Extreme Hacker Uses Skills to Do Good

Gregston Chu
Gregston Chu

HONOLULU (KHNL) -- Computer hackers steal thousands of identities, and tens of millions of dollars from America's banks and financial institutions every year. But one cyber burglar is using his skills for good. Welcome "extreme hacker" and Damien graduate, Gregston Chu.

KRISTEN:  Good morning, Gregston.

GREGSTON:  Good morning.

KRISTEN:  First of all, you break into systems and you get paid for it?

GREGSTON:  Absolutely.

KRISTEN:  What exactly is that you do?

GREGSTON:  Well, basically we do what is called Penetrating Testing, which means that we use the same tools, methodology and techniques that hackers use to break into systems and document our findings and then we give those findings to corporations so that they can understand what it feels like to be broken into, what their security threats are, and how to fix them. It gives them a real world perspective as to how they can protect themselves.

KRISTEN:  So basically, it kind of helps to keep them save?

GREGSTON:  Exactly.

KRISTEN: Okay, how successful have you been breaking into the top companies, Fortune 100 companies?

GREGSTON:  We've been very successful in a sense that most companies are vulnerable to systems.  There's no such thing as 100% secure system.  So in security, we're talking about in security layers, how long it takes for them to penetrate those layers, so security is really around the response time and increasing the length of each barrier.

KRISTEN:  How often are you detected, though, can you give a percentage?

GREGSTON:  Probably about 30% of the time.

KRISTEN:  Hackers don't just break into company computers, they can do other things.  People just think of the word "hacker" and they automatically think they just break into computers but tell us more.

GREGSTON:  They do a variety of things.  Breaking into a computer is just a mean to that end.  They're there to facilitate other activities such as fraud, transferring money to and from accountants that aren't authorized, stealing people's personal data to steal identity theft, getting access to corporate secrets, corporate espionage, trying to get a competitor's secret formula or secret plans or that kind of thing.

KRISTEN:  Some people are doing it out there now and they don't realize that you can get paid for it.  How did you get into it as a hacker?

GREGSTON:  I actually got started very innocently, as far as I was a system administrator and network administrator, kind of a coder so I started with a good base of knowledge within systems and networks and web applications.  So I took that and that really gives you a good base to learn how to break into computers and so I think the biggest thing is the fear of the jail time.  I don't think I'm really built for jail so it's better that I get paid and I get paid pretty comfortably.

KRISTEN:  Well thank you, Gregston and nice to see that you're doing well.