So here's the other reason why if you're, say, a public official, that you might want to use the official e-mail servers that are provided to you via taxpayer money. Because at least then when they get hacked, there's someone whom you directly control that you can blame for it. Yep, it was bound to happen. Now that Gov. Palin's Yahoo e-mail address has been plastered across the Internet -- her e-mail has finally (confirmed this time) been hacked.
The hack was apparently pulled off late last night by some members of Anonymous, the group of shadowy griefers and malcontents most recently made famous by their organization of worldwide protests against the Church of Scientology. They sent a package of screen shots and text files to WikiLeaks, which sent out a press release to reporters earlier today.
It's not immediately obvious how this "hack" was pulled off. As the Associated Press pointed out, there wasn't necessarily anything illegal going on, and it could have been as simple as social engineering:
It wasn't immediately clear how hackers broke into Palin's Yahoo! account, but it would have been possible to trick the service into revealing her password knowing personal details about Palin that include her birthdate and ZIP code. A hacker also might have sent a forged e-mail to her account tricking her into revealing her own password.
A group of screen shots and text files was posted late last night to the WikiLeaks Web site.
So what was revealed? Nothing terribly salacious, but here's the list:
1) Screen shot of an e-mail to and from Sean Parnell, current lieutenant governor of Alaska and current candidate for Alaska's sole congressional seat.
2) Draft e-mail to Palin aide Ivy Frye that reads: "This email was hacked by anonymous, but I took no part in that. I simply got the password back and changed it so no further damage could be done. Please get in contact with Sarah Palin and inform her the new password on this account is samsonite1."
Note: According to the Anchorage Daily News, Frye was worried about her own personal reputation when a volume of Palin e-mails was turned over recently to Andrée McLeod, a Republican government watchdog.
In one e-mail string among the volumes turned over, Frye wanted to know if she would be audited or "dinged in any way" if her personal and state e-mails all routed to the same device.
"I would gladly buy my own blackberry if it and its contents were truely mine. Any thoughts here?" Frye wrote on March 17 at 10:56 a.m.
3) Screen shot of the in box of firstname.lastname@example.org showing ctunnel.com in the address bar, a way to anonymize one's tracks online.
4) Screen shot of an e-mail from Amy McCorkell, a Palin supporter and member on Palin's Board on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse in Alaska. Wired's Kim Zetter confirmed earlier today with McCorkell that she did send the e-mail on Sept. 14, 2008.
5) Screen shot of the in box, scrolled down.
6) Text file containing the e-mail addresses of various Palin contacts and relatives, including her kids Bristol Palin and Track Palin.
7) Text file containing Gov. Palin's and her husband Todd Palin's birth date and ZIP code, and the personal e-mail account of Ivy Frye.
8) Text file list of recent e-mails and their dates. The last one is from Yahoo Account Services at 4:23 a.m. (no indication on which time zone or date, although it appears to be after Sept. 14, 2008).
9) A family photo of what appears to be the five Palin children.
10) A photo of what appears to be Bristol Palin with a baby in her arms on an airplane.
Apparently the McCain campaign, FBI and Secret Service are well aware of the situation.
So now the real question comes: Do you use government e-mail accounts that can be subject to public scrutiny, or do you stay on public commercial sites that aren't accountable to the people and can easily be hacked?