David Kernell the 20 year old college student who was convicted of breaking into Sarah Palin’s private e-mail account during the 2008 Presidential campaign has been sentenced to one year in prison:
The former college student who guessed his way into Sarah Palin’s Yahoo e-mail account during the 2008 U.S. presidential election was sentenced to a year and a day in prison Friday.
David Kernell’s lawyers had been hoping for probation only; federal prosecutors had asked for an 18-month sentence.
The judge in the case recommended that Kernell serve his time at a halfway house rather than federal prison, but that decision is up to the U.S. Bureau of Prisons, the U.S. Department of Justice said. Following his one-year sentence, Kernell must serve three years’ probation.
Kernell, a 20-year-old college student at the time of the incident, got into Palin’s firstname.lastname@example.org account by guessing answers to the security questions used by Yahoo to reset the account’s password. In chat logs, Kernell said he was hoping to find information that would “derail” her 2008 vice presidential election campaign.
Palin was then governor of Alaska, and her critics thought she may have been conducting state business via the Yahoo account, in order to sidestep Alaska’s open records law. Kernell found no such evidence after examining her Yahoo account.
Politics aside. one year in prison followed by three years probation seems reasonable. In her autobiography, “Going Rogue,” Ms. Palin describes the incident as “the most disruptive” of the campaign because it cut off easy communication with her colleagues in Alaska.
Mr. Kernell, who went by the internet handle “Rubico,” was able to gain access to Ms. Palin’s private Yahoo! mail account by correctly the answers to her “secret questions” — her date of birth, her postal code, and information about where she met her husband Todd and then resetting her password.
Mr. Kernell then posted examples of Ms. Palin’s private emails, the addresses of her friends & family, and family photos on Wikileaks. Mr. Kernell also bragged that hacking into the vice-presidential candidate’s Yahoo account was child’s play… and it was. Standard challenge questions like “What is you date of birth?”, “What is your home zip code” or “Where did you meet your spouse?” are marginally effective for Mr. and Mrs. Average, but for a public figure like Ms. Palin whose life is well documented they’re pretty much useless… The answers can found in a matter of minutes using public sources like Wikipedia.