The hackers bragged about accessing private email accounts of top government officials.
Federal authorities this week arrested two North Carolina men accused of hacking into the private email accounts of top officials at the CIA and other national intelligence agencies.
The two men, Andrew Boggs and Justin Liverman, were part of a hacking ring that called itself “Crackas With Attitude,” according to an FBI affidavit.
The ring included members in the United Kingdom whom the FBI also identified but did not charge with crimes.
The affidavit mentions unnamed hacking victims, referring to them as senior US law enforcement and intelligence officials.
Citing people familiar with the investigation, the Washington Post reports that the group hacked into the email accounts of Mark Giuliano, a former FBI deputy director; Amy Hess, the FBI executive assistant director for science and technology; Gregory Mecher, who is married to White House communications director Jen Psaki; and Harold Rosenbaum, chief executive of CIA contractor Centra Technology.
The hackers also claimed to have accessed the private email accounts of CIA Director John Brennan and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, according to the Post.
The hackers’ methods, as described in the FBI affidavit, read like a real-life version of Mr. Robot, whose characters use “social engineering” schemes to guess the passwords of their hacking targets.
“A member of the Conspiracy used anonymizing programs and social engineering techniques to obtain unauthorized and unlawful access to a victim’s online account, such as the victim’s Internet Service Provider (‘ISP’) account,” the affidavit reads. “A member of the Conspiracy would in most cases change the password for that online account, thereby locking the victim out of the account.”
The hackers’ arrests were likely hastened by their propensity to brag: they regularly posted their hacking exploits on multiple Twitter accounts, providing copious evidence of their activities, the FBI said.