Logo

    About this Episode

    In this episode we meet Elliot Alderson (@fs0c131y) from Twitter. Who is this strange masked person? What adventures have they gotten themselves into? Many stories will be told. The mask will be lifted. Sponsors This episode was sponsored by Thinkst Canary. Their canaries attract malicious actors in your network and then send you an alert if someone tries to access them. Great early warning system for knowing when someone is snooping around where they shouldn’t be. Check them out at https://canary.tools. Go to https://nordvpn.com/darknet to get 70% off a 3 year plan and use code darknet for an extra month for free! Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

    🔑 Key Takeaways

    • Robert Baptiste, aka Elliot Alderson, discovered that the pro-Trump dating app, Donald Daters, had security vulnerabilities, highlighting the importance of properly securing user data.
    • Prioritize security measures to prevent data breaches and protect users’ personal information. A lack of security can result in reputation damage and loss of trust from customers.
    • Elliot Alderson's work showcases that ethical hacking is essential in raising awareness about security vulnerabilities and protecting user data. It also highlights the potential dangers of government programs that link personal information.
    • Protect personal data like Aadhaar and treat it like identity cards or social security numbers. Weak security systems can lead to identity theft, making it crucial to implement strong data protection measures. Stay vigilant and teach citizens to be cautious.
    • Elliot's hack emphasizes the vulnerabilities of online identification systems and the need for increased security. It also highlights the dangers of sharing personal information online, cautioning against harmful practices like doxing.
    • Companies must prioritize security to protect users' data and individuals should be cautious of poorly-built websites and applications that compromise data security.
    • Companies should acknowledge the efforts of security researchers, who work to protect their businesses against cyber threats. Threatening them is not acceptable, and their political affiliations should not be a factor in their work.
    • Elliot Alderson's non-malicious hacking to find vulnerabilities in apps and offer improvements helps companies improve security, benefiting everyone involved.

    đź“ť Podcast Summary

    A Reverse-Engineering Expert Finds Vulnerabilities in a Pro-Trump Dating App

    Robert Baptiste, who is also known as Elliot Alderson on Twitter, is a reverse-engineering expert and a security specialist based in Paris. He spends most of his time finding vulnerabilities in Android applications and testing them to make sure they don't do anything they shouldn't be doing. Robert likes to follow Fox News account on Twitter and found out about a new Android app called Donald Daters, which is a dating app designed for people who enjoy Donald Trump. He decompiled the app, found out that Firebase was used as the online database, and was able to extract the URL and keys used to access it. Firebase doesn't need a key or password to read or write to the database, but has a set of permit-and-allow rules on the Google side.

    Lack of Security Measures Causes Data Breach in Donald Daters App.

    A hacker was able to access the entire Donald Daters database within five minutes due to the lack of security measures. Elliot, the hacker, downloaded all profile pictures and personal messages of the users, and even posted them on Twitter as a warning to users not to use the app. The database was not secure and anyone could have accessed it with a single URL. The breach was quickly reported by tech journalists and the company's reputation was damaged. Despite Elliot's actions, he believes that he was helping the company by revealing the vulnerabilities, not using them for malicious intent. Companies should prioritize security measures to protect users' data and prevent breaches that could negatively impact their reputation.

    The Importance of Ethical Hacking in Cybersecurity and Privacy

    Elliot Alderson found security vulnerabilities in various companies, including Donald Daters, and publicly exposed them to protect user data. He believed that it is possible to both criticize a company while also protecting user data, and that intention matters when it comes to ethical hacking. Elliot also identified security issues with Aadhaar, a government program in India that links citizens' personal information, and raised concerns about the potential dangers of such programs. He emphasized that this issue is not limited to India and that similar programs may be implemented in other countries. As an ethical hacker, Elliot's work sheds light on important issues related to cybersecurity and privacy.

    Weak Security of India's Aadhaar System Puts Personal Data at Risk

    The Indian government's Aadhaar system is vulnerable to identity theft and personal data exposure due to weak underlying security. Thousands of Aadhaar numbers were found publically online, which can have horrible consequences if misused. Elliot, an internet vigilante, exposed these vulnerabilities and encouraged the government to improve the security and privacy of Aadhaar. It is essential for the European countries to stay vigilant and teach their citizens to be careful with personal data. Personal data such as Aadhaar should not be shared publically and considered like identity cards or social security numbers. Weak security systems can result in serious consequences like identity theft, thereby emphasizing the significance of strong data protection measures.

    Elliot Alderson's Hack on the Aadhaar Identification System in India.

    Elliot Alderson, a hacker, was able to successfully hack into the Prime Minister of India's website and tweets about it, receiving a friendly response from the office of Narendra Modi. Despite the illegal nature of hacking, Elliot remains open about his actions and his following online continues to grow. Aadhaar, an identification system in India, has received mixed reactions and was the target of Elliot's hack, revealing the personal information of a government official. The hack exposed Aadhaar's vulnerabilities and the lack of security, yet the government official remained unapologetic. Elliot highlights the need for increased security and caution when sharing personal information online and warns against the harmful practice of doxing. The online world remains a potentially dangerous place with the potential for devastating consequences.

    Elliot's Actions Prove the Importance of Prioritizing Data Security

    Elliot discovered a major breach in an Indian company that exposed 6.7 million Aadhaar numbers without authentication. He shared this information with a journalist to raise awareness about the vulnerability. He also found a vulnerability in an Android app called 63red that was built like a website, making it easy for him to access the database URL and API keys without any authentication process. Elliot's actions show the need for companies to take security seriously and prioritize the protection of user data. He serves as an example for individuals to be vigilant of the risks of poorly-built websites and applications that compromise data security.

    The Importance of Appreciating Security Researchers

    Security researchers are not bad guys and they are here to help companies. Companies should appreciate their work and thank them for finding vulnerabilities in order to save their business before someone with bad intentions exploits them. Threatening a security researcher is not a good signal to the community and companies should understand that they are doing this work as a job. Elliot found vulnerabilities in pro-Trump apps but he does not care about the political side of the owner. He believes that his work is way bigger than this and he is willing to find vulnerabilities in other applications of both sides. Elliot is a public person and he is doing good things publicly and this is the reason why he is not a bad guy.

    Elliot Alderson: The Hacker Who Helps Companies Improve Their Security

    Elliot Alderson, a grey hat hacker, finds vulnerabilities in apps and reports them to the companies to help improve their security. He does not have malicious intent and does not earn money from his findings. While his actions may not be explicitly legal, he believes that in Europe there are exceptions when it comes to finding security issues. Elliot's goal is to communicate about security and help companies improve. Although his actions may seem odd, they are ultimately beneficial for everyone involved. This kind of work should be done by the companies themselves, but since they don't, Elliot takes it upon himself to help improve app security.

    Recent Episodes from Darknet Diaries

    145: Shannen

    145: Shannen
    Shannen Rossmiller wanted to fight terrorism. So she went online and did. Read more about her from her book “The Unexpected Patriot: How an Ordinary American Mother Is Bringing Terrorists to Justice”. An affiliate link to the book on Amazon is here: https://amzn.to/3yaf5sI. Thanks to Spycast for allowing usage of the audio interview with Shannen. Sponsors Support for this show comes from Varonis. Do you wonder what your company’s ransomware blast radius is? Varonis does a free cyber resilience assessment that tells you how many important files a compromised user could steal, whether anything would beep if they did, and a whole lot more. They actually do all the work – show you where your data is too open, if anyone is using it, and what you can lock down before attackers get inside. They also can detect behavior that looks like ransomware and stop it automatically. To learn more visit www.varonis.com/darknet. Support for this show comes from Axonius. The Axonius solution correlates asset data from your existing IT and security solutions to provide an always up-to-date inventory of all devices, users, cloud instances, and SaaS apps, so you can easily identify coverage gaps and automate response actions. Axonius gives IT and security teams the confidence to control complexity by mitigating threats, navigating risk, decreasing incidents, and informing business-level strategy — all while eliminating manual, repetitive tasks. Visit axonius.com/darknet to learn more and try it free. Support for this show comes from ThreatLocker®. ThreatLocker® is a Zero Trust Endpoint Protection Platform that strengthens your infrastructure from the ground up. With ThreatLocker® Allowlisting and Ringfencing™, you gain a more secure approach to blocking exploits of known and unknown vulnerabilities. ThreatLocker® provides Zero Trust control at the kernel level that enables you to allow everything you need and block everything else, including ransomware! Learn more at www.threatlocker.com. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

    144: Rachel

    144: Rachel
    Rachel Tobac is a social engineer. In this episode we hear how she got started doing this and a few stories of how she hacked people and places using her voice and charm. Learn more about Rachel by following her on Twitter https://twitter.com/RachelTobac or by visiting https://www.socialproofsecurity.com/ Daniel Miessler also chimes in to talk about AI. Find out more about him at https://danielmiessler.com/. Sponsors Support for this show comes from Varonis. Do you wonder what your company’s ransomware blast radius is? Varonis does a free cyber resilience assessment that tells you how many important files a compromised user could steal, whether anything would beep if they did, and a whole lot more. They actually do all the work – show you where your data is too open, if anyone is using it, and what you can lock down before attackers get inside. They also can detect behavior that looks like ransomware and stop it automatically. To learn more visit www.varonis.com/darknet. Support for this show comes from Axonius. The Axonius solution correlates asset data from your existing IT and security solutions to provide an always up-to-date inventory of all devices, users, cloud instances, and SaaS apps, so you can easily identify coverage gaps and automate response actions. Axonius gives IT and security teams the confidence to control complexity by mitigating threats, navigating risk, decreasing incidents, and informing business-level strategy — all while eliminating manual, repetitive tasks. Visit axonius.com/darknet to learn more and try it free. Support for this show comes from ThreatLocker®. ThreatLocker® is a Zero Trust Endpoint Protection Platform that strengthens your infrastructure from the ground up. With ThreatLocker® Allowlisting and Ringfencing™, you gain a more secure approach to blocking exploits of known and unknown vulnerabilities. ThreatLocker® provides Zero Trust control at the kernel level that enables you to allow everything you need and block everything else, including ransomware! Learn more at www.threatlocker.com. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

    143: Jim Hates Scams

    143: Jim Hates Scams
    Jim Browning has dedicated himself to combatting scammers, taking a proactive stance by infiltrating their computer systems. Through his efforts, he not only disrupts these fraudulent operations but also shares his findings publicly on YouTube, shedding light on the intricacies of scam networks. His work uncovers a myriad of intriguing insights into the digital underworld, which he articulately discusses, offering viewers a behind-the-scenes look at his methods for fighting back against scammers. Jim’s YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/c/JimBrowning Sponsors Support for this episode comes from NetSuite. NetSuite gives you visibility and control of your financials, planning, budgeting, and of course - inventory - so you can manage risk, get reliable forecasts, and improve margins. NetSuite helps you identify rising costs, automate your manual business processes, and see where to save money. KNOW your numbers. KNOW your business. And get to KNOW how NetSuite can be the source of truth for your entire company. Visit www.netsuite.com/darknet to learn more. This episode is sponsored by Intruder. Growing attack surfaces, dynamic cloud environments, and the constant stream of new vulnerabilities stressing you out? Intruder is here to help you cut through the chaos of vulnerability management with ease. Join the thousands of companies who are using Intruder to find and fix what matters most. Sign up to Intruder today and get 20% off your first 3 months. Visit intruder.io/darknet. This show is sponsored by Shopify. Shopify is the best place to go to start or grow your online retail business. And running a growing business means getting the insights you need wherever you are. With Shopify’s single dashboard, you can manage orders, shipping, and payments from anywhere. Sign up for a one-dollar-per-month trial period at https://shopify.com/darknet. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

    142: Axact

    142: Axact
    Axact sells fake diplomas and degrees. What could go wrong with this business plan? Sponsors Support for this episode comes from NetSuite. NetSuite gives you visibility and control of your financials, planning, budgeting, and of course - inventory - so you can manage risk, get reliable forecasts, and improve margins. NetSuite helps you identify rising costs, automate your manual business processes, and see where to save money. KNOW your numbers. KNOW your business. And get to KNOW how NetSuite can be the source of truth for your entire company. Visit www.netsuite.com/darknet to learn more. Support for this show comes from ThreatLocker®. ThreatLocker® is a Zero Trust Endpoint Protection Platform that strengthens your infrastructure from the ground up. With ThreatLocker® Allowlisting and Ringfencing™, you gain a more secure approach to blocking exploits of known and unknown vulnerabilities. ThreatLocker® provides Zero Trust control at the kernel level that enables you to allow everything you need and block everything else, including ransomware! Learn more at www.threatlocker.com. This show is sponsored by Shopify. Shopify is the best place to go to start or grow your online retail business. And running a growing business means getting the insights you need wherever you are. With Shopify’s single dashboard, you can manage orders, shipping, and payments from anywhere. Sign up for a one-dollar-per-month trial period at https://shopify.com/darknet. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

    141: The Pig Butcher

    141: The Pig Butcher
    The #1 crime which results in the biggest financial loss is BEC fraud. The #2 crime is pig butchering. Ronnie Tokazowski https://twitter.com/iHeartMalware walks us through this wild world. Sponsors Support for this episode comes from NetSuite. NetSuite gives you visibility and control of your financials, planning, budgeting, and of course - inventory - so you can manage risk, get reliable forecasts, and improve margins. NetSuite helps you identify rising costs, automate your manual business processes, and see where to save money. KNOW your numbers. KNOW your business. And get to KNOW how NetSuite can be the source of truth for your entire company. Visit www.netsuite.com/darknet to learn more. Support for this show comes from Drata. Drata streamlines your SOC 2, ISO 27001, PCI DSS, HIPAA, GDPR & many other compliance frameworks, and provides 24-hour continuous control monitoring so you focus on scaling securely. Listeners of Darknet Diaries can get 10% off Drata and waived implementation fees at drata.com/darknetdiaries. This show is sponsored by Shopify. Shopify is the best place to go to start or grow your online retail business. And running a growing business means getting the insights you need wherever you are. With Shopify’s single dashboard, you can manage orders, shipping, and payments from anywhere. Sign up for a one-dollar-per-month trial period at https://shopify.com/darknet. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

    139: D3f4ult

    139: D3f4ult
    This is the story of D3f4ult (twitter.com/_d3f4ult) from CWA. He was a hacktivist, upset with the state of the way things were, and wanted to make some changes. Changes were made. Sponsors Support for this show comes from Axonius. The Axonius solution correlates asset data from your existing IT and security solutions to provide an always up-to-date inventory of all devices, users, cloud instances, and SaaS apps, so you can easily identify coverage gaps and automate response actions. Axonius gives IT and security teams the confidence to control complexity by mitigating threats, navigating risk, decreasing incidents, and informing business-level strategy — all while eliminating manual, repetitive tasks. Visit axonius.com/darknet to learn more and try it free. Support for this show comes from Thinkst Canary. Their canaries attract malicious actors in your network and then send you an alert if someone tries to access them. Great early warning system for knowing when someone is snooping around where they shouldn’t be. Check them out at https://canary.tools. Support for this show comes from Quorum Cyber. Their mantra is: “We help good people win.” If you’re looking for a partner to help you reduce risk and defend against the threats that are targeting your business — and especially if you are interested in Microsoft Security — reach out to Quorum Cyber at www.quorumcyber.com/darknet-diaries. Sources https://www.vice.com/en/article/z3ekk5/kane-gamble-cracka-back-online-after-a-two-year-internet-ban https://www.wired.com/2015/10/hacker-who-broke-into-cia-director-john-brennan-email-tells-how-he-did-it/ https://www.hackread.com/fbi-server-hacked-miami-police-data-leaked/ https://archive.ph/Si79V#selection-66795.5-66795.6 https://wikileaks.org/cia-emails/John-Brennan-Draft-SF86/page-7.html Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

    138: The Mimics of Punjab

    138: The Mimics of Punjab
    This episode is about scammers in the Punjab region. Tarun (twitter.com/taruns21) comes on the show to tell us a story of what happened to him. Naomi Brockwell (twitter.com/naomibrockwell) makes an appearance to speak about digital privacy. To learn more about protecting your digital privacy, watch Naomi’s YouTube channel https://www.youtube.com/@NaomiBrockwellTV. And check out the books Extreme Privacy (https://amzn.to/3L3ffp9) and Beginner’s Introduction to Privacy (https://amzn.to/3EjuSoY). Sponsors Support for this show comes from Axonius. The Axonius solution correlates asset data from your existing IT and security solutions to provide an always up-to-date inventory of all devices, users, cloud instances, and SaaS apps, so you can easily identify coverage gaps and automate response actions. Axonius gives IT and security teams the confidence to control complexity by mitigating threats, navigating risk, decreasing incidents, and informing business-level strategy — all while eliminating manual, repetitive tasks. Visit axonius.com/darknet to learn more and try it free. Support for this show comes from SpyCloud. It’s good practice to see what data is getting passed around out there regarding you, your employees, your customers, and your business. The dark web is a place where this data is traded and shared. SpyCloud will help you find what out there about you and give you a report so you can be aware. Then they’ll continuously monitor the dark web for any new exposures you should be aware of. To learn more visit spycloud.com/darknetdiaries. Support for this show comes from ThreatLocker. ThreatLocker has built-in endpoint security solutions that strengthen your infrastructure from the ground up with a zero trust posture. ThreatLocker’s Allowlisting gives you a more secure approach to blocking exploits of known and unknown vulnerabilities. ThreatLocker provides zero trust control at the kernel level. Learn more at www.threatlocker.com. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

    137: Predator

    137: Predator
    A new type of mercenary spyware came on the radar called Predator. It’ll infect a mobile phone, and then suck up all the data from it. Contacts, text messages, location, and more. This malware is being sold to intelligence agencies around the world. In this episode we hear from Crofton Black at Lighthouse Reports who spent 6 months with a team of journalists researching this story which was published here: https://www.lighthousereports.com/investigation/flight-of-the-predator/. We also hear from Bill Marczak and John Scott-Railton from Citizen Lab. If you want to hear about other mercenary spyware, check out episodes 99 and 100, about NSO group and Pegasus. To hear another episode about Greece check out episode 64 called Athens Shadow Games. Sponsors Support for this show comes from Axonius. The Axonius solution correlates asset data from your existing IT and security solutions to provide an always up-to-date inventory of all devices, users, cloud instances, and SaaS apps, so you can easily identify coverage gaps and automate response actions. Axonius gives IT and security teams the confidence to control complexity by mitigating threats, navigating risk, decreasing incidents, and informing business-level strategy — all while eliminating manual, repetitive tasks. Visit axonius.com/darknet to learn more and try it free. Support for this show comes from Varonis. Do you wonder what your company’s ransomware blast radius is? Varonis does a free cyber resilience assessment that tells you how many important files a compromised user could steal, whether anything would beep if they did, and a whole lot more. They actually do all the work – show you where your data is too open, if anyone is using it, and what you can lock down before attackers get inside. They also can detect behavior that looks like ransomware and stop it automatically. To learn more visit www.varonis.com/darknet. Support for this show comes from Akamai Connected Cloud (formerly Linode). Akamai Connected Cloud supplies you with virtual servers. Visit linode.com/darknet and get a special offer. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

    136: Team Xecuter

    136: Team Xecuter
    Team Xecuter was a group involved with making and selling modchips for video game systems. They often made mods that allowed the video game system to rip games or play pirated games. It was a crowd favorite in the modding scene. Until it all fell apart. The story of what happened to Team Xecuter must be heard to believe. This episode features Gary Bowser. You can find more about Gary here: https://twitter.com/Bowser_GaryOPA https://garyopa.com/ https://www.gofundme.com/f/garyopa-restarting-his-life?utm_location=darknetdiaries Sponsors Support for this show comes from Axonius. The Axonius solution correlates asset data from your existing IT and security solutions to provide an always up-to-date inventory of all devices, users, cloud instances, and SaaS apps, so you can easily identify coverage gaps and automate response actions. Axonius gives IT and security teams the confidence to control complexity by mitigating threats, navigating risk, decreasing incidents, and informing business-level strategy — all while eliminating manual, repetitive tasks. Visit axonius.com/darknet to learn more and try it free. Support for this show comes from Thinkst Canary. Their canaries attract malicious actors in your network and then send you an alert if someone tries to access them. Great early warning system for knowing when someone is snooping around where they shouldn’t be. Check them out at https://canary.tools. Support for this show comes from ThreatLocker. ThreatLocker has built-in endpoint security solutions that strengthen your infrastructure from the ground up with a zero trust posture. ThreatLocker’s Allowlisting gives you a more secure approach to blocking exploits of known and unknown vulnerabilities. ThreatLocker provides zero trust control at the kernel level. Learn more at www.threatlocker.com. Sources https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/politics/1994/10/27/ringleader-pleads-guilty-in-phone-fraud/56e551bb-a727-43e8-a3ca-1c1f4cf6ef82/ https://www.justice.gov/sites/default/files/usao/legacy/2010/10/12/usab4304.pdf https://www.eurogamer.net/nintendo-to-appeal-not-guilty-judgement-of-flash-cart-sellers-7 https://www.gamesindustry.biz/nintendo-pounces-on-global-piracy-outfit https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/two-members-notorious-videogame-piracy-group-team-xecuter-custody https://medium.com/swlh/watch-paint-dry-how-i-got-a-game-on-the-steam-store-without-anyone-from-valve-ever-looking-at-it-2e476858c753#.z05q2nykc https://www.lemonde.fr/police-justice/article/2022/05/27/voler-des-societes-qui-font-des-milliards-qu-est-ce-que-j-en-ai-a-faire-max-louarn-c-ur-de-hackeur_6127821_1653578.html https://www.theverge.com/2020/11/20/21579392/nintendo-big-house-super-smash-bros-melee-tournament-slippi-cease-desist https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U7VwtOrwceo https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5sNIE5anpik Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices