Cryptome.org was breached over the weekend after miscreants took control of an email account used to manage the a whistle-blowing website, which predates Wikileaks by a decade.
Cryptome founder John Young said on Tuesday that he planned to pursue those responsible for the hack, and he suggested his computer system may also have been breached. A previous note left on the site's homepage said only that an Earthlink email address and a Network Solutions account used to manage the website had been compromised. The site was then defaced and all 54,000 files on it were deleted, Cryptome had said.
Tuesday's admission came in response to questions from Wired.com reporter Kim Zetter, who said she had spoken to someone who claimed to be responsible and showed her screenshots to back up the claim.
The hacker claims to have accessed John Young's email at Earthlink, a federal crime, and Zetter said she was shown screen shots of email to prove access. Zetter cited specific John Young emails the hacker claimed to have, one a confidential tip to Wired's Noah Shachtman using a pseudonym. Zetter said she confirmed with Shachtman that he had received the tip from the pseudonym.
Zetter also said the hacker claims to have accessed John Young emails and other material concerning Wikileaks, specifically related to "Wikileaks insiders" and material submitted to Wikileaks. Zetter said the hacker claims to have downloaded 7 Terabytes of Cryptome and John Young material. That is a thousand times the 7GB on Cryptome, thus the hacker is exaggerating or has downloaded material from John Young's computer system, another federal crime.
John Young told Zetter to report that Cryptome has no objection to rummaging through Cryptome material, it is all open source, but that the crimes of accessing private email, the ISP account and John Young's computer system will be pursued. "We will burn the hacker's ass for that," we said to Zetter, "be sure to print that."
US-based journalists have long asserted they protected by a patchwork of state laws that prevent their unpublished reporting from being confiscated by police and law enforcement agents. Zetter almost certainly would do the same here. The privilege is by no means a sure thing. Just ask Jason Chen, the Gizmodo editor whose computers were confiscated in Apple's fevered attempt to recover a lost iPhone 4G prototype. ®