Sept. 19, 2008 -- The webmaster of a proxy service that may have been used by a hacker who accessed Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin's personal e-mail account, said today that he believed investigators would be able to identify the hacker. Meanwhile, Internet rumors swirled around the son of a Tennessee state representative.
Gabriel Ramuglia, the webmaster of Ctunnel.com, an Internet anonymity service, said that screenshots of Palin's Yahoo! e-mail account that were posted online, suggested that his proxy service had been used by the person who hacked into Palin's account.
He said he had been contacted by an agent from the FBI's field office in Alaska and would cooperate with the bureau's investigation. The FBI declined to comment, other than to acknowledge that it had opened an investigation into the incident.
Ramuglia said he was still searching logs of IP addresses from computers that had used his site, but thought he "most likely" will be able to find the hacker's IP address. "From that, they can track down who it was," he said.
As first reported by Wired News, a person claiming to be the hacker posted an account of how the hack was allegedly done on a popular tech Web site, revealing the ease with which Palin's account was accessed. Bloggers connected the name of the pseudonym used by the supposed hacker to an e-mail address, and identified the hacker as a University of Tennessee, Knoxville, student, who is the son of a local state representative.
The student did not return e-mails from ABC News, and his father did not return phone calls. The father, a Democratic state representative, confirmed to The Tennessean that his son was the subject of Internet speculation about the hack. The FBI refused to say if it had contacted the student.
As described by the online post, it was easy to access Palin's account. Using widely accessible information about Palin, such as her ZIP code and birthdate, the purported hacker was able to access her Yahoo! account and change her password. The hacker allegedly said he was able to answer the security question on the account -- where Palin met her husband -- with a simple Google search.
"i am the lurker who did it, and i would like to tell the story," the person wrote in the account.
Nevertheless, the person who accessed Palin's account may have violated federal laws against accessing a protected computer without authorization to obtain information, a felony.
The hack, computer security experts said, highlights the vulnerability of widely used e-mail programs, and the potential danger of using private e-mail accounts for government business is dangerous.
By using nongovernmental e-mail systems, "Your information is out there, available, beyond the official mechanisms there to protect it," Amit Yoran, the nation's first cybersecurity chief, told ABC News earlier this week. Yoran is now CEO of Netwitness Corp., a computer security firm for government and private entities.
ABC News' Justin Rood contributed to this report