A 15-year-old "hacktivist" who tricked AOL and Verizon customer support operators into believing he was then-CIA Director John Brennan, was able to crack into Brennan's accounts and access highly sensitive documents concerning US military and intelligence operations in Afghanistan and Iran, a UK court has heard.
Kane Gamble AKA "Cracka"
Kane Gamble, now 18, was able to access Brennan's emails, contacts, and his iCloud storage account after several successful attempts to manipulate information out of the call center employees. Brennan's emails were sent to WikiLeaks and published on October 26, 2015.
Gamble used similar "social engineering" techniques to gain accdess to former Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, tricked the FBI helpdesk into believing he was then-Deputy Director Mark Giuliano.
It was a common misconception that the group were hackers when in fact they used “social engineering” to gain access to emails, phones, computers and law enforcement portals.
“It involves manipulating people, invariably call centre or help desk staff, into permitting acts or divulging confidential information,” the prosecutor said. -Telegraph
Gamble founded the five-man hacktivist group "Crackas With Attitude" (CWA) - telling a Journalist "It all started by me getting more and more annoyed about how corrupt and cold blooded the US Government are so I decided to do something about it." The 15-year old then proceeded to unleash mayhem on his victims to "fuck the gov" according to court records, by taunting them online, downloading pornography onto their computers, and even taking control of their iPads and TV screens.
Gamble used similar techniques to hack the home broadband of Jeh Johnson, the Secretary of Homeland Security, and was able listened to [sic] his voicemails and send texts from his phone.
He bombarded Mr Johnson and his wife with calls, asking her: “Am I scaring you?” and left messages threatening to “bang his daughter”, the court heard.
Sometime in October, 2015, the 16-year-old Gamble convinced the FBI's help desk that the was Deputy Director Mark Giuliano - pretending to be the former FBI boss while using information he had obtained after accessing the FBI's Law Enforcement Enterprise Portal (Leap). From this access, Gamble gained intelligence and details of government employees and police officers. Gamble then bombarded Giuliano's family and associates with calls, forcing them to post an armed guard at their home.
“This has to be the biggest hack, I have access to all the details the Feds use for background checks.” -Kane Gamble
Gamble pleaded guilty to ten violations of the UK's computer misuse act in October, 2017. Two Americans charged with participating in Crackas With Attitude -computer science student Justin Liverman and Andrew Boggs, both of North Carolina - were arrested in 2016 and sentenced to five and two years in prison respectively after pleading guilty to criminal hacking conspiracy.
Court documents filed in the cases against Boggs and Liverman allege they conspired with “Cracka” to infiltrate the internet accounts of several senior U.S. officials and their families, causing more than $1.5 million in losses.
Gamble admitted to setting his sights on other U.S. government targets including former President Barack Obama’s deputy national security adviser, Avril Haines, and his senior science and technology adviser, John Holdren, local media reported.-Washington Times
At one point, the FBI realized that their system had been breached and the password was changed, but Gamble was able to regain access by calling the FBI helpdesk as Mr. Giuliano. The young hactivist also used his access to sensitive information to post the personal details of officer Darren Wilson, who shot and killed black teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson Missouri.
Gamble's eight month cracking spree came to and end in February, 2016 after he accessed the details of 20,000 FBI employees from the DOJ's network, as well as files on the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. The FBI and US Secret Service immediately called police in the UK and Gamble was arrested at his Leicestershire home he shared with his mother.
Gamble awaits sentencing at yet to be determined date.