FBI Searches Apartment of Student Suspected of Palin Hack

September 22, 2008
FBI agents executed a search warrant Sunday at the apartment of University of Tennessee student David Kernell in connection with the hack of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin’s private Yahoo account.

According to a witness, several agents arrived to Kernell’s Knoxville apartment in The Commons student housing complex around 12 am Sunday morning, where a party was in progress. Kernell and his friends reportedly fled the apartment when agents arrived, though the local TV station that reported the raid is a bit unclear about this detail. FBI agents asked partygoers who did not live in the apartment to wait outside while they photographed the residence.

Kernell’s three roommates have been subpoenaed to appear in court in Chattanooga this week, though no charges have been filed against Kernell or anyone else in relation to this crime. A grand jury is reportedly set to convene in Chattanooga on Tuesday.

Kernell is the 20-year-old son of Democratic Tennessee state representative Mike Kernell who, when reached by Threat Level last week at his home in Memphis, declined to discuss suspicions that were being raised in the blogosphere that his son was connected to the hack.

Kernell senior told Threat Level at the time that he was aware of the internet discussions about his son but that he had not asked his son about the issue out of concern that he might have to testify against his son if it turned out that the younger Kernell had something to do with the incident. At the time of that conversation, Kernell said that authorities had not contacted him or his son, although a Tennessee newspaper erroneously reported they had contacted his son.

Palin’s Yahoo account, gov.palin@yahoo.com was infiltrated late Tuesday night by someone who used publicly available information about Palin (her birthdate, zip code and information about where she met her husband) to bypass Yahoo security measures and reset her password to “popcorn.”

The intruder posted the new password and screenshots of her e-mail inbox to a forum at 4chan, leading other intruders to attempt to access her account as well.

On Thursday, a person claiming responsibility for the intrusion posted information to 4chan purporting to describe how he accessed Palin’s account. The post was made under the handle “rubico,” which bloggers quickly connected to an e-mail account, rubico10@yahoo.com. Bloggers quickly connected that e-mail address to David Kernell.

Efforts to reach Kernell last week by phone were unsuccessful, although someone claiming to be Kernell did initially respond to an e-mail sent to the rubico10@yahoo.com address, although he did not respond to follow-up e-mails sent to that address.

The IP address that was used to access Palin’s Yahoo account belongs to Pavlov Media, an ISP based in Illinois. The ISP provides internet service to The Commons housing complex in Knoxville, TN, where Kernell lived.

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~ by Leonidas on September 22, 2008.

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