Date Written: 22nd October 2010
Date Published: 31st August 2013
This story is to be told, and it needs to be told, especially now since the statute of limitations have ended.
This is a story of madness, the story of three young hackers and their community, a story of trust and betrayal by one another, a story that must be told by the people who were there, the insiders, the ones who organized it.
This is the confession of a madman, the leader, the one in charge of it all...
I was the one in charge of it all. It's important to me because it helped me to discover who I am, and what I wanted to do with my life.
This was a moment of my teenage years that I will never forget, a time where everything was pure, and nothing was sacred. A time where, for a brief part of my life, the generations ahead of me worshipped the ground I walked on, the things I did, but above all, my skill, my skill which, I believe is more of a curse then a gift. I'm talking about my ability to hack; I was the first one to do it in my year level, and I was hopefully the last.
The result of my labor of love was something really special to me, and the people involved in it, The Republic of K: Drive, it was freedom in a land that did not exist, sanity in an insane world. It was our own little pirate bay, a file sharing site on our schools local area network, an illegal community operating on their servers, right under their noses, a place we called home.
Well to start with, I wrote this document in such a way so that those who were there will remember it, and those who weren't there will get a good idea about what was going on, also I made sure not to mention my schools name in this document, because it may result in some legal issues, I also modified some of the images in this document to prevent my schools name and logo being shown.
This image below illustrates the basic form of what was called The Republic Of K: Drive,
Put it simply, it was a common set of folders, which made up the standard structure; the standard structure was brought in as a way of organizing the different types of data.
Each folder served a specific purpose in our operation; as I recall, the articles folder was generally for website articles, news, cheat codes, tutorials, how to e.g. "how to build a virus in under 30 days" even instructions on how to run a specific program.
The cheating aids folder which I visited a lot was for tests and SAC's (a school assessed course) and basically had all or most of the answers to them.
The comments request and feedback folder was by far the most popular folder, it was where the community met with one another, on our cheap ass answer to a bulletin board system, text documents. Files with the extension .txt, commonly, there were about four to five text documents in this folder.
There was "news.txt" - for news, what happened, what's happening, etc. "coming soon.txt" - this was where people would talk about new software, movies, music etc. that was going to be uploaded soon, "new additions.txt" - whenever something new was uploaded someone would write in here what it was, how to use it etc. "request list.txt" - this was ware someone would ask for something and other people would try to get it for them, I called it sharing, the problem with this was that people expected us, the ones in charge to get everything for them, it was all take no give. and then there was "feedback.txt" - people would post any difficulties they were having with the schools security, any programs that were blocked, or not working, and we would try to fix them, I think I fixed about 89% of the problems that people were having.
The rest of the folders are fairly self-explanatory, you have the downloads folder for packaged and zipped software, the custom maps folder for custom maps for games like Halo and counter-strike, games folder for games, movies folder for movies, music folder for music, the patches folder - every time something was blocked on our schools system, I would hack it so it would work again, and then upload the patch in to that folder with instructions on how to install it.
Then there was the programs folder for just general software, like Photoshop CS3 portable, opera, Firefox, safari, and others, the videos folder was for short video clips, and the website shortcuts folder was for useful links, like Omegle, and Fagan finder.
This was what it was like; this was The Republic Of K: Drive.
The whole of our schools network was made up of computers running Windows XP, a system I was very familiar with; I remember the laptop I was issued for my maths class, It had this big sticker on the front of it, in big letters: "Designed for Windows Vista". It's quite humorous to think about the fact that had these computers had that particular operating system on them, then none of this might not have ever happened.
I also remember the devious task I faced of creating a new folder on the schools network drive, the K: Drive, most teachers had admin rights, so during a class whenever the teacher left the room; I would jump on to their computer and create a new folder and hide it on the system, often it was called "year11", I would create the folder and then quickly run back to my chair where my laptop was, everyone else in the room was either a sleep, or two busy on Facebook to even notice I had gotten out of my chair.
And then came the next task, hiding it from the network admin's, every so often they would run scans for this stuff so that they could remove it, I stopped this from being detected by first changing its name to "Thumbs.db" (which was a type of file created by windows XP, it was used to create thumbnails for photos), and then I would add a system attribute to it, by using the ATTRIB command in the windows XP command prompt. This would disguise the folder in such away so that it would come up as a system file file on the computer.
So now, we had something that people wouldn't even know about, unless we told them, this made it particularly good in choosing and building a community, every so often we would send a link out to everyone who we wanted to join, to show them where it is, this was done mainly by email, as the image below illustrates.
It was a place where everyone knew each other by their alias, me, being the one in charge of the whole operation, decided to call myself "the admin." Unfortunately people confused my alias with the schools network admin, which led to a few of those WTF? Email chains. Some examples of other peoples aliases were "Prince Shadow", "Anarchy<<<", "Renegade!", "Venom))", "LOLHACKz", "x-Ray", SimonSaid", "Cup Cake Bandit", "vincentVANCE", "raptorblade", "Silent PARC", "[THE ALCHEMIST]", "Phoenix1337", "KingRed", and others.
There were also some groups that formed from it, I remember the first time I ever successfully hacked something, and I was writing the read me document for it, as I was finishing it up, I signed it as "(my schools name) Hackers" as if to say there was more than one of us, there wasn't. Although, other groups did form from this, there was "The pirates from Room 32", and "file friends", both groups were made up of three or more people, and were in competition with one another, to supply as much software, games, music and movies etc. as they could. Aside from that, my job still remained the same, to keep the software working regardless, of time, cost, or risk.
In its hay day, on average The Republic Of K: Drive was attracting over 130 visits daily, also, at one stage, there was so many users on it, all at one time, that the server bottle necked and had to be reset.
Uploading, the tedious task of adding content to the K drive, every so often you would see someone sitting in the back of the room with an external hard drive hanging out the back of their laptop leading in to a pocket or blazer, or a set of wires leading in to a school bag place by a power point.
On the computer side of things, uploading was as easy as eating pie, as the images below illustrate.
As you can see, it was having the time in a single period to upload something that was the biggest problem; you also had to background the process so that the teachers didn't catch you.
The fun part, whenever you wanted to play, run, or execute something, you would first copy it off from the K: Drive, this was a common practice, mainly due to the fact that executing directly from the K: Drive would cause the server to bottle neck, not only that but, executing directly from the K: Drive was blocked by the system administrators.
Every so often there would be some idiot who would cut a program or folder from the K Drive, and thus cause anarchy amongst users.
In its largest state, The Republic Of K: Drive took up over 28% of the schools network drive, 28% out of 1.5TB, that's about 420GB's of data.
Whenever someone needed instructions on how to do something, (believe me, there were a lot of idiots at our school), or some new magic hack came out, or a security flaw was found some devious malcontent (often me) would publish a document on it. Often directly on the K: Drive on how to use it or take advantage of it.
There's no point in supplying content free of charge if the user can't use it, it's from this philosophy came the patch. Every so often a program would get blocked by the system administrators; it was at this point some bright spark (me) would come along, and make a patch for it, I remember one lesson everyone was eager to play counter-strike, but the system administrators had blocked it, within minutes, I had developed a patch for it and had it distributed around the room via a USB. This event had pre-dated the K: Drive.
The games weren't the only thing the admin's blocked, they also prevented us from modifying system properties, like changing the background, and running task manager. But what really pissed me off was that they disabled the resolution settings, it really, really pissed me off, more than opening an image to view and then having it open in adobe bloatware fireworks CS3, and then hitting ctrl alt delete, only to find that I can't terminate the process, and then I have to wait a whole 5 minutes for the son of a bitch program to load, so I can close it. no, this pissed me off more than that, for you see every so often, you would get a laptop, that the last user, was more than likely playing games on it, and more than likely didn't shut it down properly, and as a result of this, the resolution on the screen was fucked. This is where the hacks, or system tweaks as they were more commonly known as, would come in to usage, one of the more famous set of hacks was a package called "LOLHACKz.INC" by LOLHACKz, what made it so good was that they had made a program that lets you set the resolution, to whatever you wanted it to be, see the story of LOLHACKz, or the LOLHAKz.INC.Zip file.
As a favour to LOLHACKz I also added in an earlier version of Hex con, which at the time was known as Hex Crypt.
It wasn't always good, I remember at one stage some asshole tried to expose every member of my hacking group, which was always made up of just one member, me. For whatever reason this person was bent on exposing every member of my group, by uploading a text document on to the K Drive, in a list format which matched an alias to a person's first and last name, as I recall every name on that list was wrong. I retaliated to the asshole doing it, by first tracing their user name back to their full name, and then posting their name in the same text document alongside a made up alias, and stated that they were the one behind all the hacking.
The document was removed.
I also remember this one other time; I had a fight with a close friend, as a way to get back at me, he tried to lock the K Drive, by first using software I had previously written, unfortunately for him, I had known about a security flaw in that software and managed to exploit it. He tried for a second time to deny me access to the K Drive by locking everything up in archive Zip files with password protection, it took me twenty minutes, to hack his password, the idiot was also stupid enough to use his school password for the archive Zip files, which was also the same as his home computer password, naturally, I exploited it to the max.
When I asked him why, he said "Because, the K Drive is your baby, I knew that if I took it out you would have no purpose." ...It's hard to hear those words from the mouth of a sane man, but he was right.
To start from the beginning, back in 2008, the first of Mr Rudd's laptops had started to arrive, as the bulky old desktops had become extinct. Now everything was integrated in to a small single mobile device, performing actions that violated the schools use of computers contract was easy, when I first started using the laptop I was responsible with it. Sure I knew that playing games in class would result in my user account being suspended, but I still did it anyway, to start with there wasn't much to play, most of the games were flash based and were easy to hide on the system, but they were never really all that fun, the lack of interaction between computers made it seemed as if work was more interesting. Then came halo, well not really, it was a smaller portable version of the famous first person shooter game, it had no campaign, but, the thing I remember about it the most is its multiplayer, I remember the first time I played it and killed somebody, it felt good to hear the words "son of a bitch, I just got raped" from across the room. It made me blood thirsty, it made me want more, it suddenly seemed as if the only reason to even come to school was to play halo, it was if there was a way to cure all my pain, calm all my rage, take away all my anger, with just one simple head shot. I can relate the feeling of sitting on the opposite side of a sniper scope, as to what god must feel when he strikes down a perfectly innocent person on the sidewalk, it is if to play god, with the power to decide who lives and who dies, it's a feeling of immense power that words cannot describe, it is something that must be lived.
By this time it was about March that year when they, the admin's, had finally blocked halo and from that came my first ever hack. I'll never forget it, it's like the first time you have sex you don't know what you're doing, it's exciting, and like most things its over too quickly, but more importantly it feels good. It was real problem solving, I knew that the executable for halo had been blocked by the system; I knew that whenever the system detected that it was halo it would terminate, so what did I do, I disguised it as WinWord.exe (the executable name for Microsoft Office Word) using a PE editor, or it was a resource editor, I can't really remember, but it was effective, it was a patch, it couldn't be blocked, if the IT people had even tried to block it they would have stopped an entire network from working, WinWord.exe being the most commonly used application in the entire school, hell this document was even written in WinWord. So, now we had a patch, now all we needed was a method of distributed it, to start with I wrote a read me document for it, on how to install it, this was also the first time I ever signed something as "(my schools name) Hackers", I gave the patch to my friends, and they gave it to their friends, and it got around. The patch was particularly good in the early days, because back then all a spoofer client was, was something that would list all your processes, with the game Halo disguised as WinWord, it would come up as WinWord, I remember on one occasion in the library, me and three other people were playing halo, while another two people played counter-strike, they got busted, I remember sitting there watching them get told off by the library lady, while I still continued to play halo. It was by this time that year, when my multimedia teacher had broken his leg, or his face, or his arm, I'm not too clear on the details of it, but it meant that he wouldn't be teaching us anymore, we had substitutes, as I recall in one lesson, I and everyone else, was sick of playing halo, so we played counter-strike instead unfortunately, the admin's had blocked it, fortunately I was able to download a hex editor off the internet, and I was able to disguise it as WinWord.exe, it took me not even 5 minutes, from finding out it was blocked, to building a patch for it and then to start distributing it around the room, it was unstoppable. Playing games weren't the only things that we did, of course they were fun, but in order to play them you needed more than one player otherwise they would get boring, by this time, most of the commercial websites that we all loved to visit such as YouTube, Facebook, Steam, and in the very early days MySpace, were blocked. So my friends and I tried out bypassing the security software that was blocking it, to start with we knew its name, so we went to the company's website, and downloaded a trial version of the software, installed it, and simply turned it off, it was a lol moment for us it was so simple but eventually the system admin's turned it back on and blocked us from turning it off, our second method of bypassing the security was to use direct proxy, to obtain a proxy from a website, we would use the command line "nslookup", it worked like a charm, until one day I got busted by the principle, and he ordered me to show him, I'll have to admit, he was scared, it was simple to us, confusing to him, he told me, not to do it anymore, but I still did it. But dialling in the proxy was a pain in the ass, and even more a pain in the ass explaining it to the stupid blonde girl every lesson, lucky one of us had read on a forum some ware that the security software only worked with internet explorer, so we tried fire fox, it worked, they blocked it, I hacked it, it worked. We were unstoppable, it was at that moment, when we realized that anyone could use any other browser, and bypass the security software, we started downloading files up to 1GB at a time, the whole school had ran the internet bill up in to the tens of thousands, it was pure madness. But it didn't stop there, upon a very cold winters morning, I was working down the other end of the school, with someone on a very special database, now this person was in year 12, at this point in time I was still in year 11, anyway on this particular day the thing I remember about it most was that there was no teachers in the room, but a teacher had left a laptop logged on to their account, sitting on the table. Both me and the year 12 moved in on the laptop, as if we were lions stalking our pray in the jungle, we homed in on it, the year 12 sat in front of it, he ran a very quick manoeuvre on it and then retreated back to his seat, I asked him what he did, he said, "I'll show you", he opened the network drive, or as we called it, based on its letter allocation, the K: Drive, he then brought up a hidden folder buried deep within, I said to him bluntly "wow, a folder, whoop-dee-fucking-do", he grinned at me and then put his USB memory stick in the computer, and copied off its contents to the hidden folder on the K: Drive, I looked at him and said, "what, copy and paste, computer skill 101, yeah, so what", he then went on to call me an idiot, plus some other things, but at the same time he explained to me, that I and everyone else, had access to this folder on the K: drive. It suddenly dawned on me, what we had, what it was capable of being, and how easier it would make our lives, an area, where everyone can upload to it and every one can download from it, it was amazing, the wise year 12 also left me some simple instructions, 1, be careful who you tell about this, 2, don't tell anyone I made this, I asked him why he made it, when he answered me he said "I've been wanting to do this for a long time, just haven't had the opportunity." so, sure enough, I told my friends about it, unfortunately, they told their friends, who told their friends, and it got around. From what started life as a small place buried deep within the system, used to store backup versions of the web browser opera, had grown in to a big ass dump zone for movies, games, music etc. it was about 20GB of data, most of which was repeated, we had several versions of the same thing, folders named crap, shit, and more shit, filled with just junk. It was about this time, the year 12 who had created it had finished school for good, and left me in charge of it, so I decided to take initiative, I introduced a standard folder structure, to make it easier to sort out the stuff, I started trimming back on what was in there, I got it down from 20GB of unsorted data, to about 12GB, it also made it easier to find stuff. From then on what people now called the K: Drive, continued to grow and prosper, it was a master piece, and it stayed like that until the end of the year. 2010 came round and it was time to start a new year, for me this year as a year 12, as I recall, the first thing I did when I got to school was log on at the library, and what do you know, it's still there, from then on it was business as usual, nothing much seemed to change, until one day, someone had left a please read me file in the root directory of the K: Drive, it was a small file with information on an issue, with a request on what needed fixing, to put it simply the web browser known as safari had been blocked by the system admin, and quite simply this person wanted us to hack it, so I did.
I wrote a read me for it, and uploaded the patch to the K: Drive, he wrote back to say thanks for the patch, soon after other read me files, by other people started to appear, asking for other various things, everyone started to communicate with one another, every time someone made a post they would sign it with their alias, and from that our community was born, It was the K: Drive.
The K: drive continued, continues to grow stronger, but during 2010, we lost it about 3 times, the first time it happened, it was about April of 2010 after having a fight with a community member of the K: drive, the whole thing was deleted; it brought home to us, just how vulnerable the thing was, after it was gone, me and a close friend of mine had nothing better to do but spam the place with repeated pictures of cupcakes. This continued for a number of days before an admin discovered it and deleted it; at least I think it was an admin, after that we needed a new place to pirate software and share music and movies with one another, my friend was lucky enough to find a place hidden deep within the K: drive, under some old Visual Basic 6 Documents, it looked like it had been there for a long time, I still to this day don't know who made it, but it was a blessing, the only problem was the address to it was too long. So, what I did was, I created a short cut to it and called it "The Other Side Of The K: Drive", from then on, whenever someone asked me for the new K: drive, I would send them an email, with the link attached to it, the email would generally say something like "Welcome to the other side of the K: drive..." from then on, that's what people called it. I also added some more security to it, and made it so that no one could delete anything that they wanted, this is where "The Rules of the K: Drive" came from, it was also the first one to use attributes on the root folder, this also made it harder for the admin's to find. So the weeks went by and it grew bigger and bigger, what was more notable about it was the growing number of movies in it, people said to me, "it helps pass the time", months went by and I think it was about August, when, the admin's, updated the software development folder, which was where the Visual Basic 6 Documents were located, and in the process of this update the Other Side Of The K: Drive was removed again, except, this time it was by pure accident. So me and a close friend, scoured the K: Drive yet again, looking for a place to setup shop, we couldn't find anything, eventually it came down to me hacking in to a teachers account, to make a new place, and at the same time I made several folders as backups, so now when one goes down, within minutes, a new one goes up, from then on, it was known as, "The Republic of K: Drive", and there is no way to stop it.
For me, it ended when I handed ownership over to some loyal year 10s, but as far as I know the K: drive is still there.
I wrote this document to tell this story, because history is written by the winners, and in the end I won, although, I feel as if I lost. when I first started hacking my biggest fear at the time was getting caught, towards the end of school, I couldn't care less, in one way there was some weird reality that I wanted to get caught, I had played the game for so long, fort the boss at the end, watched all 7 seasons, and just plain and simply wanted it to finish, but it didn't. I was never caught not once, never prosecuted, and never punished, and well, I guess that's what haunts me the most. I think, that all I ever wanted from this was to stand up in front of a courtroom of people, so I could tell this story, tell them how easy it was, what I learnt from it, what belief's had come from it, but that just never happened.
The universe is a mystery, but in the same way it makes perfect sense.
I finished school, and went on to do other things with my life, The Republic Of K: Drive is still there as far as I know, I now have no control over it, it's like a viral infection, it is something that cannot be stopped.
For the sake of historical purposes, I put this document on my website, maybe one day someone will read it, and maybe they will remember it.For the LOLz.