Kane Gamble, a British teenager who recently confessed to having accessed e-mail addresses, phone numbers, and personal devices of top CIA and FBI officials and also accessed confidential US intelligence documents pertaining to highly secretive operations in Iraq and Afghanistan has been sentenced to two years in youth detention.
While sentencing him, the judge said that Gamble wilfully carried out a "nasty campaign of politically motivated cyber terrorism" and ordered authorities to seize his computers.
Back in 2015, when Gamble was fifteen years old, he decided to target top officials at U.S. intelligence agencies after he became really annoyed with the "corrupt and cold-blooded" nature of the U.S. government.
Harassing top FBI & CIA officials
During the course of his operations, he not only used information obtained through his social engineering skills to harass victims who included former CIA director John Brennan, the former Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson and former FBI deputy director Mark Giuliano, but also to access sensitive details concerning overseas U.S. military operations in troubled countries like Iraq and Afghanistan.
Gamble also stole names and other details of 20,000 FBI employees from the website of the Department of Justice and uploaded them with the message "This is for Palestine". He first boasted about his exploits using his Twitter account @phphax after he gained access to Brennan’s personal email, which contained documents including his 47-page security clearance.
He also claimed to be a member of CWA, or ‘Crackas With Attitude’, before revealing to journalists that he had accessed personal information belonging to intelligence officers, including Social Security Numbers, in addition to Brennan’s private email account.
William Harbage QC, who represented Gamble, told the Court that his immature actions were a result of a quest to make the U.S. government pay for its cruel foreign policy after he read about it in an online chat room.
"In a naive, immature and childish way, he thought he could do something about it, he could make a nuisance of himself by targeting people in America and that would somehow get them to change US policy as a result of what he was doing from his bedroom.
"When members of the families were brought into it, he did not think through the consequences. The thought seems to have been 'I want to grab attention of the US government and getting the families involved is some way that will grab attention even more'," he said.
The menace of Britain's teenaged cyber criminals
Gamble's story isn't much different than those of many other young Brits who have, in the last few months, found themselves at the wrong side of the law after testing their cyber skills in real life.
Back in September of last year, Jack Chappel, an 18-year old resident of Stockport in Greater Manchester, was arrested after he pled guilty for creating and selling a malicious DDoS software which was then used to crash websites belonging to NatWest bank, Amazon, the BBC, O2, BT, the NCA, EE, Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon, Netflix and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, among others.
In April last year, a 20-year old hacker named Adam Mudd was jailed for two years for orchestrating as many as 1.7 million cyber-attacks on the likes of Xbox Live, Minecraft, and TeamSpeak. He admitted to creating a software named Titanium Stresser using which he launched as many as 600 DDoS cyber-attacks on 181 victims.