Federal authorities have arrested two men on charges they were part of a group that broke into the private e-mail accounts of high-ranking US government officials and a Justice Department computer system.
Andrew Otto Boggs, 22, of North Wilkesboro, North Carolina, and Justin Gray Liverman, 24, of Morehead City, North Carolina, were part of a group calling itself “Crackas with Attitude,” federal prosecutors alleged. Although an FBI affidavit filed in the case didn’t identify the targeted government officials by name, The Washington Post and other news organizations, citing unnamed people familiar with the matter, said they included CIA Director John Brennan, then-Deputy FBI Director Mark Giuliano, National Intelligence Director James R. Clapper, and other high-ranking officials. The group also used its unauthorized access to a Justice Department management system to obtain and later publish the names, phone numbers, and other personal details of more than 29,000 FBI and Department of Homeland Security officials.
According to the affidavit, the group didn’t rely on computer hacking to break into restricted accounts. Instead, they used social engineering, in which they impersonated their targets and various IT support personnel purporting to help the victims. On October 11, 2015, one of the suspects allegedly accessed the account of one target, identified by the WaPo as Brennan, by posing as a technician from Verizon. The suspect then tricked another Verizon employee into resetting the password for Brennan’s Internet service. Prosecutors said the suspects went on to take over a Brennan AOL account.
The group allegedly used similar techniques to access other accounts. The affidavit said another group member appeared to gain access to a law enforcement …