Ryan Montgomery (@0dayCTF) is a professional cyber security specialist, the founder of Pentester (JORDAN15), and an ethical hacker known for exposing online predators. [This is part one of a two-part episode. Be sure to catch up with part two here!]
What We Discuss with Ryan Montgomery:
- What kind of background creates an ethical hacker?
- For that matter, what is an ethical hacker?
- What is the difference between white hat, gray hat, and black hat hackers?
- Do ethical hackers make more money than hackers who are less than ethical?
- What is a Flipper tool, and what can it be used to hack?
- And much more…
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Please Scroll Down for Featured Resources and Transcript!
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This Episode Is Sponsored By:
- Airbnb: Find out how much your space is worth at airbnb.com/host
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Miss our two-parter with former Westboro Baptist Church spokesperson Megan Phelps-Roper? Make sure to catch up starting with episode 302: Megan Phelps-Roper | Unfollowing Westboro Baptist Church Part One here!
Thanks, Ryan Montgomery!
If you enjoyed this session with Ryan Montgomery, let him know by clicking on the link below and sending him a quick shout out at Twitter:
And if you want us to answer your questions on one of our upcoming weekly Feedback Friday episodes, drop us a line at email@example.com.
Resources from This Episode:
- Ryan Montgomery | Website
- Ryan Montgomery | Twitter
- Ryan Montgomery | Instagram
- Ryan Montgomery | Facebook
- Ryan Montgomery | Twitch
- Ryan Montgomery | LinkedIn
- Phreaking | Wikipedia
- What is Your Password? | Jimmy Kimmel Live
- Jordan Harbinger | A Darknet Diaries Origin Story | Jordan Harbinger
- Introduction To Ethical Hacking | Codecademy
- Certified Ethical Hacker Salary | Comparably
- Kevin Mitnick | Wikipedia
- How Hackers Spread Java Driveby Malware Online | HackingLoops
- Bug Bounty Programs | HackerOne
- Understanding Denial-of-Service Attacks | CISA
- What Is the Dark Web? How to Access It Safely | Avast
- Browse Privately. Explore Freely. | Tor Project
- Nick Bilton | Hunting the Dark Web’s Silk Road Kingpin | Jordan Harbinger
- What Can a Hacker Do with the Flipper Tool? | TikTok
- View Critical Data Risks in Under 30 Seconds | Pentester (Use Code JORDAN15)
- Parental Control App for iPhone, Android, and Amazon Fire | Bark
- Parental Control and Digital Well-Being Software | Qustodio
- Family Safety and Parental Control Tools | Family Link from Google
- Monitor Your Time Online | Apple Screen Time
- R. Kelly Is Not a P*dophile (Technically Speaking) | Gianmarco Soresi
851: Ryan Montgomery | The Hacker Who Hunts Child Predators Part One
[00:00:00] Jordan Harbinger: Special thanks to Airbnb for sponsoring this episode of The Jordan Harbinger Show. Maybe you've stayed at an Airbnb before and thought to yourself, "Yeah, this actually seems pretty doable. Maybe my place could be an Airbnb." It could be as simple as starting with a spare room or your whole place while you're away. Find out how much your place is worth at airbnb.com/host.
[00:00:18] Coming up next on The Jordan Harbinger Show.
[00:00:21] Ryan Montgomery: And the 90 percent of the people listening to this right now, that are using an exclamation point as the symbol that was required in their password, you know, that's something that hackers think of. You know, it's the first symbol on your keyboard with a digit, with a number.
[00:00:39] Jordan Harbinger: Welcome to the show. I'm Jordan Harbinger. On The Jordan Harbinger Show, we decode the stories, secrets, and skills of the world's most fascinating people and turn their wisdom into practical advice that you can use to impact your own life and those around you. Our mission is to help you become a better informed, more critical thinker through long-form conversations with a variety of amazing folks, from spies to CEOs, athletes, authors, thinkers and performers, even the occasional former cult member, arms dealer, rocket scientist, or Russian chess grandmaster.
[00:01:09] And if you're new to the show or you want to tell your friends about the show, our episode starter packs are a great place to begin. These are collections of our favorite episodes organized by topic that'll help new listeners get a taste of everything we do here on this show — topics like persuasion and influence, abnormal psychology, China, North Korea, crime, and cults, and more. Just visit jordanharbinger.com/start or search for us in your Spotify app to get started.
[00:01:33] And hey, by the way, everybody, we just started a newsletter. Many of you are getting it already, but if not, go to jordanharbinger.com/news to sign up every week. The team and I dig into an older episode of the show and dissect the lessons from it. So if you're a fan of the show, you want to recap of important highlights and takeaways, or you just want to maybe know what to dig into the feed and listen to next, the newsletter is a great place to do that. We've got a lot more ideas in store for the newsletter as well. None of which includes me asking for your credit card number to spam you with crap jordanharbinger.com/news. I would love your feedback on it because it's new. I don't really know what the hell I'm doing, I'm just trying to write good stuff that's useful and valuable and I need you to tell me whether or not that's the case.
[00:02:17] Today on the show, definitely no kids or no young kids in the car for this one. Very explicit graphic detail in some of the posts and messages we're talking about today because our guest today, Ryan Montgomery, friend of mine, great hacker, social engineer, been doing it for a long time, long time in the game, professional-level hacker. He has uncovered a lot of pedophilia, child abuse, and message boards where people share this kind of child sexual abuse material. We talk pretty openly and graphically about this stuff. You have been warned. That said, it's also a conversation about social engineering, persuasion hacking the dark web, the underside, the underbelly anyway of the Internet. I think it's a very interesting conversation. We went long because we're buddies and we can't shut up. I think you'll enjoy this conversation. I certainly enjoyed having it even though it's a dark topic. Here we go with Ryan Montgomery.
[00:03:13] I don't know you that well, but I know a lot of hackers and I got to say I was into phreaking, right? So phone hacking.
[00:03:19] Ryan Montgomery: Yep.
[00:03:19] Jordan Harbinger: You just don't get into that stuff in the '90s or early aughts when you're like a well-adjusted kid playing after-school sports most of the time.
[00:03:26] Ryan Montgomery: Right. So let me first just to address the freaking thing, let me show you a payphone that is—
[00:03:33] Jordan Harbinger: Oh, yeah.
[00:03:33] Ryan Montgomery: Yeah. That is fully active and working.
[00:03:36] Jordan Harbinger: How do you even — if you're watching on YouTube, he just rotated the camera to show a payphone. How do you even get a payphone now in private premises? Do you call the phone company and be like, "I'd like a payphone in here"?
[00:03:47] Ryan Montgomery: No. So that payphone, I purchased it off eBay.
[00:03:50] Jordan Harbinger: Okay, that makes sense.
[00:03:51] Ryan Montgomery: It was a refurbished 1990 Protel. I didn't activate a line like a landline. I routed it to an Asterisk server. Without skipping all the technical details, it receives and transmits phone calls.
[00:04:05] Jordan Harbinger: Got it. Okay. So you didn't have to like dupe the phone company to be like, this is a high-traffic area where people might use payphones?
[00:04:10] Ryan Montgomery: No, no.
[00:04:11] Jordan Harbinger: Okay.
[00:04:11] Ryan Montgomery: I mean, that would've been a lot cooler of a story.
[00:04:13] Jordan Harbinger: It makes sense. You buy it and then you turn it into like a VoIP thing and it doesn't need coins. I thought you literally had a coin-operated phone in your house.
[00:04:21] Ryan Montgomery: I could make it coin operated. Right now it's free.
[00:04:23] Jordan Harbinger: Interesting.
[00:04:24] Ryan Montgomery: I have the keys and everything came with it, you know, when I purchased it.
[00:04:27] Jordan Harbinger: Wow.
[00:04:27] Ryan Montgomery: So I could activate it and there's a service menu on there where I could charge myself to make calls.
[00:04:32] Jen Harbinger: Payphones, man, I spent dozens of hours messing with payphones, and this is probably a different show. I don't want to get off too much of a tangent, but suffice to say, in my area, they had to change the firmware or software or whatever they were doing because of the crazy amount of red boxing that me and my friends were doing.
[00:04:50] Ryan Montgomery: Oh, yeah. Yeah. Well, if people want to hear it, I can actually, I have some cool stuff, let me, because there'll be people listening on the podcast and on YouTube.
[00:04:59] Jordan Harbinger: Absolutely.
[00:04:59] Ryan Montgomery: A red box, here's what a nickel sound like [tone sound]. This is a dime [tone sound]. This is a quarter [tone sound]. And then, in Europe, this is 10 pence [tone sound]. 50 pence [tone sound]. That was a red box. And then—
[00:05:13] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:05:14] Ryan Montgomery: There was the famous 2,600 tone, which was this [tone sound]. And I don't know if you recall that.
[00:05:20] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. For people who don't know, red box was a device that would emulate the tones that a payphone would, quote-unquote, "hear" when you dropped in a coin. So when you dropped in a coin, there wasn't like digital communication between the payphone and the phone company. The payphone would just broadcast a tone onto the phone line that said, "Six quarters were dropped in here. Now, this dumb kid can call Japan for two minutes." So we went to Hallmark and got those recordable cards the day they came out where you could be like, "Hi, grandma," and it would say that in your voice when they opened the card. And I thought, this is great because in Michigan people used to use mini-cassette recorders, which were one, super expensive, two, if it got too cold, it changed the tape. It wouldn't sound right because it was too damn cold. If it was too hot, which it often was as well. It would change the tape and the tone changed just a little bit. But 2,600 hertz works. Maybe 2,700 hertz kind of works. 2,800, 2,900 doesn't work at all, right? So you had this big problem, well, digital, that little ten-second or five-second recorder in the Hallmark card, that thing was digitally perfect reproduction every single time. So you just put in a quarter on a phone that wasn't working totally correctly. You'd hear the tone in the speaker, you record that thing, or you use a computer to emulate it. Suddenly, you've got a thing that's like this big, you know, the size of a child's fist and flat, and it makes tone sounds. And all I did was call Japan nonstop all day, every single day for weeks at a time. And every country that, that I could find.
[00:06:49] Ryan Montgomery: Oh yeah.
[00:06:49] Jordan Harbinger: I remember an operator being like, you have to stop doing this because I would call the operator and ask him to connect me to something in another country. And they'd be like, "Okay, you need to put in three dollars and 50 cents," whatever. And I'd just do the quarter tones and she'd go, "Okay," and connect me. And then there must have been something printed out on their dot matrix printer that said if a kid calls asking you to connect them to another country from a payphone, I don't know, run it by a supervisor, or you ask a question.
[00:07:16] Ryan Montgomery: Double-check this one.
[00:07:17] Jordan Harbinger: Right. And then they did something where they modified all the phones, at least the ones I was biking to where then you couldn't make a tone into the mic before you put a coin in and that would stop the red box or so they thought. So then I started putting a nickel in, it would turn the mic back on and then I could use quarter tones after that. And I was thinking, how did you guys not think that this would happen? This is the obvious next step.
[00:07:39] Ryan Montgomery: I mean, that's the hacking mentality. So a lot of people think and I'll keep this one short as well, like, you know, teaching somebody how to hack is such a broad thing to ask, you know—
[00:07:48] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:07:48] Ryan Montgomery: —teach me how to hack a computer. Teach me how to hack an account. There's no cookie-cutter method on being a hacker. It's a mentality. And like you just said, they put a protection in place to stop you from transmitting a tone into the microphone and you put a nickel in and figured out that there was some time that elapsed where you could play additional sounds.
[00:08:08] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:08:08] Ryan Montgomery: And add more money to the phone. That is a mental advantage that you had and still have and you'll always have that. And it's something that I believe can't be taught.
[00:08:16] Jordan Harbinger: So it's interesting you say that. And the reason I told that story is because people are like, "Shut up, Jordan, interview the guy already." I'm glad I was able to sort of tease that out of you in a way that makes sense. Because you're right, there's like hacker mentality, hacker mindset, where it does show up in other areas of life from a restaurant where I ordered two lunch specials and they were like, "Well, I guess, he can do that." And it was like still more meat than you get with the other price and you're just like, the way the system is not meant to be used. But even things like the bar exam, I mean, not cheating on the exam itself, but the prep course. I've told this story on the show, so I'll keep it super, super short. They won't allow you to take the lectures with you digitally. They want you to show up to a testing center and watch lectures every single day, take notes and study. And I was like, that's BS. And it's a grift. So I said, I want the iPod version of these. I know it has to exist for people that can't get to a testing center. And they were like, you can't be in America because you're too close to all of our testing centers. You have to travel to one. And I was like, fine, I won't be in America for a certain amount of time. And they're like, "We want to see your airline tickets." And I was like, "Okay." So I booked airline tickets that were refundable and then they would come back with another request. And then finally someone was like, "We know you just want this. Okay, but if you copy it, we're going to sue you and you're going to sign this thing that says you understand that?" And I was like, "Fine. I don't need to copy it. I just don't want to go to the damn thing." So it's like you're always kind of playing checkers or chess, I guess you would say—
[00:09:42] Ryan Montgomery: Right.
[00:09:43] Jordan Harbinger: —with a system. The opponent is not a person necessarily. It's a fricking system.
[00:09:48] Ryan Montgomery: That's exactly right. And it is evolving every single day on the defense and the offense. Like I said, not a cookie-cutter thing. If you're interested in cybersecurity, that's just one aspect of hacking. Hacking can be hacking people. Social engineering, it can be, I guess a good social engineering example is convincing, you know, whether it be lying or whether it be manipulating your way to get something that you want. In just a simple form, like you get on a bus every day and you tell the driver, "Oh, I thought I had my bus card." And you do it in a convincing enough way to where they let you on the bus. I mean, it's such a simple, simple thing. But it's hacking, it's social engineering. And that can get more extreme where you could call a phone company and say, "Hey, I need to speak to your manager." You speak to the manager, you ask them for their representative ID, and you call them back and you tell them to transfer in-house. And then you say that you're the same, that representative you just talked to and now you're saying you're on the phone with a customer and that customer's having problems, but the call disconnected and you have a rep ID that validates that you work at that company and you know a little more about their system and you can now exfiltrate data out of their account or make changes to their account. And it could be something, like I said, as simple as getting on a bus for free, or it could be taking over somebody's entire identity. All with your voice.
[00:11:06] Jordan Harbinger: You are reminding me of the reps, some of this takes, and I know that you didn't go to college finish high school. And I think it's important to note that because I think people go, "Oh, hackers are like super genius guys that have PhDs in computer engineering." And it's actually—
[00:11:20] Ryan Montgomery: Quite the opposite.
[00:11:21] Jordan Harbinger: Like you said, it's kind of the opposite. A lot of it is kids who had the mindset but also went through the reps. And what I mean by reps, man, and this will sound super familiar to you as well, I'm getting nostalgic over here. I remember calling a phone company, like you said, get some kind of ID or system or term and they go, "Is this system ESS7 or ESS5 or whatever it is?" And you'd go, "Oh crap. I don't know what that is," right? So then you're in the IRC channel and you're like, "What is ESS7 and ESS5?" And if nobody answers in time, you have to like hang up and call back, Right?
[00:11:55] Ryan Montgomery: Yeah.
[00:11:55] Jordan Harbinger: Or you hang up and go, "Sorry, we got disconnected. Yeah, I actually don't know the versioning on this." And they're like, "Versioning?" Because that's like the wrong term. And then they go, "Do you mean the install, whatever?" And you're like—
[00:12:07] Ryan Montgomery: Right, that's Intel.
[00:12:08] Jordan Harbinger: Right. And you write that down and you're doing this like maybe a hundred times a day for like your entire spring break because you're a loser with no friends. Sorry, I'm getting very personal for myself. Trust me—
[00:12:20] Ryan Montgomery: Listen, I've been doing it, you know, when I was a kid for a long time. And you know, I would learn these companies inside and out.
[00:12:28] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:12:28] Ryan Montgomery: And I'd know exactly, for example, AT&T, I would know exactly what system that agent was going to be using.
[00:12:34] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:12:34] Ryan Montgomery: Exactly, the error messages that they would receive when a problem would happen. And exactly what type of rep ID they would be using the amount of digits, whether it be starting with a prefix of letters or ending with a suffix of letters. You know, there's so many variables to it. But once you gather, like you said, all of those bits of information, you can construct that into a very convincing phone call that appears to be internal. And it still works to this day. I mean, I wouldn't recommend anybody do it. It's illegal, but still people are the biggest vulnerability, the systems are not. Your employees, your people around you are your biggest weakness.
[00:13:10] Jordan Harbinger: It's funny because I didn't mean to go into like how to protect yourself from cyber, but people are always like, "Oh, I need the antivirus program that you use. I want to know how to lock down the open ports on my company's computers." And I'm like, the problem is none of those things. Yeah, you should update your WordPress site so you don't get like script kiddie malware attacks. The problem is the intern who you just shared your password with. You don't think it's a big deal because that's just your Salesforce install, but what's your banking password? Oh, it's the same thing, but like has two numbers at the end of it, or not even that different.
[00:13:45] Ryan Montgomery: Yeah.
[00:13:45] Jordan Harbinger: And you just assume that your intern doesn't know that you bank at Chase and you don't realize she wrote that on a Post-It note and left it on her desk and the top of her laptop, which she just took to a Starbucks and opened—
[00:13:56] Ryan Montgomery: Yeah.
[00:13:57] Jordan Harbinger: —for three hours.
[00:13:58] Ryan Montgomery: Exactly. And the 90 percent of the people listening to this right now that are using an exclamation point as the symbol that was required in their password, you know, that's something that hackers think of. You know, it's the first symbol on your keyboard with a digit, with a number.
[00:14:13] Jordan Harbinger: They're like, "Wait, so my last name with an exclamation point on then." Or like, do you see that video where they're interviewing some gal on Hollywood Boulevard and they're like, "Do you use the Internet?" "Yes." "What sort of password do you use?" "Oh, it's about the year of my graduation and my pet's name." And they're like, "Oh, okay, how long have you been in California?" And she's like, "Three weeks." "What are you doing?" "Ah, I'm going to Universal Studios." "Do you have any pets?" "Yeah." "What kind?" "A dog." "What's his name?" Uh, I don't know. "Froofy." "Cool. All right. Did you go to high school?" "Yeah." "Where'd you go to high school?" "St. Augustine." "Wow, when did you graduate?" "1999." And then it's like, so it's froofy1999. It just, the guy does it in like 42 seconds and she just doesn't see it coming.
[00:14:49] Ryan Montgomery: Oh, no. Anyone can look it up. Look up, you know, password interview on YouTube. You'll see that video. I know exactly what one you're talking about.
[00:14:56] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. People are like, "This is fake." And I'm like, even if this is fake, the whole thing that that person just did is definitely not fake.
[00:15:04] Ryan Montgomery: Not even close to fake. Social engineering is huge and pen testing companies, cybersecurity companies, still to this day, I believe, you know, most of them, the first engagement is social engineering.
[00:15:15] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:15:15] Ryan Montgomery: If an employee gives you access, why break in? You know, they're just going to give you the key.
[00:15:20] Jordan Harbinger: When I went to Defcon, which is a hacker conference for people who don't know, a long time ago, there's a social engineering village or whatever they call it, and there was a sound booth. It's a brilliant idea. It's a sound booth and they'll just let people take a crack at calling Windows' tech support, whatever, at Microsoft. And they have a speaker outside the booth. So an audience can listen to a social engineer or whoever's in the audience take a crack at trying to get as far as they can. And it was really impre — like very few of these Microsoft employees were like, "Uh, I probably shouldn't give you that information. It was rare.
[00:15:52] Ryan Montgomery: Yep. And the booth is, it was a soundproof booth and you would just sit in there and there'd be people going in and out, in and out, in and out.
[00:16:00] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:16:00] Ryan Montgomery: Just gathering as much intel. And then all the people listening are gathering intel as well.
[00:16:04] Jordan Harbinger: So like if you go first, people clap more, right? Because if you're the fifth person, you correct all the mistakes the other person made.
[00:16:11] Ryan Montgomery: Exactly right.
[00:16:11] Jordan Harbinger: It's like walking through a minefield I guess figuratively.
[00:16:13] Ryan Montgomery: It's a cool little world.
[00:16:15] Jordan Harbinger: It is. It is a cool little world. And I want to know how you got into it, because again, I know a lot of folks that really spent a lot of time doing that and I was probably the most well adjusted of my hacker friends by about a hundred miles.
[00:16:27] Ryan Montgomery: Yeah, likewise. I grew up in, you know, not the best area in the world and a lot of people I grew up with, you know, doing the wrong thing, doing drugs and none of them were on a computer. None of them knew how to use a computer. I was kind of a lone wolf there. And my dad's side of the family had some serious drug problems. Still is going through them. And my mom's side of the family, which, you know, have been amazing. They don't have that issue, but I was a contamination between the two.
[00:16:55] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:16:57] Ryan Montgomery: I didn't come from a lot of money on my mom's side. We didn't grow up in the best area, but it was a lot worse on my dad's side. So being back and forth between those, they introduced me to some people that I shouldn't have been around at the ages that I was around. And it got me into some bad stuff, you know, outside of computers with drugs and stupid petty crime and stuff like that. But computers were always my passion. You know, I don't know how to explain in conjunction with the drugs and the petty crime outside of computers, but there was always my passion outside of that. None of my friends could relate. They just knew Ryan's the guy that's good on a computer. Ryan's the guy that I'm going to call when I have something wrong with this. Or somebody that's not knowledgeable with computers, just thinks I could do anything, you know?
[00:17:41] Jordan Harbinger: Right.
[00:17:41] Ryan Montgomery: Like this guy can take over the planet with his computer. And you know, I was a little kid at that time, but I spent a lot of time around older people.
[00:17:49] Jordan Harbinger: Sure.
[00:17:50] Ryan Montgomery: And some people might say, well, maybe you grew up fast. You learned a lot. And then other people would say, well, people I was around that were older, they did teach me things and I did learn fast from them. They weren't the best influences. And I didn't carry over that knowledge into my adult life—
[00:18:06] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:18:06] Ryan Montgomery: —you know, by any means, but I definitely had to grow up fast and I definitely did a lot of things at a very young age that most kids haven't seen.
[00:18:14] Jordan Harbinger: I remember my parents being kind of worried and they didn't know the half of it, but they were kind of worried that, and I look back and I'm like, they were definitely right. There would be like one of my friends when I was probably 13 or 14 years old, was 20, which like, that's weird. He was in college.
[00:18:33] Ryan Montgomery: Yeah. It is weird.
[00:18:34] Jordan Harbinger: And I was in middle school, right? That's weird. And there were guys older than him that we hung out with. He would come pick me up from Detroit, which is not that close to where I live. I mean I live in the suburbs and we'd drive down to another place like Southfield, which is another suburb, and we'd be dumpster diving in a cell phone store parking lot. And I'm like, wait a minute. These guys are like 40 years old, late 30s. They're hanging out with me. I'm 14. There were other kids there that were like 17, 18. It's odd. And granted, we were in a very niche, very niche hobby, right? Phreaking and phone hacking. It's still freaking weird. I would've been like, "Yo, leave the kid, the literal child at home," because if we have to go somewhere, run from the cops, was he going to just hop in my car? That's not odd looking.
[00:19:19] Ryan Montgomery: Yeah. And not only that, but even if they didn't have any intentions on the creepy side, they would get child endangerment charges.
[00:19:26] Jordan Harbinger: Totally. Yeah. These guys like 20/20 hindsight, there was never anything even remotely like that. They were just geeky, weird dudes. But you would think they should have had better judge — these criminals that I hung out with should have had better judgment.
[00:19:40] Ryan Montgomery: Right, right. Well, I guess the difference between your story and mind was I wanted to, you know, I was a kid, I was making dumb decisions, so I wanted to hang out with the older people and—
[00:19:50] Jordan Harbinger: Sure.
[00:19:50] Ryan Montgomery: —I got along with them better, but I don't know why. And you know, everybody has told me I'm an old soul or whatever that means, but I always wanted to be around older people. When I was younger, I dated older women. A lot of them were way above my age. But I blame it on myself because I was lying about my age at one point when I was younger.
[00:20:09] Jordan Harbinger: Oh, okay. Yeah.
[00:20:09] Ryan Montgomery: When I was like 12, 13, 14. I was telling people I was 18, 19 and it was actually brings up a point that I actually wanted to address anyway. You know, when I was 13, 14 years old, I looked actually a lot older than I do now, which is surprising because I was whacked out on drugs and—
[00:20:27] Jordan Harbinger: Oh.
[00:20:27] Ryan Montgomery: —I had long black hair and piercings and tattoos and—
[00:20:30] Jordan Harbinger: Wow.
[00:20:31] Ryan Montgomery: You know, all these things that a normal, normal child wouldn't have. When I did another podcast before this, somebody looked into me and I guess read it and started looking into me and they found that I used this name. Do you remember the MySpace days when everyone was like, the scene kids and emo kids?
[00:20:46] Jordan Harbinger: Sure. Yeah.
[00:20:46] Ryan Montgomery: Well, I was definitely a part of that back then, and I had the long hair with the double Monroe piercings on your lips.
[00:20:54] Jordan Harbinger: Oh, wow.
[00:20:55] Ryan Montgomery: And I used a stupid edgy name as a kid.
[00:20:57] Jordan Harbinger: Sure.
[00:20:58] Ryan Montgomery: And people were bringing that up, you know, like trying to discredit me for all the things that I'm doing. And it's like—
[00:21:02] Jordan Harbinger: Oh man.
[00:21:03] Ryan Montgomery: —if they would just look at the date and I'd say, "I'll be 30 in July. If you look at the date, you're posting pictures of me as a 14-year-old and judging me for it." And I just thought to myself, it's pretty obvious, you know, if you e even if you go back five years in your life and you read something that you said on social media, or you read an email or a text message to somebody and if you don't cringe at that—
[00:21:24] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:21:24] Ryan Montgomery: —then you have not grown. And I'm looking back 15 years ago, and it's like they're bringing to light some things that there's nothing there that's like bad. It's just—
[00:21:33] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. It's cringe.
[00:21:34] Ryan Montgomery: Yeah. It's just cringe.
[00:21:35] Jordan Harbinger: But let it be in the past, right? Yeah.
[00:21:36] Ryan Montgomery: Leave me alone. You know, I'm trying to do something good with my life and I have been for a long time. Just leave me alone. You know, I went through a phase as a kid and I look like a weirdo. I get it but whatever, leave me alone.
[00:21:50] Jordan Harbinger: You are listening to The Jordan Harbinger Show with our guest, Ryan Montgomery. We'll be right back.
[00:21:54] This episode is sponsored in part by Grammarly. Ever find yourself hitting a wall with a writer's block? Even the most eloquent among us, yours truly included, sometimes need a helping hand. Grammarly has a revolutionary AI tool that will blow the mind of even the most articulate erudite logophile. It's called Grammarly Go. Grammarly Go can enhance your writing skills, making it more persuasive, more engaging, more pretentious. Like the last line that I just threw out there, if you want that. I'm often faced with the unpleasant task of rejecting people who want to be a guest on the show. And some of you might think I relish that, but I do not. With Grammarly Go, crafting that friendly rejection is a breeze. All I have to do is simply hover over the Grammarly Go icon, request a ready-made draft, and in milliseconds, the tool presents me with a perfectly tailored letter that soothes my conscience. Grammarly Go does a lot more though. Ask Grammarly Go to help with captions for your latest post. Are you renting an apartment? You want to compose a stellar letter to the landlord so you can stand out above applicants. Just ask Grammarly Go. The possibilities are endless. I can't even scratch the surface of what it can do. You just got to try Grammarly Go for yourself.
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[00:23:10] Jordan Harbinger: This episode is also sponsored by Eight Sleep. We used to have this old mattress that was super uncomfortable. It was like laying on a top sweaty towel with a griddle under it. What's worse is Jen and I, of course, have different preferences, so every night was like a clash of temperatures. She wants basically a tropical inferno of a bed, and I want like a refrigerated/arctic chill. So our sleep dramatically improved once we replaced it with a fancy pants Eight Sleep mattress, which is climate controlled and dual-zoned. Eight Sleep's mattress really is amazing, but you don't have to get the mattress if you already have a mattress you love whatever, you can get a Pod cover, which fits over any bed, like a fitted sheet, and does pretty much the same thing. It's really high quality. It works like magic. We've had ours for at least half a decade. It's one of our favorite household items. Also, it's quiet. I know that sounds like table stake for something that's literally a bed, but a lot of mattress coolers and warmers, they're loud as hell. They're so annoying, and Eight Sleep does not have this issue at all. You can also custom set the temperature on each side so you can have it scheduled to pre-warm or pre-cool your bed. And it can also adjust the temperature based on the rhythms of your sleep. So if you wake up freezing because you like to go to bed when it's cold, you can just have it switch throughout the night. You can tell it what you want to wake up to. You can wake up warm, go to bed cold, whatever. It's like having your own little sleep concierge.
[00:24:24] Jen Harbinger: Go to eightsleep.com/jordan and save $150 on the Pod cover by Eight Sleep. That's the best offer you'll find but you must visit eightsleep.com/jordan for $150 off. Eight Sleep currently ships within the US, Canada, the UK, select countries in the EU and Australia.
[00:24:41] Jordan Harbinger: If you're wondering how I managed to book all these great authors, thinkers, and creators every single week, it's because of my network and I'm teaching you how to build your network for free over at jordanharbinger.com/course. This course is about improving your relationship skills and you're inspiring other people to want to develop a relationship with you. It's not cringy. It's down to earth. It's not awkward, it's not cheesy. Just a lot of practical stuff that's going to make you a better connector, a better colleague, a better friend, a better peer. Six minutes a day is really all it takes, five really, but five-minute networking was taken, and many of the guests on the show subscribe and contribute to the course. So, hey, come join us, you'll be in smart company. You can find the course at jordanharbinger.com/course.
[00:25:21] Now back to Ryan Montgomery.
[00:25:24] Dude, I am not a celebrity by any stretch, but there's enough Internet stuff that sort of puts me in a public eye. There's a Google Talk where I'm just like a fat slob with a terrible haircut, and I can't do anything about that at all.
[00:25:36] Ryan Montgomery: Understood.
[00:25:37] Jordan Harbinger: Right.
[00:25:37] Ryan Montgomery: Yeah. But that's you.
[00:25:39] Jordan Harbinger: This is worse. Yours is worse though.
[00:25:42] Ryan Montgomery: I mean, hey man, it didn't bother me in the slightest bit because it's—
[00:25:47] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:25:47] Ryan Montgomery: It'd be one thing if they pulled something off the Internet and it was like, this guy is trying to help save kids is actually this secret, horrible person.
[00:25:56] Jordan Harbinger: Right.
[00:25:56] Ryan Montgomery: That does all these horrible things. Like there's no secrets. The stuff that's out there publicly about me. Like I told people, yes, I did drugs. Yes, I committed crimes as a kid. You know, I did stupid things that kids would do. Yeah, I used a stupid name. Like I'm pretty public about the dumb stuff I did as a child. Now, if you have a problem with that and that hinders your thought or your—
[00:26:19] Jordan Harbinger: Opinion.
[00:26:20] Ryan Montgomery: Opinion, yeah.
[00:26:21] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:26:21] Ryan Montgomery: Or manipulate your opinion on me helping children or attempting to help children, then I apologize, but I don't know what to tell you.
[00:26:29] Jordan Harbinger: These are the same people whose parents wore polyester bell bottoms and probably met at like an orgy in the '60s, and they're like, "How dare this guy Ryan, like emo music that I hate."
[00:26:40] Ryan Montgomery: Yeah. Well, it was more so the edgy name and I would assume—
[00:26:43] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:26:44] Ryan Montgomery: And you know, like back in the day there was like Zoey suicide and yeah, of course Carla curb stomp and like those crazy names, if you Googled scene names you would see.
[00:26:54] Jordan Harbinger: But you've done some other incredible stuff that should easily outweigh that. I mean, you started a rehab. By the time most people were having their first beer, you had founded a rehab center, essentially?
[00:27:04] Ryan Montgomery: Yeah.
[00:27:04] Jordan Harbinger: Is that accurate?
[00:27:05] Ryan Montgomery: That is accurate. So long story short, I was dating a girl named Angelica, and I knew her since I was a kid as well actually. She ended up in Florida for her own personal reasons. And I was still living in Pennsylvania at this time, and I was flying back and forth to see Angelica. It was like one week out of each month. And I would fly back and forth to Florida and I'd see her, and she lived right near a Starbucks in south Florida. And, you know, every time we'd go to the Starbucks, it would be packed with a ton of these people. And I would see the same people every time. And they'd all be talking about drug rehab and they'd be talking about, saying, "Hey, if you know anybody in Pennsylvania that needs treatment, you know, we'll pay you a pretty significant amount of money per person that you can send to rehab." I asked her about that. I was like, "Why are all these people bringing up, you know, they'll pay me to put people on rehab? I never heard of anything like that before."
[00:27:57] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:27:57] Ryan Montgomery: Because every rehab I ever went to as a kid was all government subsidized and Medicaid.
[00:28:02] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, a judge sends you there, right?
[00:28:03] Ryan Montgomery: Yeah, a judge sends you there or they're Medicare, Medicaid facilities. So all these people, they're driving around in Mercedes and BMWs. They got nice watches. They look like they just got clean a couple of weeks ago. And they're talking about a couple of thousand dollars per person. And I found out from my ex-girlfriend that that's a thing called patient brokering, which is a felony.
[00:28:22] Jordan Harbinger: Oh, it is?
[00:28:23] Ryan Montgomery: Yeah. There's no such thing as giving a kickback in the healthcare space. You're brokering human beings.
[00:28:29] Jordan Harbinger: I see. I mean, that sounds fair now that you explain it. Yeah.
[00:28:32] Ryan Montgomery: Yeah.
[00:28:32] Jordan Harbinger: So, because to me, I'm like, oh, lead generation, oh, maybe this is a little gross. Yeah.
[00:28:35] Ryan Montgomery: So, you know, I'll go into that too because after I found out it was illegal, which I never ended up doing it, I didn't know anybody that had private insurance in the first place to get them to travel to Florida to, even if I did want to make that decision. I did my research. I had a background in Internet marketing as well. And I did some research and I found there was a lot of treatment marketing companies out there, so I would call them up. They were running PPC campaigns on Google, just pay-per-click. And when they would pick up the phone, it would sometimes be one facility and then another time it'd be a different facility or then other call centers, it would be the same guy picking up. But depending on what type of health insurance you had, they would send you to whatever facility that insurance company would pay the highest for.
[00:29:19] Jordan Harbinger: Ah.
[00:29:20] Ryan Montgomery: The problem there is a lot of the facilities, including mine, are dual diagnosis. They change it from substance abuse to substance use. So it's dual diagnosis, substance use, and mental health disorders. Let's say somebody has a severe eating disorder, but they're also addicted to some type of narcotic or drug.
[00:29:38] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:29:39] Ryan Montgomery: You know, they call a treatment marketing phone number and they get in touch with some guy. They say they have a, let's say a Blue Cross Blue Shield PPO that has a low deductible and they know it's going to pay very high. That person with an eating disorder needs to go to an eating disorder clinic that also helps people with drug addictions. But instead, these marketing companies were sending people to whatever places were going to be paying them the most money.
[00:30:02] Jordan Harbinger: Right.
[00:30:02] Ryan Montgomery: And that didn't sit right with me. And I thought, okay, well, I can do this same thing. I can run the same campaigns, but I can work with the right facilities and send them to the right places. So I started a company called the treatmentsource.com, which was just basically a landing page on a website. And I did some very targeted Facebook campaigns, and I didn't have the budget behind me in the beginning of this project to do what a lot of those marketing companies were doing. But the campaign started to work very well and I was putting people into treatment but wasn't making a ton of money at that moment.
[00:30:35] Once some rehabs found out that, "Hey, this guy can get people in, and he's doing it through the legitimate routes," and they have private health insurance and you can't do like a cost per acquisition or a cost per client because that's where the patient brokering comes in but you can pay somebody a flat fee for their services. So I would go to these facilities while I was still dating this girl, flying back and forth. I'd show up at these rehabs and say, "Hey, here's my site. This is how many leads on average that we're bringing in," which when I say we, I'm talking about myself but you know, they didn't know that at the time.
[00:31:09] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. Me, myself, and I, the three people that work at my company.
[00:31:12] Ryan Montgomery: Exactly, exactly. This is right in the beginning of the treatment source, which was, you know, very short lived actually but it worked and I talked to a bunch of treatment centers and they all threw up money separately. I had contracts with each one. I could not put a number of clients on that contract because the second you put a number in association with the dollar amount, it becomes a crime.
[00:31:30] Jordan Harbinger: Right. Because you can break it down into a per-client price. Yeah. Okay.
[00:31:34] Ryan Montgomery: Exactly.
[00:31:34] Jordan Harbinger: Gotcha.
[00:31:35] Ryan Montgomery: So, you know, I did a good job in that area. I made sure that the people that needed help were getting the right help that they needed. And I ran into a guy who I got along with better than the other facilities. I didn't have a problem with anybody, but we became friends pretty quickly and he stayed in touch with me and one day he calls me, I still live in PA at this time in Pennsylvania, and he says to me, "Hey, you won't come to the Fort Lauderdale airport right now." Like, just joking with me. And I'm just waking up. And I'm like, "Yeah, okay." And then, I end the call, I booked my flight within three hours and then I call him, maybe, I don't know if it was a couple of hours after that or not, but the same day, I call him and I say, "Hey, I'm at the Fort Lauderdale airport," and he is not believing me. Like, I genuinely got on a plane and flew that same day.
[00:32:19] Jordan Harbinger: Wow.
[00:32:19] Ryan Montgomery: I went and met up with him, picked me up at the airport, and I went back to his house. I stayed with him for about a week. We discussed some marketing ideas and at that point, I had a contract with a facility he owned. Prior I had no ownership in that facility. So after that week was up, I decided, well, if I can stay with him until I find a house to buy in Florida or somewhere to stay or get my own place. I'll do that. He offered to let me stay with him. So I did. I flew back to Pennsylvania. I got a U-Haul, put my car on the back of it with a trailer, drove down to Florida and stayed at his house and I convinced him. And you know, he also had a part in this decision, but to sell his shares and his rehab and to start one with me.
[00:32:57] So I dropped all my contracts with all the other facilities and did all of the marketing from my own facility. That started the first one. And I filled that one with the marketing campaign itself. The treatment source was gone. We did the marketing for the facility directly and that turned into a partial hospitalization intensive outpatient and outpatient facility. But we didn't have any medical detoxes, so we would've to send them to other facilities. Let's say somebody's going through withdrawal from whatever drug or alcohol, they would've to get detoxed medically, and then they'd be sent to us for their treatment. But we thought that after we brought in some money and things were going well, we provided great quality care, which I can get more into that if you're interested. We opened two detox facilities as well. So I ended up having three facilities with 144 beds.
[00:33:45] Jordan Harbinger: Wow.
[00:33:45] Ryan Montgomery: 120 employees. And I was the CEO of that facility. So it was an honor, I was able to help a ton of people and start a cool scholarship program for people that were just like me, that didn't have money, didn't have insurance, needed help, and didn't have a three-month wait. You know these other facilities have three-month waiting lists.
[00:34:03] Jordan Harbinger: Oh man. Imagine being an addict. You decide to get clean and they're telling you, "Sure. In 90 days you can come in." I mean, you could be dead by then if you're that far down the road.
[00:34:12] Ryan Montgomery: Yeah, that's exactly the point. You can't tell an addict to wait three months.
[00:34:16] Jordan Harbinger: No.
[00:34:16] Ryan Montgomery: You know, they don't have three months. Especially now in 2023, it's the number one leading cause of death, 18 to 49 years old for the last two years. And you know, an addict doesn't have three months to wait. And so I started that scholarship program, which meant, you know, you come to treatment, you fly to Florida, and you stay for as long as it takes until the clinicians say that you're ready to go or you walk out the door on your own. I did that. And that was super successful in my opinion.
[00:34:43] Jordan Harbinger: Huh?
[00:34:43] Ryan Montgomery: It wasn't profitable, but it felt good and I feel that I helped a good amount of people that way.
[00:34:48] Jordan Harbinger: So heart disease and cancer don't kill more people than drug, what is it, fentanyl now?
[00:34:53] Ryan Montgomery: Yeah. I mean, I can double-check the statistic. Uh, let me see real quick.
[00:34:56] Jordan Harbinger: Or maybe it's the age group, right? Because maybe cancer and heart attacks are above.
[00:34:59] Ryan Montgomery: I guess there's a debate on it, which I didn't know that — here, I watched something yesterday, Jelly Roll. I think it was on Joe Rogan, and I think he said it was an opiate overdose every 11 minutes, like with death but, yeah, maybe this is fake. So I'm looking at the fact-check on that, and it says, "Fentanyl is not the leading cause of death for adults in the US and the CDC data from 2020."
[00:35:22] Jordan Harbinger: Okay.
[00:35:22] Ryan Montgomery: The top three causes listed are heart disease, cancer, and COVID.
[00:35:25] Jordan Harbinger: Well, we'll find out in a couple of years.
[00:35:26] Ryan Montgomery: Yeah, let me know if you find out otherwise.
[00:35:28] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:35:28] Ryan Montgomery: But I definitely heard it many times so I know that it surpassed a hundred thousand in 2021.
[00:35:33] Jordan Harbinger: I think we can safely say either way that if you are already addicted to something, you have a great chance of dying especially if it's an opiate. So we don't have to split hairs on it doesn't matter.
[00:35:42] Ryan Montgomery: Yeah, but don't discount the Xanax, the coke, all the new thing—
[00:35:46] Jordan Harbinger: Oh, yeah.
[00:35:46] Ryan Montgomery: The people are dying from them too with fentanyl. It's in everything, all the different types.
[00:35:51] Jordan Harbinger: I hadn't thought about that, but you're right. There's people, friends of friends who like went to a party and tried cocaine and it was laced with fentanyl and they're dead. Back when I worked on Wall Street, people would be like, "Hey, you look tired." And I'm like, "Yeah, I need a Red Bull." And they're like, "Forget that crap. Come into my office," you know? And you're like, "Oh." But now, it's like you could just die from that.
[00:36:10] Ryan Montgomery: Yeah.
[00:36:10] Jordan Harbinger: Because he just bought it and hasn't tried it or has a higher tolerance.
[00:36:13] Ryan Montgomery: That's just reminded me too. And this sounds absolutely insane. I know before I'm saying it, but you know, back when I was a kid, heroin was like a thousand times safer than it was today.
[00:36:23] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:36:23] Ryan Montgomery: I stopped using drugs around '17. I knew of one person that died of an opiate overdose and it was mixed with other things. And now, almost everyone I grew up with is dead.
[00:36:34] Jordan Harbinger: Oh my God.
[00:36:35] Ryan Montgomery: A couple of my family members are dead. There's a story, I think I talked about it on another podcast. You know how I found my best friend dead? He did well for a year straight, and I walked in and found him in his bathroom. You know, one and he made the mistake one night. He was completely fine. He had one slip up and he was gone. I just can't imagine why people would want to do that. But I guess, you know, I can understand being an addict and not being able to stop. I don't know. I don't associate with that completely as being an addict for life. I don't believe that I am personally, but I do, I definitely know that some people are. It's hard for me to understand everybody's opinion on it or everybody's mindset on it. Especially for my best friend, he was just like you and I, you know, he just made a mistake one night. That was it.
[00:37:24] Jordan Harbinger: Sorry to hear that.
[00:37:25] Ryan Montgomery: Yeah, I mean, I'll save all the details for the story of the story because it makes me upset to talk about, but—
[00:37:30] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, you don't have to relive that gruesome, devastating moment for sure. I think it makes a lot of sense. It illustrates the way that you grew up and that informs your rehab practice and that all sets a good baseline for, "Okay, I'm an entrepreneur. Obviously, I'm a doer." You dropped out of high school and started a business by age 22 that most people would be lucky to have when they're in their 40s. And it was based upon helping people but also making money. And I know you do things like you're an ethical hacker, which, well, first of all, tell us what that is because a lot of people have never heard those two words put together.
[00:38:04] Ryan Montgomery: Gotcha. So an ethical hacker is, you know, I like to call myself a cybersecurity professional, but an ethical hacker is somebody that, there's three different types of hackers. There's a black hat, a gray hat, and a white hat. Black hat is somebody that commits crimes. Gray hat is someone kind of in between where they'll hack your website, they'll send you an email saying, "Hey, I found a vulnerability in your site. You should probably fix this without permission." And then a white hat hacker, it would be, let's say Jordan contacted me and said, "Hey, I want you to test my site." You know, we have rules of engagement, we have scope, and we do something with his full permission. That's like a 30,000-foot view of what that means. But that's something else I wanted to talk about is there's some titles online saying, number one, ethical hacker does this, does that, and I'm not a self-proclaimed number one ethical hacker. The reason why that title became a thing because there was a website out there for, you know, there's some training stuff there and there's some competitive stuff. And I'm number one—
[00:38:59] Jordan Harbinger: I found that because I was like, number—? How do they, how is he ranked? And then I was like, oh, here's where he is ranked on this training site for being like in the leaderboards. Okay.
[00:39:08] Ryan Montgomery: Yeah. So it wasn't always a training site. So half of the site is training, so if you don't know anything at all, you can learn on there. And then the other side is competitive. So if you end up solving these simulated challenges, which are just like real-life environments most of the time, if you solve them first, you get extra points and those points will allow you to move up on a leaderboard. And since there's two million users on this website almost, I think it's just shy of two million, being number one on there was very difficult for me to get. That doesn't mean I'm the best hacker in the world. That just means that I worked very hard to get to where I was at. And you know, I wanted to make it clear that I'm not a self-proclaimed best hacker like Kevin Mitnick or somebody like that. I think Kevin Mitnick did say he was the best hacker. I could be wrong on that.
[00:39:49] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, well, he would say that. And also, I'm not sure everyone else agrees with him, but we'll leave that.
[00:39:54] Ryan Montgomery: I don't agree with him. I do not agree with him.
[00:39:56] Jordan Harbinger: No.
[00:39:57] Ryan Montgomery: You're probably a better phone phreaker than Kevin Mitnick.
[00:39:59] Jordan Harbinger: I won't say that, but I will let other people say that and look, he was nice to me, and I will say this, but his modesty does not comport with — hold on, how do I phrase this? His opinion of himself may be slightly different than his skill level reflects anyway.
[00:40:17] Ryan Montgomery: Yeah, I understand where you're going with that one. I gotcha.
[00:40:19] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. That happens to people, whatever, not a big deal.
[00:40:22] Ryan Montgomery: Yeah.
[00:40:22] Jordan Harbinger: Ethical hacking, penetration testing, when I was doing the social engineering stuff, I worked with a lot of pen testers. I know you run pentester.com, which we'll link in the show notes.
[00:40:31] Ryan Montgomery: Oh, thank you.
[00:40:31] Jordan Harbinger: This is like — so just to, I'll save you a second here — the difference between white and black hat hacking is kind of like, if I want to test, if my store is secure, I might hire somebody to break in and I'm standing there watching them pick the lock and then go to the cash register and pry that thing open and get through the little gate I have to the office I and I go, okay, I need a stronger lock, a stronger door. I need a little metal grate. Thank you. And they say, no problem. The black hat version, the guy just breaks in and robs me and then says, "If you want your stuff back, you can—" or if that, maybe I just get robbed, or if I'm lucky, they say, "If you want your stuff back, send me 10 grand in Bitcoin and I'll return the computer that I stole from you."
[00:41:08] Ryan Montgomery: Yeah. They ransom you.
[00:41:09] Jordan Harbinger: Right.
[00:41:10] Ryan Montgomery: And then the gray hat in between, I would say is the guy that comes into your store, he steals all the money out of your cash register, but before he walks out, he shows you how he did it.
[00:41:17] Jordan Harbinger: Right.
[00:41:17] Ryan Montgomery: And then hopes you don't call the cops.
[00:41:19] Jordan Harbinger: Right. And says, "I'll give you this back, but there's more holes in your business that you're going to want to pay me to find.
[00:41:24] Ryan Montgomery: Exactly. I wouldn't recommend black hat or gray hat to anyone. You know, if you're going to do this, do it the right way. There's a lot more money doing this the right way than the wrong way. Trust me.
[00:41:32] Jordan Harbinger: I wanted to ask about that because I know some cybercriminals and many of them have gone to jail. I wonder when you did the calculation like, "Okay, I can do some bad stuff and make money, but there's more money in legitimate business, period." And we see this pretty much universally, even the Italian mafia now just owns legitimate businesses for the most part. Even if they muscle some contract here and there on sanitation, according to some people, it's like there's still more money just owning a building in Manhattan than trying to extort immigrants or whatever.
[00:42:02] Ryan Montgomery: Right. So I guess for me it wasn't really a turning point type of decision.
[00:42:06] Jordan Harbinger: Okay.
[00:42:06] Ryan Montgomery: It was more of a, you know, once I stopped being an idiot kid and I stopped using drugs and I started to rehab at such a young age, I didn't have time to be an idiot like that. And, you know, I was doing well financially. So I think it was just kind of the way that God pushed me in my life.
[00:42:21] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:42:22] Ryan Montgomery: I can't give you like a turning point because I was never like, arrested for a federal crime or anything of that sort. It changed me. I don't know, man. I think I was just very busy. I was doing well financially and I didn't need to break the law to do that.
[00:42:36] Jordan Harbinger: I love that. But I also, of course, want to hear about some of the black hat stuff you've done because I can't be the only one admitting crimes and the statute of limitations has long since passed.
[00:42:45] Ryan Montgomery: Yeah, I understand. And you know, I can only get into certain things because of some, I guess, credibility and some of the nonprofits that I'm going to be working with that also work with federal government. I want to make sure that I am a credible person.
[00:42:57] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, of course.
[00:42:57] Ryan Montgomery: But, you know, one thing I did talk about was, it was a Bitcoin mining botnet.
[00:43:03] Jordan Harbinger: Uh-huh.
[00:43:03] Ryan Montgomery: You know, it was something I did as a young kid because I believe that was back 2013 or 14, maybe 12 or 13. I'm not entirely sure. You know, it was one of those three years. There was these things called Java Drive-Bys. Have you ever heard of Java Drive-Bys?
[00:43:19] Jordan Harbinger: No.
[00:43:19] Ryan Montgomery: Browsers used to have Java applets that you could run, you know, applications in your browser that were Java. You'd get a message at the top of your screen and it would say run once or run always.
[00:43:29] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:43:29] Ryan Montgomery: And there were some applets out there called Java Drive-Bys. Some would mean you would have to click a button to allow the Java applet to run, and then others would be zero clicks. So they would go to your website and they'd get infected. They don't exist anymore because browsers don't support Java applets. But I had this website, which I won't name the domain name, but I had the website and it looked like they could mine Bitcoin in their browser. And there was a popular Bitcoin forum back then where if you signed up, you know, you'd be considered a newbie member. So anything you said nobody was going to take seriously. But if you were on there for a while, you had a senior member title. And I wanted to see like, okay, if I can get into one of these senior members' accounts, I can post this website, infect these computers which I know if they're all into Bitcoin and LICO, they probably have good computers.
[00:44:18] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:44:18] Ryan Montgomery: Because that's a big factor when it comes to mining if you have good hardware, your computers are probably going to be good. You know, I took over a couple of these senior accounts, said that this website was legitimate and you know, that botnet spread in the Bitcoin community. Its sole purpose was to mine Bitcoin in a pool. It was not like your average Trojan where I was looking through webcams or taking over control of your computer or read — you know, obviously, I could update the file in case I needed to bypass some sort.
[00:44:47] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, you just wanted processing power.
[00:44:49] Ryan Montgomery: Right. So, you know, there was more to the story, but it was a stupid thing that I did. Luckily, it is past the statute of limitations. It's long gone now.
[00:44:59] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:44:59] Ryan Montgomery: I didn't hurt anybody. If anything, maybe I increased their power bill by a couple of pennies. You know, that's a little story from my past, but a lot of the dumb stuff was before that, even on AIM and—
[00:45:11] Jordan Harbinger: Sure.
[00:45:11] Ryan Montgomery: And Digital Gangster was another site that I was a big member of, and there's a lot of those stories.
[00:45:16] Jordan Harbinger: When you say AIM, are you talking about AOL Instant Messenger?
[00:45:19] Ryan Montgomery: Yep.
[00:45:20] Jordan Harbinger: You admit a crime. I admit a crime. So I used to this, I won't, I probably shouldn't say when this is. Ah, screw it.
[00:45:25] Ryan Montgomery: Yeah.
[00:45:25] Jordan Harbinger: In law school, I was like, oh, everyone uses AIM. And everyone, it was like the first year people use laptops and you're in a law lecture and I was like, what are they talking about? What is everybody talking about? Everyone's using AIM right now. And so I got a Linux partition on my laptop hard drive, and I got some PCMCIA card that I threw a good Wi-Fi card in there and I got something called, like the logo was a pig. It was like air oink or whatever. I can't remember the dang, the AiSnort maybe. And you ran the card in promiscuous mode and it would just grab all the traffic off the network?
[00:46:02] Ryan Montgomery: Yeah, it was AirSnort and it would put the cart in monitor mode. And they used to call it promiscuous mode, I believe.
[00:46:07] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:46:08] Ryan Montgomery: Yeah. It was a wireless cracking utility. And now back then it was, I believe it was WEP keys which were cracked in seconds.
[00:46:14] Jordan Harbinger: Seconds, yeah.
[00:46:15] Ryan Montgomery: Yeah. Nowadays it's a little different, but you know, it's still easy to capture a handshake and the world hasn't changed much. It's just that technology has gotten more advanced.
[00:46:24] Jordan Harbinger: So essentially, I was running like man-in-the-middle attacks on my classmates, which is, and I'll leave it here, a great way to find out how little people think of you when you can see private conversations. Like I apparently didn't learn my lesson from the phone calls and just started eavesdropping in my classes, and you won't unsee the unvarnished communication between your classmates about how much of a pos or dork or whatever they think you are, because, you know, there was no agenda other than just like pure truth bomb and they would never tell you that to your face. So I don't recommend that course of action.
[00:46:59] Ryan Montgomery: No.
[00:46:59] Jordan Harbinger: It's not good. It's not good for the ego. I deserve to get knocked down a peg. There's a part of me where I was like, this is the universe being like, "Hey, you want to do this kind of crap? Fine. Have a little dose of this." And it's like, ugh.
[00:47:10] Ryan Montgomery: No doubt.
[00:47:10] Jordan Harbinger: Maybe I should stop. So, all right, Bug Bounties. I used to just get in trouble for finding bugs in software, but you used to get paid. Tell me how that works.
[00:47:19] Ryan Montgomery: Bug Bounties are kind of a blessing for a lot of hackers out there because most large companies now have programs where they'll pay for you to find vulnerabilities. They'll tell you the scope, what's in scope, what's without a scope, meaning like what not to touch, what to touch. Depending on the company, they'll pay out for big amounts of money for certain criticalities. If it's something low informational, it might be a hundred dollars. Where if you find something that could damage the company, it could be 30,000, 100,000, a million dollars. In Apple's cases, you know, if you find a Zero-Day in an iPhone, it's a million-dollar Bug Bounty.
[00:47:55] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:47:56] Ryan Montgomery: I think it has to be considered a Zero-Click Exploit, meaning no interaction from the user. But you know, that's a million dollars. Whereas a couple of years or maybe 10 years ago, that type of thing would get you put in prison, just for putting it on the Internet.
[00:48:11] Jordan Harbinger: This is The Jordan Harbinger Show with our guest Ryan Montgomery. We'll be right back.
[00:48:16] This episode is sponsored in part by Airbnb, so we used to travel a lot for podcast interviews and conferences and we love staying in Airbnbs because we often meet interesting people. And the stays are just more unique and fun. One of our favorite places to stay at in LA is with a sweet older couple whose kids have moved out. They have a granny flat in their backyard. We used to stay there all the time. We were regulars, always booking their Airbnb when we flew down for interviews. And we loved it because they'd leave a basket of snacks, sometimes a bottle of wine, even a little note for us. And they would leave us freshly baked banana bread because they knew that I liked it. And they even became listeners of this podcast, which is how they knew about the banana bread. So after our house was built, we decided to become hosts ourselves, turning one of our spare bedrooms into an Airbnb. Maybe you've stayed in an Airbnb before and thought to yourself, "Hey, this seems pretty doable. Maybe my place could be an Airbnb." It could be as simple as starting with a spare room or your whole place while you're away. You could be sitting on an Airbnb and not even know it. Perhaps you get a fantastic vacation plan for the balmy days of summer. As you're out there soaking up the sun and making memories, your house doesn't need to sit idle, turn it into an Airbnb, let it be a vacation home for somebody else. And picture this, your little one isn't so little anymore. They're headed off to college this fall. The echo in their now empty bedroom might be a little too much to bear. So whether you could use a little extra money to cover some bills or something a little more fun, your home might be worth more than you think. Find out how much at airbnb.com/host.
[00:49:39] This episode is sponsored in part by Microsoft Clarity. To build a successful product, the biggest advice I give to product teams, because I know so much about building product, is know thy users. Same thing goes for any podcast. The key is to dive headfirst into your users or listeners' world, truly understand how they interact with your product. And by doing so, you can spot golden opportunities and prioritize tweaks. That will really hit the mark. Here's the cherry on top, Microsoft Clarity can help you do just that. So check this out. This is a really cool sort of analytics background for websites. I was really blown away by this. You can dive into session replays of you know, what users are doing on your website, where they go, where they struggle. You can see where they mouse over session replays literally it's like watching a little movie about what the user is seeing, where they're hovering, where they're clicking, how they're navigating your website. You can look at heat maps to see where there's engagement, where content gets ignored. And this one was particularly enlightening. There's some frustration metrics, like something called rage clicks, and of course, dead clicks. These are like little detectives where you find out what's grinding your user's gears or where something is broken or something looks like they should be able to click it, but they can't and it's annoying the crap out of them because they're hitting click 87 times or touching their screen a thousand times and you will really love this thing. I again, didn't necessarily care in the beginning. I was like, oh, okay, fine. But then we installed this and it was super, super useful and it is completely free. Works seamlessly across both apps and websites. Check it out, clarity.microsoft.com. You can set it up in a couple of minutes. It's super easy. Again, completely free clarity.microsoft.com.
[00:51:16] This episode is also sponsored in part by ZipRecruiter. Are you navigating the stormy seas of recruitment amidst economic uncertainties now, like never before? The need of the hour is to onboard the right crew swiftly and effectively keeping a tight reign on the financial helm. There are some seafaring puns there for you, and we've got the perfect sidekick in your hiring saga, ZipRecruiter. It's all about you and your requirements. From pricing to technology, everything that ZipRecruiter does is for you and what works best for you. And right now you can try ZipRecruiter for free at ziprecruiter.com/jordan. With transparent pricing, you can maintain your budget. There's no hidden costs. By the way, that is an understated how annoying hidden costs are. This is probably my favorite feature of it, is that they just tell you what it freaking costs. Your listing reaches over a hundred job sites, ensuring a diverse pool of qualified candidates. And ZipRecruiter's Smart Technology helps identify the best candidates, which you can then personally invite before they become the catch of the day for other businesses. So ahoy or something—
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[00:53:08] Now for the rest of part one with Ryan Montgomery.
[00:53:13] Yeah, like I would crash a BBS. And I remember if I liked the board and I crashed it, maybe by accident, by finding a glitch, I would call the sysop. And I remember one guy called the police instead of just being cool and I was like, "Dude, I called you to tell you I found a bug and you'd just try to get me in trouble. Fine, someone else is going to find the bug and trash your site." The cops didn't do anything because they were like, "Uh, so you turned off his computer over the phone. Like, don't do that kid."
[00:53:42] Ryan Montgomery: Right. They don't care.
[00:53:43] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, they don't care. And then I was like, oh, well, now what I'm going to do is post the bug on a bulletin board system full of hackers and I'm going to put your number to your BBS and be like, go ahead and try the bug. It's on this website, you can go ahead, or not website, it's on this bulletin board. You can just log in with a new account and try the [color works] bug right now and it'll crash the whole site. And they had to uninstall that because they were down for days and days because he didn't know it was crashing it every time he would just boot up again. Somebody would log in five minutes later and crash it. And I just thought—
[00:54:11] Ryan Montgomery: Oh my gosh.
[00:54:11] Jordan Harbinger: —you know, like never piss off hackers, even though that was the script kiddie thing that I had. But like, why do that just be cool? They're trying to help, we're trying to help sometimes.
[00:54:19] Ryan Montgomery: 100 percent. Yeah, whether it's script kiddie or not, it's denial of service attacks that would be considered is, you know, even if it is the most script kiddie attack that I can think of, it's—
[00:54:29] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:54:29] Ryan Montgomery: —one of the most damaging because it makes your website, your business, your product unusable—
[00:54:35] Jordan Harbinger: Right.
[00:54:35] Ryan Montgomery: —until that person decides to stop.
[00:54:37] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, exactly. I didn't think of it like that. But yeah, they had to like uninstall that and the vendor of that, it was like, [ASCII Colors] and the vendor of that [ASCII Colors] program had to write a patch, which they didn't do overnight, right? So they lost, and it's all because some sysop, neckbeard guy wouldn't just be like, "Oh, cool. Thanks, bro. I'll disable that for now."
[00:54:54] Ryan Montgomery: Yep, ego.
[00:54:55] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:54:55] Ryan Montgomery: You got to let the ego go. Totally agree with you.
[00:54:58] Jordan Harbinger: Now though, we have the dark web and can you explain this a little bit because I try to explain onion routing and I just sound like a complete dork. And correct me where I make a mistake here, but basically, the military, I think it was, set up a browser that they allow the public to use because the military also uses some of the layers of this network to communicate or get intelligence or whatever. And the more people using it, the more noise there is and it's essentially all encrypted. And so they want a lot of noise from people who are not doing top secret things and they want it all heavily encrypted. So you don't essentially know what is going on that Internet connection. And then, of course, on top of that, you use a VPN to mask your location, ideally.
[00:55:51] Jordan Harbinger: Right. Tor is the web browser that uses, quote-unquote, "dark web," which uses something called unwrapped.
[00:55:56] Ryan Montgomery: Yeah. I hate the terminology.
[00:55:57] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:55:57] Ryan Montgomery: I genuinely hate the dark web. But like the terminology called dark web, because it is the onion router. That is—
[00:56:04] Jordan Harbinger: Right.
[00:56:04] Ryan Montgomery: It's an open-source project that was made for anonymity. That's what it was. Criminals exist on the clear web as we're going to get into, and they exist on the dark web, quote-unquote.
[00:56:14] Jordan Harbinger: The reason why I bring this up is I did an episode a while ago about the Silk Road with an author who wrote a book about the guy who founded the Silk Road, which was essentially a dark web. The way they explain it is not going to be accurate, but it's like Amazon for illegal stuff. And it was like hitmen drugs, psychedelics, stolen whatevers, stolen IP, stolen actual stolen merchandise, stuff like that. It was just a place where you could buy illegal things using Bitcoin.
[00:56:40] Ryan Montgomery: Yeah. Ross Ulbricht.
[00:56:41] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:56:42] Ryan Montgomery: I actually know Ross's mom. Like I told you before, I don't know much about politics, but when Trump was trying to, I think, get reelected, she was trying to get a pardon for—
[00:56:51] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:56:52] Ryan Montgomery: Is it a pardon when they released people from prison?
[00:56:55] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. Or clemency maybe.
[00:56:57] Ryan Montgomery: Yeah, clemency.
[00:56:58] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:56:58] Ryan Montgomery: That's what it was. So she was traveling around the country wherever Trump was having rallies. He was getting all these people out, you know, trying to get Ross out of prison.
[00:57:06] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:57:07] Ryan Montgomery: I never met Ross. I just ran into his mom and she swears up and down that he never hired Hitman or anything like that.
[00:57:15] Jordan Harbinger: He also got robbed by, I think, the Secret Service. They took his Bitcoin, didn't they? And they got, that guy got caught and fired.
[00:57:20] Ryan Montgomery: Some government agency stole money in the middle of the investigation. I believe one of them is still locked up to this day.
[00:57:27] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:57:28] Ryan Montgomery: And Ross got two life sentences. All of his appeals exhausted and he's in no parole.
[00:57:33] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. Well, I'll save my opinion, but I think it's a little bit heavy handed for what actually happened, according to the book anyway.
[00:57:40] Ryan Montgomery: Yeah. Well, I mean, I've been on the Silk Road and I didn't purchase anything on it, but I've been on Silk Road. I've seen how the site works and I understood the concept behind it. He might have been a very intelligent guy. I don't know if it was just him as like the administrator. He went by Red Pirate Roberts.
[00:57:56] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:57:57] Ryan Montgomery: I don't know if it was just Ross by himself or if it was a bunch of people. The idea was great, except he let people control what was put on the site. He was specifically, you know, you can't sell weapons here. There were not hitman services on his site, but he was accused of hitman stuff outside of it.
[00:58:13] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:58:14] Ryan Montgomery: And no child pornography. There were some rules, but a lot of stuff on there. And mostly drugs and fake IDs, hacking services for hire, whether they were real or they were fake, they were there.
[00:58:24] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:58:25] Ryan Montgomery: A lot of stuff like that. There are other marketplaces out there. I don't know all of them, but I know there was another one called AlphaBay.
[00:58:31] Jordan Harbinger: Yep.
[00:58:32] Ryan Montgomery: And the owner of that one got arrested and he didn't get a life sentence because he didn't make it that far. I believe it was the first night or somewhere near the first night, he hung himself in his cell.
[00:58:42] Jordan Harbinger: Oh man.
[00:58:43] Ryan Montgomery: Yeah. Yeah. The guy was living large in some Asian country and I think he had a couple of Lamborghinis and a couple of houses and. You know, he wasn't very smart about making money that way, but he—
[00:58:56] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:58:56] Ryan Montgomery: —unfortunately killed himself and he probably did because he knew that there was no chance he was ever getting out.
[00:59:02] Jordan Harbinger: It's interesting to see a pedophile get a certain number of years, or somebody who's done, maybe killed someone with the actual malice and then you find somebody who facilitated the selling of mushrooms and other things online, granted maybe a lot of times and ends up with a life sentence and dies in prison. It's just a little bit like, all right—
[00:59:24] Ryan Montgomery: Yeah.
[00:59:24] Jordan Harbinger: —what are we doing here, folks?
[00:59:26] Ryan Montgomery: Yeah. Look, I'm no lawyer, I'm not the law and I don't advocate for anybody using substances but people are going to do what they're going to do. People are going to use drugs whether they're illegal or they're not illegal.
[00:59:36] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:59:36] Ryan Montgomery: And if I was still a child doing drugs and I had a choice between buying drugs from Tommy on the corner.
[00:59:43] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:59:44] Ryan Montgomery: Or buying drugs from somebody where I could read reviews from 10,000 customers.
[00:59:48] Jordan Harbinger: Right.
[00:59:49] Ryan Montgomery: I think I'd picked the one where I knew what I'm getting, you know? And I'm not saying that what he was doing is all right, but—
[00:59:54] Jordan Harbinger: I agree with you.
[00:59:54] Ryan Montgomery: —if I had to choose between the two, I'd pick his service.
[00:59:57] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, I agree. It's a totally different show about law and public policy and, you know, the use or misuse of the Internet. But the moral of the story is make your own fake IDs. Don't buy them on the dark web.
[01:00:06] Ryan Montgomery: Don't do that.
[01:00:09] Jordan Harbinger: No, I'm kidding. Man, there's so much to talk about that I just — we'll have to get to some of your hacking tools in a little bit. Actually, you know what? Screw it. I want to hear about you. You showed the Flipper X on a YouTube video and how it works where you're sort of using this little device to create man-in-the-middle attacks. You had another device that was a radio-hacking device—
[01:00:30] Ryan Montgomery: It's called the Flipper Zero and the HackRF.
[01:00:32] Jordan Harbinger: Oh, Flipper Zero.
[01:00:33] Ryan Montgomery: Yeah, I don't have them in my pocket, oh, no, actually I do have a Flipper in my pocket.
[01:00:38] Jordan Harbinger: You happen to be carrying that with you?
[01:00:39] Ryan Montgomery: Yeah.
[01:00:40] Jordan Harbinger: That's normal.
[01:00:41] Ryan Montgomery: Yes. I'm a normal guy.
[01:00:42] Jordan Harbinger: Tell us a little bit about that thing. You don't have to demonstrate anything, but I'm curious, like, I think a lot of people are going, "Wait, you have a hacking device? It just happened you're at home and it's in your pocket. Must be useful."
[01:00:51] Ryan Montgomery: It intrigued me because it did a lot of things in a small package.
[01:00:54] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[01:00:55] Ryan Montgomery: Yeah. Anyone right now can purchase one. The thing is that they're going to be disappointed when they buy it because it's limited to what software you're running and if you don't know—
[01:01:03] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[01:01:03] Ryan Montgomery: —which type of software and which type of files to load this thing up with, you know, you're already limited to what you can accomplish with it. I'll go through with the protocol so it has NFC, which is, you know, going to be access control or doors. It could be—
[01:01:17] Jordan Harbinger: I think key fobs, yeah, I think key fobs and other things like that.
[01:01:20] Ryan Montgomery: Key fobs as well as your credit cards and debit cards, you know, if they're tapped to pay. They have EMV, which is this can read your credit card and give me your entire credit card number and expiration date, just by waving it across your pocket, if you don't have an RFID-blocking wallet, you know, it does NFC, it does RFID, which is similar to NFC in regard to the access control. And it's more widely used for access control than NFC. NFC could do more than that. RFID, I believe is also what's in your dog if you have a chip dog.
[01:01:50] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. That think most key fobs, at least the ones that I've used, are also RFID. Those little gray things you use to get into your apartment or whatever.
[01:01:56] Ryan Montgomery: Exactly. Yeah. Or, yeah, they'll look like a credit card, but they'll be blank.
[01:02:00] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[01:02:00] Ryan Montgomery: And it accessed, you know, it's a fob to get into your building or into your office, the functionality to not only read them, but to emulate them. Or if I go up to you, let's say, you have a fob that gets into your office and I copy that fob with the Flipper, I can then emulate that same fob at your office and your door will think I'm you.
[01:02:17] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[01:02:18] Ryan Montgomery: It's a very low skill attack, but you know, this device is widely available and you're as dangerous as the software that you install on it. So if you have those two things and you have sub-gigahertz, which I believe, with the firmware that I'm using, it's 300 megahertz and 900 megahertz, which is enough of a range to do car key fobs, garage doors, gates, even intercoms at Walgreens, CVS, Lowe's.
[01:02:44] Jordan Harbinger: Oh, really? Intercoms. I didn't think about that. That's funny.
[01:02:46] Ryan Montgomery: Well, you know, the buttons in the aisles where you're you're requesting assistance.
[01:02:50] Jordan Harbinger: Oh, yeah, sure.
[01:02:51] Ryan Montgomery: That you would capture the frequency with this device, basically you're recording it almost like it's a microphone for radio.
[01:02:58] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[01:02:58] Ryan Montgomery: You're recording that signal and then you're replaying it later on. And if it's a static signal, like it is at, let's say, a CVS in the cough and cold department. I got a cold right now, so that's where I'd be going. I'd click the button, I'd ask and then someone would come, but the intercom would say, "Assistance needed in the cough and cold department.
[01:03:16] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[01:03:17] Ryan Montgomery: But at that time, I'd be holding the Flipper up to that device, I'd capture the signal and replay it, and then the intercom would do the same thing as if I the button.
[01:03:23] Jordan Harbinger: That's funny. So you just walk into CVS and you're like, I know I'm going to need them to unlock the cold medicine. So as soon as you walk in, you hit the thing in your pocket and stroll right over there and the guy's waiting for you.
[01:03:31] Ryan Montgomery: Exactly. Or, you know, there's some files out there like if you want to be like a nuisance, there's CVS chaos, Walgreens chaos, Lowe's chaos where it takes every single button in the store and some that don't even exist at certain locations. And the intercom just goes, ding, ding, ding, ding. And some of the buttons, they can't go over to deactivate because the buttons don't exist in the store.
[01:03:54] Jordan Harbinger: Oh, no, it's right. It's in the system that they have, but the button's not active, but it still can take a signal.
[01:04:00] Ryan Montgomery: Right.
[01:04:00] Jordan Harbinger: Oh God.
[01:04:00] Ryan Montgomery: Yeah. So the employees are like, "We don't even have a cosmetics department in here. Like, why? I don't know how to turn it off." So then, they probably have to go into the back to turn it off.
[01:04:08] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[01:04:08] Ryan Montgomery: So it does that, it does infrared, which it'll get TVs and air conditioners, soundbars, DSLR cameras, anything that uses infrared, which you'd be surprised a lot of things do. It can not only read and copy an infrared remote, but replay the signals a lot stronger than your average remote. So it does that as well as other access control stuff.
[01:04:32] Jordan Harbinger: Do you remember there was a device, not quite like this, but there was a device that—
[01:04:36] Ryan Montgomery: TV-B-Gone.
[01:04:36] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. That's funny. You read my mind. Wow, that device really can do a lot of things. The TV-B-Gone, yeah, you'd push the button and it would just send like a universal, it would, I guess, cycle off for 500 different TV models and turn off all the TVs.
[01:04:51] Ryan Montgomery: And so does this. Even if you buy this out of the website, you leave it with a stock firmware on it. It does have a universal TV remote where it cycles through all the major brands and you could turn the TV off, go through the volume, mute the TV, change the channel. It has that built into it by default.
[01:05:09] Jordan Harbinger: So yeah, sports bar chaos.
[01:05:10] Ryan Montgomery: Yeah. Sports bar chaos. But when you start to put custom firmware, I'll give you one example. There's a specific type of firmware you can put on here that—
[01:05:17] Jordan Harbinger: By the way, firmware is software for chips, like semiconductors. So people are like, "What is that?" But just think software and you'll be fine with the—
[01:05:25] Ryan Montgomery: Yeah.
[01:05:25] Jordan Harbinger: Following the conversation.
[01:05:26] Ryan Montgomery: It's ones and zeros.
[01:05:26] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[01:05:27] Ryan Montgomery: So the correct amount of ones and zeros goes into this device. And then, there's a version that if you put press your garage door opener, normally that code would be a rolling code. So a rolling code changes every single time that you press the button. So your garage door is expecting that next code. So let's say you're in your driveway, you press your garage door button and the code is 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. The garage door says, okay, that's a valid code I'm going to open. But now 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 is no longer a valid code. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7 is a valid code. And that's the next one in the sequence.
[01:06:01] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[01:06:01] Ryan Montgomery: But you know, it's a little more complex than that, but if you get my point, it changes every time you press that button.
[01:06:05] Jordan Harbinger: Right, cars use that and stuff now, or they're supposed to.
[01:06:07] Ryan Montgomery: Exactly. Well, some key fobs do that and garage doors do that. And many things use rolling code systems. But a few of the major brands like Security+, I believe 1.0, 2.0, and I think it's CAME, C-A-M-E had been broken by some firmware on this device specifically. So if I capture one of your garage door attempts, when you press the button, I capture it, I now know the next sequence. I know forever, I can continue to open your garage over and over and over again with just one capture. The way that you would kind of know somebody's doing that to you is if they open your garage door and you click your button, your garage door doesn't open, you know that it's out of sync by one.
[01:06:47] Jordan Harbinger: Right.
[01:06:47] Ryan Montgomery: You click it two times, then it starts to work and you know that it's out of sync by two. If I open your garage door five times with this device, then you got to click your garage door to open six times for it to be back in sync.
[01:06:57] Jordan Harbinger: That's very interesting. I know back when I lived in Hollywood, there was a notice kind of going around. We didn't have next door or whatever, but there was a Facebook group and it was like, "Hey, don't park your car in your driveway," which is impossible because people don't have big garages, especially in the Hollywood Hills. But there was this gang of, it turned out to be like Russian gangster kids. They would ride around in Range Rovers, you'd see them on surveillance cameras. They would stop and park and suddenly like a BMW door trunk, whatever, would open. And the guy would run in, ransack the car and leave. There was somebody in the car with a laptop or whatever, some sort of device that would just go through and try every possible code for the fobs, whatever the RFID, whatever it was using.
[01:07:40] Ryan Montgomery: That would be considered a brute force attack.
[01:07:42] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, it was a brute force attack. Yeah.
[01:07:43] Ryan Montgomery: They would know the right frequency to send on, they would know exactly what to send and then they would loop through, let's just say it was an 8-bit code and they would just go through each one until it opens. And there's a more advanced way of explaining it. There's a thing called like a De Bruijn sequence.
[01:07:59] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[01:07:59] Ryan Montgomery: You know, that would make that time a little bit faster, well, a lot faster than going just 1, 2, 3, 4. You know, that's a little more technical. If you're interested, look into roll-jam attacks, which is how you can abuse rolling codes without having to actually crack the rolling code. They're called roll-jam attacks. And if you're interested in the De Bruijn sequence or something cool by a hacker, Samy Kamkar, who made this awesome kid's toy into a garage door opening machine.
[01:08:26] Jordan Harbinger: That's funny.
[01:08:27] Ryan Montgomery: It's super interesting stuff. You should check it out.
[01:08:29] Jordan Harbinger: Hackers, man, are so interesting. I remember one of the talks at Defcon, again, this is probably like almost 10 years ago now, maybe even more, there was a guy who had a similar-looking radio device and it could broadcast aircraft IDs, well, it could read and broadcast aircraft IDs.
[01:08:47] Ryan Montgomery: Yeah, so my HackRF does the same thing.
[01:08:49] Jordan Harbinger: Okay.
[01:08:49] Ryan Montgomery: It's called an ADS-B. So ADS-B is what you would be receiving on and it will give you the call sign of the airplane. It'll give you their altitude, it'll give you the location on the map. And there's an option as well to transmit ADS-B, which is—
[01:09:04] Jordan Harbinger: Not legal, I'm guessing.
[01:09:05] Ryan Montgomery: It's definitely not legal whatsoever because you could represent to, let's say, like I live near an airport, so a small plane could believe that you are at whatever altitude with this call sign going in this direction. And you could cause a problem. You know, that's kind of dangerous.
[01:09:20] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[01:09:21] Ryan Montgomery: But something like that is available for anybody to do if they have the right knowledge or, you know, they spend some time trying to learn how to do that stuff.
[01:09:28] Jordan Harbinger: So one of the talks at Defcon was a guy who, a hacker saying, "Hey, we got to be careful because I got an antenna in this device and this," I don't know, was it like he laid up on top of Google Maps or MapQuest or whatever was available at the time? And he is like, "Look, here's all the planes in the area." And he is like, "What if we simulate by spoofing two or three or 23 planes that aren't there and we put them near an airport? It's pure chaos. What happens if we do that and we put them near buildings? This is after September 11th. Of course, you cause massive terror. Okay, now what happens if I put them heading towards the White House? And it's like now we have a military response potentially, or at least they're going to have to make sure that that's an error and those air aircraft are not actually there. But talk about terrifying, huge numbers of people.
[01:10:18] Ryan Montgomery: Yeah. You could cause mass panic with such a small, simple, easy-to-set-up thing that a consumer can buy. You know, it's not really talked about often and I'm not going to explain how to do it either.
[01:10:30] Jordan Harbinger: Sure. Yeah.
[01:10:31] Ryan Montgomery: But, you know, it is scary to know that there's criminals out there that don't know much about computers and can take this interview. They'll do their own research and I hope that they don't figure out how to do stuff like that.
[01:10:44] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. Because I'm thinking, look, most of the people who are creative, smart enough to figure, reverse engineer what we're talking about are people who could either figure it out on their own or are going to have, hopefully, better things to do than that.
[01:10:58] Ryan Montgomery: I would hope so. Yeah.
[01:10:59] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[01:10:59] Ryan Montgomery: I would hope so. I believe that you're right there too. I mean, most of the time the smartest people that I know are not criminals.
[01:11:05] Jordan Harbinger: No, there's more money to be made in legitimate operations. And if you really want to be kind of criminal, join the freaking NSA already.
[01:11:15] Ryan Montgomery: Yeah, get permission.
[01:11:16] Jordan Harbinger: Right. You get permission. At least, you won't go to prison.
[01:11:20] I've got some thoughts on this one, but before I get into that, I wanted to give you a preview of one of my favorite stories from an earlier episode of the show, Megan Phelps-Roper. She used to belong to one of the most hateful religious cults in America, the Westboro Baptist Church. She was born into this church and she later escaped. To hear her tell the story firsthand is really incredible.
[01:11:41] Megan Phelps-Roper: I started protesting when I was five years old, but even at that first picket, there was a sign that said, "Gays are worthy of death," so God hates fags is what Westboro's message that we became known for. We were the good guys and everyone outside the church was evil and going to hell, and we had the only message that would bring the world any hope. We had to go and warn people, these terrible things are happening, and if you want this pain to stop, then you have to change because God isn't going to change.
[01:12:10] After the September 11 attacks, we had the sign that said, "Thank God for September 11." what were we thinking? This massive crowd comes down. We were at this corner of this intersection of these three streets. By the time they actually reached us, we're just enraged. There was no space between us and them. It got really dicey. One of my cousins gave his signs to somebody else and like started standing on top of a trash can, pretending like he wasn't with us. They were, again, incredibly intense because obviously, the circumstances are so sobering. It brings me incredible sadness to think about now. I can't do this forever.
[01:12:46] My family, they would refuse to have any contact with me at all once I left. Somebody that we had confided in, sent a letter to my parents and told them that we were planning to leave, and then that email came in and — and we left.
[01:13:02] Jordan Harbinger: For more with Megan, including the details of her harrowing experience and escape, check out episode 302 of The Jordan Harbinger Show.
[01:13:12] All right, that's it for part one. Part two, come in just a few days if it's not already out by the time you hear this. All things Ryan Montgomery will be in the show notes at jordanharbinger.com. Or just ask our super smart all-knowing AI chatbot. Transcripts in the show notes. Advertisers, deals, discounts, ways to support the show, all at jordanharbinger.com/deals. I've said it once, but I'll say it again. Please consider supporting those who support the show.
[01:13:37] And yay, newsletter, folks — highlights, takeaways from the most popular episodes of the show going all the way back. jordanharbinger.com/news is where you can find it. And I will reply to you if you reply to me there so you can send me snarky comments and passive-aggressive feedback, jordanharbinger.com/news. And don't forget about Six-Minute Networking. Also at jordanharbinger.com/course. Basically, everything is on the website. I'm at @JordanHarbinger on both Twitter and Instagram, or connect with me right there on LinkedIn where all the not crazy people are because you can see their names. That's got to be it, right? Twitter, crazy. Instagram, crazy. LinkedIn, people behave because you can report them to their boss. At least, that's my running theory. And it's why it's the one of the only acceptable places to even have a conversation online these days, unfortunately.
[01:14:25] This show is created in association with PodcastOne. My team is Jen Harbinger, Jase Sanderson, Robert Fogarty, Millie Ocampo, Ian Baird, and Gabriel Mizrahi. Remember, we rise by lifting others. The fee for this show is you share it with friends when you find something useful or interesting. The greatest compliment you can give us is to share the show with those you care about. If you know somebody who's interested in the dark web, hacking, social engineering, or just needs a wake-up call about what kind of gross people are out there predating, definitely share this episode with them. In the meantime, I hope you apply what you hear on the show, so you can live what you learn, and we'll see you next time.
[01:15:04] This episode is sponsored in part by The NewsWorthy. Here's a podcast gem to add to your playlist. It's called The NewsWorthy. It's from my friend Erica Mandy. She gives a daily digest of world happenings compressed into a convenient 10-minute weekday segment. Every day, The NewsWorthy efficiently curates the global pulse. It's not limited to the serious and often overwhelming news we're so accustomed to blasted into your face or ears. Alongside the pressing headlines of the day, it's a mix of tech buzz, business trends, entertaining bits that add color to your knowledge palette. The magic lies in how Erica condenses the content into a digestible timeframe. Also, they're unbiased as much as you can be, so you're guaranteed a factual report alongside balanced perspectives. Add The NewsWorthy into your morning ritual for a 10-minute enlightenment on the day's events. Just search The NewsWorthy in your podcast app or go to thenewsworthy.com to start listening. Again, search for the podcast, The NewsWorthy, two words, The NewsWorthy, to make staying informed easier and more enjoyable every weekday.
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