Apparently, th3j35t3r is leaving us. I say “apparently”, because I’m still not 100% convinced that this isn’t some elaborate opsec that he’s running. In the past, we’ve had instances of th3j35t3r going dark for various and sundry purposes.
UPDATE: Well, it looks like he’s back. I’ll feel safer knowing that the “Internet Batman” is still out there, doing what he does best.
But, this post isn’t to analyze whether or not he’s serious. This post is to say “thank you” and, if applicable, “farewell”.
I found out about th3j35t3r from a college friend of mine, guildsbounty. I don’t remember exactly when, but my chatlogs tell me it was at least early 2012. I was studying mechanical engineering at the time, but my dad was a Navy programmer, and I’ve always had an interest in technology. Seeing th3j35t3r weaponize tech was awesome, and I wanted to do that too.
Weeeeeelll, long story short, the art of hacking is just like anything else worthwhile…complex, difficult, and time consuming. I switched from engineering to programming, which is where I am right now, and my interest in infosec waits patiently on the back burner. I’m working a full time job as a software developer, and making Minecraft mods on the side. Time…has become one of my most precious resources, and diving head-first into infosec isn’t at the top of my list. Yet.
There’s a couple of things I’d like to specifically thank th3j35t3r for. First and foremost, th3j35t3r has been a bit of a technology role model for me. His work and attitude encouraged me to continue developing the “hacker mentality”, one which asks the weird, difficult, and out-of-scope questions necessary to figure out how things work. Additionally, th3j35t3r has encouraged me to dig deep into the way systems work, and how they can be broken. By understanding how systems can be broken, I’m better prepared to mitigate attacks on my own systems, and sometimes even prevent them from happening at all.
I’m also intrigued by the range of skills that th3j35t3r has exhibited in his almost-five-year-long run. I’ve seen some pretty complex tools developed and demonstrated, and some simple tools applied in almost unbelievable ways. From someone just learning about hacking and infosec, th3j35t3r’s skill at assessing, planning, and executing attacks against targets “downrange” is unreal. I’ve seen him execute plans that must have required years of forethought. He acts with precision and purpose, but isn’t afraid of having fun (see: jesterland).
As a programmer, I’m also impressed by th3j35t3r’s ability to weaponize nearly anything. The QR code attack is one of my favorites, because it demonstrated both a technical competency (understanding the exploit, developing the code) and a confidence in the curiosity of his targets. I really enjoy reading his post-op “tell all” blogposts which outline exactly how he went about planning and executing some of the attacks. From data collection to psychops to flat out blasting servers from the face of the internet, th3j35t3r has a tool to do the job. As I build my own bag of tricks, I’ve taken inspiration from various aspects of th3j35t3r’s tools more times than I can count.
As someone with a career in IT, I’m very aware of how difficult it is to keep your identity private online, and making one mistake has the potential to cause you problems for years…but th3j35t3r has kept his identity locked down tight, despite hordes of detractors attempting to expose him. I’ve watched hundreds of people try to “dox” him, and far more try to tear him down. It’s hilarious, especially when he toys with them before he smacks them upside the head. He’s not perfect, obviously, and I’ve witnessed (and at times participated in) some really heated discussions on twitter. But even when angry, th3j35t3r makes a point to keep his wits about him, and never reveals a scrap of information about himself that could be used against him.
He’s a patriot. He’s a hacker. He’s a software developer. He’s an individual with amazing self-control. He’s a damn fine person, and should I ever meet him, I’ll shake his hand, and buy him his drink of choice.
So, this is me saying “Thank you” for your years of existence, th3j35t3r. While it may be a persona, a mask the “real you” puts on, th3j35t3r has been a symbol of things both awesome and encouraging for me.
If you’re on your way out, th3j35t3r…good luck, and stay frosty.
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