British authorities, with help from the FBI, have arrested a teenager they believe is behind a series of cyberattacks targeting some of the highest officials in U.S. government, two sources with knowledge of the matter told ABC News.
Authorities are trying to determine whether others may have been involved, the sources said. The 16-year-old has not been named.
For the past several months, a group calling itself “Crackas With Attitude” has been disclosing private information associated with such high-ranking officials as CIA Director John Brennan, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson.
Information about rank-and-file employees working for the FBI, Justice Department and the Department of Homeland Security were posted online this week, though sources described the pilfered information as amounting to an internal phone directory.
Authorities suspect so-called “social engineering” may have helped those responsible gain access to the federal systems, according to one U.S. official.
Police in South East England confirmed to ABC News that officers arrested a 16-year-old boy in East Midlands Tuesday for a series of computer-based crimes.
But a spokesman for the South East Regional Organized Crime Unit would neither confirm nor deny what he called "speculation" linking the arrest to the hacks targeting U.S. officials.
Social engineering essentially involves a hacker gaining access to a system by sending an email to someone and pretending to be a known or trusted associate of the recipient.
“There is no indication at this time that there is any breach of sensitive or personally identifiable information,” DHS said in a statement earlier this week.
But officials expressed concern that more sensitive information was accessed and could be released.
In October, a personal AOL email account associated with CIA Director Brennan, and containing personally identifiable information, was hacked, as was an account linked to DHS Secretary Johnson.
Sources said it did not appear Brennan used the account for government business after he became CIA director. Johnson’s targeted account also was not used regularly, sources said at the time.
U.S. authorities began to identify what they thought was a group of suspects at least two months ago, ultimately narrowing in on the 16-year-old in England, the sources said.
The arrest of a suspect was first reported by CNN.
ABC News' Jack Date and Jack Cloherty contributed to this report