Authorities close in on hackers who hit Bill O'Reilly's site

Conservative talk show host Bill O'Reilly has claimed that law enforcement officials are closing in on the hackers who broke into his Web site and published personal information, including usernames, passwords and mailing addresses, of more than 200 of his followers.

O'Reilly, who hosts the The O'Reilly Factor television program on the Fox News Channel as well as the syndicated talk radio program "The Radio Factor," acknowledged the hack last Friday. Then, he called the attackers "leftist hackers," and argued that their actions were in retaliation for his comments about the unauthorized access of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin's Yahoo Mail account earlier in the week.

The hackers made off with the names, usernames, passwords, and mailing addresses of 205 premium members of billoreilly.com. The information was later published on the Internet.

A message on the O'Reilly site later called the attack "a minor hacking incident" and said that no credit card information had been exposed. It also said that only members who had joined prior to Sept. 14 were affected.

Premium members pay US$49.95 annually to access additional content on the site, including its message boards.

Last Sunday, O'Reilly sent members an e-mail that claimed federal authorities were hot on the trail. "The FBI and Secret Service are close to indicting some of the perpetrators and we will keep you posted when the arrests are made," read the e-mail, which was submitted by a member to the Gateway Pundit blog.

"Rest assured that we are on this," O'Reilly continued in his message to members. "Our defense of Sarah Palin has led some criminals to attempt to disrupt our enterprise. At this moment federal authorities and our attorneys are compiling information against these people."

Neither the FBI nor the Secret Service responded to queries about whether they are, in fact, investigating, and if so, whether they have suspects. Both agencies frequently investigate cyber crimes.

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