A UK teenager who gained access to the email accounts of top U.S. intelligence and security officials ended up sentenced to two years in youth detention.
Kane Gamble, 18, founder of Crackas With Attitude (CWA), will serve his sentence in a youth detention facility.
“This was an extremely nasty campaign of politically motivated cyber terrorism,” said judge Charles Haddon-Cave at the sentencing at London’s Old Bailey criminal court.
“The victims would have felt seriously violated,” Haddon-Cave said, adding Gamble had “reveled” in the attacks.
Gamble was accompanied by his mother in court.
He was 15 and 16 when, from his bedroom in Coalville, central England, he impersonated his targets to get passwords and gain highly sensitive information.
He impersonated Central Intelligence Agency chief John Brennan in calls to the telecom companies Verizon and AOL.
Several sensitive documents were reportedly obtained from Brennan’s private email inbox and Gamble managed to get information about military and intelligence operations in Iran and Afghanistan.
“It also seems he was able to successfully access Mr Brennan’s iCloud account,” prosecutor John Lloyd-Jone said earlier.
Gamble called AOL and initiated a password reset, and took control of the iPad of Brennan’s wife.
Gamble also targeted then U.S. secretary of homeland security Jeh Johnson and made calls to his phone number.
He left Johnson’s wife a voicemail saying “Am I scaring you?” and managed to get a message to appear on the family television saying: “I own you.”
Gamble also managed to compromise the Verizon broadband account and personal email account of James Clapper, the U.S. Director of National Intelligence (DNI) at the time. In addition, he impersonated Clapper on the phone and succeeded in making Verizon set up call-forwarding to divert calls made to Clapper’s home phone to the Free Palestine movement.
Other targets included then President Barack Obama’s deputy national security adviser Avril Haines, his senior science and technology adviser John Holdren, and FBI special agent Amy Hess.
Gamble gained extensive access to the U.S. Department of Justice network and was able to access court case files, including on the Deepwater oil spill.
Gamble ended up arrested at his home February 9 last year at the request of the FBI.
As prosecutors pointed out, CWA has incorrectly been referred to as hackers, as they mostly used social engineering to trick call centers or help desks into helping them get access to email accounts, phones, computers and law enforcement portals.