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Investigation is underway after webmail of U.S. spymaster was hacked

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January 14, 2016

A full investigation is currently underway after someone managed to infiltrate the webmail and home broadband accounts belonging to the family of U.S. spymaster James Clapper.

It appears that a hacker got hold of the surveillance chief's personal phone number, delved into his wife's Yahoo mail inbox, and then manage to gain control of the couple's Verizon FiOS account.

"We are aware of the incident and have reported it to the appropriate authorities," said a spokesman for Clapper.

James Clapper is the United States Director of National Intelligence. Verizon also said it was investigating the security breach.

The hacker appears to be the same individual who broke into CIA director John Brennan's AOL account in October.

Sensitive documents were revealed by the miscreant, which led to another investigation, authorities have confirmed.

In both cases, the hacks don't appear to be the work of masterful computer code exploiting obscure software vulnerabilities.

Instead, it seems the most likely method was social engineering of the CIA and DNI bosses' telecommunications provider: Verizon.

It's not that difficult to do if staff are sloppy about security. Someone can simply call up a telco employee at work, pretend to be a colleague, and get enough information to call the help desk and request an account password reset to gain access.

A lot of successful hacks start off with so-called 'social engineering'. Kevin Mitnick, one of the early masters of that technique, claimed that most of the accounts he was able to hijack came down to a plausible telephone manner and being polite to reception staff in companies he was attempting to breach. And it worked for quite a while until he was caught.

As for the Clapper family, callers to their home were apparently redirected to representatives of the Free Palestine Movement.

The miscreant claiming responsibility said they committed the hack to draw attention to the situation in Palestine, which was also cited as a motive in the mischief with Brennan's email account.

Source: Verizon Communications.

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