By rye in : blog // Mar 31 2011
I recently have been going through all of my old backups both on harddrive images and CD/DVDs I burned years ago. When I say years, I am talking well over 10 years ago. To my amazement the CD/DVDs held up extremely well. Matter of fact much better then I ever thought they would, but that’s besides the point. I started going through all of these old files that I had kept and tried to figure out for what reasons I would keep these utilities, photos, videos, music and apps; though we called them applications back then.
It took me back to the days where AIM Phishing/Phreaking was as simple as knowing the right people to get your hands on the latest exploits. Teasing your friends by kicking them offline continuously and bouncing their warning percentage up to 100%. It’s scary to think back that it was as easy to take down AOL one of the biggest ISP’s at the time with the simplest of tools. By no means did I consider myself a hacker as that word always got to me, but I knew my fair share of exploits. Compared to the hackers of today I was nothing more then a squeaker if anything. I look back at all the things I had done since my earliest backup and I am impressed where I have gotten myself to. It was amazing the things you could write in VB and compile in minutes that would steal the simplest of information from random people. Today though, I would never run a random compiled application from some random kid. Things are so much more complicated, but why. I think back in 2001 people weren’t thinking as deep as they do know, hiding code within code to maliciously steal credit card numbers or personal information. Back then it was for fun, not the money.
When I started high-school I was deep into how the school managed thousands of accounts, drives and information. I dug into the network file structures and realized how easy it was to install key loggers to gain admin and faculty passwords. In the end, I probably could have saved time and just guessed the domain admin password as it was just the address of the school board office; not very clever. When they implemented a web block people thought that the school had pulled the upper hand, but I saw this as a challenge. The school had already setup weak passwords and low level file system block attempts, so I figured a websense system was the least of my worries. Boy was I right, I had spent the better of a weekend coding my way around the filter system, a system they were proud to say they spent thousands on implementing. That following Monday I released a web URL internally within the network and outside that I had control over to a few friends. By the end of the day, word had got out about the bypass, but nothing about who did it. This was only the beginning of things on my plate. This is just one of many stories that got my thinking about the things I used to do and how it has gotten me to where I am now. Over 10 years experience and a BS in computer security later, I realize I now protect networks from people like how I was when I was younger.
10 years is a long time and to create a digital life through this time and go back is interesting to me. I’m forced to rethink all the choices I made and even the ones I never finished. Some of the things I went back through made me think I was almost reviewing the files of a stranger. By no means am I the same person I used to be in 2001. I found myself back in my old seat, fiddling my way through random folders and files, trying to discover who this person was. It was like cracking a mystery all over again. I’m sure it will be the same when I go back in another 10 years and try and decipher all of my encryptions and passwords I have been setting over the past years.