When Terrorists Come Calling
I don’t know why I kept doing it. Compulsive nature? Money hungry? Thirst for power? I can name a number of possibilities.
The 20-year-old hacker who signs as Comrade is just hanging around these days in a house that he owns jointly with his brother in a nice part of Miami. Their father lives with them, but that’s only because the kid brother is still a juvenile and Child Services insists there be an adult living in the home until the boy turns 18. The brothers don’t mind, and Dad has his own apartment elsewhere, which he’ll move back to when the time comes.
Comrade’s mom died two years ago, leaving the house to her sons because she and the boys’ father were divorced. She left some cash as well. His brother goes to high school, but Comrade is “just hanging out.” Most of his family disapproves, he says, “but I don’t really care.” When you’ve been to prison at a young age — in fact, the youngest person ever convicted on federal charges as a hacker — the experience tends to change your values.
Hacking knows no international borders, of course, so it makes no difference to either of them that Comrade’s hacker friend ne0h is some 3,000 miles away. Hacking was what brought them together, and hacking was what took them along a slippery course that would eventually lead to what they would later conjecture was serving the cause of international terrorism by conducting break-ins to highly sensitive computer systems. These days, that’s a heavy ...