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Secret-Spilling Sources at Risk Following Cryptome Breach

• Kim Zetter via
Secret-spilling site Cryptome was hacked over the weekend, possibly exposing the identities of whistleblowers and other confidential sources, according to a hacker who contacted and claimed responsibility for the breach.

The hacker said two intruders from the group Kryogeniks breached the long-running site, where they gained access to a repository of secret files and correspondence. Among them, the hacker claimed, were the records of self-proclaimed WikiLeaks insiders who have been the source of several unconfirmed tips supposedly detailing internal WikiLeaks matters. could not confirm the identity of the hacker, who asked to be identified as “Ruxpin” or “Xyrix.” To verify his claims, the hacker showed screenshots of Cryptome founder John Young’s Earthlink account inbox and Cryptome’s directory. The latter showed two WikiLeaks file paths. The hacker also provided a list of about 30 names and e-mail addresses of sources who communicated with Cryptome and the contents of one e-mail exchange between Young and a contributor from 2008. The contributor and Young have authenticated the e-mail.

The hacker said they broke into Cryptome using a stolen e-mail password for the Earthlink account belonging to Young. They then used the e-mail account to reset the password for his site’s hosting account. The hacker claims they copied 6.8 terabytes of data from Cryptome, though “no files were deleted or altered.”

“Everything was copied for analysis,” one of the hackers wrote in an e-mail interview. “Cryptome is an interesting read indeed.” He added that “only data that had relatively new time stamps is being given thought. There is simply too much to sift through.”

Young, reached by phone, confirmed some of the information provided by the hacker but disputed other assertions.

He didn’t know how the hackers got into his site or if data was deleted but said that “all the files were inaccessible,” and that Network Solutions had to restore content from a backup. He disputed the amount of data the hackers say they obtained.

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