Feeds

Palin email hacker asks judge for leniency

'Youth and emotional condition' cited

Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable

The man convicted of breaching then vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin's Yahoo Mail account has asked a federal judge to spare him a prison sentence and instead put him on probation.

David C. Kernell's request for a downward departure comes six months after a federal jury found him guilty of felony obstruction of justice and a misdemeanor count of unauthorized access to a computer. The same jury acquitted Kernell on a felony charge of wire fraud and deadlocked on a charge of identity theft.

The conviction carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Sentencing guidelines in the case recommend that Kernell receive 15 to 21 months in prison, and the government has asked for 18 months. Sentencing is scheduled for November 12.

In a memorandum filed on Tuesday, Kernell's attorneys argued that although their client deleted some computer files after accessing Palin's account, he should not go to prison because he allowed much of the data to be preserved.

“The proof showed that Mr. Kernell very quickly took actions that resulted in the evidence being preserved,” the document, filed on Tuesday in US District Court in Knoxville, stated. “When Mr. Kernel's impulsive conduct is balanced against the preservation of the computer, his conduct is mitigated in comparison with conduct covered by the obstruction guideline.”

The court memorandum went on to cite other considerations that called for a lighter sentence.

“Mr. Kernell's behavior was an aberration from his normal course of conduct,” the memorandum stated. “Mr. Kernell's youth and emotional condition justify a departure pursuant to” sentencing guidelines.

The conviction stems from the September 2008 breach of Palin's Yahoo Mail account and the posting of some of its contents to Wikileaks. A hacker who went by the moniker Rubico posted a first-person account that was ultimately traced to Kernell, who is the son of a Democratic state legislator.

Kernell accessed Palin’s Yahoo! email account by correctly answering her security questions after researching the answers online. He then reset the password and posted it on 4chan.org so other users could access the account.

In a sentencing memorandum filed on Wednesday, federal prosecutors outlined a series of steps Kernell took following the hack to cover his tracks. They included the deleting of images and emails he downloaded from Palin's account, the removal of temporary internet files, and running a disk defragmenter.

“As a result of these actions, when the defendant’s laptop is seized pursuant to a search warrant, a substantial amount of data was unrecoverable from the hard drive,” prosecutors wrote. “As shown at trial, in many instances, only partial images remained from the Governor’s account.” ®

Mobile application security vulnerability report

More from The Register

next story
LibreSSL RNG bug fix: What's all the forking fuss about, ask devs
Blow to bit-spitter 'tis but a flesh wound, claim team
HIDDEN packet sniffer spy tech in MILLIONS of iPhones, iPads – expert
Don't panic though – Apple's backdoor is not wide open to all, guru tells us
Manic malware Mayhem spreads through Linux, FreeBSD web servers
And how Google could cripple infection rate in a second
NUDE SNAPS AGENCY: NSA bods love 'showing off your saucy selfies'
Swapping other people's sexts is a fringe benefit, says Snowden
Own a Cisco modem or wireless gateway? It might be owned by someone else, too
Remote code exec in HTTP server hands kit to bad guys
British data cops: We need greater powers and more money
You want data butt kicking, we need bigger boots - ICO
Crooks fling banking Trojan at Japanese smut site fans
Wait - they're doing online banking with an unpatched Windows PC?
NIST told to grow a pair and kick NSA to the curb
Lrn2crypto, oversight panel tells US govt's algorithm bods
prev story

Whitepapers

Reducing security risks from open source software
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.