Don’t Gamble with your password resets!
The cautionary tale of the Leicestershire teenager who hacked high-ranking officials of NATO allies shows the need for improved password security
Kane Gamble, the Leicestershire teenager, is the terrifying example of what happens when IT help desk security measures take a disastrously wrong turn.
Gamble was only 15 years old when he waged an eight-month campaign of “cyberterrorism” between June 2015 to February 2016, whereby he gained access and leaked the details of high-ranking foreign intelligence officials and government employees.
By impersonating his multitude of victims while on the phone, he conned call centres and IT help desk employees at international telecommunication companies into divulging confidential information.
From there, Gamble proceeded to reset passwords and gain access to “extremely sensitive” documents on military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Not only did the teenager have unlimited access to secure information, his reign of cyber terror continued after deliberately leaking details of 20,000 security officials and targeting the boss of the foreign country’s spying agency, as well as the ex-director of the foreign country’s home security agency.
This personal, sensitive information was leaked online to various websites, including WikiLeaks.
The passwords of the ex-deputy director of the country’s home security agency were reset, and he claimed he and his family were bombarded with phone calls, resulting in them getting police protection.
Gamble used the phone numbers he obtained to call and taunt his victims and their families and take control of their devices, including iPads.
Evoking fear amongst his victims, the British teenager hacked into the country’s security chief’s home television and made the words ‘I own you’ appear on screen. The wife of the country’s homeland security chief was left a chilling voicemail message asking: “Hi Spooky, am I scaring you?”.
Prosecutor John Lloyd-Jones QC told a sentencing hearing at the Old Bailey: "The group incorrectly have been referred to as hackers. The group, in fact, used something known as social engineering, which involves socially manipulating people – call centres or help desks - into performing acts or divulging confidential information."
With a British teenage boy, who had not yet even sat his GCSEs, being able to gain access to the foreign country’s top-secret government files, the security of passwords and the information delivered by IT help desks has become subject of intense scrutiny and investigation.
Using self-service password reset with multi-factor authentication (i.e. sending a code via SMS) would have prevented all these breaches.
That’s why major organisations that want to be as secure as possible use ReACT – the leading self-service password reset tool. ReACT can secure all your systems and is the only solution that can secure all three security systems on the mainframe.
Leaders from two of government’s core digital and data units – the CDDO and CDEI – introduce new guidelines intended to promote transparency in the public sector’s use of algorithms
Government consults on proposals to create new offences to clamp down on technologies it believes are enabling serious crime
NAO report finds ageing IT is a major contributor to the performance issues at UKSV
More than 8,000 staff affected by office closures have been offered more flexible working options