It has been a tough couple of months for members of the U.S. intelligence and national security community.
Back in October, news first surfaced of an anonymous hacker who had compromised the private AOL email account of CIA Director John Brennan. Shortly thereafter, two Twitter accounts posted multiple screenshots of documents purportedly stolen in the incident, including Brennan’s alleged contact list and a mobile phone bill.
A few months later, a teenage hacker known as “Cracka” told a reporter that they had broken into a number of online accounts that belong to James R. Clapper, the United States’ director of national intelligence. Cracka provided the reporter with several pieces of personal information and computer screenshots. Though it did not include any screenshots of Clapper’s personal email account, the trove of stolen data at least partially confirmed the hacker’s story.
The biggest breach was yet to come. In early February, a group of hackers operating under the online handle “DotGovs” published the personal information of 9,000 employees of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. They then released a subsequent dump of 20,000 FBI personnel’s data, a leak which at least temporarily brought down the encrypted pastebin service on which it was posted.
Clearly, the actors behind these incidents have gotten away with a lot. But there has been a breakthrough that just might link all of these attacks back to an unlucky teenager living in England.
On Friday, UK authorities announced that they had arrested a 16-year-old for the alleged hack of Brennan’s email account.
The South East Regional Organized Crime Unit (SEROCU) has provided Sputnik with the following statement:
“The South East Regional Organised Crime Unit (SEROCU) can confirm we have arrested a 16-year-old boy on Tuesday (9/2) in the East Midlands on suspicion of conspiracy to commit Unauthorized access to computer material contrary to Section 1 Computer Misuse Act 1990, conspiracy to commit unauthorized access with intent to commit further offences contrary to Section 2 Computer Misuse Act 1990 and conspiracy to commit unauthorized acts with intent to impair, or with recklessness as to impairing operation of a computer contrary to Section 3 Computer Misuse Act 1990.”
SEROCU has declined to provide any additional information about the arrested teen. However, Motherboard was able to arrange an interview with the teenager, who said the authorities have accused him of being Cracka of the “Crackas With Attitude” hacker group. The police have also alleged that he perpetrated the hacks against Brennan, Clapper, several White House officials, and the Department of Justice intranet which led to the DHS and FBI leaks.
For his part, the alleged hacker has refused to answer any of the authorities’ questions. They have therefore released the teen on bail until June 6th, when he is due back in court.
“I’m not who you think I am,” the teenager told Motherboard. “I’m innocent until proven guilty so I have nothing to be worried about.”
The authorities have not released any information on the targets allegedly affected by the teen, though there are reports that more than one person was involved.
The FBI and the DHS are still currently working damage control in the aftermath of the recent personnel leaks.
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