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An “email prankster” has been duping White House officials

With phony email addresses a man was able to convince various White House officials that they were communicating with another official, according to CNN. The man even received the personal email address of an official “tasked with cybersecurity” after pretending to be President Donald Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner.

“Tom, we are arranging a bit of a soirée towards the end of August,” the man wrote, posing as Kushner in an email to the government account of Homeland Security Adviser Tom Bossert, CNN reported. “It would be great if you could make it, I promise food of at least comparible (sic) quality to that which we ate in Iraq. Should be a great evening.”

In his reply, Bossert wrote: “Thanks, Jared. With a promise like that, I can’t refuse. Also, if you ever need it, my personal email is,” CNN redacted Bossert’s personal email from publication, and he did not respond to for comment.

Though Bossert was communicating with his official White House email account, it’s a bit concerning that he was able to fall for a fake account so quickly, and hand over his personal account without even being asked.

But the “email prankster” also fooled the recently fired White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci, who believed he was speaking with his well-known rival and also recently fired White House Chief of Staff, Reince Priebus. The exchange occurred on Saturday, CNN reported, the day following Priebus’s departure.

“I had promised myself I would leave my hands mud free,” the impersonator wrote as Priebus. “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.”

However Scaramucci did reply. “You know what you did. We all do. Even today. But rest assured we were prepared. A Man would apologize,” he said.

“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,” fake Priebus responded.

Scaramucci wasn’t finished getting his fighting words in, and continued to engage. “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,” Scaramucci wrote.

This isn’t the only time Scaramucci was fooled, as the prankster also posed as Ambassador to Russia-designate Jon Huntsman Jr.

While humorous, all of this still raises some eyebrows about cybersecurity threats. “This shows how susceptible government officials are to spear-phishing in general,” former cyber specialist and special agent for the FBI, Adam Malone said, according to 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.”

Luckily the prankster was only in it for the laughs and not anything serious. “I try and keep it on the humorous side of things,” the prankster told CNN. The man tweets under the username @SINON_REBORN. “I’m not trying to get the keys to the vault or anything like that.”

Charlie May is a news writer at Salon. You can find him on Twitter at @charliejmay

Charlie May.

Source: Salon: in-depth news, politics, business, technology & culture > Politics

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