The family of former presidents George H.W. Bush and his son, George W. Bush, has been hit by an email hacker.
The website The Smoking Gun late Thursday (Feb. 7) posted family photos that the site said came from six email accounts belonging to Bush friends and family members.
The photos include one showing the elder President Bush during his December hospital stay, which was so serious that some of the stolen emails discussed funeral arrangements. (He later recovered.)
The compromised accounts are said to include those of Dorothy Bush Koch, the younger President Bush's sister; Jim Nantz, a CBS sportscaster and old family friend; Willard Heminway, another family friend; and two unnamed in-laws.
A spokesman for the elder President Bush told the Houston Chronicle that he could confirm only that there was a criminal investigation.
Candid Camera Most of the photographs seem to have been taken at the Bush family compound in Kennebunkport, Me.. They include images of the elder President Bush with former President Bill Clinton, and of the younger President Bush with clothing designer Ralph Lauren and his son, who is married to model Lauren Bush.
Four photos display the younger President Bush's artistic endeavors, including two paintings, a photo of him working on a third painting and one of him posing with a cardboard cutout of himself dressed as a Parisian artist, complete with mustache and beret.
All the photos are watermarked with the word "Guccifer," which The Smoking Gun says is the hacker's alias.
The Smoking Gun said it corresponded with the hacker, who told the website he had accessed lists of Bush family contact information as well as emails among family members concerning the elder President Bush's health.
The Smoking Gun did not publish any of the emails, but did post some excerpts, some which reveal misgivings by the younger President Bush and his siblings about their father's friendship with Bill Clinton.
"Dad probably helped Bill Clinton than anything he himself has done" to "restore his [Clinton's] sordid reputation," former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush allegedly wrote.
The younger President Bush asked his siblings for family stories in case he would have to soon deliver an eulogy for his father.
"Hopefully I'm jumping the gun," George W. Bush allegedly wrote. "But since the feeling is that you all would rather me speak than bubba, please help," he added, using Clinton's somewhat pejorative nickname. [8 Ways to Protect Your Email Account]
Poor Password Protection?
The website said it had contacted Dorothy Bush Koch, who until then was not aware her email account had been compromised.
"Why would someone do this?" she reportedly wondered.
The Smoking Gun did not disclose how "Guccifer" broke into the accounts, but Web-based email accounts are often protected by weak passwords.
The case resembles the 2008 hack of former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, who was at the time the Republican candidate for vice president.
A Tennessee college student, the son of a Democratic state representative, guessed the password to Palin's Yahoo Mail account and posted several messages online. He was later sentenced to a year in prison.
To protect a Web-based email account, make sure you have a strong password of at least characters, including numbers and punctuation marks.
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