[ISN] Former hacker regrets past deeds

From: mea culpa (jerichoat_private)
Date: Wed Feb 10 1999 - 15:28:27 PST

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    February 7, 1999
    Former hacker regrets past deeds          
    Wants to get message out that businesses can be hit hard
    MONTREAL (CP) - A former hacker who once probed Soviet Union research
    computers before being found out by the RCMP has a message for young
    hackers today: cut it out. 
    ``What I did was definitely wrong,'' said Robert Masse, 24. 
    ``I caused a lot of problems. In the end I came out okay. There are a lot
    of people who don't.''
    Masse, who today protects an international computer network based in
    Montreal against hackers, says he wants to get the message to young people
    who think hacking is a victimless crime. 
    He was 15 when two RCMP officers shoved a search warrant in his face. To
    make matters worse, his father was a civilian employee of the RCMP and was
    put under suspicion because of his son's hacking. 
    Until then, the teen thought what he was doing was harmless. 
    ``You don't see what you're doing,'' he said. ``You're not going into
    someone's house and kicking his head in and taking all his stuff. There's
    no face to associate with the problems you're causing. 
    ``I was costing companies money. You're racking up large long-distance
    bills. Back then I was a kid, and you think a big company has a lot of
    money. You don't realize a lot of the companies are smaller and their
    whole telecommunications budget could get eaten up.''
    Masse was able to look at government sites, including that of the federal
    auditor-general, as well as those of private companies. He also tapped
    into USSR research computers at a time when the Cold War was still on.
    Telecommunications were being monitored and Masse's hacking was traced by
    security intelligence agencies. 
    His activities were going on under the nose of his father, who had
    security clearances with the RCMP. 
    ``Communications going to Russia set off flags,'' he said. ``Eventually
    they got my phone number and looked up who it belonged to. It was my
    father's name, and they thought, `Oh my God, what's this guy doing
    contacting Russia?' It started a big investigation.''
    Masse remembers his life changed.  Everything related to computers was
    seized from the family home, and the RCMP made maps of his bedroom. 
    ``My mom and sister were crying. My dad had a look on his face that I had
    never seen before. It was a look of disappointment. That's what hit me
    hard.  Any excitement I had, or feelings that this was cool, were
    Masse co-operated with the RCMP , primarily to clear his father's name. 
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