Guccifer (real name Marcel Lazăr Lehel) is a Romanian hacker who is responsible for a number of high-level security breaches involving both current and former members of the United States government. The hacker first appeared in news media in February, 2013 after The Smoking Gun reported he was responsible for hacking the AOL account of Dorothy Bush Koch, sister of former president George W. Bush. Family photos of former president George H. W. Bush, who was in the hospital at the time, were circulated to the internet. He also circulated a self-portrait painted by George W. Bush, depicting the former president taking a shower. Guccifer has gone on to hack a number of AOL, Yahoo, Flickr and Facebook accounts, giving him access to information about current and former high-level government officials. In January 2014 he was jailed in his native Romania for seven years for hacking emails of Romanian officials including the head of the Romanian Intelligence Service.
Hacking of politicians' accounts
Guccifer later hacked Colin Powell's website and accessed years worth of his correspondence from another AOL account. The correspondence included personal financial information as well as e-mails to George Tenet, Richard Armitage, and John Negroponte.
The hacker also targeted U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski, a senior UN Official, members of the Rockefeller family, former FBI and Secret Service agents, as well as the brother of Barbara Bush, CBS sportscaster Jim Nantz, and former Miss Maine Patricia Legere.
On March 20, 2013, USA Today reported that Guccifer had successfully hacked the e-mail account of former aide to president Bill Clinton, Sidney Blumenthal. He distributed private memos sent to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton involving recent events in Libya, including the September 11, 2012 Benghazi attack. Before distributing the memos, he copied and pasted the text into his own new documents, then reformatted them with pink backgrounds and comic sans font. The hacker's IP address was traced to Russia, however there was no certainty as to whether this was his actual location or whether he had used a proxy to hide his true location.
In early May 2013, Guccifer hacked into online accounts owned by two members of the Council on Foreign Relations, as well as accounts owned by Adam Posen and his wife and another owned by a former Federal Reserve Board official.
Candace Bushnell hacking
TSG reported on May 7, 2013, that Guccifer had hacked the Twitter feed and e-mail account of Sex and the City author Candace Bushnell. Bushnell spent several hours fighting for control of the accounts, while Guccifer publicly posted portions of an unpublished manuscript to Bushnell's Twitter feed. Guccifer sent an e-mail to TSG claiming responsibility for the hack using the AOL account of actor Rupert Everett.
Arrest in Romania
In June 2014 Guccifer was indicted in absentia by a grand federal jury in the U.S. state of Virginia for his hacking activities in the United States. The indictment claimed Guccifer hacked into the email and social media accounts of high-profile victims, including a family member of two former U.S. presidents, a former U.S. cabinet member, a former member of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff and a former presidential advisor. The U.S. Justice Department did not indicate whether it would seek extradition of Guccifer from Romania, where he was jailed in January 2014 for seven years.
Name and hacker credentials
Lazar was an amateurish hacker with no special skills beyond what he learned from various hacker websites. His hacking tools consisted of a desktop computer, a cellphone, an internet connection and lots of patience and persistence. He used the simple technique of finding personal information about his victims online and then using this to guess the correct answers to security questions. At the time of his arrest, Guccifer was an unemployed taxi driver.
- staff (February 7, 2013). "Audacious Hack Exposes Bush Family Pix, E-Mail". The Smoking Gun. Retrieved 20 March 2013.
- "Guccifer' indicted in US for Bush family email hack". Herald Globe. Retrieved 13 June 2014.
- Lee, Kristen (March 13, 2013). "Colin Powell’s personal emails infiltrated by Bush family hacker ‘Guccifer’". New York Daily News. Retrieved 20 March 2013.
- Coscarelli, Joe (March 19, 2013). "Bipartisan Hacker Guccifer Hates the Illuminati, AOL". New York Magazine. Retrieved 20 March 2013.
- staff (February 14, 2013). "Bush Hacker's Victims Include U.S. Senator". The Smoking Gun. Retrieved 20 March 2013.
- Acohido, Byron (March 20, 2013). "Q&A: 'Guccifer' hacks Hillary Clinton's e-mails via aide's account". USA Today. Retrieved 20 March 2013.
- staff (March 18, 2013). "Hacker Begins Distributing Confidential Memos Sent To Hillary Clinton On Libya, Benghazi Attack". The Smoking Gun. Retrieved 20 March 2013.
- ""Sex And The City" Author, Members Of Council On Foreign Relations Join List Of "Guccifer" Hacking Victims". The Smoking Gun. May 7, 2013. Retrieved 8 May 2013.
- (Romanian)Vlad Barza, Hackerul "Guccifer", care i-a spart contul sefului SRI, George Maior, a fost prins la Arad, HotNews, 22 January 2014. Retrieved 2014-01-22
- HIggins, Andrew (2014-11-10). "For Guccifer, Hacking Was Easy. Prison Is Hard.". The New York Times (The New York Times Company). Retrieved 2014-11-12.