A British teenager has admitted in a court that he tried to hack into the computers of some of the top US officials, including a former CIA chief. 18-year-old Kane Gamble pleaded guilty to ten charges of attempted intrusions from late 2015 to mid 2016, targeting high level officials in the US Department of Justice.
These include the former CIA chief, John Brennan; James Clapper, the Director of National Intelligence in the Obama administration; Jeh Johnson, the former US Secretary of Homeland Security; and John Holdren, Obama’s former science and technology adviser.
In one of these hacks, he also managed to access several sensitive documents about military and intelligence ops in Iran and Afghanistan from Brennan's private inbox. In one incident, Gamble took control of Brennan's wife's iPad by initiating a password reset, writing I own you on it. He also impersonated Brenann while talking to telecom companies like Verizon and AOL.
Gamble also left a voicemail for Johnson's wife saying Am I scaring you? and then proceeded to display a message on the family television saying I own you.
Gamble was doing all of this from his home in the East Midlands region of England when he was 16. When he was arrested last year at the request of the FBI, BBC had shared the following timeline of Gamble's hacking attempts.
- Gamble was accused of "causing a computer to perform a function to secure unauthorised access to a program or data held in computers" belonging to Mr Brennan between 1 June and 30 October 2015.
- The teenager attempted to gain unauthorised access to the computer of the then US Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson between 4 July and 22 October 2015.
- On 17 October, 2015, Gamble tried to access the computer of Ms Haines.
- Between 18 October and Christmas Day 2015 Gamble targeted FBI Special Agent Amy Hess.
- The teenager attempted to gain access to the computer of Mr Giuliano between 29 October and 16 November.
- Gamble tried to hack into an FBI portal between 2 November and 22 November 2015.
- Gamble targeted a Comcast account operated by James Clapper, director of National Intelligence under President Obama, between 4 January and 12 January 2016.
- Between 5 January and 18 January 2016, he tried to gain access to the computer of Vonna Weir Heaton, the former intelligence executive of the US National Geospatial Intelligence Agency.
- Between 17 January and 20 January 2016, Gamble targeted a Comcast account operated by Mr Holdren.
- The final charge involved an attempt to gain access to the US Department of Justice's network between 26 January and 4 February 2016.
"Kane Gamble gained access to the communications accounts of some very high-ranking US intelligence officials and government employees," a London court said Friday. "He also gained access to US law enforcement and intelligence agency networks."
He has admitted to ten offenses against the computer misuse act. Gamble also gained access to the US DOJ network, accessing court case files and employee data. Some of this material eventually made its way to WikiLeaks. The prosecutor said the 18-year-old wanted to support Palestinians and attacked US intelligence officials because the country is "killing innocent civilians."