A hacker apparently accessed private photos and e-mails sent between members of the US’ Bush family, including both former presidents, and the US Secret Service is investigating.
The Smoking Gun Web site said the hacker, who went by the online moniker “Guccifer,” gained access to e-mails, photos, private telephone numbers and addresses of Bush family members and friends.
The Web site displayed photos it said came from the hacker, including one that purported to show former US president George H.W. Bush during his recent stay in a Houston hospital, where the 88-year-old spent almost two months being treated for complications from a bronchial infection.
The authenticity of the photos and other details on the Web site could not immediately be confirmed. A spokesman for the elder Bush declined to comment on the reports.
“There’s a criminal investigation and, as such, there’s nothing else we can say,” Jim McGrath said on Friday.
US Secret Service spokesman George Ogilvie said the agency was investigating. He would not elaborate.
In Dallas, where former president George W. Bush has a home, his spokesman Freddy Ford declined to make a statement.
The FBI in Houston, where the elder Bush lives, would not confirm or deny any investigation.
The word “Guccifer” was plastered across the photos published on the Web site, which quotes “Guccifer” as describing himself as a veteran hacker who has long been in the government’s sights.
Interestingly, the hacker also revealed that George W. Bush enjoys painting. One photo showed the younger Bush standing at an easel, dabbing at a canvas. Two other images were of paintings that seem to be self-portraits in which the former president is shaving in the shower and soaking in a bathtub. Neither shows any nudity.
Free e-mail accounts from commercial providers are especially vulnerable to hackers who exploit easy-to-use features to reset e-mail passwords. AOL’s e-mail passwords can be reset by a hacker who could discover, for example, the birth year of a customer’s mother, a father’s middle name or the name of a favorite pet.
Last year, after The Associated Press revealed that Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and some top aides had used private e-mail accounts to conduct state business at times when Romney was governor of Massachusetts, Romney’s free Microsoft Hotmail account was hacked.
The alleged hacker claimed to have guessed the answer to a security question about Romney’s favorite pet in order to gain access to the account and change the password. The anonymous hacker said Romney’s account on DropBox, a file-sharing service, was also compromised.