Computer Crime Research Center


Hackers: interview with a "Ghost"

Date: March 17, 2004
Source: Computer Crime Research Center
By: Ludmila Goroshko

Ludmila Goroshko, an analyst of Computer Crime Research Center, managed to interview a former hacker also known in certain circles as "Mazez Ghost". Of course he agreed to this Icq interview because Ghost was ex-hacker. Hackers do not like to talk to journalists and especially give interviews. Mazez Ghost said he was not engaged in hacking any more and his main job lied in the Internet-marketing for one of the companies. He divides all hackers from the former USSR countries into "authorities" or hackers of the old formation and "youngsters" or hackers of the new wave interested not in the spirit of adventures and discoveries, but in profits and selfish interests. These two schools have nothing in common with the generally accepted classification of hackers and crackers. There is a continuous and latent war between them.

LG: How can we learn hacking?

MG: I have incomplete high school education. I studied on my own:
- mathematical disciplines (mathematical analysis, theory of functions of a complex variable, algebra, geometry, theory of probability, mathematical statistics, mathematical logics and discrete mathematics);
- engineering disciplines (physics, hardware of computer techniques, radio electronics fundamentals, communications networks and information protection from technical intelligence);
- programming and computer disciplines (informatics, high-level programming languages, methods of programming, Assembler, operation systems, database management systems and networks);
- special disciplines (cryptography and theoretic fundamentals of computer systems protection).
And the most important thing to learn was social engineering.

LG: Have you heard of Bruce Sterling book "The Hacker Crackdown" where they gave an interview with the head of the New York Police Department? He says hackers are principally not good at creative programming. What do you think about it?

MG: Theoretically, I may program creatively, i.e. I remember I did it several years ago. Really, I think I would be interested to get involved in some interesting project to work on it. But it will be right to say that programming nowadays is divided into coding (protection) and hacking (break in). These things differ. They just interfere with each other. Therefore this question is not entirely correct, but I understand its hidden motive, they say, "They did not create anything and won't create ever!" Yes I think many hackers didn't write any software, but this does not detract from their merits. It is a separate occupation. It is hard to reproach a surgeon with specifics of his occupation. Frankly speaking, I do not think I can achieve any success in the programming field.

LG: Is it hard to penetrate into the "closed" computer systems?

MG: Not always. It is a rather specific work. It depends on hacking tools. Sometimes break in demands application of special software, sometimes examination of protection flaws, several standard flaws that are widely mentioned in hacking howto's. More often it is pure chance, hacker's intuition and examination of system administrator's psychology.

LG: What objects on the territory of Russia and Ukraine represent real interest for hackers?

MG: Any large networks of huge companies. I've been thinking for a long time that it is time to collect info on objects on the territory of Russia. For instance military objects or large banks.

LG: What hacker achievements could you tell us about?

MG: Nothing serious, just average hacker's success, various commercial services and networks: GEnie, CompuServe, AmericaOnLine and alike, also frauds with credit cards.

LG: But still, hacking is probably unsafe, isn't it? There are some appropriate authorities like Department "K" that fights computer crime, don't they?

MG: There are many special services, but they can't agree with each other. Those who know me do not hunt for me, those who do want to chase after me but unfortunately they do not cooperate with the first.

LG: Do you think you are a criminal?

MG: Hmm, it is a difficult question. As a matter of fact, it depends on one's attitude towards law in general. I did not commit any crime against Russian laws, and being an anarchist I can't regard myself as a criminal. There are some things that I consider inadmissible for me but they are beyond laws.

LG: Why is the image of a hacker associated with romantics of XXI century for some people, and with crimes and computer piracy for others?

MG: Obviously, we may view the same subject in different ways. Some consider it on the part of protection, other on the part of break in. The truth may be somewhere in the middle.
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