Monday, September 20, 2010

My Jakarta: Yudha Yogasara, Computer Security and Open-Source Activist

Psychozetic, a 23-year-old computer security and open-source activist, insists he uses his online powers for good, not evil.
Yudha Yogasara, aka Psychozetic, doesn’t care for the term ‘hacker.’ This  23-year-old computer security and open-source activist says hacker carries a negative connotation and insists he uses his powers for good, not evil. 

Psychozetic isn’t the kind of guy who would hack into his ex-girlfriend’s  Facebook account and mess with her status — he’s not a black hat.

He’s more a shade of gray who’s sometimes tempted to trade secrets with Indonesia’s cyber police or sneak into a security system for ‘fun, not destruction.’

How did you become a hacker?

First of all, let me get one thing straight — people think hacking is negative, so I don’t really like to be called a hacker.

The truth is, it’s just entering and navigating a computer’s security system. We guard the system, we have a code of ethics. I started hacking in 2005 and did the online Certified Ethical Hacker test in 2007.

So you need to be certified to hack?

Hacking without a ‘permit’ would be illegal in any context. If a company paid you to penetrate their network or computer system, then that’s totally different. Then you’re a security system consultant.

Why are you so proud of being a hacker?
For me, hacking isn’t something that is restricted to computers. It’s the art of thinking outside the box. A hacker solves a problem in a unique way. Everyone has the potential to be a hacker.

What was your first hack?

It was less than five years ago. I sneaked into the shopping cart system of a random online bookstore. I changed the formula so all buyers paid less than they were supposed to.

But the administrator seemed to realize something was wrong. They came back and laid some extra protection into the system.

What kind of things are you exploring now? What systems have you been sneaking into?

Nothing. Even if I did, I wouldn’t tell you.

Do you know about the Starbucks hack?

The ex-cashier who stole the credit card information of 41 clients? I know how it worked. He reprinted the receipt and double processed via verification codes.

You gave us your real name. Aren’t you afraid the police will come after you?

Naaah. They wont do anything. You know, in our forum, some cybercrime police even share ideas with us. [The Web site is — the largest hacker community in Indonesia].

Do you think that you could hack your way onto the cyberpolice’s system?

I don’t really feel like sneaking into their system. I’m afraid it would be the same as the General Election Commission’s [KPU] — full of mp3 files.

Have you ever hacked an ex- girlfriend’s Facebook account?

Never. And it’s called cracking. It’s pointless.

What’s the different between hacker and cracker?

It’s slightly different. It’s just about the intention or personal motivation. There are actually three types of hackers: white, gray and black hats. To make it simple, we can call anyone who is a cracker a black hat.

What color is your hat?

I’m not a black hat. Hacking is a double-edged sword. Once you have that skill, you can choose to use it for good or for bad.

I would say most hackers in Indonesia are not white hackers. Most of them are gray hats, but I’m not saying they are 100 percent gray.

White hackers don’t break into other systems illegally. But sometimes we’re ‘childish’ and sneak into a system for fun — not to cause any destruction.

So like Batman or Superman you live two lives. Tell me what you do as a ‘normal’ person?

I’m a college student, a panelist at IT seminars, a tutor at IT workshops, a writer, a moderator and the founder of a few hacker community forums, the head of KPLI — Kelompok Pengguna Linux [Linux User Group] - Tangerang.

And I do work on some IT projects that I can’t mention here.

You said you’re a writer. What do you write?

I have written some books including ‘Teknik Hacking Untuk Pemula’ [‘Hacking Techniques for Beginners’], ‘Internet Untuk Pemula,’ [‘Internet for Beginners’], which I wrote with college friends, and ‘Remastering Distro Linux.’

Check out my blog on It’s good for beginners but it’s in Indonesian.

Tell us a story about hacking.

Back in high school I snuck into the system of one of the biggest communication providers in Indonesia. I found a weakness in the system and I told the Web site administrator.

They called me back and needless to say they were pretty surprised to find out I was a high-school student.

Did they offer you a reward?

Just a thank you [laughs].

What are the latest hacker trends?

Nothing much. It’s still about defacing a Web site or cracking Facebook to steal Poker chips to be resold.

So what would you like to be called, instead of hacker?

Computer security and open-source activist.

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