Who would be foolhardy enough to hack the C.I.A. and think they could get away with it? Crackas With Attitude, it seems.
The F.B.I. arrested two North Carolina men last week on charges of hacking the personal email account of John Brennan, the director of the C.I.A. The men, Andrew Boggs, 22, of North Wilkesboro, and Justin Liverman, 24, of Morehead City, are allegedly members of an international hacking ring called Crackas with Attitude. The name appears to be an homage to the early ‘90’s gangster rap group N.W.A.
Another suspect, only identified as, “Cracka,” in court documents, was arrested in England, where he was charged as being the ringleader of the group. “Cracka,” is reportedly 17 years old. Officials maintain that there are more members of the hacking group, at least three of whom are also teenagers.
But get this, Boggs, called “INCURSIO,” online, and Liverman, who went by the handle, “D3F4ULT,” were living with their parents at the time of their arrest.
The hacking group allegedly targeted high-ranking American figures and their families, along with thousands of employees working for law-enforcement and intelligence agencies, for four months. They began in October 2015 and ended their hacking activities in February 2016.
The hacking group tricked high-ranking officials, the F.B.I. says, into giving up security information. “Cracka,” in communications with Verizon, impersonated a Verizon worker and convinced the person on the other end of the line to give away Brennan’s personal information. Using the information he obtained, “Cracka,” then changed the password to Brennan’s private AOL account, an email service few people still use. The hackers even stole Brennan’s security clearance application from his email account, which later found its way online.
The hacking group gave the CIA director’s emails to Wikileaks, who published them on October 21, 2015.
The group also broke into the email account of another high ranking American figure, James R. Clapper, the Director of National Intelligence. They also seem to have had a bone to pick with southern Florida. They issued a fake bomb threat against the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office and let loose online private information of scores of Miami-area law enforcement officials. They also allegedly hacked into Justice Department systems and carried out what officials call, “phone bombings,” in which they bombarded officials’ cell phones with calls and texts. When the F.B.I. confiscated Liverman’s computer, investigators found he had personal information on almost 30,000 F.B.I. and Department of Homeland Security employees.
Boggs and Liverman are scheduled to make their first appearance in federal court next week in Alexandria, Virginia. They are specifically charged with pretending to be federal government employees, gaining access to U.S. government agency computers without authorization, and making harassing phone calls.
The 37-page affidavit filed against the hackers has rich online exchanges between the group members. In one passage, Boggs writes to another group member that, if “Cracka” is arrested and receives a long prison sentence, he’d like to assume leadership and soldier on hacking. In another passage Boggs wrote that he was intent on hacking the CIA because he hoped to find evidence of aliens that the C.I.A. might be keeping secret.
British police reportedly arrested a 16-year-old member of the group in February, supposedly in response to the cyber-attacks on American officials. The defendant’s lawyers aren’t listed in court documents.