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Hacking the Hacker by Roger A. Grimes

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26Profile: Aaron Higbee

Riding in Aaron Higbee’s car is an experience only familiar to car tech geeks and ingrained engineers. He has enough externally connected computer equipment and gauges hooked to his car’s CPU brain and engine to easily qualify it as a car in a Back to the Future prequel. Those of us who have known him for a few years are not surprised. Higbee rarely does anything halfway. He’s either all in and fully enmeshed or not interested. It’s obvious that the “play hard or go home” motto plays a big part in his life.

I first worked with Higbee on a penetration engagement where we were on a team hired to break into one of the world’s largest cable television providers. I covered this particular engagement in the last chapter on penetration testing, but I left out one part of the story. We had successfully compromised not only the cable television company’s intended target, the set‐top cable box, but the entire cable company. And that was just day one! Higbee was bored with nothing really left to explore on our week‐long contact, so he began to hack the hardware we had been given by the vendor. He started manipulating the customer’s onsite controlling hardware, switching wires, manipulating motherboard jumpers, and installing cross‐over electrical cables. He kept trying different configuration hacks, and at one point he literally set the unit on fire. Smoke poured out of the unit as we all hurried to unplug the electricity and stop the small fire. We had to wait ...

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