Days after Fox News political pundit Bill O’Reilly condemned the cracking of Sarah Palin’s Yahoo e-mail account, his own Web site fell victim to political hacktivism. Over the weekend, over 205 plain text passwords belonging to BillOreilly.com site members spread across the Internet.
Wikileaks, which describes its Web site as a “developing an uncensorable Wikipedia for untraceable mass document leaking and analysis,” is largely credited with the original posting of fairly innocuous information retrieved from Palin's e-mail account, including pictures of her daughter, her contact list, and e-mails including one purportedly from an appointee urging Palin not to worry about negative press.
In a Fox News clip circulating on YouTube, O’Reilly spoke out against the leak.
"I'm not going to mention the Web site that posted this, but it's one of those despicable, slimy, scummy Web sites," he said. "Everybody knows where this stuff is, OK, and they know the people who run the Web site, so why can't they go there tonight to the guy's house who runs it, put him in cuffs and take him down and book him?"
According to Dan Goodin of U.K. technology and science site The Register, “It's evident from the remark that no one bothered to tell O'Reilly that Wikileaks is a multi-national, bulletproof organization that has successfully withstood serious take-down efforts before.”
Goodin also spoke to Eric Marston, CTO of Nox Solutions, which maintains the O’Reilly’s site, hackers were able to access the site's unencrypted member passwords by the simple hit-and-miss method of entering variations on the Web site’s administrative URL. Members have been notified and the site is currently on lockdown.
(Note: A previous version of this report misattributed Goodin's work to another source.)
"Several hacktivists' blogs and forums claim that members of the “4chan” Internet community known for pranks against the site Ebaumsworld are credited with the O’Reilly hack. Allegedly, some of the perpetrators were spooked by the criminal implications when they discovered that members of the O’Reilly site used the same passwords for PayPal accounts.
In a personal message posted Sunday on the Gateway Pundit blog, O’Reilly assured site members that guilty parties would be apprehended soon:
“Rest assured that we are on this. Our defense of Sarah Palin has led some criminals to attempt to disrupt our enterprise. At this moment federal authorites (sic) and our attorneys are compling (sic) information against these people. Again, if any person is bothered in any way —please let us know. We stand behind our products but, most importantly, we stand behind you. We’ll get the bad guys. Count on it.”