Financial data belonging to more than 4,700 donors of Republican Senate candidate Norm Coleman have been leaked to the internet following a breach of his campaign website that also made public the contact details of another 51,000 supporters.
Two Microsoft Excel files containing the supporter information were recently posted on Wikileaks. One file contained the names, addresses, phone numbers, employers, email addresses, and partial credit card numbers of 4,721 people who had donated to Coleman. He's the incumbent US Senator who is still wrangling with comedian and talk-show host Al Franken for one of Minnesota's Senate seats.
Wikileaks, which bills itself as a source for "untraceable mass document leaking," said it published the information to prove once and for all that a 4.3GB database had been leaked from the Coleman campaign's website. Coleman's office has said the campaign became aware of a possible security breach in late January but insisted that no unauthorized parties had accessed any confidential information.
On Wednesday, shortly after Wikileaks published the information, Coleman's office condemned the attack and vowed to work with the US Secret Service and other law enforcement agencies to bring the responsible parties to justice. It also sent donors a letter suggesting the leak may be the work of political opponents. Interestingly, it made no reference to this report from The Minnesota Independent.
The story details the discovery in late January of an IT professional named Adria Richards, who says she was shocked to fine the database at normcoleman.com was wide open after she accessed the site using its IP address rather than its domain name. She left this screenshot to document her find.
"All you needed was a web browser," she told the paper. "It's like I walked over to Norm Coleman's house and saw his door was open, took a photo of the open door, and posted it on the internet."
The paper reported it spoke to a separate individual who claimed to have downloaded the database.
If confirmed, the claims could have serious consequences for the Coleman campaign. Minnesota laws require the prompt disclosure of any breach involving credit card numbers, security codes, or other sensitive information. The accessing of a database, especially if it's repeated, is the type of activity that's easily spotted in logs. Coleman aides told the Associated Press they are confident they have complied with the notification laws.
Even so, the breach comes at a particularly perilous time for Coleman. His lawsuit challenging Franken's 225-vote victory could be costly as it enters the appeals phase. Allegations that his donor database has been circulating online for more than a month is a sure way to scare off new contributions, presumably when he'll need them most. ®