At this point most people who use the web understand what can happen if their computer is infected by a virus, spyware or other malicious content. The malware can track key strokes, or turn your computer into a zombie. This can lead to the loss of privacy and ultimately identity theft.
If the computer happens to be connected to a business' network then the infection can cause a serious data breach, slow down the network connection hurting productivity or even crash the network. Most of us know about these risks and we or our employers take the necessary precautions to protect the networks we use. However, there are still organizations and individuals who neglect security. When a business decides to forgo security products it is often because they feel their network is too small to be a target. When an individual decides to go without security on their computer it is because they feel the worst that can happen is their credit card information is stolen.
When this happens they just call their credit card company's fraud department and the fraudulent charges are dropped. What these individuals don't realize is the consequences of not properly securing a network and a computer can be much worse than some fraudulent credit card charges. David Kernell, the alleged hacker who gained access to Sarah Palin's personal email account learned this the hard way.
Kernell's defense claims his computer was infected by a virus that took control of his computer and he was unaware it was being used to reset Sarah Palin's password and steal personal information. In other more serious cases, malware has been used to download child pornography on an infected computer so the hacker can view the illegal material and the victim is framed as the offender.
There have been cases where innocent men and women are convicted and spend time in prison simply because the virus wasn't found in time to clear them of the offense. Even after they are cleared their reputations are sullied and their lives turned up-side down. As the Examiner article points out, there have been cases where the “my computer was infected with a virus” defense has succeeded, but is this a chance you are willing to take?
Only time will tell if Kernell is an innocent victim himself or if his claims are false, either way he will have to go through a lengthy trial will potentially cost him thousands of dollars and his personal reputation. It isn't enough that Internet users and businesses have to worry about identity theft and the loss of sensitive data, now we all have to worry about being framed for a serious crime. With the right Internet security solution innocent victims could avoid the frustration of being falsely accused of a crime.
The original article/video can be found at Having your computer compromised could cost more than your personal information