Palin hacking roundup

[David Kernell], the 20-year-old son of Democratic politician [Mike Kernell], turned himself in for hacking into Vice Presidential nominee Governor [Sarah Palin]‘s Yahoo! email account. He was indicted on one felony count of violating the 1986 Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. Although the charge would normally be a misdemeanor, the indictment invokes another statute, the Stored Communications Act to beef up its claim. Some lawyers are of the opinion that the U.S. Department of Justice overreached in charging [Kernell] with a felony. They claim that the government’s justification is flawed and relies on “circuitous logic”. [Kernell] has been released without bond, and instructed not to have any contact with [Governor Palin], her family, or any witnesses to the case. If convicted fully, he faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000. We also discovered that this isn’t [Kernell]‘s first time in trouble. In high school, he received detention for guessing the password of the school server and obtaining access to some lesson plans.


  1. brian says:

    Ha! A McCain/Palin ad just below a Palin article, niiiice.

    The poor fool should have known better than to hack the account of a VP candidate. Goes to show that knowledge and wisdome don’t always go hand-in-hand.

  2. BigD145 says:

    He can’t own a computer? That’s pretty rough for an econ student.

  3. brian says:

    …sigh… wisdom

  4. redfireant3 says:

    shame shame on exploiting security flaws maybe the vp candidate was happy being blissfully ignorant.

  5. werejag says:

    again the government over reaches and make this out to be more than a simple password change.

    “free david”

  6. brian says:

    why do people think the government is over-reacting? the guy hacked a politician’s email (i know, hacked in the lightest sense of the word). he shouldn’t be hacking into anyone’s anything in the first place, but if he was doing it to “show security flaws”, than at least go directly to the source instead of posting your findings on the internet. would you be cool with someone posting your financial info on the web because your bank account was compromised?

  7. rockstat says:

    Just like Kevin Mitnick

    **Free David**

  8. supernova_hq says:

    I do agree that there should be consequences for hacking into someone’s email account, especially a someone like that. What makes me upset is that they are blaming this ENTIRELY on David. Sure he “hacked” in, but he should not have been able to do so that easily. Not only should her email not have had such trivial answers for the password, but from what I understand it is actually ILLEGAL for her to have been using a private email for government communications (which is why he posted them to wikileaks). Why has Sarah not be reprimanded?

  9. joe57005 says:

    I think he should be prosecuted fully. He broke into a politician’s email account knowing exactly what he was doing. The son of a democratic politician broke into a republican candidate’s personal mail, that can not possibly be a coincidence. Daddy’s going to rescue him with expensive attorneys and bribery and no one will ever hear of this again… or he’ll just be disowned and allowed to fry. hard to tell with liberals.

  10. Paul says:


    “he’ll just be disowned and allowed to fry. hard to tell with liberals.”

    Of course, with the republicans they just force their teenage children to have shotgun weddings.

  11. spadefinger says:

    Why the hell did he turn himself in? That’s never smart. Still… a felony charge is a bit much. wtf usa? not so much the land of the free anymore. wish I could be from somewhere else.

  12. jimmys says:

    “I read though the emails… ALL OF THEM… before I posted, and what I concluded was anticlimactic, there was nothing there, nothing incriminating, nothing that would derail her campaign as I had hoped, all I saw was personal stuff, some clerical stuff from when she was governor…. And pictures of her family”

    “Earlier it was just some prank to me, I really wanted to get something incriminating which I was sure there would be”

  13. Paul says:

    I don’t see how claiming that anyone could have done–or that it was routine it exonerates him of wrongdoing. The internet and real life are really the same thing.

  14. Bobzilla says:

    He needs to get ganged raped in prison so he can brag about that on his blog.

  15. amk says:

    first of all, this guy is a moron and needs to be slapped with a hefty fine, some probation and a few hundred hours of community service. seriously.

    beyond that, you have to ask yourself this question, whats worse:

    an idiot kid trying to impress his 4chan buddies by guessing palins password recovery info or,

    the person who may literally be a heartbeat away (yeah McCain is old) from the presidency not having the presence of mind to properly secure something as simple as her personal email?

  16. knox says:

    Didn’t they rule that not allowing someone to use/own/access a computer was unconstitutional…..Mitnick

  17. whoami says:

    amk; I think you answered your own question by way of what the perp said.
    There was nothing interesting there. High security is not necessary.

    Old? OLD?! How dare you say old! That’s ageism! Now, go wash your brain out with soap!

  18. amk says:


    are you a t6er? and high security should always be a priority when you’re campaigning to be one of the most powerful people in the world. always.

  19. knuc says:

    i dont see him not owning a computer as any more unconstitutional than a convicted felon not being allowed to own a firearm. govt has a compelling interest to keep him from his weapon of choice.

  20. whoami says:

    @amk; True, very true. Security should always be forefront in ones mind. Let us not forget, her email was not insecure by her making. She just truthfully answered the questions Yahoo asked her. She’s not a computer expert. Would you expect her to know such fine grain details of how to keep computer accounts secure?

    But ask yourself which is worse, a VP nominee not being a computer expert, or a Pres nominee having been mentored by a bomber of government buildings?

    What I find sad, is that both here and at MAKE, people seem more sad that no dirt was found, than what a despicable act cracking her email was.
    Can you imagine how it would be if the party affiliations were reversed? The child of a Republican hacking Biden’s email? We’d be having congressional investigations. It would be wall to wall coverage on TV.

    Perhaps some dirt would have been found if Biden’s email had been cracked.. he is a criminal after all. You know that little beach house he “forgot” to pay tax on?!

  21. H8tred says:

    I love how everyone that’s republican views democrats and liberals as one in the same. My grandfather is like that. Both parties can be and mostly are liberal. Take Bush for example. Liberal as hell in some aspects. Dumb asses…

    On topic, I think it’s crap. While he should be punished for posting it, She should be punished for being an idiot. He shouldn’t be charged with more than a misdemeanor though, he’s just being used as an example at this point.

    Whoami, are you kidding me? If the roles were reversed… When’s the last time you seen a republican get in any hot water? Clinton gets a bj, and the masses grab torches. Bush lies about “WMDs” to start a war, we find out he lied, and continue paying out the arse for it, and the prick is still in office… If the roles were reversed, the democrat would still be getting the short end of the stick in some way, trust it…

  22. dumbass says:

    palin is a dumb ass hacking her is not a hack :p

  23. Adrenaline Junkie says:

    “Clinton gets a bj, and the masses grab torches. Bush lies about “WMDs” to start a war, we find out he lied, and continue paying out the arse for it, and the prick is still in office…”

    As I recall Clinton never left office until the end of his second term either. And Bush only repeated what the UN, France, Britain, Iran, and even Syria believed. So they were all wrong. Everyone. And Clinton got his rocks off. Yay! They’re all retards. Now lets all get on the short bus to the “Special Olympics” for even debating politics here.

  24. John says:

    The real issue with Clinton is his perjury and suborning perjury in a federal court. Yeah, they really prosecuted him hard for that, didn’t they?

    If by “[B]ush lies about ‘wmds'”, you mean he reached the same conclusion from the available intelligence as every other government (England, France, Germany, etc.) and both houses of Congress and Clinton and Kerry and Gore then I guess you have reason to complain.

    Funny how it’s the liberals always complaining about invasion of privacy, but it’s usually them doing the invasion (Palin’s email, Behner/ Gingrich cell call, Hillary’s possession of 900 FBI files).

  25. Kent says:

    Say what you want, but guessing someones password or figuring out the answer to someone security question isn’t really hacking.

  26. gravitus says:

    I was hoping that there were hot cougar pics of Gov. Palin in a thong getting spanked by her boyfriend. Maybe prego pics of Willow in hotpants….

    I find it ironic that you don’t read about the average posters political beliefs for 3 years and 8 months, then KABAAMMM!!!!! Everyone is a political scientist.

  27. Coderer says:

    Look, I’m as much in favor of the “hacker spirit” as the next guy, but breaking into other people’s real life is always, always wrong.

    It’s like if somebody bumped the deadbolt on her front door and everybody’s response was “Well, of course it’s *wrong* and I disagree, but let’s not put all the blame on this guy — obviously she should have know how easy bumping is and gotten a better lock.” No the hell she should not have, *we* are “computer people” and she is not — just imagine that the same thing happened to your mom. Do you expect your mom to know enough about modern security practices not to answer those password reset questions? I sure don’t.

    I’m just sick of people acting like this guy isn’t 100% responsible for his own troubles.

  28. Kent says:

    This is similar to Palin dropping here diary, and this so call kid finds it, but the diary has one of those crappy diary locks that are easy to break. Palin the web is a public domain in case you didn’t know. The fact that he did this over the internet is irrelevant. I believe technology scary the ignorant, and I think Palin had it coming for being so careless.

  29. Gert says:

    Lets round this one up.
    Mccain doesnt know how to use a computer, Palin apperantely doesnt know much from security.

    And you expect these fools (promoting weapons and censorship, (oh and lets not forget about the whole hypocritic teenage pregnancy))

    to run your country; keep you secure and safe? and let them act like they rule the world.

    Ignorant little pests.

  30. IT_Dude says:

    So its ok for the government to look through our personal files (without probable cause) but they get all bitchy when we look at theirs? Sounds a bit hypocritical to me.

    “Free David”

  31. DreamLordw says:

    “No the hell she should not have, *we* are “computer people” and she is not — just imagine that the same thing happened to your mom. Do you expect your mom to know enough about modern security practices not to answer those password reset questions? I sure don’t.”

    Actually my mom does have more secure e-mail AND she isn’t running for VP of the USA… Hell my dead grandmother would make a better VP than that bitch.

  32. monster says:

    what damage did he really do anyway? give out government secrets? all i saw was a couple pics of her hot daughter and her ki- whoops i mean sarah’s kid ;]

    if it was joe sixpack’s email account this would be a non-issue, he’d just get a slap on the wrist. the only reason he’s going to jail is an overblown case of “he looked at my stuff!” from palin.

    if she didn’t knowingly and intentionally break the law by using the yahoo account maybe this wouldn’t have happened. i have no sympathy for people when something bad happens to them when they break the law.

  33. rune says:

    No, I don’t want to fucking hear what youy have to say. No, I’ve got my own opinion instead.
    The lawsuit should be promptly dismissed. Why should there be a difference in hacking Mr Nobodys email and guessing the password for Palins email?

    I fucking hate you fucking American fuckups. And I’ve even fucking spent a whole fucking year in your country. How many of you have spent a year in some other part of the world?
    Wake up, smell the flowers, kill yourself.

  34. jimmys says:

    the hackaday guys should pretend to have a hardware failure just to get rid of this thread.

    how embarrassing.

  35. john says:

    Sorry to have to intrude with a fact or two.
    Mccain doesn’t use email because he is physically unable to type, due to war wounds.

    it_dude, if you disapprove of government reading your personal files, why is it ok for some non-government dirtbag with an agenda to do that?

    From the hackers posted account, he spent significant time researching the answers to the challenge questions. He stated that his intent was malicious. The only reason anyone thinks this is ok is because the victim is a conservative. If this were Obama’s email, there would be much more uproar.

  36. pip says:

    He may have very well ‘guessed’ the password to his high school network, but from what I could gather he most certainly did not ‘guess’ the information required to get into Palin’s Yahoo! account. He used skills.

  37. kebertxela says:

    skills. you stupid script kiddies think looking up her info on wikipedia is skills? WOW… answer a couple of security questions and reset a password. I will say… this retard got everything that was coming to him. I attend the same school as this moron and I SURE wouldn’t call him a hacker. To prove his stupidity… he was “hacking” from his appartment going through a PUBLIC US PROXY. On top of that, he posted on 4chan which linked his email account to the user name. I will say, the proxy is the way to go however, he lives less than 1 block from the most densely populated wifi network in knoxville (the strip). There are AT LEAST 12+ public access points. My favorite “flub” that idiots like this come up with… is going to the extreme of spoofing their mac address, but leaving their hostname the same… not like that is an identifier. No worries of him being smart enough to spoof a mac though… let alone properly hide his IP… or NOT tie himself to his real email…

  38. m1d1n1nja says:

    I find it interesting that palin has of all this a yahoo! account

    *free david**

  39. Wwhat says:

    about that: “Sorry to have to intrude with a fact or two.Mccain doesn’t use email because he is physically unable to type, due to war wounds.”

    Yeah OK, that’s the BS Rove spouted, but look at videos of mccain, he is nimble enough with his fingers, and while he might not be able to do the 10-finger speedtyping he’s is perfectly capable of typing, plus if he wasn’t there are aids to enable the handicapped you know, people who can’t move anything can operate computers and write whole books.

  40. Shabadage says:

    Those of you calling for harsher penalties because his dad is a democrat and Palin herself is a republican need to grow up. That’s not the way the law works. It’s ridiculous that the government is trying to charge him with a felony only because Palin is a VP candidate. If she was just a soccer mom, he’d be slapped with a misdemeanor. In this country, people are supposed to be people; regardless of what their (possible) position is. Don’t free David, but dammit don’t charge him with a felony either. Just another example of double standards which run rampant in this country.

  41. john says:

    Re: “about that: “Sorry to have to intrude with a fact or two.Mccain doesn’t use email because he is physically unable to type, due to war wounds.”

    Yeah OK, that’s the BS Rove spouted”

    Except that my source was Mccain himself in a video from a couple of months back. He has aides who keep him up to date with the information coming in via email. He does some email himself, but it is inconvenient for him and thus limited, due to his damaged arms. Sorry to step on your hate parade.

  42. the Wizard says:

    I don’t know if anyone picked up on it, but this Kernell kid is going to UT Knoxville. FYI so did I and my daughter is a freshman this year.

    So Tennessee may not be able to win an SEC football game but we seem to be turning out a nice crop of young hackers.


  43. Nitori says:

    In the US people are supposed to be people it doesn’t matter who the crime was committed against the penalties are the same.
    He should only get a misdemeanor and nothing more since it was just a web mail account hack.
    Those who are pushing for harsher penalties just because Palin is a VP candidate are immature and need to grow up.
    Giving the guy a felony over this is a miscarriage no an abortion of justice.

  44. Nitori says:

    BTW on McCain using the excuse of his war wounds on not being able to send email is BS.
    I seen people who lost a limb and now have a prosthetic limb still do many of the same things they did before.
    He may not be able to speed type but I’m sure he can use a mouse and dragon naturally speaking.
    I seen the disabled use computers even write books.
    Heck Steven Hawking uses a computer to talk and write books and he can hardly move.

  45. jimmys says:

    “Those of you calling for harsher penalties because his dad is a democrat and Palin herself is a republican need to grow up. That’s not the way the law works. It’s ridiculous that the government is trying to charge him with a felony only because Palin is a VP candidate.”

    No one has made that claim. My understanding of the indictment is that the reason for the felony charge is that instead of just “hacking” because he was studying internet security, he was motivated by the desire to cause severe emotional distress. His own words were that he wanted to derail the McCain/Palin campaign by publicly embarrassing Palin.

    Wasn’t that Nixon’s motivation for the Watergate break-in: looking for dirt to derail his political opponents?

    Anyway, Kernell’s own actions got him busted and his big mouth got him the felony charge.

  46. Zundfolge says:

    What I find frustrating about this case is that most of those that support him only support him because they hate McCain/Palin.

    Had this guy hacked Obama’s email most of those that support him now would be calling for his execution.

    Politics infects everything. Bleh.

  47. blizzarddemon says:

    I wonder if in her conversations if she finally found Russia. XD

  48. Xoomxoom says:

    Easy-to-commit crimes shouldn’t be crimes at all.

    Creating an obvious exploit is like inviting a vampire into your house.

    They should just force this guy to drink a cup of bittergent for being affiliated with any political party.

  49. Hi says:

    This whole things seems so typical to me. I am not surprised at all. I have a good feeling it will take the kid 2 years for the trial to go through, and by that time he will just be let off with a misdemeanor and maybe some lean probation and bragging rights.

    I enjoyed the hacking of Paris Hilton’s t-mobile account much more.

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