back to article Lawyers claim Palin hack suspect's PC had spyware

Lawyers for Sarah Palin webmail hack suspect David Kernell claim his PC was infected with spyware. The contention may be used at trial to support arguments that the 21-year-old student son of a Tennessee Democrat politician was not personally responsible for the hack on a Yahoo! account maintained by the former Alaskan governor …

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Anonymous Coward

I thought...

...that under USA-ian law it was illegal to use a service like Yahoo! for governmental business. Will Palin be getting charged (is this is indeed the case)?

If I am correct and Palin is not charged, it's nice to see that the UK is not the only place where politicians are above the law.

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Alert

Hmmmm

Sis he not admit it when he first got nailed for this? He was trying for a whistleblower defense so how the hell do they expect this to work?

Granted I could be misstaken in my recall.

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FAIL

i thought he confessed when they picked him up...

new hacker defense... leave malware on your computer and claim that they stole your identy and made your evil blog posts as you and that you actually know nothing about computers... when the judge asks you about your ip then you can just claim "ip in the toilet"

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Isn't everyone going to use this one?

Can forsee a point where every lawyer is going to use the spyware claim and it'd probably work in many since the jury has to find "beyond reasonable doubt". It's just a bit less plausable when it's only one person targetted, although still possible.

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Grenade

Sure sure!

Lets infect the head of the FBI pc with child porn and get him fired but wheres

A similar incident the poor person will not survive a claim of infection.

The researchers who scan computers for these infections are doubius at best.

They will only find what they want to find depending if they like the person or not.

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Thumb Down

WTF?

I do feel sorry for David Kernell, after his ineptly executed -- but otherwise pretty harmless prank -- backfired so spectacularly. But this has to be lamest defence ever!

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Gates Halo

Windows

So that's what windows PCs are for... keep one laying around so that if plod knocks on your door, you just pull out the old "it wasn't me, it wuz the trojan what did it guv" excuse.

Sounds like a plan, now where did I put that install CD?

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what is a rational man to do?

>> "hackers used my PC as a proxy" patsy defence

What would really suck is your computer is infected, does bad things without your permission for a while, then your antivirus product does a scheduled update and removes the infection, leaving the bad stuff there as if it's your fault. The only legal defense may be to let your computer stay infected with several viruses so that the auditor has a chance of seeing at least one he recognizes as capable of hosting or retrieving illegal stuff.

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Rob

Need to thoroughly investigate

If that senario happened to me then a look at my Anti-virus logfile will tell you what was found when it was found and it's removal date along with the name of what my AV software thinks it is.

(of course the flipside to that coin is that I could also probably inject a few lines of info into that logfile as well).

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Anonymous Coward

It is because they are not experts

if they were experts they would know that software can be removed without leaving a trace.

So it pointless even looking, it neither proves or disproves, it just wastes people time, and can generate false notions.

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Happy

Not a get-out-of jail card

My very lucrative sideline is as an expert witness in computers and communications. I work mostly in criminal cases.

The first point is that almost all computer systems used by consumers of child porn have malware - usually more than one type. This is because their cruising habits expose them to some pretty dodgy sites. The same applies to pedophiles who try and groom under-age kids. Drug dealers and general crooks tend to be less exposed.

The second point is that the technical evidence and presence of malware almost never has a bearing on the outcome. Juries are very eager to discount the presence of malware and instead rely on the human factors. Usually the video of the initial search and the half-assed excuses and minor admissions during interview are enough to convict.

Another common excuse is that 'someone else used my computer'. This is difficult to prove either way. However juries generally think "this was his computer so he must have done it."

You need very powerful evidence that malware was actively being used. For instance an intercept at the ISP showing someone in Russia controlling the machine. Since the defendant won't have this record and the authorities don't routinely collect evidence that may exonerate the accused, this almost never occurs.

What is more interesting is unprotected wireless access points. If the access point is unprotected and all that is discovered is use of the IP connected to the access point then any good lawyer can get a not guilty verdict.

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Mat

So Basically

To get off any computer related charge all I have to do is turn off my antivirus and firewall and leave my windows PC connected overnight to the internet et voila!

Pssst - Someone tell Gary McKinnon!

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Silver badge

Yes Indeed

I did that and somebody started posting mindless, trite and offensive comments to El Reg articles, posing as me. (That's what I told the Moderatrix anyway).

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Joke

Too high risk.

Just think how friendless, alone, insignificant and unimportant you'd feel if you woke up the following morning and found that the virus fairy had failed to call in the night.

No moody defence and paranoia thrown in to boot.

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Anonymous Coward

Juries may think that

but they would be wrong to do so.

And, that is because so called 'expert witnesses' have been distorting the truth, so they can get some dirty labour blood money.

In fact, most juries nowadays would probably side the other way, as most have probably had malware.

In a criminal trial it should not be on the balance of probabilities, it should be BEYOND a REASONABLE DOUBT, and it is VERY REASONABLE to assume malware could have caused the problem.

They are not expert witnesses for the prosecution, they are grubby little unethical thieves of justice, deserving of no more than our pure contempt and disdain for them.

Come the revolution, there will probably be an entire wall set aside for them and their kind, but that still wouldn't make up for their traitorous acts against humanity.

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Unhappy

Plea bargain

"I accidentally 93MB of Sarah Palin rar files."

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WTF?

Who gets the blame again?

So, Mrs. Palin didn't like how it affected the Republican brand-name. I can understand that.

Now, who was it that set up the cheap, ineffective password on her email account?

Reader and moderatrix, please permit me to introduce my Mr. T voice, in this: I pity the fool who gets snagged because the lady don't know how to set a password.

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