[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.
A few days ago a lone individual decided to crack [Governor Sarah Palin]‘s private Yahoo! email account. He did this by navigating the password reset procedure. [Gov. Palin]‘s birthday was publicly available and Wasilla only had two zip codes to guess. The follow up question “Where did you meet your spouse” required some more research. They met in high school so a few more guesses turned up “Wasilla high” as the answer. The original poster then read every single email only to discover that there really wasn’t anything of interest there. Frustrated, he posted the details to 4chan to let any wonk have at it. /b/ members began posting screenshots of the account, but very little came of it.
One screenshot of her inbox even revealed her daughter Bristol’s cell phone number. While there was no groundbreaking political information revealed, it is important to point out that it appears that Gov. Palin was using this private account to correspond to her assistants about potentially sensitive government information. This security breach should serve as a wake-up call to many public officials by showing how dangerous it can be to have a private e-mail account, especially when a free web-based service such as Yahoo! is used.