A young hacker violated the CIA Director’s private AOL email

Pierluigi Paganini October 20, 2015

A young hacker violated the CIA Director’s personal email account and leaked sensitive files including a top-secret application for a security clearance.

A high-school student claims to have hacked the personal email account of the CIA Director John Brennan. CIA and the US law enforcement agencies are investigating on the case. The teen told the New York Post that he had accessed work-related documents, including a 47-page  Mr. Brennan’s application for top-secret security clearance.

According to the young hacker, whom identity is still secret, the private email account contained the Social Security numbers and personal information of more than a dozen top American intelligence officials, as well as a government messages related to the use of “harsh interrogation techniques” on terrorism suspects.

The fact that a teenager hacked the CIA Director email account is disconcerting.

“I think they’ll want to make an example out of him to deter people from doing this in the future,” said a source to the New York Post. “just wild” and “crazy.” “I can’t believe he did this to the head of the CIA,’’ the source added. “[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.”

How did he do?

The young hacker explained that he used the “social engineering” to convince employees at Verizon into providing the CIA Director’s personal information and exploiting the AOL into resetting his password.

The NY Post reached the hacker by phone, the teen described himself as an American high school that acted to protest against the US foreign policy and support for Palestine.

The hacker also spoke to Ars through an encrypted chat, confirming his motivation, he explained that he was not Palestinian but rather was an Italian activist living in New York.

It seems that the written English in the chat contained noticeable errors.

He confirmed that he isn’t Muslim, but obviously he preferred anonymity in this phase. The hacker promised to tweet “CWA owns John Brennan of the CIA” as a means of verifying his control over the @phphax Twitter account. A curiosity, the account references “CWA” which states for “Crackas With Attitude” that the teen referred to him and a classmate.

At 5:45p CT, Twitter has suspended the @_CWA_ account used by the hacker to spread the stolen information.

email CIA DIRECTOR hacked

The teen also published via Twitter the links to Mr Brennan’ files, including the contact list, a list of phone calls by a former CIA deputy director and other sensitive documents.

“The hacker contacted The Post last week to brag about his exploits, which include posting some of the stolen documents and a portion of Brennan’s contact list on Twitter. The hacker’s Twitter page includes the Muslim Shahada creed, which translates as, “There is no god but Allah, Muhammad is the messenger of Allah.”” states the New York Post.

email CIA DIRECTOR hacked 2

The CIA confirmed to be aware of the incident, the CIA Director account was disabled as of Friday, while the agency released the following statement:

“We are aware of the reports that have surfaced on social media and have referred the matter to the appropriate authorities.” 

The situation is critical, the young hacker also claimed to have hacked an email account belonging to Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson.

The hacker accessed the Johnson’ Comcast account and posted a redacted screenshot of a billing page, but he claimed that he listened to Johnson’s voicemails.

This incident once again raises the question about the promiscuous use of private email accounts in a high-sensitive environment. This accounts could represent the entry point for hackers and cyber spies, it seems that the recent hack of the Hillary Clinton’s account had no effect on the bad habits of the high US officials.

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Pierluigi Paganini

(Security Affairs – CIA Director, email hacking)

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