SCIENCE + TECHNOLOGY

Davis County high school students are hacking the hackers behind phishing schemes

Jun 3, 2024, 5:00 AM

A group of high school juniors in Davis County are hacking the hackers to protect phishing victims ...

From left to right: Regan Hosea, Jordan Kingston, Charles Mortensen. A group of high school juniors in Davis County are hacking the hackers to protect phishing victims using a program called VEGA. (Don Brinkerhoff/KSL NewsRadio)

(Don Brinkerhoff/KSL NewsRadio)

DAVIS COUNTY, Utah — A group of high school juniors in Davis County are hacking the hackers to protect phishing victims.

“All my friends and peers around me got hacked,” said Charles Mortensen a Davis County student.

Mortensen said in one case, a friend who’s in foster care had her Instagram account hacked. That was the only way she could contact her mom.  So, Mortensen decided to do something about it and created VEGA.

“What the victim does is they type in the username and password and then it gives it to the hacker,” Mortensen said.” What VEGA does (is) it does the exact same thing but instead, it sends just fake information.”

Mortensen said he does this just using his laptop.

“I can take about 30 sites down within a month if I’m able to get a whole bunch of computers, which I’m trying to do,” he said. “I can make a whole entire system that can take down probably thousands of phishing sites in a month.”

He said the way VEGA works is by feeding the hacker false information.

 

 

(Photo credit: Charles Mortensen)

“What it essentially does, (is) it sends fake usernames and passwords. So, the hacker cannot tell what passwords and usernames are real or not,” Mortensen said. “I can send about half a million requests to one hacker within a night. I just let VEGA run overnight and then normally when I wake up … the website [is] shut down.”

He’s a student at the Davis Catalyst Center and after writing the first version of VEGA, he asked his friends Regan Hosea and Jordan Kingston to help him make it work better.

Mortensen’s goal is to get someone to sponsor him so he can get more computers and create a system that could potentially take down thousands of phishing sites a month.

Don Brinkerhoff is a reporter and producer for KSL NewsRadio.

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Davis County high school students are hacking the hackers behind phishing schemes