Jeb Bush's email cache held another surprise: Viruses

There is old malware in attachments included in the Outlook email files

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Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush

Credit: REUTERS/Rebecca Cook

In addition to personal phone numbers and email addresses for hundreds of people who corresponded with him, there’s something else inside the cache of emails that Jeb Bush released this week: computer viruses.

Earlier this week, Bush, who some tip as a presidential hopeful, released thousands of emails from his time as governor of Florida, when he promoted his “jeb@jeb.org” email address as a way for voters to interact with him. The emails were released unredacted—a deliberate move intended to demonstrate transparency but one that backfired because the messages included the names, email addresses and phone numbers of thousands of people.

Alongside a Web interface to read the emails, Bush also offered raw Microsoft Outlook files, and it’s in those files where the viruses lurked in file attachments.

Many are old and easily detectable with modern anti-virus software, but they still might pose a threat to some people running older computers or without anti-virus software.

For example, in the email database from 2001 there are several attachments that carry the “Happy99.exe” file, a computer worm for Windows 95, 98 and NT systems, also known as “Ska,” which first appeared in 1999.

A Visual Basic worm called “JS/Kak” was also contained in a file, as was the “Sircam” mass emailing worm, and a keyboard logger called “Badtrans.”

Some of the messages were sent as attachments to the kinds of emails that should raise caution with Internet users today, like one from Nov. 27, 2001, that simply said “Hi! How are you?, I send you this file in order to have your advice, See you later. Thanks.”

The Outlook data files have since been removed from the site. A message greeting would-be downloaders says the files were offered in the form they were supplied by the Florida Department of State and that redacted versions are available through the Web interface.

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