Does your dad still use AOL? It’s like, ugh, daaaaad, get with the times, right? Apparently he’s not alone. The Indianapolis Star reported last night that Vice President Mike Pence used his personal AOL email for official business when he was governor of Indiana, and that the email address was hacked.
The paper reports that Pence’s account “sent an email to his contacts claiming Pence and his wife were stranded in the Philippines and in urgent need of money,” which it seems has happened to every internet user over the age of 50.
Pence’s boss Donald Trump has previously attacked the DNC for getting hacked, calling it “poorly defended”:
And slamming their “gross negligence” for being hacked:
And repeating Julian Assange’s claim that a 14 year-old could have hacked Podesta, which is what led to the DNC hack:
Podesta was hacked through a phishing email. The email, supposedly from Google, told Podesta he needed to change his Gmail password; the link in fact led hackers to gain access to his password. An aide forwarded the email to the Clinton campaign’s IT staff, one of whom replied saying it was “a legitimate email” and that Podesta had to change his password immediately. The aide later said he had meant to type “an illegitimate email.” Everyone makes mistakes that have massive, catastrophic, world-historical consequences!
At least Podesta was using Gmail, which is more secure. Several high-profile figures using AOL have been hacked in the past, including the Bush family and CIA director John Brennan. Back in 2011, Ben Smith, now editor of BuzzFeed, argued that having an AOL email address is a kind of “status symbol” among the older elite, because it indicates that they’re “bigshots” who “couldn’t be bothered to switch, and had nothing to prove to anyone.” I’d like to imagine that this was merely a Take and not a real trend, but it’s definitely true that a lot of politicians aren’t up to speed on email security: Sarah Palin’s Yahoo account, the password to which was “popcorn,” was hacked with easy-to-find information like “her birthdate, ZIP code and information about where she met her spouse.”
Given today’s news, it might be a good opportunity to take your older relatives aside (or email them?) and remind them that Gmail is free, easy to use, secure, and not lame.
*Update: Clarifies that Pence’s account, rather than Pence himself, sent the email claiming he and his wife were stranded in the Philippines.