“The world is not the way I remember it, and certainly not what I left behind when I was arrested in 2009 for installing botnets and sensitive remote access programs on a range of clinic systems. “, Jesse McGraw (aka GhostExodus) recalls.
At that time, he was only 26 years old and admitted to hacking computer systems at the hospital where he worked, and was sentenced to 110 months in prison. McGraw also became the first hacker in American history to be convicted of hacking and damaging a network. 12 long years have passed, but in McGraw’s mind, he just felt like it was yesterday.
“You have to understand what it means to be a prisoner in the US. Currently there are about 2.3 million people detained in the ‘Free Land’ and Internet access is not a facility provided by the Bureau of Housing. jail “, McGraw confided
The information place is a luxury gift
Access to the information system, or simply capture what is happening outside the barbed wire wall, has long been restricted by the newspapers, magazines and TV shows. Prison management approved. Most prisoners in the US have access to computers, but it uses a specialized access control program that allows users to email only approved contacts, at a price of 0.05 cents each. minute. However, with jail for being a hacker, this is not the privilege that McGraw owns.
In the summer of 2011, he appealed. But McGraw then had no reasonable way to contact his lawyer. So he agreed with another inmate to use his computer, so he could send and receive emails.
But things do not catch the eye of the Prison Special Investigation Service (SIS). And more tragic when this time, the prisoner returned to betray him, saying that McGraw did not know using his account. SIS immediately made sure he hacked it.
“After that, I was detained for 13 months in a separate unit with maximum security measures without legal proceedings, while the case was transferred to the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Here the prisoners access to media, visitors and lawyers is cut off, ” McGraw recalls.
For McGraw, his memory of that place was three rains a week, an air-conditioned cell, fan, or adequate ventilation. That summer, the temperature in his cell reached 125 degrees Fahrenheit (about 50 degrees Celsius).
“Can you imagine right now, not having access to current information for more than a year? That would be the problem that you were least worried about and concerned about, if you were being held captive in where I used to be “, he confided.
A hacker is no longer able to control the computer
“After serving a long prison term, I saw firsthand how technology has evolved and it feels like stepping out of a time machine,” he shared.
In the past, McGraw was known as a big name hacker, founder and leader of a group of hackers called the Electronik Tribulation Army. That means he has been with the latest gadgets, exploits and the latest technology trends in society. He also has the ability to reverse malware, perform incident response scenarios and hack almost anything unattended. But for now, things are the complete opposite.
McGraw’s ATE hacker group has been very popular in the past.
“I read about the technological advances in newspapers and magazines when I was sentenced, but when I talk about it, I am now a foreigner, an outsider to the very things I have mastered. If it is said that the teacher has now become a student, it still hasn’t fully described it. “, he wrote.
Most recently, McGraw was given a brand new Dell Inspiron laptop. When he opened it from the packaging, he felt it looked like an extremely familiar friend in the past. But as soon as the boot finished, what greeted him was Windows 10, something very strange. Because yesterday, for him, the Windows 7 beta has just been released.
“Windows 10 is confusing and strange to me. It has a new file system and I’m not even curious at all about how it works. I just want my Windows XP back to custom.” choose dual boot Ubuntu Linux and Backtrack 3 “, This former hacker lamented.
The only solution then that made him happy again seemed to be downloading Ubuntu, attaching it to a USB drive and installing it. But the end was not what McGraw expected. Windows 10 doesn’t use BIOS, because it replaced it with UEFI (Unified Expansion Firmware Interface), a safe boot option to validate programs before allowing them to run. And that’s why he gave up because he didn’t want to waste another two days of his life trying to reinstall his favorite operating system.
“Windows has taken control of it all. I can no longer control the computer and I hate that. I can spend hours on Google to fix this awkward issue, but it doesn’t go to the fight. Each I was defeated once, “ I said.
Other similar things have changed since I was detained. I had to ask my twelve-year-old daughter: What is the Hashtag. That is quite embarrassing.
“Aren’t you a hacker or something?”, It asked me again. It was a final blow, inflicting on my own dying self.
A lot has changed since I got rid of the “time machine”. For example, in my day, hiring a hacker was considered taboo. That is the “danger zone”. Now it seems every hacker can be hired, to the point that being a hacker has become a standard, good and bad. The bounty for bugs has become a legitimate source of income for many, as licensing companies allow hackers to check the integrity of their networks for large sums of money.
Hackers are even eloquently honored in films, books and video games. Many hackers like Mr. Robot on dramas are even described as heroes instead of villains. Governments across the globe are armed themselves with digital armies, cyber-soldiers and sabotage groups.
The proliferation of destructive cyber attacks has become commonplace. It becomes the new way of everything. As I surveyed the web and observed this new generation of hackers, I found individuals who lost contact with the true “spirit of hacking”. Now they are motivated by greed, revenge, and anger. Harmless curiosity, the nature of a hacker, has become a thing of the past.
‘A world where I no longer feel connected’
While McGraw is regretting the familiar things of the past, the world is still moving forward by leaps and bounds. Here are some of the things he observed from the outside view of this exciting new world:
Bitcoin, the first cryptocurrency was introduced to the world. While I’m still not sure how to get Bitcoin or how to use them.
The smartphone came out in 2007 but started replacing the flip phone in 2009. I am quite knowledgeable about my Samsung Galaxy A10e. However, I could not figure out how to root it. I remember the first time I saw a smartphone advertised on television. This is the stupidest thing! I then shouted at the TV, “Who wants to put my greasy fingers on such a screen?” It is clear that everyone wants it now. Including me.
End-to-end encryption communications became popular as social awareness began to evolve towards using tools like Tor and encrypted communication platforms to maintain its anonymity on the Internet.
Social networking site Myspace has fallen to the abyss. Pragmatism seems to be the default everywhere in today’s society.
The Trojan in the bank becomes an epidemic. ZeuS, SpyEye, BlackHole and BackSwap are brand new names. The availability of IPv4 addresses quickly depletes when there are multiple devices connected to the Internet. It is the end of the world as we know it.
An Iraqi general was attacked by a software-controlled drone. The WikiLeaks movement is booming ..
Edward Snowden, who copied and leaked top-secret information from the National Security Agency (NSA), leaked between 9,000 and 10,000 top secret documents to journalists, exposing a huge spy program. called Prism.
Stuxnet – the most feared and dangerous computer virus ever appeared. It paralyzed Iran’s nuclear centrifuge, then began to spread elsewhere.
Major advertisers are using metadata to collect and map any specific user Internet behavior, for content marketing purposes. I feel like it’s what I used to do, stealing people’s data. But it was a crime when I did that.
Facebook and Google are so ingrained in the daily activities of web users that applications and services that are not related to them now have the option to log in or register with Google or Facebook credentials.
Smarthome and smart car are becoming popular. With all devices connected wirelessly through a single command and control device, that’s definitely the future of hackers. Smart watches and smart rings? I don’t know what to say.
Hackers today are no longer functioning like many years ago.
Virtual reality becomes something affordable for everyday consumers, who conveniently communicate with smartphones and video game consoles.
Amazon’s Alexa virtual assistant could be the witness of a murder. A judge ordered Amazon to hand over the recordings. Yes, it always listens. Always recording.
Unmanned aircraft become very popular. From toys to commercial products, then police support equipment.
Ransomware is revived from the past. Hackers began to invade users’ computers with extortion and damage personal data to get rich quickly.
Artificial intelligence has made a leap. I watched a YouTube video that said Will Smith was talking to a robot called Sophia.
Governments begin to make public annual hacker conferences like Black Hat and DefCon in an attempt to recruit hackers to protect cyberspace.
And at some point, significant changes to HTML5 happened.
“Hologram. Smart home. Self-driving car. Unmanned aircraft. Cryptocurrencies. Metadata. Virtual weapons ….. I stepped out of my time machine and entered a world. I no longer feel connected, “ McGraw shares.
An uncertain future
For McGraw, this is an uncertain future. He said he doesn’t really see meaningful interactions between people anymore. For him, now only a society is unbelievably separated by selfie lovers, by smartphones and similar technologies. And he often gets frustrated trying to find his place in the middle of a world full of new connections, simply because he doesn’t feel natural to be involved in the development and evolution of it.
“I feel like I’m on the other side of the mirror, waiting to be released into society again, just because I don’t understand this new world anymore,” I said.