Scaramucci fell for it big-time.
Image via Email Prankster/Twitter.
One scary part about living in the digital world is that the distance between the powerful and those who wish to do harm is smaller than most would like to consider. Recently, a U.K. email prankster who goes by the Twitter handle @SINON_REBORN was able to fool top members of the Trump administration by creating fake email accounts and posing as administration officials.
“I try and keep it on the humorous side of things,” the prankster told CNN. “I’m not trying to get the keys to the vault or anything like that.” But the spear-phishing techniques he used are similar to those Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager John Podesta fell for during the 2016 election.
“This shows how susceptible government officials are to spear-phishing in general,” Adam Malone, a former cyber specialist, told CNN. “Spear-phishing is the most common technique used by hackers to gain access to their victims. This information shines a light on how easy it is for people to build trust with unverified individuals.”
In one exchange, the prankster, posing as White House senior adviser Jared Kushner, had a conversation with Homeland Security Adviser Tom Bossert.
\nFake Kushner: Tom, we are arranging a bit of a soirée towards the end of August. It would be great if you could make it, I promise food of at least comparible quality to that which we ate in Iraq. Should be a great evening.:\nBossert: Thanks, Jared. With a promise like that, I can’t refuse. Also, if you ever need it, my personal email is…
— EMAIL PRANKSTER (@SINON_REBORN) August 1, 2017\n
The prankster also tricked then-White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci into thinking he was communicating with his rival, former White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, the day after his resignation.
\nFake Priebus: I had promised myself I would leave my hands mud free, but after reading your tweet today which stated how; ‘soon we will learn who in the media who has class, and who hasn’t, has pushed me to this. That tweet was breathtakingly hypocritical, even for you. At no stage have you acted in a way that’s even remotely classy, yet you believe that’s the standard by which everyone should behave towards you? General Kelly will do a fine job. I’ll even admit he will do a better job than me. But the way in which that transition has come about has been diabolical. And hurtful. I don’t expect a reply.\nScaramucci: You know what you did. We all do. Even today. But rest assured we were prepared. A Man would apologize.\nFake Priebus: I can't believe you are questioning my ethics! The so called ‘Mooch’, who can’t even manage his first week in the White House without leaving upset in his wake. I have nothing to apologize for.\nScaramucci: Read Shakespeare. Particularly Othello. You are right there. My family is fine by the way and will thrive. I know what you did. No more replies from me.
While in the role of communications director, Scaramucci was also fooled by the prankster posing as Jon Huntsman Jr., the ambassador-designate to Russia. The conversation revolved around Scaramucci’s recent criticisms of White House chief strategist Steve Bannon and Priebus to The New Yorker.
\nHuntsman: Who’s head should roll first? Maybe I can help things along somewhat.\nScaramucci: Both of them
Huntsman was also the victim of the prankster, this time posing as Eric Trump.
\nHuntsman: Russia will be a challenging but no doubt rewarding assignment.\nTrump: Maybe we could have Dad sat on a horse, top off, giving the full Putin! He's in better shape than his suits suggest.
According to Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House is taking a serious look into the security breach. “We take all cyber related issues very seriously and are looking into these incidents further,” she told CNN. While they’re at it, the White House should also take a look into a more serious threat to cyber security: Russia’s attempt to hack the 2016 election.