Feds Looking Into Reports CIA Director’s Email Was Hacked

20 Oct 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

CIA chief’s e-mail hacked, hackers with pro-Palestinian agenda claim responsibility.

In what sounds like a scene taken from the latest season of Homeland, the very real director of the Central Intelligence Agency, John Brennan, reportedly had his email hacked and exposed online.Authorities are investigating alleged hacks of CIA Director John Brennan’s personal AOL email account and Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson’s Comcast account. Details of the alleged hack appeared in the New York Post, which reportedly had direct contact with the hacker who claims to be a high school student who also is “not Muslim and was motivated by opposition to US foreign policy and support for Palestine.” The hacker’s Twitter account, @phphax, includes links to files that he says are Brennan’s email contact list, a log of phone calls by then-CIA deputy director Avril Haines, and other documents.

What hasn’t been as widely reported is the fact that the hacker has made a veiled threat to do the same to presidential candidates Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. The hacker also said Brennan’s email, a personal AOL account, contained the CIA director’s own application for top security clearance, which totaled nearly 50 pages. Indications that Trump and Clinton might be next to be hacked appeared on the @phphax Twitter account, where the hacker wrote, “Hey @realDonaldTrump, was wondering if you would like the #CWA dick? A tweet from the account notes that “this [hack] wasn’t just me, it was all of #CWA.” The hacker told the Post that CWA stands for “Crackas With Attitude,” a duo comprised of himself and a friend from school. It’s unclear what, if any, sensitive information the hacker was able to gain access to through Johnson’s account, one which was set up through Comcast.

The hacker claims to have accessed CIA Director Brennan’s 47-page security clearance application, along with documents that included Social Security numbers and personal information about more than 10 CIA officials. The hacker reportedly used a combination of technical skills and social engineering (tricking people using guile, usually over the phone in most hacking cases) to access sensitive information from Verizon and AOL. The possible infiltration into his personal correspondence would be embarrassing for Brennan, who this year established a new Directorate for Digital Innovation at the CIA that was designed in part to figure out how to better hide the digital footprints of agency employees. After months of news about the Hillary Clinton personal email account scandal, it seems almost inevitable that government officials would start to experience hacks. Brennan could have been forwarding a list of invitees to the White House when he was President Barack Obama’s counterterrorism adviser, the job he held before he became CIA director in 2013.

That document — millions of which were stolen from the federal personnel office last year by hackers linked to China — contains detailed information about past jobs, foreign contacts, finances and other sensitive personal details. “Compromising [high profile officials] not only exposes their sensitive personal information but may expose that of their organizations and their counterparts in other nations or organizations, and create an opportunity for blackmail, extortion or exposure of trade or state secrets.” Adam Levin, chairman of security firm IDT911, told Mashable. “Regardless of the perceived level of security of any email system, prudence mandates never storing sensitive information in an email environment. Security experts advise people not to email personal identification numbers, and some companies have software that automatically blocks an email if it detects characters in the format of these numbers.

The spreadsheets may date to a period before 2009, when Brennan worked in the private sector and was an adviser to Barack Obama’s presidential campaign on intelligence matters.

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