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Tennessee: Grand jury doesn’t indict student in Palin e-mail case September 25, 2008

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Chattanooga Times Free Press 24 September 2008

A federal grand jury in Chattanooga ended its session Tuesday without indicting a University of Tennessee student who authorities believe may have hacked into vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin’s personal e-mail account.

The FBI’s investigation into David Kernell’s activities, however, is ongoing, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

The U.S. attorney’s office in Knoxville is overseeing the case, but U.S. Attorney Russ Dedrick declined to comment Tuesday on when, or if, another grand jury will resume hearing evidence from the FBI’s investigation.

“Grand juries can pursue investigations for many sessions,” Mr. Dedrick said.

The U.S. attorney’s office in Chattanooga confirmed Monday that the local federal grand jury would be evaluating the case Tuesday. Grand juries are responsible for hearing basic evidence in a case and then deciding whether to indict a suspect for a specific crime.

Grand jury proceedings are not open to the public, and it is not known what evidence the grand jury here might have heard Tuesday in relation to the case against Mr. Kernell.

Three students arrived at the federal courthouse on Georgia Avenue about 8:45 a.m. Tuesday to testify about Mr. Kernell, the son of state Rep. Michael Kernell, D-Memphis. The students did not provide their names and did not answer questions about the case. An attorney with them from Maryville, Tenn., declined comment, as well.

The students were allowed to leave the courthouse through the back door, where members of the public generally are not allowed.

FBI agents from Knoxville exited the front doors of the courthouse about 10 a.m., also declining to comment on any aspect of the case.

A hacker last week broke into one of the Yahoo Inc. e-mail accounts used by Alaska Gov. Palin, the running mate of presidential candidate Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. The McCain campaign acknowledged the act, calling it illegal and an invasion of her privacy.

The FBI began investigating Mr. Kernell over the weekend, according to the Justice Department. Investigators searched his apartment in Knoxville, but they did not file any criminal charges immediately.

Mr. Kernell, 20, is an economics major at UT. Kernell family attorney Wade V. Davies wrote in a letter Monday that “the Kernell family wants to do the right thing, and they want what is best for their son.”

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

O’Reilly Hacked for Comments about Palin Hack September 20, 2008

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Wired, 19 Sept 2008

A hacker claims to have cracked the web site of Fox News commentator Bill O’Reilly and purloined a list of subscribers to the site, which includes their names, e-mail addresses, city and state, and the password they use for their registration to the site.

The attack was retaliation for comments that O’Reilly made on the air this week about web sites that published e-mails obtained from the Yahoo account of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, according to a press release distributed by WikiLeaks late Friday.

The hacker sent WikiLeaks a screenshot of O’Reilly’s subscriber list as proof of the deed, which WikiLeaks has posted online.

This week on his Fox show, O’Reilly slammed web sites, such as WikiLeaks and Gawker, for posting screenshots of e-mails, family photos and a list of contacts taken from Palin’s private e-mail account.

“They’re trafficking in stolen merchandise,” O’Reilly said during one of his shows, calling for their prosecution. He also referred to a site that published the screenshots as “despicable, slimy, scummy.”

In the video above, O’Reilly spoke with Amanda Carpenter, a reporter for Townhall.com who agreed with him and said that a web site that published such information was “complicit” in the hack of Palin’s e-mail account.

“They think it’s newsworthy, even though the information was absolutely, illegally obtained,” she said.

Neither O’Reilly nor Carpenter mentioned the First Amendment protection that media organizations, such as Fox News and Townhall.com, are generally afforded for publishing newsworthy information.

That segment was followed the next day by a segment with Fox News anchor, Megyn Kelly, a lawyer, who explained why the First Amendment would protect the sites. (See video below.)

O’Reilly, disagreed with her, however.

“If your grandma sends you 50 bucks for your birthday and somebody steals the letter and gives it to somebody else and they take the 50 bucks, they’re going to get charged as well as this person who stole the letter,” he said.

Kelly explained that taking stolen money and publishing news were not the same.

“That’s crazy,” he said.

“No it’s not crazy,” Kelly replied. “Because . . . what if somebody obtained a document illegally that proved some massive conspiracy among the presidential candidates and they leaked it to Fox News and we knew it was stolen. You don’t think we’d put it on the air? You’re darn right we would. And it’s not illegal.”

WikiLeaks said in its press release that it had confirmed the authenticity of the list, but didn’t mention how it did so.

Efforts by Threat Level to contact Fox News and some of the subscribers on the list to independently verify the authenticity of the list were unsuccessful.

Web proxy firm working with FBI to trace Palin e-mail hacker September 18, 2008

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IDG, 18 Sept, 2008

The Webmaster of a proxy service called Ctunnel.com, which may have been used by a hacker to illegally access the e-mail account of Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, is working with law enforcement authorities to track down the person behind the break-in.

Gabriel Ramuglia, the Athens, Ga.-based Webmaster of Ctunnel, said Thursday that URLs in screenshots of Palin’s e-mail — photos were posted online Wednesday on 4chan.org and other sites — suggested that whoever accessed her Yahoo! account had used his proxy service.

Ramuglia said in an interview that he was contacted by FBI officials last night and asked to retain computer logs of the last few days’ activity on his service and make sure nothing is deleted. Ramuglia, who normally stores only a week’s worth of log data, said he would not have deleted anything anyway because of the illegal nature of what had happened.

Ramuglia is now in the process of importing more than 80GB worth of log data into a database for analysis. He said he’s reasonably confident he can help authorities sift through the logs and trace access back to the originating IP address — especially because the self-professed hacker has admitted using just one proxy service to access Palin’s account.

Notorious board user

The alleged hacker said in an online posting that he gained access by simply resetting the password to Palin’s Yahoo! e-mail account using its password recovery service. That’s according to a description of events posted on a blog site run by conservative syndicated columnist Michelle Malkin.

The first-person account was originally posted on a Web site called 4chan.org by a poster identified only as “Rubico.” That post, along with a related thread, was later deleted from that site — but not before a reader of Malkin’s blog apparently snagged a copy of it and sent it along to Malkin. Rubico’s claims could not be verified and security analysts have been skeptical of the claims.

According to the Malkin blog reader, 4chan.org hosts multiple boards, each of which is dedicated to specific subjects. The individual who first broke into Palin’s e-mail account apparently belonged to a group called /b/, which the reader described as the “most notorious” of the boards on 4chan.org.. /b/tards, as its denizens are called, are interested only in their own amusement,” the reader claimed.

Reset the password

Rubico allegedly became interested in Palin’s e-mail after reading media reports of her using a Yahoo! e-mail account and decided to try and access it by resetting her password. “It took seriously 45 mins on wikipedia and google to find the info” needed, Rubico claimed. “Birthday? 15 seconds on wikipedia, zip code? well she had always been from wasilla, and it only has 2 zip codes (thanks online postal service!)”

Rubico said it was harder to find the answer to one of the other questions needed for a password recovery: Where had Palin met her husband? After some digging, Rubico determined that the couple first met at Wasilla High School.

He said he used the information to reset Palin’s password and go through her e-mail to see for anything incriminating that might “derail her campaign.”

It was only after finding nothing that the hacker realized how easily he could be caught, since he had used only one proxy to access the account. So he decided to make access to it available to others on the /b/ board by posting Palin’s recently reset password. Rubico claimed he “then promptly deleted everything, and unplugged my Internet and just sat there in a comatose state.”

However, one of the other members of the bulletin board who Rubico described as a “White knight f..,” saw the thread and used the new password to go back into Palin’s account and reset it. That person then sent an e-mail to a “friend of Palin’s” informing her of the new password and what had happened, Rubico claimed.

Alaska Governor Palin’s email account hacked via social engineering September 18, 2008

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ZDNet, 19 September 2008

Details describing how someone hacked into the Yahoo Mail account of Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin (pictured) emerged on Thursday.

The hack appears to have been accomplished through little more than social engineering, the process of acquiring personal information through social manipulation. The hackers exploited known weaknesses in Yahoo Mail’s password-recovery feature.

The Knoxville News Sentinel reported that a 20-year-old University of Tennessee student has been contacted in connection to the federal investigation of the break-in.

Since Tuesday, anonymous posters using a forum on the 4chan.org website have been circulating password-protected zip files containing the contents of the now-deleted email account once belonging to Palin. Various posts to the /b/ board have also provided insight into how the hack was carried out.

Like most web account services, Yahoo Mail provides an option to reset or recover one’s user name and password. What is unclear is how the account recovery was rerouted from the alternative email address chosen by Palin to a secondary email address.

One poster said it took only 15 seconds on Wikipedia to answer Yahoo Mail’s prompt for Palin’s birthday.

As regards the prompt for a ZIP code, Wasilla, Alaska, has only two ZIP codes.

However, Palin’s personal security question — ‘Where did you meet your spouse?’ — did slow the process down. The poster claimed it took several tries before they eventually hit upon the correct answer: Wasilla High School.

Webmail accounts are not alone in using online security questions.

In May, Acxiom, a Little Rock, Arkansas-based data-warehouse company, announced it was introducing a biographical authentication service that asks users of online banking and e-commerce sites random questions based on their personal lives, such as “How many fireplaces are in your current residence?”. The answer can be obtained from any US real-estate website.

Anonymous hacking to destroy for “fun” and harassment of Black Americans July 4, 2008

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The story of the 4chan hack against SOHH.com and others.

In the early hours of June 27, 2008, two very popular Hip-Hop musical websites were attacked by individuals calling themselves “Anonymous”. MTV News reported that: “Both companies’ sites were hacked, and instead of the usual hip-hop related news articles and feature stories, readers were shocked to find fake headlines and obviously photoshopped pictures saturated with racial slurs and other offensive terms; the hackers also stole personal information about employees of SOHH.com. A group or individual going by the name “Anonymous” has claimed responsibility.”

The CEO of SOHH.com, one of the attacked sites with over 1.5 million visitors per month, issued a statement, saying:

“It appears that hackers are specifically targeting Black, Hispanic, Asian and Jewish youth who ascribe to hip-hop culture. … Other websites, including AllHipHop and DatPiff forums have also been compromised or threatened this week. … Also, as this is an international issue, it is being addressed by the FBI and the Strategic Alliance Cyber Crime Working Group.”

The sites were defaced with Nazi symbols and targeted the Black community whose members regularly frequent the site for news.

Fake headlines (“JEWS DID 9/11 – Enjoy This White Wimmens, N*gger”)

Fake headlines (“DEAD BEAT NIGRA ORDERED TO PAY 40K IN NIGLET SUPPORT) and racist pictures.

Promoting slavery

Racist comments and pictures

Early research found that the attack had been planned and promoted on 411chan.org where a “Call to Arms” was published on 411chan.org on 23 June 2008:

(nao : slang for now. irc: Internet Relay Chat. A real-time communication system on the internet used for chatting or live coordination of events).

The call for support was posted on a website called 411chan.org, a meeting place of the internet group “Anonymous” especially targeting Black people and minorities.

The systems of SOHH.com were damaged sufficiently to leave the site inaccessible for a week. Also the other attacked sites stayed partially disconnected from the internet.

EncyclopediaDramatica.com, a primary site of Anonymous chronicling the online activities of internet hackers on 4chan.org and 411chan.org, announced on 30 June 2008 that they will continue their “fight against niggers”:

“SOHH.com is a place for gay wiggers [slang: wanna-be niggers] to talk about cRap music using their native tounge of nigger language. Sohh.com is one of the highest-ranked online hip-Hop communities ….

“However, Anonymous has no regard for one’s material gains or how “nannified” a racial demographic is — Anonymous only exists to destroy. That lesson has been made abundantly clear to SOHH.com. …

“As SOHH is down, the leader of the Pro-Nigger Faction started a secondary ‘instead-of-SOHH’ site … The registrations are currently closed, but many of our soldiers managed to get in before the closing. As a result of this, there are currently operations underway to make sure this site does not achieve any sort of prosperity.” (Source: http://encyclopediadramatica.com/SOHH)

(What Anonymous thinks of Black people. Source: http://www.encyclopediadramatice.com/Nigga)

Hacked Hip-Hop sites, FBI investigating June 30, 2008

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SOHH.com- defaced on 27 June 2008 (screenshots)

AllHipHop.com (WARNING! Graphic!)

Sources: EncyclopediaDramatica.com/SOHH and trillsouth.com

SOHH.com is is still down as of 30 June 08 and also Allhiphop.com could not be accessed all weekend.

Here is the official statement from Felicia Palmer, CEO of SOHH.com, about what happened:

As many of you are already aware, SOHH.com has been under attack by hackers this week. We noticed the first wave of attacks in our vBulletins forums and as of this morning the whole site was compromised.
It appears that hackers are specifically targeting Black, Hispanic, Asian and Jewish youth who ascribe to hip hop culture. Other websites, including AllHipHop and Da Piff forums, have also been compromised or threatened this week.

We are managing this situation on several fronts. We have taken down the server to patch the security breach and put in protections for future attacks. Also, as this is an international issue, it is being addressed by The FBI and the Strategic Alliance Cyber Crime Working Group.

We realize the hackers attacked SOHH.com because of our stature in the hip hop space and the people we serve. Unfortunately, we did a poor job of protecting SOHH.com from imminent threats from people who hate our community simply because of our racial and ethnic makeup.

This has brought to light our vulnerabilities and those of the internet publisher and users as a whole. What’s possible now is for us to join together to identify and eliminate this threat.
If you are under attack and have any information about these attacks please submit a report to the FBI cyber crimes unit here: https://complaint.ic3.gov/

The blogosphere about Anonymous hacking Hip-Hop sites June 29, 2008

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http://www.thaindian.com/newsportal/entertainment/sohhcom-hacked-another-website-victimized_10065273.html

http://sandrarose.com/2008/06/27/sohhcom-hacked/

http://www.trillsouth.com/blog/news/sohh-hacked/

http://www.encyclopediadramatica.com/SOHH

http://thekaoseffect.com/blog/?p=1703

Hip-Hop Sites Hacked By Apparent Hate Group June 27, 2008

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MTV News 27 June 2008

Hip-hop Web sites SOHH.com and AllHipHop.com were forced to temporarily suspend access to their sites on Friday (June 27) after being targeted this week by an apparent hate group.

Both companies’ sites were hacked, and instead of the usual hip-hop related news articles and feature stories, readers were shocked to find fake headlines and obviously photoshopped pictures saturated with racial slurs and other offensive terms; the hackers also stole personal information about employees of SOHH.com. A group or individual going by the name “Anonymous” has claimed responsibility.

SOHH was first infiltrated earlier this week on its forum pages and shut itself down on Friday; AllHipHop.com also had its forums compromised. AllHipHop was back up on Friday evening.

SOHH CEO Felicia Palmer, who was attacked with derogatory comments by the hackers, released a statement Friday saying that she and the company were working diligently to solve the problem and have been in contact with authorities.

“It appears that hackers are specifically targeting Black, Hispanic, Asian and Jewish youth who ascribe to hip-hop culture,” the statement read. “Other websites, including AllHipHop and DatPiff[.com’s] forums have also been compromised or threatened this week. … Also, as this is an international issue, it is being addressed by the FBI and the Strategic Alliance Cyber Crime Working Group.”

In a statement released late Friday afternoon, AllHipHop co-founders Chuck Creekmur and Greg Watkings said: “Urban culture and lifestyle has come under attack by a group of cyber terrorists. AllHipHop and SOHH, two pioneering Web sites that have been in the industry for over 10 years, are appalled by the unprovoked racist attacks of these cyber terrorists. With all the social strides that we have seen for several years, it is sad to see that this sort of blatant, hateful racism still exists in 2008 — a time of tremendous possibility. Together, AllHipHop and SOHH are committed to relentlessly pursuing these attackers, using every resource available, to ensure the capture of these criminals and prevention of repeat offenses.”

SOHH and AllHipHop say they have joined forces to resolve the issue and have involved the proper authorities. Further comment is expected. Datpiff.com, which is dedicated to mixtapes, is still functioning as usual.