A federal grand jury has failed to return an indictment against the University of Tennessee student accused of hacking into GOP vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin’s webmail account.
Authorities believe David Kernell, son of Democratic Tennessee state Rep. Mike Kernell, may be responsible for accessing Palin’s Yahoo account last week and then exposing some of the contents on Wikileaks.
According to the Chattanooga Times Free Press, three students testified about Kernell Tuesday at the city’s federal courthouse. The grand jury then ended its session around lunchtime and failed to take any action. It is not clear when the jury might reconvene.
Department of Justice spokeswoman Laura Sweeney told SCMagazineUS.com this week that the FBI took some investigative action Saturday night and early Sunday morning in Knoxville, Tenn., where the college is located. She would not provide specifics.
No charges have been filed, she said.
A Knoxville station, WBIR-TV, reported that authorities searched the apartment of Kernell, 20, and his roommates.
Palin’s email was hacked when an intruder was able to use Yahoo’s password recovery service to receive the Alaska governor’s credentials. Kernell’s IP address reportedly was traced to his apartment.
Chris King, director of product marketing at firewall provider Palo Alto Networks, said corporations should develop policies and investigate whether the risk of webmail is worth the reward.
“It’s a fact that cloud services like this, they’re going to get hacked, whether they’re going to be hacked with highly sophisticated techniques or simple stuff like this,” he told SCMagazineUS.com on Wednesday. “The question is do you have the right policies and controls in place to govern how employees are going to use those cloud services?”
Most government and financial services organizations block access to these services, he said.