TRCH Full Monty

A Hacker in Notts

4 August 18 illustrations: Alex McDougall

"Groups like Anonymous came along to show the internet how insecure it really is..."

When I was a kid I wanted to be a train driver; the idea of being a standalone computer networker seemed boring as hell. But there's no comparison to the hacking life. You can either take money from the rich, or work for them. If you're dumb you'll work for them, and if you're smart you'll learn to steal from them.

Growing up, I had severe anxiety issues so my parents bought me a computer. I grew addicted to learning how electronics worked: TVs, microwaves – basically anything with a circuit board – would be torn down to the main components and put back together again before my parents woke up. I was always reading stories about viruses and downloaded some to test out for fun, breaking my PC multiple times.

I was twelve when I created my first virus. When you opened it, it destroyed your computer. I made it with help from a school friend who was a computer guru; he taught me a lot about hacking video games and copyright software, but he didn't execute many of the exploits he came up with in case he got caught himself.

The IT department at school weren't our biggest fans; they'd always be knocking on the door to our computing lessons asking what was happening on the network. While most kids were buying and selling fags, me and my friend would exchange CDs; normally the latest pirate films, software and games that we’d later upload online. I'm sure a lot of big companies wouldn't have been too happy with us, but we thought it was pretty funny.

Now, I spend all day and night sat at my computer. I look for new hacks to use before they get patched, buy and sell details, and modify phones to send information. I can’t sleep until I’ve executed an idea, waking up every twenty minutes until I’ve broken through. It can take weeks or months, but if you put your mind to it, you will eventually get past anyone's security. It just takes dedication.

I enjoy doing things to piss off the Government and big corporations, but the main reason is being low on cash... I'd never take from poor people or countries. I also help family and friends expose dodgy partners by hacking webcams, checking GPS locations, and reading SMS messages.

The online drug community has a bad name, but I think it's probably the safest modern way of buying drugs. I hate that child pornography and religious snuff videos exist on the dark net; it gives a bad name to the rest of us. The weirdest shit out there is probably webcam livestream chats where viewers get to decide what happens to the victim. It’s everything a respectable dark-net user doesn't like.

As for fraud, people will keep doing it as long as the bank is insecure enough for them to take the cash. Customers are reimbursed so they aren't out of pocket, and white-hat hackers have told the banks many times that their system is flawed, but they take no notice. Groups like Anonymous came along to show the internet how insecure it really is. It's only now that people are starting to take notice.

A normal process goes something like this: you write a virus, or copy and paste one from the dark net, tweak the code to make it untraceable, then inject into software so that anyone who uses it will be infected. Once someone opens a malicious email, you'll be notified. Then you’ll have complete control. You could watch them all day on their webcam without them knowing if you wanted, but people normally sit and wait for the perfect opportunity to spoof their email in the middle of a trade. Then the money is put into a different bank account and changed into cryptocurrency, as it’s untraceable. In the future, I can see cryptocurrency being used like credit cards. It'll probably be more normal to spend BitCoins in a corner shop than a pound coin.

I come across some proper weirdos on the dark net, but they’re genuinely down-to-earth people who look out for each other. It’s nice, to say we’ve never met in real life. It’s been amazing to see Anonymous join together; all the computer geeks grew balls out of nowhere, and we saw the power and impact we could have with just our minds and computers.

Hacking will definitely get more difficult. Just five years ago, even a novice hacker could get into anyone's Facebook. Now it’s not so easy. But the dark net will definitely keep growing in a similar fashion to the way the file sharing community did. Governments around the world would have to unite and go to war with cyber activists to eliminate movements like Anonymous.

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