A 20-year-old student has allegedly confessed to hacking and then publishing private data relating to more than 1,000 German politicians and journalists.
The hack first came to light in December when the hacker, using the name G0d, started publishing data, including photos, phone numbers, correspondence and credit card data on a Twitter account that was later suspended.
“Police did not name the 20-year-old but said he lives with his parents, is not a computer expert and had no previous conviction,” Reuters reported today.
Arguably more embarrassing for the politicians who were hacked, the student allegedly gained access to some accounts using nothing more than a list of basic passwords as weak as “Iloveyou” and “1234.” In other instances, G0d also used simple phishing emails to obtain passwords to targeted accounts.
“The accused said his motivation had been irritation over public statements made by the politicians, journalists and public figures affected,” senior prosecutor Georg Ungefuk told Reuters.
Josh Mayfield, director of security strategy at Absolute Software Corp., told SiliconANGLE that it’s reasonable to assume that the hacker had means, motive and opportunity to commit the crime.
“There are many tools, techniques and resources readily available for any DIY cybercriminal,” he explained. “What about motive? Without knowing the inner thoughts of the individual, it is hard to determine a guilty mind that would hold up in criminal court.”
He added that there are potential benefits to hijacking official government correspondences. “Whether motivated out of political ambition (WikiLeaks-style) or out of greed, there is seduction that arrives when would-be cybercriminals realize they have the means to do it,” he said. “When considering opportunity, the interconnected world allows for plenty of available gateways to break in and steal the goods. When you’re in this world, you are swimming in opportunities to burgle, but few take notice of the opportunity when it arises.”
Mayfield said he thinks other suspects will emerge. “If nothing else, the network of cybercriminals and the knowledge shared between them counts as a boost to have this kind of successful attack,” he said. “Whether there is a smoking gun of culpability beyond G0d, there is almost certainly plenty of enablement and indirect support coming from the dark cyber universe.”