We don't want to call him a "flash in the pan," but this is a story about a teen hacker who made a splash, quickly sizzled for YouTube's most popular star, and then, a couple of weeks later, announced his retirement from hacking out of fear he'll get busted.
His name is TheHackerGiraffe. SecureWorld wrote about his printer hacking where he forced 50,000 of them to print fliers telling those who found the printout to subscribe to @pewdiepie, which was the #1 YouTube channel in the world for a while and how now dropped to #2.
After the printer stunt, the TheHackerGiraffe breached home networks to access Google Chromecast devices and smart TVs— with messages to follow the hacker's favorite YouTuber.
That's when TheHackerGiraffe's fans around the globe asked him to teach them how to hack. They wanted to emulate his antics, so he started creating tutorials on how to do it.
But that was short lived.
Earlier this year, he put the following hacker retirement note online:
So, here we are. At the endgame. I'm sorry for leaving so suddenly, and I'm sorry for all of you who expected more tutorials, guides, or anything. I can't do this. It may not look like it, but the constant pressure of being afraid of being caught and prosecuted has been keeping me up and giving me all kinds of fears and panic attacks.
I just wanted to inform people of their vulnerable devices while supporting a YouTuber I liked. I never meant any hard, nor did I ever have any ill intentions. I'm sorry if anything I've done has made you feel under attack or threatened.
Most of all, I'm sorry to the people who supported me on Patreon. I didn't want to leave like this, you deserve more for your money, and I'm truly sorry that I've failed to meet your demands and my promises when it comes to the guides.
@pewdiepie, I love your content man, keep on going.
I guess there is a lesson to be learned here, don't fly too close to the sun and then act like you don't know you'll get burned. Well, here I am, burned and roasted, awaiting my maybe-coming end. I thank you all, thank you all so much for the past month. It's been amazing to see all of you who wanted to learn hacking/cybersecurity. Please do push on, don't give up! Stay safe, stay legal, and most of all, be civil.
What will I do now? Probably suffer from this horrible panic for the next few days before I completely lose my mind until either my end comes or this all flies over and I'll probably never touch a computer again.
I hope I'm overreacting and this is all in my head, I really do hope so.
Peace out guys,
His retirement letter was posted in January 2019. And in March 2019, he pinned this tweet to the top of his timeline:
What does a teen hacker do in retirement?
So what has TheHackerGiraffe been doing since his cybercrime days reportedly came to an end?
For one thing, he's been tweeting on behalf of a New Zealand based cloud storage company.
For another, he's been posting hacking challenges for those who are trying to sharpen their skills.
At the same time, he's holding on to his claim to hacking fame. This is his Twitter profile as of May 2019:
So how did a young adult with legitimate skills end up using his talent for bad instead of good?
Check out Don't Let Your Gamers Grow Up to be Hackers for new research on what is happening and the progression that takes place.