US Presidential Race makes the security headlines

Graham Cluley
Graham Cluley
@[email protected]

I’m in Boston at the moment having meetings with the good folks at Sophos Inc for a couple of days. Being stateside does give me the opportunity to indulge one of my guilty pleasures – following the machinations of the US Presidential Elections.

Last night, for instance, Barack Obama and John McCain participated in their second televised debate. It’s actually quite curious to compare what was billed as a lively “Town Hall”-style debate to the kind of riotous barracking we see regularly each week at Prime Minister’s Question Time back in the UK.

I can’t tell you what a pressure it is off my shoulders knowing that I don’t have the right to vote for the next American president, and that I can relax, lie back and watch the drama with a large bag of popcorn.

The drama surrounding the elections haven’t failed to leave a mark on the security headlines either. We saw malware pretending to be a Barack Obama Sex video, a laptop was stolen from one of McCain’s campaign field offices in Missouri (lets hope any confidential information on the hard drive was encrypted), and Sarah Palin’s personal Yahoo! account being hacked.

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Today it was revealed that 20-year-old David Kernell, the son of prominent Tennessee legislator Mike Kernell, had been indicted on charges of hacking into Palin’s account.

According to charges – and as anticipated in the video we made when the story first broke – Kernell is accused of accessing Sarah Palin’s Yahoo! account after correctly guessing the answers to her “secret questions”. Mike Kernell has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

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If convicted, Kernell could face up to five years in prison. The trial is scheduled to begin by December 16th, by which time we should all know if Palin and McCain were successful in their race to the White House.

I may not be able to advise you on which way to vote, but I can underline the importance of properly securing your computers and confidential data. Defend your PCs with up-to-date security software and patches, choose your passwords sensibly, and always encrypt your sensitive data.

Graham Cluley is an award-winning keynote speaker who has given presentations around the world about cybersecurity, hackers, and online privacy. A veteran of the computer security industry since the early 1990s, he wrote the first ever version of Dr Solomon's Anti-Virus Toolkit for Windows, makes regular media appearances, and is the co-host of the popular "Smashing Security" podcast. Follow him on Twitter, Mastodon, Threads, Bluesky, or drop him an email.

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