Palin e-mail hacker vs. past computer crimes

With a jury deciding David C. Kernell’s fate in the Sarah Palin e-mail hacking case, I find myself wondering that if he is convicted how will his sentence compare to the sentences of other computer hacking cases.

Will Kernell lose as many years of freedom as did Kevin Mitnick or a William Randolph Royere III?

Mitnick, you may recall, was once labeled the most wanted computer criminal in U.S. history. Royere is less well known, perhaps, but equally interesting in the annals of hacking crime.

For your brief reading pleasure, contrast and compare the Kernell case with that of Mitnick and Royere.

Mitnick was convicted of hacking into various corporate computer systems, causing what some said was millions of dollars in damage to those computer systems. Mitnick evaded capture for several years before the FBI nabbed him at his Raliegh, N.C. apartment in 1995. Mitnick ultimately spent 5 years behind bars, including 8 months in solitary confinement.

A prosecutor claimed Mitnick was capable of hacking into military computers and could send missles raining down on cities.

Mitnick denied he could, or would, do such a thing. Mitnick said the government was looking to make an example of him — and they did.

Royere, the man with the Faulkner-esque name and a like manner, spent 34 months in prison. His crime did not garner the public imagination as did Mitnick’s exploits. Royere’s crime was much more mundane: hacking ATM machines and taking buckets of $20 bills that didn’t belong to him.

I interviewed Royere and Mitnick after they paid their debts to society and had launched successful careers as computer security consultants and authors. I haven’t talked to either of them in years, but I suspect they are doing well.

All I know about Kernell and the Palin e-mail hacking case is what I’ve read in the News Sentinel, seen on TV and heard on radio. Regardless of what the jury decides, I hope he lands on his feet.