Members of Anonymous - that sprawling group of online rabble-rousers best known for taking on the Church of Scientology - have apparently hacked into a Yahoo! email account belonging to Alaska governor and Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin.
According to the bulletproof truth seekers at Wikileaks, "activists loosely affiliated" with Anonymous somehow gained access to the account at around midnight Eastern on Tuesday. Screenshots of emails purportedly lifted from this account - which carries the address "email@example.com" - were then passed to Wikileaks, and Wikileaks shared the stash with world+dog.
One of the screens shows an email from Amy McCorkell, a member of Governor Palin's Advisory Board on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse, and according to Wired.com, McCorkell has confirmed the note's authenticity. Other screens show the account's inbox and contact list as well as an email from Palin to Alaska Lieutenant Governor Sean Parnell.
The Reg has contacted the offices of Palin, Parnell, and McCorkell, but none immediately responded to requests for comment. We were unable to reach Palin's campaign office.
Another screen posted to Wikileaks shows an email from an Anonymous activist to Palin aide Ivy Frye, warning her that the account was hacked. "Dear Ivy," the email reads. "You don't know me but I am part of an internet group called anonymous. This email was hacked by anonymous, but I took no part in that. I simply got the password back and changed it so no further damage could be done." The email then shares the new password and asks that it be passed on to Palin.
Just three days ago, the Anchorage Daily News questioned whether Palin should be conducting state business from a personal online email account. Earlier this year, Palin's office refused to release hundreds of emails as part of a public records request, citing "exemptions for deliberative process, executive privilege, attorney/client privilege, privacy, and personnel," and some suspect that Palin is using her Yahoo! account to hide info she doesn't want exposed. According to documents that were made public, Palin does indeed use the account for state business.
An earlier story from The Washington Post published the account's address: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Alas, the screens leaked by Wikileaks are less than revelatory. "I am reading the paper and have thoughts and prayers going your way," writes Amy McCorkell. "Don't let the negative press wear you down! Pray for me as well. I need strength to 1. keep employment, 2. not have to choose. Lately I just pray may God's will be done. I am trying to learn patience and listen to God.
"I pray he gives you energy! Strength!"
It's unclear how the account was accessed. "There are four possible means I can think of," Adam J. O'Donnell, senior research scientist at messaging security outfit Cloudmark, tells The Reg. "But there's not enough information to do anything more than guess." Judging from the fact that Palin's address was recently made very public, it's likely the account was hacked with nothing more than ordinary password guessing. ®