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Exclusive interview with one of the world’s most notorious cyber criminals

Our conversation with the ex cyber criminal, who goes by the name of ‘404’ promises a rare glimpse into the mind of a criminal who has transformed the art of hacking into a high-stakes game of cat and mouse.

Through encrypted channels and a series of intermediaries, we managed to establish a connection with ‘404’, who agreed to this interview under strict conditions of anonymity. What follows is a chilling and fascinating exploration of the cyber underworld, a world where morality is ambiguous, risks are sky-high, and the line between right and wrong is often blurred.

Below is the 10 question interview, and ‘404’ has given us 24 hours to ask anything additional before he disappears.

Q1: What led you into the world of cybercrime, and how did you first learn the skills?

A1: My path into cybercrime started out of curiosity and a fascination with technology. Early exposure to hacking forums, underground communities, and a desire to challenge myself led me to acquire these skills through self-learning, online tutorials, and collaboration with others in the community.

Q2: What types of cybercrimes did you engage in, and how did you justify them?

A2: Engaging in activities like hacking, identity theft, and financial fraud were among the common exploits. Justifying these acts often involved a twisted sense of righteousness, convincing myself that I was exposing flaws or targeting entities that were seen as corrupt or unethical.

Q3: Can you describe a close call where you almost got caught, and how you managed to evade capture?

A3: Without revealing specific details, there were instances when an operation was compromised, and law enforcement seemed close on the trail. Utilizing encryption, proxies, and a constant vigilance to cover digital footprints helped evade detection during those close calls.

Q4: How did your activities impact your personal life and relationships?

A4: Living a double life takes a toll. The constant fear of exposure, inability to share my real activities with friends and family, and the ethical dilemmas created isolation and anxiety. Relationships suffered as trust became difficult to establish or maintain.

Q5: What was the turning point that made you leave cybercrime, and how did you make that transition?

A5: Realizing the real-world impact of my actions, the moral implications, and the legal risks led to a profound change in perspective. The desire to use my skills for legitimate purposes became a motivating factor. Transitioning involved disassociating from criminal networks, pursuing legitimate employment in cybersecurity, and focusing on ethical hacking and protection.

Q6: What advice would you give to those interested in cybersecurity, and how can they use their skills ethically?

A6: The world of cybersecurity offers exciting and meaningful career opportunities. Those interested should seek education through legitimate channels, pursue certifications, and engage in ethical hacking activities like Capture The Flag (CTF) competitions. Collaboration with professionals in the field and focusing on protecting systems rather than exploiting them can lead to a fulfilling and legal career.

Q7: How did you identify and target vulnerable individuals or organizations, and what tactics were used to exploit them?

A7: Identifying targets often involved social engineering tactics, using information available online to pinpoint those who might be more susceptible to scams. Tactics like phishing, sending fake emails, or creating replica websites were used to trick individuals into revealing personal or financial information. Organizations with weak cybersecurity were targeted using tools that scanned for vulnerabilities, exploiting them to gain unauthorized access.

Q8: Can you describe an elaborate scheme that was particularly successful and why it worked so well?

A8: One of the more sophisticated schemes involved creating a fake online banking platform. By researching and mimicking the legitimate interfaces and user experiences of real banks, we were able to lure victims into logging in. The scheme worked well because of the attention to detail in replicating legitimate sites and understanding human psychology, using urgency and fear to prompt action.

Q9: How did cybercriminal networks operate, and what was the role of cryptocurrencies in these activities?

A9: Cybercriminal networks are often complex, with participants spread across the globe, each specializing in different areas, such as hacking, fraud, or money laundering. Communication is typically encrypted, and roles are compartmentalized to limit exposure. Cryptocurrencies played a vital role in transactions, providing a degree of anonymity in financial dealings. This enabled buying and selling illegal goods and services without easily traceable connections to traditional banking systems.

Q10: How did the constantly evolving technology landscape affect your criminal activities, and how did you keep up with the changes?

A10: The rapidly changing technology landscape was both a challenge and an opportunity. New technologies often introduced fresh vulnerabilities to exploit, but they also meant that previous methods quickly became obsolete. Keeping up required continuous learning, staying engaged with underground forums, attending covert online conferences, and always being on the lookout for the latest tools, techniques, and vulnerabilities

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