According to a report from Reuters, Democratic presidential candidate, Beto O’Rourke, was a member of influential US-based hacking group called Cult of the Dead Cow (CDC). O’Rourke, the former three-term congressman from Texas, confirmed his involved in the group to Reuters.
In the 1980s, O’Rourke came to the CDC when he began using bulletin board systems (early versions of message boards and forums) so that he could communicate with others. He operated his own board, called TacoLand, where he discussed punk rock music with others. In addition, O’Rourke browsed other boards to find cracked version of video games. Through his browsing for cracked games, he met with Kevin Wheeler, known online as “Swamp Rat,” and began to get involved with the CDC.
In the 1990s, the CDC was best known for its acts of hacktivism, and developed tools to hack into Windows machines. The group is linked as a source that forced Microsoft to better secure its products from being hacked. At this time, we don’t know if O’Rourke was active in the group during the 90s because in the 80s, the group was mostly producing essays rather than creating hacking tools for on Microsoft’s Windows.
This revelation is an interesting perspective because it’s a unique background that could allow O’Rourke to be better equipped to handle tech policy than other presidential candidates. On the other hand, it may bring scrutiny towards O’Rourke during his presidential candidacy because he was involved in some illegal activities. Opponents may take advantage of this and make O’Rourke appear as a corrupt presidential candidate, among other reasons. O’Rourke, in his part, has admitted to playing cracked games and stealing long-distance phone service with his dial-up modem, but due to statute of limitations, those crimes can’t really be revisited and used against him.