A teenage hacker is claiming he infiltrated the AOL email account of CIA boss John Brennan and removed sensitive government files. He told the New York Times the hack was simple, as he used publicly available information about Brennan to “social engineer” his way through AOL’s password reset system.
The hack has been confirmed by a CIA spokesperson who says, “We are aware of the reports that have surfaced on social media and have referred the matter to the appropriate authorities.”
Apparently, the high schooler along with a couple of friends, figured out Brennan was a verizon customer from his cellphone number, and by calling the company pretending to be employees, requested the account information. They then called back a short time later and using the account information, requested that the email account password be reset.
Once they gained access to the email account, they pulled sensitive information, posting it on text-hosting websites and Twitter. The information included the names and social security numbers of CIA employees, Brennan’s address book and even a letter from U.S. lawmakers asking the CIA to cease using torture in interrogations.
To add insult to injury, the hacker claims to have also accessed the Comcast account of US Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson via social engineering.
Department of Homeland Security spokesperson S.Y. Lee says, “We are aware of the media report, however as a matter of policy, we do not comment on the Secretary’s personal security.”
The teenager hacker, whose main Twitter Account phphax was still active this morning, told the New York Times that the cyber attack and disclosure of information was “motivated by opposition to US foreign policy and support for Palestine”. He is reported as saying he is not a muslim or a terrorist, referring to ISIS as “retarded”.
Cyber security experts say the fact that Brennan and Haines had and used active AOL and Comcast accounts for sensitive national security business, although strange, is not really surprising. One of the experts say, “The problem with these older-generation guys is that they don’t know anything about cybersecurity, and as you can see, it can be problematic.”
One political observer says the hacks will give Hillary Clinton a little wiggle room in her own controversy of using a personal email account while Secretary of State.
“I suppose she can say if the CIA boss can make a mistake like that then her own mistake is a little more acceptable” he says.