Hackers Around the World: German Version of Desmond from Assassin’s Creed

This week, the series Hackers around the world presents a grey hat from Germany that’s famous for hacking into sites such as MySQL.com, CIA.gov. NASA.gov, and some famous university websites such as the ones that belong to Oxford and Harvard.

The hacker, which many may know as D35m0nd142, was kind enough to offer some interesting insight regarding gray hats, the way they’re perceived by society, and the German and international hacking scenes.

Softpedia: What does your name represent? Does it have any special meaning?

D35m0nd142: Desmond is the name of the protagonist of Assassin’s Creed and ‘142’ is my birthday date, but I can’t detail.

I just like the name and I chose it because it sounded good, that’s all. There isn’t any particular reason.

Softpedia: How long ago and why did you start hacking? Tell me about the period when you started hacking.

D35m0nd142: I started hacking 3-4 years ago because initially I had fun making jokes to friends and girlfriends. XD

When I saw that I was fascinated by this science I wanted to dedicate myself to the study of computer security and programming. I must confess that initially I enjoyed defacing the sites, but then I decided I wanted to help administrators.

Softpedia: How did this transition occur, from bad to good? Is there any particular reason why you had a change of heart?

D35m0nd142: I had this change when I realized that there isn’t any pleasure in ruining other people’s work.

Softpedia: Back in the days when you were a black hat, what did you do? Steal credit card and other information, deface sites, leak data?

D35m0nd142: I have never stolen a credit card because I am not a thief. Back in the day I took more databases and I defaced some sites but my specialty is not this last one.

However I have never been a real black hat.

Softpedia: Now, in your gray hat days you hacked a lot of important websites. Which of them would you say were the hardest to crack and which were the most important?

D35m0nd142: The most important were CIA and NASA I think, but I cannot say which was the most difficult because all had the same vulnerability and so it was easy to get into their systems. The most difficult thing is to find the weak spot.

Softpedia: During these hacks, did you ever try to contact the site's admins to tell them about the vulnerabilities they had, or you just made them public?

D35m0nd142: In some situations the sites I’ve hacked were warned before I attacked them, but when I saw they did not care I proceeded to make them understand better.

I bet that some of them have not yet fixed the bug.

Softpedia: Did you deface sites as a gray hat, or did you only leak information from their databases?

D35m0nd142: Yeah, I’ve defaced many sites but they were not very important and in any case I don’t like too much to deface a site.

I prefer to leak their databases. I think that the privacy of customers or administrators is the most important thing.

The main page, even if it is changed, it can be returned without problems. A number of stolen credit cards create many more problems.

Softpedia: To your knowledge, did any of these websites report you to the authorities?

D35m0nd142: Good question. Unfortunately, I do not know this, but I hope it has not happened.

However, I’m not scared because I’ve never caused damage, or at least not voluntarily.

Usually when I publish a database with important information, the passwords published are encrypted to prevent other people from doing damage.

Softpedia: Can you tell me how old you are?

D35m0nd142: I am 20 years old, nearly 21.

Softpedia: What can you tell me about your studies? Where and how did you learn programming?

D35m0nd142: I studied computer science at school but I learned everything at home alone, thanks to my obsession and passion.

I started programming in C, PHP, Python and SQL following a few simple guides found on Google. I am not a real specialized programmer. I'm much more an expert in computer security.

Softpedia: Do you want to make a career out of this passion for security or will it remain only a hobby?

D35m0nd142: If possible I’d like to work all my life in this area, if not, it will always remain a hobby.

Do you currently study at a college?

D35m0nd142: Currently, I am looking for a job, but I continue to study on my own.

Softpedia: This proves that you can learn a lot of things on your own if you're determined enough.

D35m0nd142: Absolutely! The only bad thing about hacking is that it becomes like a drug. You always find a site or system that attracts you more than the previous.

Softpedia: Many hackers say that hacking is like a drug. Do you ever think you'll quit?

D35m0nd142: I thought about this many times, but when I turn on the computer, just to see a video on YouTube, I find myself practicing hacking. It isn’t easy to quit.

But the important thing is to have a minimum of self-control.

Softpedia: How do you think gray hats are seen by society and website administrators? Are they considered a threat or a good thing?

D35m0nd142: I think people think of a hacker as a criminal independently of what he does. Unfortunately there are many more lamers now, so administrators also consider grey hats as criminals. But, maybe I'm wrong.

Everywhere I look I read articles where lamers are called hackers.

Many lamers are simple skript-kiddies. Many lamers take down website with DDoS attacks with tools like LOIC. Anyone would be able to do.

Softpedia: Tell me more about the German hacking scene. Are there a lot of active hackers? I saw that Anonymous keeps targeting what they call 'nazi websites.'

D35m0nd142: I totally agree with Anonymous in this case. I don’t approve nazi-websites. Only stupid people can create such sites. However, in Germany there are many computer hackers and they are also very good.

But, the best, in my opinion, are the British.

Softpedia: Why are they the best?

D35m0nd142: First ground - they have an advantage because all the software is written in English. Also in programming languages.

All server configurations are in English and it is a great advantage. For example, Backtrack, a distro with a lot of security tools.

Softpedia: Yes, but the Americans have the same advantage. What makes the British hackers better?

D35m0nd142: I think this way because in my opinion the best hacker of all time is Gary McKinnon. And so there are a lot of hackers in Great Britain. For example, Coldfire or Cyberjunkie.

Softpedia: Can you tell me of an operation, pulled off by German hackers, which caused waves on an international level?

D35m0nd142: Honestly, I do not follow much of the German operations. In Germany, mainly, viruses that circulate on the networks are discovered. In Germany there are a lot of white hats.

But we all know that the black hats are the ones that make the news more.

Softpedia: With the economic crisis, Anonymous and other hackers are starting to launch threats to governments and the rulers of different countries. Are there any hackers that threaten the German government or Angela Merkel?

D35m0nd142: Currently Merkel isn’t the first thought of Anonymous and hackers in general. Usually Anonymous announce their attacks, but for now there isn’t any important message for her.

I follow a lot of Anonymous operations and I have not read anything about it. She’s lucky for now.

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