The FBI and Secret Service investigating the hacking of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin’s private email account, which circulated widely on the Internet Wednesday, have uncovered a digital fingerprint which should lead them to the culprit.
An article posted on the Web site WikiLeaks contains snapshots of email exchanges the Republican vice presidential candidate had with colleagues, as well as private family photographs.
The Associated Press obtained all the emails and ran stories about their contents, but when the Secret Service contacted AP on Wednesday and asked for copies of the leaked emails, AP hesitated to cooperate.
A campaign spokesman for presidential running mate John McCain calls it a “shocking invasion of the governor’s privacy and a violation of law.” A statement issued to the media Thursday says the matter has been turned over to the appropriate authorities.
Details of the hacking include a first-hand account suggesting Palin’s Yahoo! email was vulnerable. Apparently the hacker was able to impersonate Palin online to obtain her password.
The Associated Press reports the hacker guessed correctly that Palin met her husband in high school, knew her date of birth, and her home Zip code. Using those details, the hacker tricked Yahoo! into providing a new password, the Internet service provider says. Yahoo! declined to comment further about the details of the investigation, citing Palin's privacy.
The subsequent FBI investigation reveals that a person claiming responsibility for the break in sent a message to the hacked account, writing, "i am the lurker who did it, and i would like to tell the story."
Investigators are waiting to speak with Gabriel Ramuglia of Athens, Ga., who owns the Internet service provider company that was tracked to Palin’s account. Ramuglia told the AP he’s reviewing the logs and will turn over any digital fingerprint information to the FBI if the hacker violated rules against using the anonymity service for illegal activities.
"Usually, this sort of thing would be hard to track down because it's Yahoo! email, and a lot of people use my service for that," Ramuglia tells The Register. "Since they were dumb enough to post a full screenshot that showed most of the URL, I should be able to find that in my log.
"If you're doing something illegal and causing me issues by doing this, I'm willing to cooperate," Ramuglia said. "Obviously this is the most high profile situation I've dealt with."
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