A hacker who gets paid to hack company computer systems and identify security flaws is set to become a millionaire.
Corben Leo runs his own cyber security firm, which has a partnership with the US Department of Defense.
The 22-year-old qualified computer scientist says his ‘research’ is “paying me an absurd amount” and claims he has earned “close to a million dollars” from his efforts since setting up his own business.
When Corben was just 19 he gained access to the TAT-14 submarine telecommunications cable system which was in operation until 2020 and was used to transfer data from the US to the United Kingdom, France, the Netherlands, Germany, and Denmark.
He told the Daily Telegraph: “I came across this one web server. And the title was super interesting. So I wanted to see if I could hack it.
“I could add admin access to all of their accounts. I could manage them, I had access to all of the internal cable documentation.
“Everything that had to do with the inner workings of the cable, how the cable was physically structured, their maintenance periods.”
The Daily Telegraph reports that Corben could have triggered stock market crashes, sparked accusations of international spying or disrupted governments.
But he chose to report his find to the company, explaining: “I didn’t try to do too much because it was an undersea cable. I was afraid of getting thrown at a CIA black site!”
And Corben is not the only one making money from his research.
He’s part of a global community of bug bounty researchers – ethical hackers who get paid to probe web servers and expose security flaws and report them back in return for payment.
The companies can then fix the error preventing real criminals from hacking in.
In January this year a 19-year-old hacker claimed to have hijacked 25 Tesla vehicles in 10 countries — using nothing but the Internet.
David Colombo, a cybersecurity wizz kid from Germany, claimed he had the power to unlock the doors and even start driving the Teslas in question.
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Colombo publicly revealed on Twitter he has “remote control” of the vehicles after unscrupulous owners left their cars open to hacking. He says he needs to get in touch with the owners and let them know, but has no way of contacting them.
While he did not share the full details of how he gained access to the cars, he said that it had nothing to do with a vulnerability on Tesla’s part and instead it is the owners’ faults.
Colombo said he can use his powers to find the exact location of the cars, open the doors and windows, and even blast music through the speakers or flash the headlights.
However, he clarified that he could not interfere with someone driving, which rules out any future assassination attempts on Tesla owners.
Tesla investigated the issue and began issuing new security certificates to their vehicles to keep hackers out of cars.