RaGe Against Your Enemies

computerYO! Editor's Note: Although there are a group of young Americans under indictment for causing havoc on America's computers in the headlines, there are hundreds of young cyber sorcerers casting viro-curses on the enemies of their friends and gaining valuable computer skills, showing that hacker culture is more than meets the eye.

To many hackers of the underground world he was once known as TinY, but don't let the name fool you, with the click of a button he can instantly have 35 plus people monitoring your every online movement.

TinY was his call sign. At age 20 he has already retired from the hacking world consisting of mostly 15-21 year-olds. In the recent media barrage of stories about young hackers -- such as Jeffrey Lee Parson, 18, and Adrian Lamo, 22, who both admitted to hacking into the websites of large corporations and government organizations -- it's almost as if they wanted to get caught. Lamo turned himself in for hacking into the New York Times database, causing over $25,000 worth of damage. Parson spread a virus called teekids.exe, and hacked into the website of the Minnesota Governor's Office. To many hackers, creating a virus that spreads worldwide or hacking a highly secured government homepage is equal to gaining celebrity status.

TinY was the leader of a hacker group once known as RaGe. He explains "I started getting into it when I was maybe about 13. I originally started by being a graphics designer and I was asked to do some of the graphic work for some of the hacking programs that were being made for a particular hacking group. When I joined the group as that, the leader asked me to train with him and he taught me a couple of things until eventually I took over his position."

Little did he know, he was leading a nationwide group of 30-something hackers that ranked fifth among an elite list of hacking groups, along with United Pirated Software, United Warez, Katwarez and the Legion of Doom. The CIA is still trying to track down Legion of Doom for some of their nastier crimes.

RaGe had different sections. One section would get 10-15 credit cards a week; two were given to TinY and the others were distributed among the other members. TinY himself never used these credit cards. He was not in it for the money, but that is not to say other members weren't. One section would crack and distribute software. They are part of a warez community that would exchange software with other groups, then distribute it to regular people who needed software. They also had a security division that made sure they had each other's back. If anyone would mess with a member of the group, RaGe would hack into that person's computer, get into their bank accounts, send viruses to them, find out who their family and friends where and send viruses to them, too.

One time a friend of TinY's was angry at someone and she jokingly told him to hack into that person's computer. He took it seriously, told his security division and "had him on lockdown." For the first week, the security division -- which consisted of about 35 people -- would kick him off every time he logged on.

The second week they kept sending him viruses. In the final weeks, TinY signed on himself and told the guy directly, "Don't ever mess with my friend" and sent him a string of codes that crashed his computer. On a lighter note, the victim is now a good friend of TinY's.

When asked why he raised hell on other people's desktops, TinY said "I wanted something to do in my spare time and this was just something to me that was fun." He added that another reason was software. "I wanted a lot of software that I couldn't afford." He mentioned Adobe Photoshop, for example, which costs upwards of $600. He did not have that much money as a kid, nor would he spend that much now, so he downloaded a pirated version from his crew. But there was more: if anyone ever messed with him, having the power to "completely ruin their computer, keep them offline, get into their account, anything I wanted, that was a power-trip I couldn't let go off."

Although TinY messed with other's computers, he never felt guilty because he always gave warnings and only did it to someone when they gave him reason to. He never used anyone's credit cards and did not feel he was really stealing anything from a large corporation who steals from people everyday by charging a ridiculous $600 for software.

The thought of getting caught was always on TinY's mind though. "I heard that one of my friends actually got stormed by the feds," he said. "They stormed his room, took away all his equipment and his right to go on the internet."

Perhaps some hackers, like Parson and Lamo, are so concerned with getting props from their peers that they overlooked the consequences. Perhaps they were making a statement by becoming martyrs for the hacking community. Whatever the reason, the decisions they chose will significantly affect their lives. While Adrian was released on $250,000 bond, he was ordered not to use a computer again.

As for TinY, he's no longer a hacker. When TinY first started, the internet was still new and most security levels were at 32-bit encryption. Now everything is at 128-bit encryption. He feels the hype of the hacking era is over. Now TinY is back where he started using his skills for graphics design and web design, using his powers only for good and not evil, but he had fun the whole way.

Min Lee is a staff writer for YO!

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