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Former professional hacker explains how he hacked the US Government at just 16 years old

Former professional hacker explains how he hacked the US Government at just 16 years old

This hacker makes it all sound so easy.

Hacking the US Government seems like the sort of thing that could land you in a whole heap of trouble.

Still, it's fascinating to hear from an ex-hacker who did just that, landing himself in serious hot water.

British citizen Mustafa Al-Bassam, a former member of Anonymous and one of the founders of hacking group LulzSec, talked to LadBible on YouTube in 2021 about how he got into hacking, explaining that his interest first started around nine years old.

He loved technology and that led him to investigate how things actually worked, and how they could be changed.

Al-Bassam talked about how he started to hack websites and even his school's private server to find out teachers' salaries and more, with no intention of blackmailing anyone.

Amusingly, Al-Bassam also confirmed that most TV shows and movies make hacking look far more dramatic than it actually is, with "3D interfaces" that simply aren't real.

Al-Bassam got in touch with Anonymous, the hacker group, and started to work with them.

He talked about how many of these hacks were motivated by moral codes or political beliefs, for example retaliating against payment platforms after they stopped letting WikiLeaks take donations via their portals.

When Al-Bassam discusses the methods he used as a hacker, it's amazing to hear how simply he sees them, even though the actual technical details would probably baffle most people if they tried to put them into practice.

The UK police started to take notice of Al-Bassam at a certain point, though.

Halfpoint Images/Fajrul Islam/ Getty
Halfpoint Images/Fajrul Islam/ Getty

He was eventually charged with around 80 crimes, as he explained, although in practice he could only be kept in custody for 24 hours and this meant they could only get through the processes for around 40 charges, according to Al-Bassam.

At this point he was still under 18, and registered replies of "no comment" to almost any question that came his way.

Amazingly, he said he was confident he wouldn't end up in jail, given the sentences handed to down to previous hackers under the age of 18. Eventually, though, he ended up pleading guilty after the FBI revealed it had a mole in his group that had captured copies of all of its online conversations.

This led to a 20-month suspended sentence for Al-Bassam, avoiding jail time, but still sounds fairly stressful, not least because of a two-year internet ban - surely the worst thing that could happen to anyone that was obsessed with computers.

Featured Image Credit: LADbible/YouTube