London, Sept.20 : The person claiming to be the hacker who accessed Sarah Palin's private e-mail account has gone on record to say that it was easy and simple to achieve.
He or she has posted online what appears to be first-person account of the simple steps needed to impersonate the Republican vice-presidential candidate and obtain her password online. The hacker apparently guessed that the Alaska governor had met her husband in high school, and knew Palin's date of birth and home zip code.
Using those details, the hacker tricked Yahoo's e-mail service into assigning a new password, "popcorn," for Mrs. Palin's account, according to a chronology of the crime published on the website where the hacking was first revealed.
The FBI and Secret Service have launched a formal investigation into the hack, which occurred earlier this week, and the post led bloggers to identify the hacker as the son of a Democratic lawmaker from Tennessee, Mike Kernell.
They claimed to have traced the handle "Rubico" used on the post to an e-mail address owned by Kernell's son, David, a 20-year-old student at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville. Kernell, who sits in Tennessee's House of Representatives, told local reporters that he was aware of speculation that his son had accessed Palin's personal e-mail, but said he could not say whether the authorities had contacted him. Yahoo, according to The Times, has declined to comment on the investigation, citing Palin's privacy and the sensitivity of such investigations.
The self-confessed hacker, whose gender was unclear, described himself or herself as a "lurker" and claimed to have found nothing incriminating in Palin's e-mails, "nothing that would derail her campaign as I had hoped."
The person added: "All I saw was personal stuff, some clerical stuff from when she was governor.... And pictures of her family".
Palin's hacker was challenged to guess where Alaska's governor met her husband, Todd.
The hacker wrote that the prank was cut short because of panic over the possibility the FBI might investigate, the hacker wrote.
If the details of the break-in into the account are genuine, it fits with speculation by computer security experts who said Yahoo's "forgot-my-password" service almost certainly was exploited.
The service allows customers to retrieve or change their password if they can verify their identity by confirming personal information such as birth date, zip code (postcode) and the answer to a "secret question," such as a childhood pet's name or school mascot.
Hacking into Palin's private account was significant as she sometimes uses the e-mail to conduct official business.