Compliology's Jesse Tuttle Shares His Story During Keynote at ITEXPO 2024

Compliology's Jesse Tuttle Shares His Story During Keynote at ITEXPO 2024

By Greg Tavarez

ITEXPO, part of the #TECHSUPERSHOW, which includes MSP Expo, was a success. The testimonials the TMC team and I keep seeing are great, and we are ecstatic to see so many people enjoyed the 2024 show.

One of the many highlights of the show, and there were many, was a keynote presentation by Jesse Tuttle, chief hacking officer, Compliology; and Reesë Tuttle, founder, president and chief technology officer, Compliology. However, this was not your typical keynote. Instead of talking about the next big thing that will send waves across the industry, the audience got to hear, for the first time, the story of someone who was once on many most wanted lists.

At the start of the keynote, Reesë handed the mic over to her dad, Jesse aka Hackah Jak, to tell his story that he kept secret for three decades. He has hacked over 100,000 systems, which included the Girl Scouts of America, Goodwill, the U.S. Navy, the U.S. Army, among others.

“In high school, I thought it was so cool to see how to break up software. So, then Microsoft comes with what is known today as IIS Web Server,” said Jesse. “I was good with Microsoft products. When I started working on registration codes, I found a weird bug. I found a zero-day exploit. Within about six months, I found hundreds of zero-day exploits. In 1996, the Department of Justice website got defaced. I knew where they got the exploit. That’s when I started to get invited into hacking groups.”

As expected, he wanted to expand his reach, but to get inside defacer groups, he had to deface websites. This is where Jesse changed identities frequently. He defaced in 1999 and got into a defacing group, which he enjoyed.

His hacking was so notorious that he was in IT books on how to hack. Jesse has also been in university textbooks as case studies. And, in 2001, Jesse made big headway into Project China.

“I was 21, a patriotic American, and I wanted to do something for my country, and I wanted to start the first cyber world war. Little did I know I was doing that,” said Jesse. “I just wanted to bring together a group of hackers to battle it out with Chinese hackers to say America is better. In 2001, I am making a name. During Project China, I get the first knock on the door. The FBI came and said, ‘You caught our attention.’”

They then seized his computer equipment, and the next day was when they picked him up with three agents in the car. The agents interviewed him, and his public defender said, “Hold on, this guy is willing to share what he has done.”

“If you disclosed what you have done, they can't hold it against you,” said Jesse.

To his surprise, especially after being on numerous wanted lists, the FBI offered to hire Jesse to help him clear his name. After that offer, things went silent, and Jesse did not hear from the FBI. Until 9/11.

“When 9/11 happens, I get a phone call from one of the agents, and they asked, ‘You disclosed that you have hacked the CCTV of the World Trade Center. Someone has taken access from us. Do you still have access?,’” said Jesse. “I did, and I saw one of the worst things I have ever seen in my life.”

Jesse, choked up while being comforted by his daughter, had to take a step back for a few seconds before continuing his story.

“I had camera systems of the hallways and staircases, and I maintained access so emergency personnel can have access to help people evacuate,” said Jesse. “I was so disturbed that I launched and started the second cyber war that involved the U.S. I messaged every hacker. Within an hour, I had a cyber army, and we were determined to find out who was doing this. We narrowed it down to Osama Bin Laden’s cyber team. We had their IP addresses. In 12 hours, we infiltrated the entire cyber army of Osama Bin Laden. That was my 2001.”

The second knock on his door came in 2002 from the Department of Defense. The Al Qaeda cyber army was in IC3 and Jesse managed to kick them out. Then, at the end of 2002 and the beginning of 2003, Jesse said he experienced the second most disturbing thing in his life.

“I was asked to work on a human trafficking case of a guy working on a massive child sex trafficking ring. The FBI was having a hard time pinpointing the guy. That’s where I came in,” said Jesse. “They asked me to hack him, and I agreed. I social engineered him. I sent files that were malware. He vacated across the elementary. And I ended up getting pictures of missing children that he had. I found out where he was operating from. I gave that info to the FBI.”

But at that point, the local county had caught wind on what Jesse was doing and placed felony charges on him. Because he was in their jurisdiction, and there was not much the FBI could do, Jesse was put under house arrest

"After I was put under house arrest, I said I was done with this,” said Jesse.

Time was running short on the keynote, but Jesse and Reesë told the audience they could hear more from the two of them at their Compliology booth at MSP Expo. Visitors could also learn about the company, which helps businesses with data management, real-world simulations, generating reports and policies and safety awareness training.

Thank you, Jesse. I know the story was not an easy one to tell in front of a large audience, but the insight you provided will never be forgotten. 

Edited by Greg Tavarez
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MSPToday Editor

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