Two days after someone broke into the email account of vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, unknown intruders have hacked the website of conservative commentator Bill O'Reilly and posted personal details of more than 200 of its subscribers.
The breach into BillOreilly.com came as retaliation for remarks O'Reilly made on FoxNews condemning the attack on Palin's Yahoo email account, according to Wikileaks, a site that makes it easy for whistleblowers, hackers and anyone else to leak documents.
As proof, Wikileaks posted a screenshot of the BillOreilly.com administrative interface that showed the names, email addresses, passwords, and home town of 20 subscribers of the website. In all, information belonging to 205 subscribers was intercepted, according to Eric Marston, CTO of Nox Solutions, the company that maintained the O'Reilly website.
The hack came in response to comments O'Reilly made on Fox News about the posting of contents of Palin's email account, including pictures of her daughter and her contact list.
"I'm not going to mention the website that posted this, but it's one of those despicable, slimy, scummy websites," O'Reilly said, according to this snippet from YouTube. "Everybody knows where this stuff is, OK, and they know the people who run the website, so why can't they go there tonight to the guy's house who runs it, put him in cuffs and take him down and book him?"
It's evident from the remark that no one bothered to tell O'Reilly that Wikileaks, the first site to publish the Palin email, is a multi-national, bulletproof organization that has successfully withstood serious take-down efforts before. He's not the first conservative to have his lack of tech credentials in doubt. In July, Republican presidential candidate John McCain confessed he was still "learning to get online" and "becoming computer literate to the point where I can get the information that I need."
According to Marston, the hackers were able to access the unsecured list by trying a large number of variations of the website's administrative URL. He said all affected members have received an email and a phone call informing them of the breach and urging them to change their password anywhere they may have used it. No credit card information was stolen, and the site has since been completely locked down, Marston said.
BillOreilly.com charges $4.95 for monthly premium membership. The O'Reilly Store sells hats, mugs, T-shirts and other assorted schwag.
While the information exposed on Wikileaks may seem minimal, it has the potential to imperil the BillOreilly.com subscribers listed in ways they may not have anticipated. A case in point is Carolyn Carpenter, 68, of Henderson, Nevada. The list showed she used a six-letter word from the English language to access her account. Early Friday evening, when told she should change all accounts that used the password, she replied: "Oh damn, I use it all over the place." ®
(This story was updated to modify the headline; and to add details about McCain comments to the New York Times, about premium memberships on billoreilly.com, and about no credit card details being stolen.)