British police have arrested a teenager who allegedly was behind a series of audacious -- and, for senior U.S. national security officials, embarrassing -- hacks targeting personal accounts or top brass at the CIA, FBI, Homeland Security Department, the White House and other federal agencies, according to U.S. officials briefed on the investigation.
The officials declined to name the alleged hacker. He is under age and it's unclear what charges he could face.
When the hacks became known four months ago, someone (or multiple people) claiming to be the hackers did interviews with CNN and other news organizations and said it was the work of a group of teens calling themselves "Crackas With Attitude."
U.S. officials initially thought they'd make arrests quickly and they cast doubt that it was the work of teenagers.
The prominent victims have included CIA Director John Brennan, whose personal AOL account was breached, the then FBI Deputy Director Mark Giuliano, and James Clapper, the director of National Intelligence.
This week, the latest target became apparent when personal details of 20,000 FBI employees surfaced online.
By then a team of some of the FBI's sharpest cyber experts had homed in on their suspect, officials said. They were shocked to find that a "16-year-old computer nerd" had done so well to cover his tracks, a U.S. official said.
Investigators also found the intruder had gotten access to a shared computer drive with sensitive documents, such as some related to investigations and legal agreements in the works.
That prompted law enforcement officials to seek an arrest more quickly.
Even with the FBI on his tracks, officials say, the hacker continued to post taunts online using various accounts. He used plug-in operating systems to make his tracks almost untraceable.
One Twitter account the FBI believes he controlled posted this message Wednesday: "Anyone got a good lawyer?!?!?"