California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has egg on his face after being caught on tape describing a Latina state legislator as "hot." The spin in Sacramento is that he meant hot-blooded as in "passionate about public policy." But as to the question of how these comments got released to the press, it now seems that the governor's computers - which contained digital audio of many of his meetings - were hacked, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.
According to a senior administration official who spoke Sunday with The Chronicle, a preliminary investigation showed that an outside individual or individuals had apparently hacked into the computer servers of Schwarzenegger's office and downloaded the tapes.
"The state's computer system was breached from individuals using outside computers" on three separate occasions -- Aug. 29, Aug. 30 and Sept. 4, the official said, describing the breach as "a very serious matter."
Apparently, administration officials weren't happy to learn of the taping regimen.
The leaked tape sparked concern among administration officials because they said the governor has never routinely taped conversations of his staffers. Sources in the governor's office said working materials such as the tape made by Delsohn were available to only a few individuals in the governor's office, and there was immediate suspicion the tapes were obtained by someone hacking into the computers in the governor's office, where the tapes were stored digitally.
But CHP now says it was outside hackers. Which shouldn't be surprising, considering California's computer systems are well-known as obsolete.
Government systems are penetrated on a regular basis," said Bev Harris, executive director of Black Box Voting, a Seattle-based group concerned about electronic voting and hacking.
"There's a lot of government offices that you wouldn't think would be vulnerable, but they have been penetrated," she said, citing the Pentagon as having its computers recently breached by a hacker.
Harris noted that research her group did in California turned up a surprising number of government computer systems that were more than 10 years old with little protection. "There are lots of very antiquated databases in California," she said. "It's almost laughable what systems they are still using."