In this article we will learn about Interview with RaT, the High Council President of SOLDIERX.
Introduction[Interview with RaT]
Last January, I wrote an article about the SOLDIERX Hacker Database titled Welcome to the World’s Largest Public Hacker Database, which covered some HDB hacker or security profiles, interesting sources and their relevance to the OSINT (Open Source Intelligence) community. I received both criticism and praise for my article, so I decided to create another article by interviewing RaT, President of the SOLDIERX High Council, to clear up some misconceptions and learn more about SOLDIERX.
RaT has been active in SOLDIERX since its inception in 1997, when Clinton H. Weir (Kefka/Ordune/Shto) founded it as an RPG group known as “SOLDIER”. RaT was then named president of the group and RPGMaster its vice president. More detailed information on the history of SOLDIERX can be found at this link, which includes the evolution of the group “SOLDIER” to “SOLDIERX”, plus RaTo’s adventures and misadventures. He also wrote an interesting Hacker’s Manifesto called ‘The Conscience of a Real Hacker’ and I think it’s a very interesting read!
RaT is also known for originally cracking the Geek Squad MRI from version 4.8.1 and for coding a tool called Agent Steal, which was written as an excuse for Geek Squad to crack their MRI.
In this interview, RaT shares some of his exclusive stories with us, so sit back and relax…
What is the role of the President of the High Council in SOLDIERX or what do you usually do?
“My role is mostly to guide SOLDIERX in the direction I think it should go. I also spend a lot of time assisting and brainstorming with crew members. When I’m not spending time with the crew, I’m generally doing some work with the web server to improve site performance. I’m also the primary point of contact for the site, so I usually spend about 1-2 hours a day answering emails.”
What big challenges do you typically face as the president of SOLDIERX?
“The biggest challenge is finding talented people and getting them to work for free. While hackers are largely driven by passion, the security industry is so lucrative that it is often very difficult to get people to produce for SOLDIERX. I would say the second biggest challenge is trying to keep track of everything and keep things organized. I look forward to reducing my responsibilities to ease some of my time constraints.”
Geek Squad knows the SOLDIERX Crew for cracking their MRI. Can you share why you cracked their MRI and what you discovered from Best Buy’s Geek Squad?
“This has a bit of an interesting history around 2007-2008 when Durandal was working for the Geek Squad as an agent. He shared a lot of information that indicated that Best Buy employees were not only ripping off customers, but also harvesting interesting user data (such as nude photos). One of the most interesting stories involved a Geek Squad agent stalking a customer using information he found on her personal computer. If you want a good laugh, search for “soldierx” on their private forums.
“Back to the first part of the question, we cracked their MRI at Durandal’s request. After he went into detail about the corruption that was going on at Best Buy and Geek Squad, we felt that cracking the software and releasing it for free was the right thing to do.”
Can you explain the philosophy behind the slogan ‘No one can stop information insemination’? Have you proposed plans and projects to support information insemination?
“This is actually a throwback to hackers.com in the 1990s (their catchphrase was “Insemination of Information”). I used to talk to Hyper Viper a lot and had a lot of respect for him and the rest of the HDC crew. With his permission, we created the slogan “Nobody Can Stop Information Insemination” to support their ideas of freely sharing security information (even in the presence of a hostile government or other oppressors).
“My plans are always based on the options and information I have at the time. The only constant is that I will continue to promote a community full of free educational resources. At this point, I hope that HDB will continue to grow and be recognized as the best open source intelligence source for profiling various individuals in the security or hacking community.”
Do you think we will have a state segregated internet?
“Personally, I don’t think we will. I’m certainly against it, and I hope the security community as a whole will continue to be against it. In the event that we have a state-segregated internet, I hope hackers will rise to the challenge and come up with innovative ways to how to bypass restrictions and control.”
I read in SOLDIERX History that you went on a hacking spree and compromised many servers, but were brought down by the feds in August 1999. What were the lessons you learned after the takedown? Have you ever regretted what you did?
“I’ve learned a lot about covering your tracks. At that time in the 90’s I used a proxy but not much network encryption (that was the standard in the 90’s). Long story short, I got caught because I became a beta tester for high speed internet in my area (most everyone was using dial-up at this point) and didn’t realize my traffic was being monitored by my ISP. Without encryption my proxies were useless as the ISP sent my information to the FBI and I was arrested shortly after.
“Another lesson I learned from it is that the justice system doesn’t really help people much. Other than that hacking, I was a pretty decent kid. I ended up being sent to a facility with a bunch of gangsters who I ended up teaching credit card fraud to you’ve earned their respect.I could probably write a book on this subject, but what I’m getting at is that you’re far more criminal than when you walked in there.
“I definitely regretted the hack during the punishment. I was very worried that it would affect me negatively later in life, but luckily it didn’t because I’m a minor. Hacking is hard because in many cases it is hard for you to see where you have hurt someone. In my case, I mostly just collected files from different places (like DISA) to build up my ego. I ended up doing one site debasement and I see it as very immature or lame. I definitely regret the debasement of the site, because I think the moment you manipulate things, you’re definitely causing harm.”
SOLDIERX HDB is the largest public hacking database on the net; what made SOLDIERX start such a project?
“I have been involved in hacking or security for a very long time. Through this I have come to know a number of individuals and groups over the years. I was annoyed when some of the newer hackers didn’t know who some of the older hackers were. I decided that a hacker database would be a great way to preserve history. It’s also a nice way to look someone up if they give you their name or a name and you want to know their reputation. It took a lot of searching and persuading to get people to help me build it. Fortunately, we were able to recruit a few key people (like our current curator) and within the first year of hard work, we became the largest public hacker database.”
SOLDIERX HDB has been highly praised and at the same time harshly criticized by some information security professionals, whitehats and blackhat hackers – what can you say about these critics?
“Frankly, most of the critics have been prima donnas like Christopher Thompson (aka Space Rogue) who are for some reason upset that an article about them in HDB doesn’t match their own exaggerated sense of self-importance. If you look at these critics, you will find evidence that most (if not all) have very large egos. In Christopher’s case, I’ve seen instances where he bashed a doc for pointing out a l0pht member who wasn’t him.
“All reasons aside, my only real problem with critics is that they refuse to offer constructive criticism. They will say HDB is inaccurate – but refuse to give any specific examples. We really strive for accuracy, so we are constantly trying to improve HDB. We can’t fix mistakes if we don’t know about them. As I said before, we don’t have the cash budget or network of crackpots like the FBI. We do the best we can with the resources we have.
“For anyone reading this, we are always looking for more help at HDB. If you see something that is wrong or missing – please contact our HDB Curator ([email protected]).”
Would you like to share more of your SOLDIERX stories or clear up some misconceptions about your community?
“It’s always tricky to figure out what can be shared without attracting the wrong kind of attention. As for misconceptions, I would say the only one I would like to clear up is why we do what we do. We don’t do it for the money, we don’t do it for the fame or attention, we do it because we’re driven to do it. We love hacking, building, teaching, etc. SOLDIERX is a passion project. Anything that contradicts this is a misconception.
“Now I will tell a very, very short story. One of my favorites was when some key SOLDIERX members crashed the iDefense party by bringing Stephen Watt (he was a Unix Terrorist at the time) and several other pr0j3kt m4yh3m members to the event. Without providing any identifying information, this could have happened because one of the SX members was invited to an iDefense party with the option to bring guests. By the end of the night, our group of rogues were behind the bar (for a private suite party after the main party) selling them their own iDefense alcohol. There were other awesome things that happened there, like the Hard Rock pass being pulled and cisc0ninja trying to club fight with UT. I’ll let you figure out the rest of the details to protect the guilty ;-)”