A major break in the case of who hacked into Republican VP candidate Sarah Palin's private Yahoo! email account earlier this week.
Early this morning, the FBI issued a search warrant at David Kernell's apartment. Witnesses said the feds were there for about 2 hours and took pictures of the entire place.
Wild goose chase?
The hacker, who went by the screen name "rubico" at 4chan.org. wrote a confession in the forum that was later deleted. Here's one of the things he said.
and it finally set in, THIS internet was serious business, yes I was behind a proxy, only one, if this shit ever got to the FBI I was fucked, I panicked, i still wanted the stuff out there but I didn’t know how to rapidshit all that stuff, so I posted the pass on /b/, and then promptly deleted everything, and unplugged my internet and just sat there in a comatose state
Unfortunately, "rubico's" screenshots of Palin's emails, which he leaked to the world, showed his entire Web browser, including which proxy service he was using -- CTunnel.com
On Thursday, Gabriel Ramuglia, operator of Ctunnel.com, said in an interview that it would only take him a day to narrow down who did it from his logs.
"Usually, this sort of thing would be hard to track down because it's Yahoo email, and a lot of people use my service for that," he told El Reg in a phone interview. "Since they were dumb enough to post a full screenshot that showed most of the [Ctunnel.com] URL, I should be able to find that in my log."
Ramuglia got into the proxy business a few years ago, after schools began blocking access to an online game site he used to co-own. Pretty soon, people began using the proxy service to access YouTube, Gmail, MySpace, and dozens of other sites that are routinely blocked by IT departments.
To prevent abuse of the service - such as the occasional bomb threat or other illegal act that's been known to happen - Ramuglia logs each user's IP address, along with the time and web destination. That often isn't enough to track down people who access extremely popular websites. But in this case, the perpetrators included a whole string of random-looking characters when posting screenshots of Palin's hacked account. That will probably be enough for him to pinpoint the proverbial needle in the haystack.
So the FBI likely received this information by end of business day on Friday.
Do you think they would raid the son of a state legislator's home on a wild goose chase now?
UPDATE: A commenter at Gateway Pundit who claims to have experience tracking down hackers and Internet stalkers says the following.
They had to get subpoenas to get the anonymizer services, other proxy services and the ISP's to cough up their records and then obtain those records, they probably also got all of his phone records, including text messages. I am sure they have a list of every website he has visited (all of them-including any he visited behind a proxy) and every phone call and text message he has made for the last 5 years. Then they had to get a warrant for his arrest. They are also probably getting warrants for any and all who knowingly hosted the posts he made of the contents of Gov. Palin's email account, too. Those people will be charged as accessories. I hope they all have retained legal help-they will need it.
They also have probably had him, his family, his friends and the people he most likes to chat to via internet or phone under close surveillance 24/7 since this occurred. He really was not a flight risk and if he had tried he would have been stopped. As to the "contents of his computer" there are ways to restore that but he made enough public posts of the contents of her email account and his actions to obtain them to convict him. I hope his daddy doesn't have anything incriminating on his computer because they probably seized all the computers in the house.
Nashville blogger and former NBC News correspondent Sharon Cobb, who is also a personal friend of the Kernell family, says David Kernell has not been arrested.
PS--Let me add that David is in a hotel with his father, Mike, and not in jail.
Let me also reiterate that I stand by Rep. Mike Kernell who never has had anything to do with this, and my heart goes out to him and David's mother who just got back from Iraq.
My heart also goes out to the Palins for having this happen to them. While I disagree with Palin on all political issues, no one should have their private email invaded.
Again, David is free, and I have no idea what will happen next.