Two men who infiltrated the private e-mail accounts of high-level FBI and CIA officials as well as the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) computer system, were arrested Thursday morning.
The perpetrators were part of the self-titled group “Crackas With Attitude” and its victims included CIA Director John Brennan, Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper Jr. and former FBI Deputy Director Mark Giuliano, reports The Washington Post.
The two members who were apprehended and charged were from North Carolina, but investigators believe there are still three teenage suspects residing in the U.K.
Andrew Otto Boggs (a.k.a. INCURSIO), 22, and Justin Gray Liverman (a.k.a. D3F4ULT), 24, will be extradited some time later in September to Alexandria, Va. reports The Washington Post.
“The Conspiracy utilized a technique known as ‘social engineering'” to breach several private communication systems by pretending to be IT personnel and the victims themselves, according to the affidavit.
One of the mischief-makers “impersonated a Verizon employee and Victim 1 [identified as Brennan by WaPo] to gain unauthorized access into Victim 1’s Verizon ISP account” and eventually his AOL account, according to the FBI affidavit.
After penetrating the victim’s internet service provider, the hackers would subsequently alter passwords to lock the victims out of their own accounts.
One of the members of “Crackas with Attitude” claimed he was high when he swindled his way into Brennan’s personal email. He said he smokes marijuana often, and that his motivation was his opposition to U.S.’s foreign policy, according to an interview with CNN. The anonymous member supports the “Free Palestine” movement.
The hacker collective was able to gain access to DOJ’s management system, known as Law Enforcement Enterprise Portal (LEEP), by directly contacting the respective help desks of LEEP and Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS), which is a division of the FBI.
“Specifically, from on or about November 3, 2015 to on or about December 20, 2015, CRACKA and potentially other individuals called the LEEP help desk approximately 34 times and the CJIS help desk approximately 56 times,” the FBI affidavit reads.
Eventually, the hacker group released a trove of security credentials from top CIA and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officials in order to showcase its skills. Approximately 29,000 FBI AND DHS employees had their personal data exposed in a published spreadsheet, Ars Technica reported.
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