A lone unidentified hacker leaked the names and contact information of over 9,000 employees who work for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, jeopardizing the government agency in an unprecedented breach — and claims that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) are next.
According to Motherboard, which broke the story, the hacker stated to the news site that he or she has acquired the personal info of roughly 20,000 people employed by the FBI, as well as "hundreds of gigabytes of data" from the DOJ — like the DHS directory, which includes staffers of every stripe, ranging from agents to analysts to technicians — even biologists and contractors — and many others.
Motherboard also acquired the as-of-yet unreleased FBI directory and DOJ data, and contacted employees from those organizations — as well as the DHS — to confirm the story. Publicly-unidentified persons affiliated with the DHS and the FBI corroborated the account.
As per the hacker via Motherboard, the individual stated that they were able to access the classified information by cracking the account of a DOJ worker, though the process prior to this hack was left unexplained. After that, the cyber criminal attempted to gain entry into the Web portal for the DOJ, and when that didn't work, he or she pulled a retro move — simply calling the government agency.
"So I called up, told them I was new and I didn't understand how to get past [the portal]," the hacker stated in an interview. "They asked if I had a token code, I said no, they said that's fine — just use our one."
The ruse — and the DOJ employee's blunder — served as the gateway to the large-scale security breach.
"I clicked on it and I had full access to the computer," added the hacker.
On Feb. 8, DHS spokesperson S.Y. Lee gave an official statement to Motherboard on the incident, which is punishable by federal law (punitive measures include fines and/or prison time, depending on the severity of the offense). Lee denied that personal info had been obtained — contradicting the hacker's disclosed testimony.
"We are looking into the reports of purported disclosure of DHS employee contact information," said Lee.
"We take these reports very seriously, however there is no indication at this time that there is any breach of sensitive or personally identifiable information."
As of now, neither the DOJ nor the FBI has publicly commented on the matter, despite requests from the media.
Photo: Remco Brink | Flickr