An 18-year-old Briton has pleaded guilty at his trial to ten offences under the computer misuse act. As reported by Telegraph, the then 15-year-old Kane Gamble received access to secret information about US reconnaissance operations in Afghanistan and Iran while to trying to hack computers of former CIA head John Brennan and several other high-ranking US officials. The computer-savvy teen, who founded in 2015 his own online hacking team, Crackas With Attitude (CWA), is currently on conditional bail and will be sentenced by Mr Justice Haddon-Cave at the Old Bailey.

Pretending at one point to be no less than the acting head on CIA, Gamble is accused of gaining unauthorised access to details of intelligence operations planned in Afghanistan and Iran. After his two-year hacking spree, Gamble boasted to have "access to all the details the Feds use for background checks," which he gained without leaving a semi-detached council house he shares with his mother in Coalville, Leicestershire.

“Social engineering” instead of hacking

Even though Mr Gamble managed to get access to his victims' social media and banking accounts, as well as to the databases of organisations like CIA, FBI and the Russian visa centre in the US, neither he nor his CWA team did actually hack them.

The tactic used instead was what computer security experts call "social engineering," where he gradually built up an increasingly detailed picture of information of a legitimate user, with which he was able to manipulate third parties into granting him access to data classified or restricted. According to the materials of the trial, the teen persuaded Verizon call centre staff that on the phone was no one else but John Brennan, the then director of the CIA.

After the FBI had discovered a breach of their database and changed the password, he called an FBI helpdesk and convinced them that speaking was Mark Giuliano, then the agency’s Deputy Director, so he was able to change the password again and to regain access to the system. Gamble's other targets included Jeh Johnson, the then US Secretary of Homeland Security and Barack Obama's Director of National Intelligence.

Teen mocked victims and manipulated their personal data

Not satisfied with accessing their personal data, Kane Gamble was constantly mocking his victims. He shared their personal details on public domains, inundated their computers with pornography, and even remotely controlled devices like TVs and tablets in their homes. Victims had no choice but to frantically contact technical support and request changing their passwords, only to be followed up by Gamble doing just the same, contacting the helpline allegedly on their behalf, changing passwords and regaining access to their accounts. According to John Lloyd-Jones QC, prosecuting, the accused later posted sensitive information on Twitter and Wikileaks while taunting the spy chiefs about the scope of access he gained. The court heard that the teenager called repeatedly Jeh Johnson's wife, asking her: "Am I scaring you?" while her spouse was left messages threatening to "bang his daughter."