Hacker Diary - Middle School is where I started

Hacker Diary - Middle School is where I started

7 minute read

When I was in middle school (~2003) I had my first taste of hacking a server. I was in my computer class and I was really interested in how the computer was able to display our names on the desktop, I already at that time had some experience with browsing the file structure because I had a Windows 3.1 computer in my room, and my parents had a Windows 98 SE machine in the living room. I would click through the computer’s local drive when I was bored of surfing message boards over our dial-up modem, mostly looking at how to bypass Internet filters at school. I would recursively look through the Windows directory, I even picked up some command line experience from those forms.

I was in computer class one day and became bored, idle hands are never a good ideal for kids, so I started looking through the computer’s local hard drive, so I opened up My Computer on the desktop and found there were additional drives, some I hadn’t seen before. So I started looking through the directories, opening up random files to see what they did or said. At this time class was still on-going, I never really pay attention in computer classes anyways because I was usually way ahead of the class. After a day or two of searching their network drives I ran into a login like script for the machines, it was a script that ran after you logged into Novell. When I opened it I started looking though and noticed a line that referenced a BMP file and saying something about wallpaper, at that time I already knew what BMP’s were from looking through my own computer. So I copied the network location it was referencing and pasted it into my explorer URL bar and deleting the last portion of the location that pointed to the file so that I could look at the directory.

I found the file that the computers used for the background, along with other files they used… but I didn’t really care too much for those, I just wanted the background. So I opened the file with MS Paint… what to do… what to do. At this time I was a BIG PC gamer, I even tried making my own games using GameMaker and The 3D Game Maker, I’ve got a story about some mischievous things I’ve done with GameMaker, that and Batch was how I learned some scripting. Any ways, back to the story. I really enjoyed Halo: CE, I liked playing that online, so of course that’s what I wanted to share, call it free advertising lol. I clicked the text button and wrote “Halo Rules!”—with one or more exclamation marks-- on the background and saved it… yes, it actually saved, the permissions on this network drive weren’t setup properly.

This wasn’t an instantaneous change, the background was only pulled as part of the login, I needed to wait until the next day, as my other classes didn’t use a computer unless we were writing a paper that needed to be type written. The next day we came in I smiled at seeing that written across everyone’s desktop, you would have thought that someone like the principle would have noticed that and had someone remove it. But no, it stayed on there all day, and the next day… so I became a little excited, and me being a kid, wanted to share with my friends.

I had a lot of friends, I wasn’t a typical loner nerd; I had some social skills because I just seem to get along with people, even though they tend to annoy me… a lot. I had been in trouble before, but not as bad as elementary school where I had a pink slip almost every day. At my middle school we had this after school program for playing with SimCity 3000, it was supposed to be a contest for schools to participate in to build the best city, but I just wanted to game… of course I wasn’t going to pass that up, I love PC gaming (simulation, RTS, racing, shooters, etc). I had some friends in this program too, I was having a conversation with one of them and I can’t remember if they asked about the background or if I just wanted to brag, It’s hard to say because peer-pressure never was a problem for me, if people wanted me to do something I didn’t want to do I said no, continuing to ask would typically just make me mad. Anyways, I shared with him the secrets of setting the background.

I didn’t take long, actually the next day, until I saw the background changed, with a lot of different things. If my memory is right, I saw stuff like “You all suck” kind of things. I don’t have much memory of what else they did because it really didn’t last long. The next day, pretty much two days after I told one friend and I’m sure he told others, we were waiting outside to enter the school, everyone waited outside after the bus dropped you off or if you walked to school before they opened the doors, of course they had adults outside too. While we were all waiting, hurdled into a social circles, the principle and someone else from the administration walked out, they were calling my name, and the friend that I told to come inside. My friend and I entered the principal’s office and she asked if I knew anything about the background, I of course said no… she then went on about how my friend said it was me who found it, and that I showed people how to do it… at this point I was giving my “friend” the death stare. She then said she had to pay someone to come in and fix it up, I of course thought “oh shoot, I hope I don’t have to pay” so I said “I could have done that!” She ignored this, I later doubted that they had to pay a dime since the public school contracted that stuff out and who ever responded supported them until the contract was up. Instead she told me not to do it again and sent us both outside… they eventually came back out because me and that “friend” got into a fight that escalated pretty quickly from pushing each other.

After then separated us I can’t recall what they did, but I’m sure we got Saturday detention, or in school detention, it’s hard to say because I did get Saturday and in school detention a couple times during middle school; however, I did attend my computer class… that’s when I was informed by my computer instructor that I wasn’t allowed to use any of the computers without supervision… in any of my classes, this wouldn’t be the first time I was told this, I have another story about this happening a couple more times in high school. He pretty much watched me like a hawk, no setting the proxy to bypass the Internet filter for a while, but at the end of that class he asked me to wait as I was leaving, and then asked if I did that to the background on purpose or by mistake, I didn’t know if he was trying to get me into more trouble, or if he wanted me to rack up some cool points. I of course said on accident, he wasn’t going to get me in more trouble :-), but then he said, that he thinks it was on purpose and that I should focus on computers. Pretty much ever since then I have focused on computers, and knew that I wanted to go into the computer field. I have a lot more stories like this.