Internet hackers, who appeared to be activists in support of Palestine, claimed to have publicly released the personal data of 20,000 Justice Department employees including some within the FBI on Monday after gaining entry to the Justice Department’s database.
The hackers reportedly claimed via Twitter that the leak was in support of Palestine, and was a direct message to the U.S. government to pressure them into ceasing ties with Israel and to also bring awareness to the occupation of Gaza and attacks by Israel.
Before releasing the data of the 20,000 DOJ employees, the group began the leak on Sunday evening by releasing a list containing over 9,000 Department of Homeland Security employees’ names, emails, current country location, employment titles and phone numbers, with a warning stating that there was more to come.
An individual who contacted Motherboard and identified himself as one of the hackers claimed that he was able to access the employee information after he “compromised” a DOJ employee’s email address. After an unsuccessful attempt to access the DOJ web portal with that email address, he reportedly pretended to be an employee who needed assistance. He said he called the web department to obtain an access code needed to obtain the files. “They asked if I had a token code, I said no, they said that’s fine—just use our one,” the hacker told Motherboard.
After the web department gave him the information he needed, he gained admittance into the portal. According to the Telegraph, the hacker claimed that the group also currently has credit card numbers as well as military emails in their possession from the hack. The Telegraph noted that the “list appears to be real.”
The Department of Justice issued this statement in response to the leak: “This unauthorized access is still under investigation; however, there is no indication at this time that there is any breach of sensitive personally identifiable information,” DOJ spokesperson Peter Carr said in a statement.
While the Justice Department’s statement claimed that there doesn’t appear to be a “breach of sensitive personally identifiable information,” Motherboard noted that the FBI is taking steps to prevent the data from spreading.
According to the San Francisco Chronicle, CryptoBin, the site that was reportedly hosting the leaked data, has become more difficult to access. “A Department of Justice spokesman, who previously confirmed that the agency was investigating a possible breach of its systems, declined to comment when asked if the agency had anything to do with the takedown,” reported the Chronicle.