Simple social engineering techniques allowed Kane Gamble, now 18, access to then-CIA Director John Brennan’s most sensitive documents, a UK court has heard.
Gamble, then 15, manipulated Verizon and AOL customer support officers into believing he was Brennan, following multiple successful attempts at accessing and manipulating information from call centre employees. From there, emails, US military and intelligence documents outlining Afghanistan and Iran operations, and personnel details were cracked, accessed and leaked.
Gamble also leaked Brennan’s emails to WikiLeaks for publication on October 26, 2015. The documents included a dossier of Donovan J. Leighton, an FBI Counterterrorism Division special agent for the Arabian Peninsula; and intel papers outlining a demand for the intelligence community’s autonomy.
Gamble went by the pseudonym “Cracka” and worked from his mother’s home, teaming up with four others to establish the hacktivist group Crackas With Attitude (CWA). According to Gamble, he founded CWA in response to the US Government’s corruption; CWA claimed responsibility for several email and phone account hacks, including accessing a 47-page application for top security clearance from Brennan’s private email server.
Setting up an anonymous Twitter account, Gamble routinely spoke to journalists about CWA’s mission.
“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,” Gamble told a journalist.
Gamble’s concerns about the US-backed Israeli violence against Palestinians were “particularly” strong; the court heard of Gamble’s motivation to found CWA included the US military intervention in Iraq and Syria, domestic issues in the US involving incited racism by the KKK, as well as the barrage of US police shootings.
According to court records, Gamble taunted the US government by downloading pornography to their computers.
In October 2015, Gamble convinced the FBI’s help desk with information he earlier accessed from the FBI’s Law Enforcement database (LEAP), that he was Mark Giuliano, the Deputy Director of the FBI. Gaining access to police officers and government employees, Gamble was able to barrage Giuliano’s family with calls to the point Giuliano hired security for his family home.
Gamble admitted to having his sights on other targets such as Avril Haines, former US President Barack Obama’s national security advisor, reported the Washington Times.
After accessing the details of the Deepwater Horizon spill, and over 20,000 FBI employees from the Department of Justice’s database, the US Secret Service contacted the UK police. Shortly after, Gamble was arrested at his mother’s house in Leicestershire, in February 2016.
In October 2017, Gamble pleaded guilty to eight violations under the UK’s Computer Misuse Act and is still awaiting sentencing on a later date to be announced.
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