Hackers who targeted White House staff arrested

2017-04-04 18:03

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Dubai - UAE police arrested foreign hackers in 2015 who targeted five senior Obama White House officials in a blackmail email scam and planned to turn them over to US authorities after they complete their prison sentences.

The Arabic-language Al Bayan newspaper and the television channel Dubai One reported the arrests.

The arrests come as the United Arab Emirates, which hosts some 4 000 US troops fighting the Islamic State group, remains a crucial regional ally.

The White House had no immediate comment on the reports.

Al Bayan quoted Major Saud al-Khalidi of Dubai police's cybercrime division as saying an "African gang" broke into the emails of the five senior officials and "got highly confidential information".

He said the hackers demanded money from their targets in threatening emails. The US then asked Dubai police for assistance.

Al-Khalidi was quoted as saying that investigators tracked down the gang "in two hours" to an apartment in the emirate of Ajman and arrested three suspects with the help of local authorities.

"Police reportedly faced resistance from the hackers but they were effectively subdued and arrested," Dubai One reported in its nightly newscast.

'Not their first'

"Police say this was not their first operation, although it was their first offense here in the UAE. The hackers allegedly made it a business to sell information they managed to extract, moving from one country to another after every cyberattack."

Those arrested are between 24 and 26 and had a list of "five million bank accounts", as well as hacking software and millions of dollars in assets, al-Khalidi said.

The details mirrored those of a July 2015 Ajman raid previously announced by the UAE's Interior Ministry in which three Nigerians were arrested.

However, in that raid, officials only said they had "received information from the security authorities in the US state of California", never mentioning any connection to the White House.

Read more on:    uae  |  cyber security

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