Government officials might have let out a sigh of relief this week after the UK police arrested a teenager suspected of being behind the long series of hacks and pranks targeting US government agencies and high-level officials.
But friends and associates of the arrested teenager claim this is not the end.
“Just because they managed to arrest two members doesn't mean we'll stop hacking them,” a hacker named IncursioSubter, who was part of the hacktivist group “Crackas With Attitude,” or CWA, told Motherboard on Friday. “Give us time, you'll see. :)”
On Tuesday, the South East Regional Organised Crime Unit (SEROCU) in the UK arrested a 16-year-old, accusing him of being the hacker known as Cracka, the leader of CWA. The arrest of the teenager comes days after another member of CWA, known as DerpLaughing, claimed he was questioned by the UK police. He explained what happened in a Twitter post.
“Just because they managed to arrest two members doesn't mean we'll stop hacking them.”
CWA has conducted a months-long campaign against US government targets. Using social engineering techniques, they hacked individuals such as CIA director John Brennan, the US spy chief James Clapper, and President Barack Obama’s senior advisor on science and technology John Holdren. But the group was also allegedly able to break into a series of law enforcement portals, and, more recently, into a Department of Justice network, accessing sensitive internal data.
Members of CWA reacted to the arrest in an online chat with Motherboard, showing both concern, as well as bravado.
“Cracka being arrested sends a direct message to everybody involved in CWA/DotGov,” IncursioSubter said, referring to the Twitter alias that the hackers used to publish the names of more than 20,000 FBI agents as well as 9,000 Department of Homeland Security officers (The hackers said multiple people controlled the @DotGovs Twitter account.)
“We are [worried]. I think I'll get raided before this month is up,” he added.
Another hacker, known as Cubed, said he he was “angry” and that he thought he’d be raided “straight after Cracka,” but that hasn’t happened yet.
Cubed, however, also said the plan now was “to hack the planet,” quoting the iconic scene from the classic 1990s movie Hackers.
“An eye for an eye,” he added.
The hackers were not sure how law enforcement was able to track down the individual suspected of being Cracka, but they speculated somebody who knew him collaborated with the police.
“If we find out who snitched Cracka out, we'll be coming after him or her,” IncursioSubter said.
Another CWA member, known as Zoom, said that the “snitch” was “definitely someone who knew Cracka [for] a few years.”
The FBI declined to comment. And a SEROCU spokesperson also declined to provide more details. A team of the FBI’s investigators reportedly “homed in” on a suspect this week, and were “shocked” when they realized a "16-year-old computer nerd" covered his tracks so well, according to an unnamed U.S. official.
The arrested teenager, who is now out on bail, defended himself while speaking to Motherboard via a chat app, where he recently changed his nickname to “innocently a nice guy.”
“I’m innocent until proven guilty so I have nothing to be worried about,” he told me on Wednesday night.
On Friday, when I asked him whether he had any idea why or how the police arrested him, he joked: “Yeah, I broke my leg and when I fell, I hit my opsec button by accident and broke my fingers.”