It has been a long time for me, and I have lived a very interesting life. I started hacking as a boy and was a Linux user in late pubescence. I am of a similar generation to ytcracker, I learned BASIC and M68k assembler young and when I got Internet access started getting into more advanced things. My first programming language on Linux was C++98 and my first distribution was Red-Hat. Some considered me gifted, but with that they usually meant a gift inside me. I was however also given a gift from the benevolent users of open source: code to study, stuff to experiment with, and thus a platform to learn.
By the time I was in my late teenage years I was considered a Linux guru and I was familiar with many programming languages. Yet I ended up in the same boring IT job for years. I was frugal and didn't have many indulgences but there came a time when Bitcoin came to exist that I started experimenting with psychedelics on the deep web. This got me more interested in the Deep Web. This was in the age of Freedom Hosting and Tormail.
In early 2013 I started CYRUSERV and got myself a Lelantos account, and put links on The Hidden Wiki before hackers turned it into the scam wiki that it is today. I waited for business and for many months I heard no new message notification sounds from Mozilla Thunderbird. I had nobody but politifags talk to me on Torchat. Then I met a very generous and legit vendor of shatter called Budster. He convinced some other nubcake vendors into a multi vendor store using some commerce extension for Wordpress. These idiots didn't think so they didn't know that the software he told them he was using would require him out of the goodness of his heart to send them there earnings.
He walked away with their money and these people were very pissed. Obviously technically impossible they started demanding information from me, issuing threats, saying I'm a scammer. Quite frankly I think they're fucking commies who don't understand personal responsibility. However there was a light at the end of the tunnel, it got my name out into the world, and people started taking an interest. My early customers eventually turned out to be scams, but I to this day respect their free speech and laugh at the kind of idiots who fall for these scams. I would just check content quickly to make sure people aren't being physically exploited.
This being my first server in production I learned much running it regarding efficiency, security, and stability. I wrote my own customer relations management software. Yet I never made a web interface for users, I relied on email and made myself a human firewall to prevent exploitation of the system. I originally used OpenBSD but it stopped working, so I quickly learned Gentoo as well as I could. I had used it as a teenager to enjoyment, and figured if I put my mind into it I could make it quite secure.
The move to Gentoo went well but after that I had a problem, I got scammed selling Bitcoin to pay for the dedicated server and my living costs. I asked for charity on my blog, and thinking my dream was dead I was ready to give up. Yet in my final moments just as the bill was almost overdue someone made a very generous donation and I was able to cover the bills. It reminded me of the movie It's A Wonderful Life. It made me happy and I felt like a member of the community. It wouldn't have happened without Budster, and without that we wouldn't have had for years $25 USD a month free speech.
People came to me with interesting ideas, the original founder of Sigaint when he started would talk to me. The time was set on my systems by Xenserver when VMs booted. He was very worried about NTP as he thought government agencies might skew clocks ever so slightly around the world to narrow a search and find a hidden service. He told me of a tool called tlsdate which is now in most package managers. It sets the clock on a system based on TLS timestamps. Very paranoid, but quite clever I thought.
Another issue with a hosting services is every new site means a new hidden service and a new guard. Which means another copy of your IP stored in a guard for your server. Technically if the government bought enough hosting and ran enough relays they could eventually by luck find my IP address. Though with accounts being entered manually into my CLI account management tool from emails and emails only there was a massive bottleneck. It might however be how hosting companies with automated registration through a form for users get discovered.
I learned that all publicity is good publicity when the value of your service is proven and you have reputation. I never used Reddit much, but someone registered an account in the name CYRUSERV. He posted all kinds of silly shit, and brought me to greater attention. The reddit account became a good promoter because I had a clearnet domain behind a relay that brought CYRUSERV and its Onion address to the top of Google. On my site they would find PGP signed endorsements from extremely reputable vendors. He earned nothing to direct people to evidence of my success.
With a good reputation and plenty of customers I had enough money to do amphetamines once a week, go to nightclubs, and grow out of many insecurities I had about life. Yet, I wanted more and this led to me to research open-source e-commerce platforms. I decided on Drupal Ubercart and sold about 6 private vendor stores and wrote bills like I was an American hospital for the vendors. I was rolling in money and didn't need my boring IT job on the side any longer.
With this new business I lost interest in hosting the Pedo Support Community, which had violated a major condition by allowing PGP keys on the site. I jammed their Onion and cut its head off too. Despite the risk of having 10,000 guards with my IP in them I ran about that many instances of Tor to my takedown notice. It is said not to be a child porn site but the MySQL database had hundreds of PGP messages a day in it. Some people forgot to encrypt, and those messages revealed PGP trading. Fuck those bastards, I hope they burn in hell.
At the beginning of the end significant quantities of Bitcoin were stolen from vendor store wallets and I couldn't cover it. It isn't really my responsibility to refund it, but I discovered the uc_bitcoin (Drupal Ubercart Bitcoin payments module) code was a mess and sites were displaying in strange ways. I formed a team and we investigated but I took things about Gentoo/grsec and my servers security for granted. Back then I thought it was a PHP exploit in uc_bitcoin, but eventually I found there was malware on the server.
The thefts stopped for a while after we removed some terrible code from Ubercart and its Bitcoin module. Things were good, and people were very generous with the tipjar and Bitcoin was mooning. Yet then I was contacted and someone proved they had rootkit malware on the server and this was the end. They demanded the end of my business anyway if I didn't comply. I could have built fresh Gentoo systems and stuff, but the whole experience made me paranoid. This hacker found information about services in the clearnet that supported my service.
I wrote a resignation as a clearsigned PGP message that replaced the site with it, and decided to do other things. A while later I contacted someone young, Occulus Omega, who had an interest in Gentoo. He had many negative qualities, but as severance pay he bought all my old domains. He obeyed my conditions to only use them with the consent of my former customers. I stuck around on XMPP to verify users as well as I could. He seemed to get many of them back, which was good, because that meant my failures hadn't ended the world.
Since then I just do consulting to certain high profile individuals who like to remain anonymous. I might even get back into the game and get another server, I'm not sure. When I posted my resignation I said one day I would like to start another game, and I just might. I have quit doing drugs and I am more knowledgeable than I once was. It doesn't mean I will though, its just a thought I have. Maybe someday.
After that I did consulting for Occulus, and for various organizations and got a VPS with Occulus to run CYJABR. I still do consulting now and have been working with the young, pretty, and clever Kaizushi on her service. I can also work for you and am happy to answer questions for you about Tor. I plan to use this blog to write about philosophical issues that relate to AT (Anonymity Technology). I hope you keep reading and checking my site periodically.