By Owen Thomas
August 21, 2007
Last week, Drew Curtis, left, the founder of Fark.com, the outrageous
social-news website, accused Darrell Phillips, to his right, an employee
at a News Corp.-owned Fox TV station in Memphis, Tenn., of attempting to
hack into Fark .
Curtis told Valleywag that electronic evidence pointed nearly
conclusively to Phillips and that he was pursuing legal action to obtain
records and eliminate any doubt. Since then, Phillips and Fox have not
commented publicly on the incident. Many observers have expressed
disbelief, or suspected satire, given Fark users' reputation for sarcasm
and tomfoolery. But Curtis, in sharing the incident, was deadly serious.
Curtis today told me he plans to "file a civil claim in federal court to
get subpoenas sent." Equally serious is the evidence he's assembled.
After the jump, I'm sharing the timeline Curtis's team put together, as
well as some other observations tipsters have shared.
In Mediaverse Memphis, a local news blog, a commenter left the following
comment to a follow-up story  on Valleywag's exclusive:
Has Darrell ever asked you to open a suspicious email attachment?
I hope you thought twice about it.
I think a lot of people who Darrell has screwed in the past are
going to enjoy this.
As with any Internet comment, it's impossible to know the validity of
the observation, but it's interesting to note that someone bothered to
take the time to allege that Phillips has a history of sending
"suspicious email attachments" -- a common way of delivering "trojans,"
or software that contains malicious code. And a former employee at WHBQ,
the station where Phillips works, believes Phillips was behind the hack,
The investigative news team at WHBQ was usually very well
intentioned and thorough. I am sure the actions are those of
Phillips and whatever idiots he thought could help him pull off a
hacking scheme. This is in the Memphis market. Not exactly reaching
out to the best and brightest with the most upstanding journalistic
integrity. Phillips was hoping to make a name and move to a larger
That, of course, is just speculation. Here are the hard facts, in the
form of a detailed log below, prepared by Fark employees, of the
One caveat: It's possible, of course, that Phillips's machine was
compromised by an outside hacker. But is Fox's corporate network that
insecure? And would a hacker, having access to a machine inside the Fox
network, and control of Phillips's PayPal account, merely use them to
implicate Phillips, rather than conducting larger mischief? I'll let you
be the judge, after you review the evidence. (Note: I've redacted staff
email addresses and logins, as well as full IP addresses, to avoid
giving amateur hackers obvious targets.)
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