Our Hackers around the world series leaves Asia and heads across the Pacific Ocean to the country of rock and roll to meet a black hat hacker. He’s currently part of TeamHav0k, the crew that started by reporting vulnerabilities, but later stepped to the dark side of the hacking scene.
INER7IA is a hacker from the United States who claims to be working in the Navy. In the interview we’ve had with him we discussed various topics, such as patriotism, techniques used by hackers to ensure they don’t get caught, and the little people that deal with a data breach’s aftermath.
Softpedia: First, the classic question: what is the significance of your hacker name?
INER7IA: INER7IA, it is based on what I do in the Navy. I work in the nuclear sector, and Inertia is something everyone deals with on a daily basis.
Softpedia: When and why did you start hacking?
INER7IA: Started when I was about 16 because it interested me. From the beginning, I just wanted to be the one who would help companies find and patch holes in their security.
After a while, I got bored with it and decided to join the darkside. I found it to be way more enjoyable then the lightside.
Softpedia: So does this mean that you consider yourself to be a black hat hacker?
INER7IA: Yes, I am currently a blackhat hacker. This is mostly because the sites that I hack are usually government related. I believe that if we can’t protect ourselves against a cyber attack, then how can we trust the government to protect against anything else?
I wasn’t always like this. I used to be full whitehat, but the people I did work for were ungrateful and sometimes they wouldn’t take me seriously.
Softpedia: How was it when you first entered the hacking scene? How did you learn everything you know now? Share some stories from when you began.
INER7IA: When I first started to learn, I was a clueless n00b. Haha. I was pretty much piggybacking on other hackers, “Hacking” what they had already done.
After a while I started to learn what was behind what they did. I learned to code, which I think has helped the best in developing my skill set. My very first big hack was a site that I had gained access to using SQLi.
I shelled the site and brute-forced the main servers password (I think it was something easy like "password" LOL). From there I had access to close to 37,000 sites. Me being a n00b, I tried to root it. Well, that turned into me wiping the whole server.
Luckily it wiped my logs as well (wasn't using a VPN or proxy. Haha)
Softpedia: Do you also work alone or is every hack you perform part of a TeamHav0k mission?
INER7IA: It’s kind of a mix. Most of the hacks that are done, are done with the team. Each person on the team brings together a different set of skills to the table. This is what makes us good at what we do.
Softpedia: Name a couple of sites that you and your team have hacked that could be considered a serious crime.
INER7IA: Library of Congress, NASA, ASK.com, GOOGLE.com UCLA.edu are some of the bigger ones.
Softpedia: Most hackers do their best not to mix their private lives with their "underground" lives. How do you manage to do this? How do you go around each day without raising any suspicion?
INER7IA: I have separate computers. Everything I do in my private life is kept private at all times. The moment you mix the two together is when problems start happening. If you look at the recent string of arrests, you see a trend where people were not keeping the two separate.
Some of the hackers that will never get caught are the ones like th3 j35t3r where they are superb at keeping them separate.
Softpedia: Are you afraid of getting caught? I mean, you live in the US, where, unlike in the countries from the Middle East, the authorities are more capable of dealing with hackers.
INER7IA: Not really. Most agencies don’t know who the members of Teamhav0k even are. All the members don’t know each other personally which I think was the downfall of LulzSec.
We don’t want to make the same mistake they did. I just hope that I can retire knowing I was never caught and arrested. Haha
Softpedia: Tell me something from a hacker’s point of view. For instance, you hack a government site because you believe the agency that manages it to be corrupt or incapable, but do you ever think about the little people, the ones that operate their sites, that have to deal with the data breach's aftermath, who may get fired because of what you do?
INER7IA: It’s just like any other job. If you can’t do your job, you get fired. There are people out there that do far worse things than I do.
I merely expose the weakness and make it open to the public. If I wanted to, I could hide it, infiltrate the corporate structure and gain information that is far more valuable. I guess I just feel like sometimes I’m doing them a service.
Softpedia: So you believe that the secret for not getting caught is not knowing the real identities of your teammates?
INER7IA: I think that the best way for you to not get ratted out by your team is to maintain that anonymity. I treat them as friends but we have an understanding that if any of us gets caught, we don’t tell on each other.
Softpedia: You say you hope to retire without ever being caught. Don't you ever plan on quitting the hacker life?
INER7IA: I think I will always be a hacker, whether it be legal or not.
Softpedia: What is your ultimate goal as a hacker? What about your ultimate goal as an individual?
INER7IA: I don't have a goal per se. I just enjoy it and like the thrill. As an individual, I want to get my masters degree in nuclear engineering and computer science. I have a BS in both.
Softpedia: Since you work in the Navy, people might look at you as a patriot, yet you go around hacking sites that belong to the US government. What can you say about that?
INER7IA: I fight for the people of the United States, not the government. I fight for the freedom of the individual, not the government. There is so much corruption out there and we follow blindly.
We have strayed so far from the constitution and it is out of hand. I hope that we can just stop and take a long hard look at ourselves and realize how [expletive]-ed up we really are.