FBI arrests 2 alleged Crackas with Attitude members that hacked the personal email account of CIA director John Brennan
Two North Carolina men who were allegedly involved in hacking of the CIA director’s personal emails as well as those of FBI Deputy Director Mark Giuliano have been arrested by the FBI on Thursday.
Andrew Otto Boggs, alias “INCURSIO,” 22, of North Wilkesboro, N.C., and Justin Gray Liverman, alias “D3F4ULT,” 24, of Morehead City, N.C. – who were accused of working with a high prolific hacking group called “Crackas with Attitude” (CWA) were arrested on Thursday morning on charges related to their alleged roles in the computer hacking and will be extradited to Alexandria next week, according to a statement from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia.
CWA’s most recently highly publicized hack of the Department of Justice (DOJ) led to the exposure of as many as 9,000 employees at the Department of Homeland Security and 20,000 at the FBI.
The FBI said that members of the group had fooled people into providing information that had allowed them to gain access to the victim’s accounts, a method known as social engineering. In October 2015, they breached Brennan’s AOL account by using social engineering techniques, specifically by imitating Brennan over the telephone and convincing customer service representatives to hand over his credentials.
The group went on a subsequent months-long hacking spree from October 2015 to February 2016 that targeted government officials and high profile leaders in the intelligence community, including Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson and FBI Director James Comey.
Members of the group are also accused of uploading private information that they obtained from victims’ personal accounts to public websites, harassing victims and their family members on the phone, and defacing victims’ social media accounts, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office.
Despite their alleged prowess at imitating members of the intelligence community, the suspects seem not to have been particularly tech savvy. The members frequently communicated over Twitter and posted about their hacks from there as well. However, this is what undid Boggs.
The affidavit claims that he logged into a Twitter account affiliated with the hacks from his father’s home, allowing authorities to trace the IP address. Liverman made the same learner mistake after logging into his Twitter account from an IP address that was registered to where he was living. The agency easily traced the IP addresses to discover the pair.
The FBI published a transcript of Twitter messages sent between Boggs and Liverman, who went online respectively as “Incursio” and “D3f4ult,” in which they appeared to show some awareness that they could be traced. “I’m going to help you with 0wning,” Boggs said in one exchange. “If you need any publishing done, let me know I’ll go Charlotte [sic] and use public wifi to publish the stolen information.”
Another transcript of a chat conversation between a user named “Cracka,” who led the group and Liverman in which the former says he’s “swatting” a police department was also published by the FBI. Subsequently, Cracka tweeted a series of links about a bomb alert at the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office, the affidavit says.
Authorities in the United Kingdom arrested a 16-year-old allegedly behind the “Cracka” persona in February, as well as a 15-year-old thought to be a perpetrator named “Cubed,” after which the group ceased operating. The FBI presumptively had clues leading to Boggs and Liverman at that time, both of whom had become paranoid, according to the affidavit.
Boggs and Liverman are not the first members of CWA to be caught. Authorities in the United Kingdom arrested a 16-year-old allegedly behind the “Cracka” persona in February, as well as a 15-year-old thought to be a perpetrator named “Cubed” living in Scotland.
At least three other members of the conspiracy are located in the United Kingdom and are being investigated by British authorities, according to the criminal complaint.