07:48 GMT26 February 2021
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    Two North Carolina men have been charged for their alleged roles in a hacking group responsible for attacks on CIA Director John Brennan, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper.

    Andrew Otto Boggs, 22, and Justin Gray Liverman, 24, were arrested on Thursday in their home state and extradited to Virginia to appear at an Alexandria District Court on Tuesday and Wednesday.

    The duo is accused of being part of the hacking group “Crackas With Attitude,” who allegedly social-engineered access to Clapper’s personal email, home telephone and internet access, as well as his wife’s Yahoo email account. The group continuously expressed support for the Free Palestine movement, claiming it was their motivation for the hacks.

    “From about October 2015 to February 2016, the group used ‘social engineering’ hacking techniques, including victim impersonation, to gain unlawful access to the personal online accounts of senior US government officials, their families, and several US government computer systems,” a press release from the Department of Justice stated.

    In October, WikiLeaks published some of the hacked contents of Clapper’s email account.

    The Fed asserts that three of the Twitter accounts used to publish information from and about the hacks have been inked to Liverman: @_d3f4ult, @sh1n0d4, @bashtien_. Two others were linked to Boggs: @incursiosubter and @genuinelyspooky.

    Boggs was arrested after investigators caught him logging on to an implicated Twitter account from an IP address registered to his father, whom he lives with.

    Liverman was arrested under similar circumstances, logging into an account associated with an implicated account from an IP address belonging to his parents, with whom he lives. In the months prior to his arrest, Liverman had been publicly doxed by an anonymous Twitter user who linked his handles to accounts using his real name and photos.

    Information published to Twitter included names, social security numbers, and phone numbers of individuals found in CIA director Brennan's email. All 20 people listed worked for the Obama transition team in 2008.

    “The hacking of the Brennan family account is a crime and the Brennan family is the victim. The private electronic holdings of the Brennan family were plundered with malicious intent and are now being distributed across the web," the CIA said in a statement following the release.

    At least three other members of the group, located in the United Kingdom, are currently under investigation by the Crown Prosecution Service. Two were arrested earlier this year — a 16-year-old and a 15-year-old — but have not been identified, as they are minors.

    Investigators believe that the group formed in July 2015 when a hacker identified as Cracka, one of the arrested teens, spoke to Boggs claiming that he had obtained the Social Security number of a US official and was now in control of his Comcast account.

    The UK teens are believed to be behind the majority of the hacks.

    In October, the hackers stated that, on a scale of one to 10, 10 being the most difficult, hacking into Brennan’s accounts was a one.

    “In some instances, members of the conspiracy uploaded private information that they obtained from victims’ personal accounts to public websites; made harassing phone calls to victims and their family members; and defaced victims’ social media accounts. At least three other members of the conspiracy are located in the United Kingdom and are being investigated by the Crown Prosecution Service,” according to the DOJ release.

    According to court documents, one of the UK teens stated in a chat with other members of the group that he was at least partially inspired by his desire to prove that aliens exist.

    While the court affidavit does not name the five individual victims, the story is easy to piece together based on the timing of the leaks and previous reports. The affidavit states that the group had called Verizon and posed as the victims in order to reset the passwords and gain access to the accounts.

    Not content with simply accessing Clapper’s email, the hacker reportedly forwarded all of Clapper’s phone calls to activist Paul Larudee, the co-founder of the Free Palestine Movement organization.

    Using the credentials of one of the victims, the hackers also gained access to the FBI’s Joint Automated Booking System (JAB) and the Law Enforcement Enterprise Portal, which allows law enforcement to share data in real time.

    After accessing JAB, the group tweeted screenshots of activist-turned-political-prisoner Jeremy Hammond’s arrest records, including the names and phone numbers of the agents involved in his arrest.

    On November 5, 2015, coinciding with the Million Mask March protests, the group posted a link to the personal information of over 2,200 members of law enforcement groups and federal agencies. They also claimed to have personal data on 34,000 government employees and military personnel.


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    Hackers, Crackas With Attitude, DHS, Justin Gray Liverman, Andrew Otto Boggs, James Clapper, North Carolina
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