Celestia Founder Mustafa Al-Bassam Shares Insights from His Early Hacking Experiences

Hongji Feng
Last updated: | 1 min read
Source: DALL·E

Mustafa Al-Bassam, the co-founder and CEO of Celestia, has recently shared insights into his early years as a hacker, including significant hacks targeting entities like the CIA and the Westboro Baptist Church.

According to Al-Bassam’s recent post, he disclosed his hacking history, which began in his teenage years as part of the hacker group LulzSec. During this time, he was involved in various cyberattacks, including a notable DDoS attack against the CIA website.

Hacking Live on Radio Show

“My favourite hack was not CIA (which wasn’t even a hack but a DDoS),” said Al-Bassam. “But the Westboro Baptist Church… which we hacked on a live radio show.”

Al-Bassam shared a video of the radio show from 13 years ago, which recorded the confrontation between him and Shirley Phelps-Roper from the Westboro Baptist Church.

The Church received letters that threatened to close their websites and believed that it was Al-Bassam’s hacktivist group doing it. However, Al-Bassam stated that the group did not want war with the Church and another hacktivist Jester was the one taking their websites down.

In addition, Phelps-Roper taunted and provoked Al-Bassam and claimed that “the internet was invented for the Westboro Baptist Church to get its message across.”

In the second half of the radio show, Al-Bassam revealed that during their back-and-forth debate, he has breached the Church’s website and published a release, as the intended peace was not appreciated.

A Hacker’s Guide to Cybersecurity

LulzSec hacked numerous major organizations, including the CIA, the U.K. Serious Organised Crime Agency, Fox, and Sony.

At the age of 18, shortly before his A-level exams, Al-Bassam, previously known as tFlow online, received a 20-month suspended sentence and was mandated to complete 300 hours of unpaid community work.

“I think the white hat versus black hat label is an unhelpful oversimplification of an activity that covers the entire range of human motivation,” said Al-Bassam in an interview with The Daily Mail in 2016. “The ethics of hacking are not black or white, but more 256 shades of grey, just like any other activity in life.”

“The majority of UK banks don’t even implement HTTPS encryption properly on their website,” said Al-Bassam. “I think the entire credit/debit card system is fundamentally flawed.”