Cybernews podcast #21: “We break the law but for good reasons” – with hacker GhostExodus


Sometimes, hacktivists are forced to break the law. But it’s all for a good cause, says Jesse William McGraw, a former black hat turned security advocate, who’s fighting “a losing war” for child safety online.

To kick off 2024, the first episode of the Cybernews podcast “Through A Glass Darkly '' is hosting Jesse William McGraw, renowned in the infosec realm as GhostExodus. Notably, Jesse made history as the first individual in recent US memory to face conviction for tampering with industrial control systems. However, his journey has since transformed – he’s a compelling public speaker and a crusader raising awareness about cybersecurity risks.

“Hacktivism is something that's very dear to me because it’s a force that can be used for good, especially when all the avenues for redressing grievances within our respective governments oftentimes fall on deaf ears. So people turn to hackers to try to fight for their causes,” he said.

To help facilitate the discussion, we’ve also invited Mantas Sasnauskas, head of security research at Cybernews. He’s yet another witness to the good cause that hacktivism represents – as well as the horror that cyberattacks unleash – and the dangers lurking in the corners of the internet.

“It's crazy how scenarios from old movies come into fruition, for example, Neuromancer and social media now, War Games and the hacktivists blowing up power stations, hacking into the satellites. Who would have thought of that in the 90s,” Sasnauskas said.

In this episode, we discussed the following:

  • The evolution of hacktivism – why do people turn to hackers instead of law enforcement?
  • The ethical boundaries within hacktivism – why is it dangerous when self-taught inexperienced teens start fighting for a cause?
  • Hacktivism getting out of hand
  • Hackers’ desire for publicity and the collateral damage this might cause
  • The “losing war” on children's safety online

What does “through a glass darkly” mean?

While our primary goal is to maintain objectivity, we acknowledge our inherent humanity as we strive to provide our readers, viewers, and now listeners with a comprehensive understanding of the ever-expanding cyber landscape. This is precisely why we chose the name for our podcast, "Through a Glass Darkly," drawing inspiration from the biblical expression used by the Apostle Paul, signifying limited clarity when it comes to envisioning the future.

Our discussions often involve speculation about what lies ahead, eliciting both excitement and trepidation regarding the tech evolution or revolution. As we maintain a strong emphasis on cybersecurity, we find ourselves naturally inclined toward a somewhat "doomsday" perspective, perceiving the world through lenses shaded in darkness rather than rose-tinted hues.


More from Cybernews:

Tesla no longer world’s best-selling electric vehicle

Inequality recap: women, tech conferences, and objectification

BYD electric car saves 11-year-old boy by providing power during Australian blackout

ChatGPT towers over rivals in number of visitors

X puts Japanese residents at risk amid tsunami and earthquake warnings

Subscribe to our newsletter