SAN FRANCISCO, 19 SEPTEMBER 2008 - Just days after publishing U.S. vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin's personal email messages, the Wikileaks Web site has published data about members who signed up for a section of Fox Television host Bill O'Reilly's Web site.
Hackers were able to obtain a list of Billoreilly.com premium members, including email addresses, site passwords and the city and state where they live. Some of the information was published Friday on Wikileaks.com, which has been under fire from conservative commentators, including O'Reilly, for publishing Palin's messages.
"Wikileaks has been informed the hack was a response to the pundit's recent scurrilous attacks over the Sarah Palin's email story -- including on Wikileaks and other members of the press," Wikileaks said on its site. "Hacktivists, thumbing their noses at the pundit, took control of O'Reilly's main site, Billoreilly.com."
Premium members pay US$49.95 per year to access special content on the Web site, including discussion boards. Operators of Billoreilly.com could not be reached for comment Friday afternoon, and IDG News Service could not immediately confirm whether the list was legitimate.
A link to the full membership list has been published on a little-known political discussion Web site, which reported that rather than seizing control of O'Reilly's site, hackers were able to get the information from an unencrypted Web page that did not require a login. The list includes information about 205 people who signed into the O'Reilly site during the previous 72-hour period.
Earlier this week, O'Reilly, host of the TV show "The O'Reilly Factor," had accusedsites such as Wikileaks of "trafficking in stolen merchandise."
Although the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Secret Service declined to comment on the Palin hack, Tennessee Democratic state assemblyman Mike Kernell said his son David has been identified on Internet blogs and chatrooms as a suspect, according to a report Friday in The Tennessean newspaper. Mike Kernell did not respond to messages seeking comment Friday.
Posting to an online discussion group Wednesday, a hacker calling himself Rubico said he had accessed Palin's Yahoo account by using the site's password reset feature and answering questions using publicly available information on Governor Palin.
Because many Internet users employ the same username and password for many sites, the Billoreilly.com information could be misused to gain access to other Web sites, but it could also undermine the integrity of the Billoreilly.com messageboards, which are accessible to premium members, according to Paul Ferguson, a researcher with antivirus vendor Trend Micro. "People have the ability now to completely demonstrate that content on that Web site cannot be trusted," he said.
Given the online animosity over Palin's email hack, Ferguson said the O'Reilly attack could be the next step in a "hacktivist" war between liberals and conservatives. "It'll be interesting to see how this all shakes out," he said.
Sign up for CIO Asia eNewsletters.