GhostShell, On the Record – Why did he really disappear in 2013?

This post is part of an extended interview conducted by DataBreaches.net and CyberWarNews.info with the hacker formerly known as “GhostShell.”

In a March, 2013 interview with Eduoard Kovacs, GhostShell was asked whether he was taking a break from hacking and whether it was because of law enforcement. GS answered him at the time:

I’m taking a break from the public sector. I’m not sure when or if I’ll be back. I’m closing up all the accounts from Team GhostShell to its branches, Midas Bank and Ophius Lab for the time being.

As we reported in our article doxing him, TGS may not have been in the public eye, but it was still engaged in projects and operations, according to GhostShell. But the reasons for the disappearance from public space were somewhat complex:

The choice I made back then was the right one. Immediately as I saw the group being discredited I knew I had to stop, make a public farewell and just drop all activity related to the group. I wasn’t gonna let the feds destroy every shred of credibility I built up until then. So I cut my losses in a way and accepted all the successful projects we managed to put out.

That answer may sound good, but there was a lot of turmoil associated with it, as GS told us during another exchange:

At the end of 2012 things were heating up. It was right after Project WhiteFox happened. There were officials saying I’m dangerous, there were new groups coming out following my type of rules and fashion, random people on forums saying Team GhostShell was Anonymous 2.0 and so on. I just had this feeling that it went past a point where I never was in before.

And then I felt it. It was probably the third time in my life when this happened. I felt like I was being hunted. It’s the most psychedelic feeling you can have. Adrenaline rushing in and you can’t control yourself with excitement. For some reason I couldn’t stop laughing.

I knew something was about to go down. And then I saw it. Paste sites, the same ones that I was using for months, the same ones that kept deleting my pastes after being called by the police were closing their sites, locking them. The hijacked twitter accounts that I was using got suspended after so many months of using them. The journos, bloggers, that I was talking to stopped replying back. And the overly excited anons that wanted me to work on a project related to South Africa. It was Christmas all over again for me. I couldn’t stop laughing, I couldn’t stop smiling. I couldn’t stop, period. I wanted to see what was going to happen, how would they fight me? I couldn’t wait to see it. That month in SA cyberspace was the longest. Slow connections and sketchy networks filled with private information disappearing overnight. I lost at some point over 700k NDA accounts.

But when I finally got to the end, the anons disappeared, the hijacked accounts were no more, the pastebin sites closed, the journos silent. And even then I didn’t realise the obvious. That this technique was nothing special but rather the same one they’ve been using for years on groups like TeamPoison and RedHack.

It only came to me when I saw the end result, anonfeds using the media to discredit TGS, and bully all the ones that were reporting about it. Some were so scared of the threats that ended up posting the entire email conversations with them. Others told me in private. This is why media freedom is a myth. It’s all political. You either get with the program or you’re out. The thing that got me the most was that I knew every single one of those anonfeds from the same networks I was hanging on.

Whew.

Well, that clears that up. Although it really doesn’t, because according to GhostShell, he continued hacking and undertook some mammoth projects, although we do not know how far he progressed with them, or if they will ever be confirmed with proof. At various points, he told us about #OpRotherham, which he did under the Anonymous banner, and other projects that were never made public:

If I had to choose a favourite project it would be either Project ScarletHowl or Project FrostOwl. No one from the public sector knows them but they are the largest and longest running campaigns I’ve done throughout these past 4-5 years. Let me put it to you this way, Dark Hacktivism was created from them and the leaks that came along with it, both the around one thousand websites leaked and the private data given to one of my japanese contacts to deliver to the government represent a fraction of data obtained from these projects. One of the campaigns lasted over 8 months non-stop hacking.

[…]

Project ScarletHowl had one objective, to attack and breach every single website from the top 1 million.

Project FrostOwl’s main purpose was to map out and get as much information out of Asia’s cyberspace. Every single country was targeted.

Bits and pieces of these projects were used for Dark Hacktivism.

There are a lot more but these would be my highlights. Also an interesting fact, Project Alkonost used to be about cryptanalysis or even cryptology in general but I went with it in a different direction.

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