Director of National Intelligence James Clapper’s office has confirmed that phone calls intended for the director were being re-routed to a pro-Palestinian hotline after a hacker claimed to have gained access to the spy chief’s personal Verizon account.
Brian Hale, a spokesperson for Mr. Clapper’s office, told Motherboard Tuesday that authorities had been notified of an apparent social engineering prank that had compromised Mr. Clapper’s home and mobile phone lines.
A hacker calling himself “Cracka” told Motherboard this week that he had broken into several of the intelligence director’s personal accounts, including a Verizon FiOS profile, and changed the settings so that calls placed to Mr. Clapper’s home were being automatically forwarded to a phone number registered to the Free Palestine Movement.
The hacker claiming responsibility told Motherboard that he did not want to be identified, but the website said he was among the individuals involved in a series of similar cyber-pranks waged late last year by a previously unknown hacking collective, Crackas With Attitude, against targets including CIA Director John Brennan and Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson.
At the time, the collective said the hacks had been done in support of the Palestinian cause, and emails lifted from Mr. Brennan’s personal account were subsequently provided to and published by WikiLeaks.
Calls placed by Motherboard to a phone number for Mr. Clapper on Monday evening were indeed routed to the Free Palestine Movement, and the group’s co-founder, Paul Larudee, told the website that he had been receiving calls intended for the intelligence director for over at hour at that point.
Additionally, Cracka told Motherboard that he has gained access to Mr. Clapper’s email account and a Yahoo account for his wife, Susan, but his claims could not immediately be verified.
“I just wanted the gov to know people aren’t [expletive] around, people know what they’re doing and people don’t agree #FreePalestine,” the hacker told Motherboard.
After the ODNI confirmed the phone line had been hacked, however, questions were quickly raised about the intelligence director’s apparent lapse in operational security.
“If I’m the director of National Intelligence of the United States of America, nobody is going to know where the [expletive] I live, nobody is going to have my [expletive] phone number or address,” Michael Adams, an information security expert previously with the U.S. Special Operations Command, told Motherboard.