A British teenager has managed to obtain access to top secret U.S. plans about intelligence operations in different Middle East countries by acting as former CIA Director John Brennan, a court heard on Friday.
Kane Gamble, 18, researched Brennan and used the information he gathered to speak to an internet company and persuade call handlers to give him access to the spy chief’s email inbox in 2015.
He pretended to be both a Verizon employee and Brennan to access Brennan’s internet account.
Astonishingly, Gamble managed to gain access to Brennan’s emails and his addressbook, as well as his iCloud storage. He even managed to remotely access the iPad of Brennan’s wife.
Initially, he could not get into Brennan’s accounts as he could not recall the name of the spy chief’s first pet. But he managed to persuade a call handler to change the pin and security questions he needed to access the email account in question, Britain’s Daily Telegraph reported.
“He accessed some extremely sensitive accounts referring to, among other things, military operations and intelligence operations in Afghanistan and Iran,” prosecutor Lloyd-Jones QC said.
Gamble, aged 15 at the time, also persuaded a helpdesk at the FBI that he was the then deputy director Mark Giuliano.
This all happened from his bedroom in the English Midlands. The breach will raise questions that if a teenager from Britain can breach the highest levels of U.S. intelligence then why can’t an intelligence operative of a rival power?
Gamble’s motive, the court heard, was that he hated the U.S. government for being, he perceived, “corrupt and cold-blooded.”
He also targeted the online presence of then U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson and President Barack Obama’s Director of National Intelligence James Clapper.
In October 2017, Gamble pleaded guilty to 10 charges, including eight charges of “performing a function with intent to secure unauthorized access” to the computers and two of “unauthorized modification of computer material.”