Followup: How a Fox-linked hacker failed to fool Fark

Followup: How a Fox-linked hacker failed to fool Fark
Followup: How a Fox-linked hacker failed to fool Fark 

By Owen Thomas
August 21, 2007

Last week, Drew Curtis, left, the founder of, 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 [1].

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 [2] 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 
attempted break-ins.

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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