit more secure.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 17, 2008 @06:51PM (#25046311)

    If this is true, I think it's possible that Anonymous has just painted a gigantic bulls-eye on a free internet.

    I am all for ferreting out corruption, but what I worry about is how many will paint this: "Terrorist Rogue Hacker attacks Vice Presidential Candidate."

    What limits are there on privacy now? I hope I am wrong.

  • by darkvizier (703808) on Wednesday September 17, 2008 @06:58PM (#25046425)
    I can't believe she gets so little spam at yahoo. My yahoo account is overrun with spam, even years after I've stopped using it. She's definitely paying someone off...
  • by Stanislav_J (947290) on Wednesday September 17, 2008 @07:15PM (#25046659)

    "McCain-Palin 2008 Campaign Manager Rick Davis: 'This is a shocking invasion of the Governor's privacy and a violation of law. The matter has been turned over to the appropriate authorities and we hope that anyone in possession of these emails will destroy them. We will have no further comment'..."

    When someone does this sort of hacking/eavesdropping/snooping to a government official, it's called "a shocking invasion of...privacy and a violation of law."

    When the government does it to you, it's called the "Patriot Act."

  • Ugh... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Sitnalta (1051230) on Wednesday September 17, 2008 @07:27PM (#25046823)

    I don't like Palin or the entire McCain campaign in the least... but how is this even remotely acceptable? We cry and bitch and moan about warrantless government wiretapping, yet when some group of a-holes breaks into an elected official's personal email account and posts screenshots on the web, we see it as just some more dirt on a candidate. The best word that describes that is "despicable."

    Mark this as flamebait all you want, but people running for public office have constitutional rights too. I've always considered Anonymous a bit shady in their dealings, and this justs seals the deal.

    • Re:Ugh... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by rantingkitten (938138) <kitten@@@mirrorshades...org> on Wednesday September 17, 2008 @08:12PM (#25047563) Homepage
      I was listening to Sean Hannity blathering on his radio show this afternoon about this topic and had the same thought, but somewhat inverted. He was filled with self-righteous indignation about the immorality of breaching someone's privacy like this, making all sorts of comparisions to listening in on people's phone conversations, checking their mail, etc. Of course, Hannity and his ilk lack the self-reflection to realise they're the same ones who just love warrantless wiretaps, pen registers, sneak-and-peek maneuvers, things like Carnivore and Echelon, and all the other invasions of privacy the government has been heaping on the American public in the past few years.

      Apparently it's okay to do it to the masses because it might catch THE TERRORISTS OMG!, but when it happens to a candidate they like, suddenly it's the worst thing that could ever happen to anyone.

      Personally I agree that privacy is important and Palin shouldn't have been put through this, but that's because I'm against that sort of invasion on principle, and I'm not willing to pick and choose who it's okay for and who it isn't.
  • A generation gap... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Propagandhi (570791) on Wednesday September 17, 2008 @07:34PM (#25046891) Journal

    1) Yahoo e-mail account
    2) Password was her zip code
    3) Prominent public figure
    4) No attempt to disguise her identity in the user name

    Are the over 30 year olds really that stupid? This is stuff I'd expect from my grandmother, not a governor/VP candidate.

    The sad thing is the media isn't going to note that her behavior was unsafe. Instead it will be the dirty hacker's fault, nevermind that the account has likely been "hacked" several times. Even if it hasn't it sure as hell would be if this info wasn't made public and the account was shut down.

    It will really twist my nuts if:

    1) Everything in the account becomes a inadmissible when an investigation of the legality of the account is conducted.

    2) The issue of the McCain/Palin ticket's technological illiteracy is not brought up. Maintaining the security of your e-mail account is something every user has to be able to do, and that includes using a real password. And, no, I don't think Biden's a competant human either, but the top of that ticket hasn't really given me reason to worry, yet...

    Fuck, people are stupid. But nevermind that, it's those damn tricky kids... so crafty these days!

  • by unity100 (970058) on Wednesday September 17, 2008 @07:41PM (#25047025) Homepage Journal
    excuse me, but she lost her privacy rights on that account right at the moment she sent the first government related email, or replied to a government related email.

    the fact that we weren't in the know in regard to her violation of law, her illegal act before the hacking, doesnt make her any more right about the matter. a crime is being committed, you just dont have proof.

    its like someone filming a gang operation and publishing it, and then gang coming up and claiming that their privacy rights were violated.
  • by kroyd (29866) on Wednesday September 17, 2008 @07:45PM (#25047097)
    From the file "protip.txt" in the rapidshare archive:

    account recognizes
    b-day 2/11/64
    ZIP code 99687
    for password change.

    The zip code is of course that of Wasilla, Alaska.

    It would seem that the republican VP candidate is at least twice as security aware as Paris Hilton [cnet.com]. Paris' had just one security question, the name of her dog (Tinkerbell), while Palin had two extremely obvious security questions.

    Of course, two times "nothing much" is not a lot at all..

  • by Punchinello (303093) on Wednesday September 17, 2008 @08:37PM (#25047879)
    Here is a small sample of the email messages related to governemnt business. I like the last one about a confidential ethics matter:

    Ruaro, Randall P (GOV) Draft letter to Governor Schwarzenegger / Container Tax Thu, 8/28/08 12KB Read

    Ruaro, Randall P (GOV) FW: DPS Personnel and Budget Issues Tue, 8/19/08 11KB Read

    Ruaro, Randall P (GOV) Court of Appeals Nominations Sat, 8/16/08 11KB Read

    Nizich, Michael A (GOV) another records request Fri, 8/15/08 5KB Read

    Nizich, Michael A (GOV) FW: CONFIDENTIAL Ethics Matter Thu, 8/7/08 5KB Read

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