Update: What’s next in the Palin hacking case?

Today we got the latest word on the Gov. Sarah Palin's hacked e-mail account.

David Kernell, the University of Tennessee student suspected of breaking into the governor's personal e-mail account, turned himself in to the FBI this morning and headed to federal court for his arraignment. He pleaded not guilty to the one count of accessing a computer without permission.

While he was released today without bond, the upcoming trial carries some serious weight. He faces up to five years in prison (one-quarter of his 20-year-old life), another three years of "supervised release," and a $250,000 fine.

Yesterday's indictment didn't provide much new insight into Mr. Kernell's alleged hack – mostly because someone going by the online name "Rubico" (which prosecuters think was Kernell) posted a fairly detailed account of how he broke into the Palin's Yahoo e-mail. We reported on the backstory here.

The hacker also showed the vulnerability of many web-mail services, such as the vice presidential candidate’s Yahoo e-mail. Rubico describes sneaking into the personal account by guessing the simple security questions set up by the governor: where she met her husband, her birthday, and home Zip code. After answering them correctly, Yahoo issued the hacker a new password, “popcorn.”
A quick Google search could uncover such data for many public figures, yet many of us still use such easy hurdles to secure our e-mail, banking, and credit-card accounts.

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