John McCain's pick for VP, Sarah Palin, knows a thing or two about retrieving evidence from a computer. The mainstream reporting calls her a "hacker" because she is able to retrieve files from the Windows recycle bin.

The Anchorage Daily News reports back in September 2004:

Sarah Palin never thought of herself as an investigator. Yet there she was, hacking uncomfortably into Randy Ruedrich's computer, looking for evidence that the state Republican Party boss had broken the state ethics law while a member of the Alaska Oil & Gas Conservation Commission.

The next week, when Palin went back to work at the AOGCC, she noticed that Ruedrich had removed his pictures from the walls and the personal effects from his desk. But as she and an AOGCC technician worked their way around his computer password at the behest of an assistant attorney general in Fairbanks, they found his cleanup had not extended to his electronic files.

The technician "said it looked like he tried to delete this, but she knew a way to go around and get some of the deleted stuff," Palin said in an interview. "I didn't know what I was looking for, but I was there."

And this is how Salon reports the same incident:

"In a neat symbolic fit, the agent responsible for Alaska's current moment of reform and modernization is a woman, a breed once nearly as rare in far Northwest politics as a Democrat. Sarah Palin, a libertarian and hockey mom from the fast-growing suburbs of Anchorage, began her political career -- as an appointed member of the state's Oil and Gas Commission -- by hacking into the computer of another commissioner, Randy Ruedrich, chairman of the Alaska Republican Party. Palin was seeking the evidence that she would eventually use to charge him with an improper relationship with lobbyists. (Ruedrich would later settle state ethics charges against him by paying a $12,000 fine.)"

Is this where the McCain administration is going to get their computer security expertise? She's not a security expert but it is nice to see someone at the level of state govenor who knows their way around a computer.

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About Chris Wysopal

Chris Wysopal, co-founder and CTO of Veracode, is recognized as an expert and a well-known speaker in the information security field. He has given keynotes at computer security events and has testified on Capitol Hill on the subjects of government computer security and how vulnerabilities are discovered in software. His opinions on Internet security are highly sought after and most major print and media outlets have featured stories on Mr. Wysopal and his work. At Veracode, Mr. Wysopal is responsible for the security analysis capabilities of Veracode technology.

Comments (5)

.. | August 30, 2008 3:03 pm


Christofer Hoff | August 30, 2008 7:51 pm

She seems adept at "hacking" Wikipedia, also:


J. R. Lenz | September 1, 2008 12:14 pm

Looks like the GOP isn't satisfied with slinging Tomahawks, they brought in someone to head up the Cyber-Warfare division! Wonder how long it'll take her to get some packet skillz, Russian style...

Thogek | September 1, 2008 4:52 pm

See for a bit more background and detail on this story.

Andrew | October 29, 2008 3:09 pm

What's sad is there are people who know less about computers than Palin, e.g. those news writers. This story is even more humorous since Palin's email account was broken into. Because we all know that email, especially Yahoo! email, is the secure way to go.

Anyway, it's a shame that the computer illiterate have hijacked the term "hacker." Whatever happened to the real hackers from MIT in the 60's -- the ones from Steven Levy's book?

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