Hector Monsegur interview part 1: Sabu speaks about his early days of hacking
In the world of computer security and hacking there are many controversial figures.
Hector Monsegur is among the most controversial.
As a member of Anonymous and LulzSec he participated in some of the world's most infamous hacks.
However when he was identifies by the FBI, they threatened to send his adopted daughters to Child Protective Services.
he turned informant.
And ultimately helped to prevent in some three hundred hacks against American targets.
However, he still participated in hacks against international ones.
His actions on both sides of the law have earned hi plenty of enemies but also has given him quite a story to tell.
He has remained silent since the sentencing in May of this year but came up to speak with Charlie Rose in an interview.
Now we're going to take the opportunity to speak with him in a little more detail.
On some of those hacking exploits.
Hector, thank you for joining me this morning.
Oh, thank you.
Can you tell me a little bit how you got started?
What was your, what was your first computer?
What kind of system was it?
Well, the first computer I ever touched was like a old Apple, forget exactly what version it was.
A little square box, we are talking about early 90s.
Like a Mac Classic, maybe?
Yeah, something like that.
An, you know, would have jus.
Sit on it and play games and all, and all of that, [UNKNOWN] have access to the internet yet.
But it was like my [UNKNOWN] into computers and, you know going to school and playing, you know Carmen San Diego, whatever, you know?
Everntually in the mid 90's.
I had a whole different lifestyle.
I was in the streets.
Family [UNKNOWN] they had a whole different situation going on.
And there was a point where my family, specifically my aunt, could afford to buy me like a really nice computer at the time.
It was it was what, 95.
So it was a, it was a machine with Windows 95 on it.
A Sony VAIO, with like 132 megahertz, 6 megabytes of ram.
And like, you know, wind modem which was horrible.
I find out later cuz I couldn't use Linux for some things.
basically after that that's where I really started to get into.
And getting online and finding like enzymes and all that by accident.
I actually started getting online, like, on AOL, like AOL came prehistoric with all those computers that came out at the time so.
Every computer [INAUDIBLE]
Yeah, every computer had like AOL pre installed so.
It was like AOL 2.5, which some people might argue is one of the best versions of AOL ever.
So, you know, I get online and I'm just whatever.
My family went to prison and I was like isolated by myself and like I felt alone.
You know, everybody, I had no access to no, nobody in my family.
[COUGH] we were able to, you know, afford some internet for a while.
In that time from that I was on online, I was able to learn a couple of things, you know.
There was like these wearers, channels, these rooms where you could just go and download stuff.
And, you know, I wanted to download [INAUDIBLE] because I'm a newb.
I'm like wow, this is so cool.
I could download all this stuff.
And I didn't even know what most of this, most of this stuff is.
Then like I download a copy of.
You know, the Anarchist Cookbook, right?
And inside there were some zines of, some Freaking and Unix articles, alongside the original Anarchist Cookbook.
And one of the articles that was inside the file, the ZIP file was excuse me, they had a copy of the Hacker's Manifesto.
By the mentor.
And you could see that's what really changed my life, you know?
I read this man's words, you know, and the top of it, the top of it is says like, the Hacker's Manifesto.
Conscious of a Hacker 1988.
Like, you know, two days before I got arrested.
You know, like, it was two days after I got arrested.
And then he goes into this story, right, of like, what a hacker is, and this is my world's.
Enter my world, the beauty of the [UNKNOWN] you know, it was really cool.
What aspect of that really attracted you at that time?
Well, I mean, look, so I'm in New York City, I'm in the lower east side, we're talking about, like, I have to live in New, in the lower east side of New York City, in the 80s, early to mid 90s, I dealt with a lot of racism from cops.
Not from people, but from cops.
So what I really liked about this manifesto was that he, said well, you know, I don't judge you by the way you, you know, what you say what you like.
I don't judge by what you look like.
And that right there won me over.
So, I'm pretty sure this guys like a white dude in Texas or something, you know.
He's basically saying you know, if you're a hacker it doesn't matter if you know, you're black, you're Puerto Rican or whatever it is that you are.
You know, we're all alike.
And it was one line that I loved in that.
And it always, it always makes stewed in me and that's yes I'm a criminal, my crime is that of curiosity.
That was awesome.
And then, you know, he ended it with my crime is that of outsmarting you, something you will never forgive me for.
Then boom, that's it.
And so now here I am.
I'm 12 years old and I'm like wow, what did I just read.
You know, I saved it on my little desktop and I went back to the AOL.
And then there was this, there was a time where.
[COUGH] I sorta hang around in certain private rooms.
One of the rooms was like P R Leet's.
I'm talking about P R Leet back in the 90s, mid 90s.
And there was a guy in there that was like, you know, for all your newbs who wanna learn how to hack, here's, go into this other private room.
Then, he asked one question that is still relevant to this day.
How do you bypass a firewall?
And that's, that got me thinking.
So, now, here I am.
I am totally new 12 almost 13.
I'm like, how how do I bypass a firewall?
And, as I learned later on in life.
One of the best techniques of bypassing firewall's a reverse shell.
Why try to infiltrate the, the system directly?
And this relevant, this is why I'm telling you this little story.
Why are you gonna try to attack a system directly when you can have the system call you?
Kinda similar to War Games you know, when Joshua calls this guy back you know.
And so, what was your first hack, then, based on that?
My first hack was a kinda ironic.
A German warez site.
I don't know why.
[LAUGH] A German warez site.
I just got access to the FTP and I just did something stupid.
I did like the whole, you know, there remember the time we're talking about the, mid 90's.
We're talking about like hackers for [UNKNOWN] was out when they hacked New York Times and so when you go to newyorktimes.com you see like, you know, this entire message was written in [INAUDIBLE] speak, right?
So it's was pretty awesome.
I did a [UNKNOWN].
And you know, the, the Germans, like, fixed it, and pretty quickly.