Pets have proven problematic for Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney. He has been widely (and rightfully) pilloried for putting the family pooch on the top of the car during a long vacation roadtrip. And now someone is claiming to have hacked into his personal Web-based e-mail account by guessing the name of his favorite pet.
It remains unclear if "Seamus," the Irish Setter whose kennel he tied to the top of the car, was his favored pet. If so, I'd hate to see how he treated less preferential pets. Whatever the word was, someone is claiming to have figured out the answer to that common security question to gain control over Romney's hotmail account, according to Gawker.
Gawker has published a screen capture of an e-mail from someone claiming to have accessed both firstname.lastname@example.org and Romney's Dropbox account using that technique, which also was used by 20-year-old college student David Kernell to hack into the personal Yahoo e-mail account of vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin in 2008 when she was accused of doing government work via personal e-mails. Kernell, the son of a Tennessee state legislator, was sentenced to a year in prison.
The e-mail account in question is at the heart of a controversy over Romney's use of personal e-mails to conduct official business while he was governor of Massachusetts, as detailed in this Associated Press article. Personal e-mail communications are not subject to the same retention and other requirements of official accounts.
Romney's e-mails are under scrutiny because he has distanced himself from the health insurance bill that became law under his governorship and which is similar to the Obama-backed national law that Republicans criticize. The Wall Street Journal published some Romney e-mails today that indicate he was "closely engaged in negotiating details of the bill, working with top Democratic state leaders and drafting early copies of opinion articles backing it."