Commenting on reports that Mitt Romney has had his email account hacked, the head of Lieberman Software has expressed his astonishment at the lapse of security judgement with the presumed Republican Party nominee for the US Presidency using Hotmail for his personal messages – if that is what happened.
According to Philip Lieberman, president of the privileged identity management specialist, given that Mr Romney’s background has been in equity capital and allied financial markets – where he would have used seriously secure email technology due to financial and regulatory requirements – the use of Hotmail is something of a jaw dropper.
“Having said this, this type of email account is free and throwaway, so it may be that this was a disposable email address created by one of his staffers or even a supporter - although you would think that, were this the case, then people’s awareness of Internet security in this day and age would have encouraged them to enter specialist password recovery questions into the system, rather than rely on the default settings,” he said.
“The reality, however, is that a Hotmail account – by definition – is never going to be as secure as is required for a Presidential candidate or a member of his team, and is therefore unlikely to be his sole account. Even if this did genuinely belong to Mr Romney, it is unlikely that his secret plans for his campaign would be on it! It is also worth noting that it will be relatively easy for law enforcement officials to trace back the password recovery access session and prosecute under US wiretapping laws,” he added.
The Lieberman Software president went on to say that is interesting to draw comparisons between this incident and the widely-publicised security-savviness that surrounded President Obama and his Blackberry, which he used in the campaign leading up to his appointment at the start of 2005.
If there really is a security gap between the Republican Party that Mr Romney represents and the Democrat Party that the President represents, he says, this could be perhaps explained by the fact that the President was aged just 43 when he assumed office back in 2005, whilst Mr Romney is 65 years of age.
Whatever the reason for this security faux pas, Mr Romney and his campaign team need to bring their understanding of online security dramatically up to speed, especially against the backdrop of the `Hackerazzi’ hack of last year where celebrities’ free email accounts were compromised using publicly available information about them, he explained.
“Next month is the 16th anniversary of the introduction of Hotmail and we all know that the security threat landscape has changed significantly since 1996. I would argue against the use of Hotmail and its fellow Webmail services for all but the most benign of uses - such as a back-up personal-email-only facility – is now the best option,” he added.