#SpookySZN: ‘Darknet Diaries’ is where true crime meets cyberspace
We are back, back, back, back, back again with our newest spooky podcast recommendation, “Darknet Diaries.” Host Jack Rhysider takes us through the chilling world of cyber crime in this podcast all about hacking, data breaches, election rigging, and cyber attacks. He investigates true stories from the dark side of the internet, interviewing the people involved and taking a compelling narrative approach to telling these stories.
In “Darknet Diaries,” you’ll hear about crimes like the 2012 and 2016 LinkedIn data breach, the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympic digital infrastructure wiping, and the Bangladesh Bank Heist. From the ’90s Wares scene (a software pirating phase that would give unlimited access to video games and apps) to intruding on major bank networks, to cryptocurrency fraud, every episode is true crime happening in cyberspace.
In case you’re thinking, “I am not technologically-savvy enough to possibly understand these crimes,” then fear not! We also thought the same thing! We thought this would be a podcast solely for techies, but how wrong we were. Because this is true crime, baby. True cybercrime. And while we are also not very technologically savvy, Rhysider expertly explains every aspect into simple terms that require no background hacking knowledge. As long as you know what software and floppy disks are, you are good to go.
The Puerto Rico Lottery
The best part, or at least the most interesting part, about cybercrime is how swiftly it all seems to move. In the blink of an eye, millions of dollars can disappear into the ether. And that’s exactly what happened in Puerto Rico in 2014. In episode “101: Lotería,” Rhysider sits down with an ex-Wares hacker, former Marine cybersecurity expert turned cybersecurity consultant to dig into the case of the Puerto Rico Lottery hack.
The interviewee, who is going by the alias Os (as Rhysider shortens it to), asks to remain anonymous in this episode for reasons you’ll find out later. Os was contracted by the governor of Puerto Rico to investigate why their lottery was mysteriously losing millions and millions of dollars. Their lottery system was mostly non-computerized, a large chain of people certified the winning numbers every single day. Some tickets were big winners, many were just one dollar prizes.
Os was stumped as to how this could be happening with such a tight string of security. Until he stumbled into a mysterious room with a single computer, covered with a sheet. He set up what is essentially a phone wire-tap for computers (like we said, we are not tech savvy), and tracked where the money went.
He found that someone was changing the one dollar winnings to $10,000, and then immediately switching the winning number back to one. But who could be doing this? Someone inside the government? Or someone, or some group, much more sinister?
The U.S. FBI ended up involved and Os’ life was in danger. After figuring out the people behind this somewhat masterful con, he had to flee the territory, and he will unquestionably never return.
To find out who was behind it, the exact details of Os’s sleuthing, how much money they stole, and what they were using it for, check out “Darknet Diaries.” It’s a never-before-heard story that ended up with a guilty plea that sent the case to court, where even more details of the crime were exposed. This, along with over 100 other true cybercrimes, are all masterfully told in “Darknet Diaries.”