Anonymous hackers have posted a YouTube video of a candid and embarrasing conference call between the FBI and Scotland Yard in which investigators talk about hacking suspects. One of the suspects is a 15-year-old which a UK-based law enforcement official called “a bit of an idiot” and a “pain in the butt.”
Ironically, this sensitive conference call between the FBI and Scotland Yard was recorded by the very people they are investigating – the hacking group known as Anonymous.
The group released a nearly 17-minute-long recording of what appears to be a Jan. 17 conference call devoted to tracking and prosecuting members of the loose-knit hacking group (video link included in story link below).
The FBI stated that the information “was intended for law enforcement officers only and was illegally obtained” but that no FBI systems were breached. I am not sure what the FBI means when they say “systems” weren’t breached. Clearly they were or else the group would not have been able to eavesdrop on the call. The FBI says it’s not entirely clear how the hackers got their hands on the recording. Parts of the recording appear to have been edited to bleep out the names of some of the suspects being discussed.
If you listen to the recording, you can hear people entering their pass code to get into the call throughout the entire call. The first few people who called in identified themselves; however, after that, people continued to call in without identifying themselves (you can hear several beeps). Anonymous published an email purportedly sent by an FBI agent which gave details and a password for accessing the call. This sounds like the obvious way that Anonymous was able to gain information to access the call. “The FBI might be curious how we’re able to continuously read their internal comms for some time now,” the group gloated in a message posted to Twitter.
A law enforcement official, speaking on condition of anonymity because the matter is under investigation, told The Associated Press that authorities were looking at the possibility that the message was intercepted after a private email account of one of the invited participants was compromised.
On Friday, London police confirmed that one of its e-crimes specialist was on the intercepted conference call but said that “at this stage no operational risks” to the police service had been identified.
In the future, I think the investigators should start using handles instead of their real names. They used their first names in the call and identified their locations.
Graham Cluley, an expert with data security company Sophos, said that knowing the time, telephone number and passcode for the call meant it was all too easy to spy on the investigators.
“Even my ironing lady could have rung in and silently listened to the call just like Anonymous did,” Cluley said in an email, calling the fiasco “highly embarrassing for the cops.” Yes indeed!
The breach is likely to act as a wake-up call to law enforcement agencies globally, said Marcus Carey, who spent years securing communications for the NSA before joining security-risk assessment firm Rapid7.
The FBI says “a criminal investigation is under way to identify and hold accountable those responsible.”
There was enough on the call to clearly hear the investigators talk about a 15-year-old who they say goes by the handle of Tehwongz, who one official said was arrested just before Christmas. The UK-based investigator said the teen was currently under the subject of a local police investigation and that his hard drive was in custody.
He said the teen had written a statement explaining how he came to become a hacker and what he has done, including hacking into a gaming site with access to 32,000 users and their financial information. The FBI might want to consider recruiting this kid.
British police say the intercepted phone call between cybercrime investigators from the FBI and Scotland Yard poses no immediate risk to operations.
Anonymous also made good on one of its promises on Friday. The group also claimed credit for defacing the Boston Police Department’s website, saying it was retaliating for police brutality against protesters at Occupy Wall Street. Anonymous has warned they were intending to go after any police officers who were caught on video pepper spraying or hitting protesters.
Anonymous, an eclectic group of hackers, pranksters and activists, has increasingly focused its attention on law enforcement agencies in general and the FBI in particular.
The group began with targeting the Church of Scientology, the music industry, and financial companies such as Visa and MasterCard. It then expanded its targets to include government, police and military targets.
Dozens of suspected members and supporters have been arrested across the world.