The Hacker Crackdown
    by Bruce Sterling    

(PDF Version)


                                          THE HACKER CRACKDOWN

                                     A Bantam Book / November 1992

                                            All rights reserved.
                                    Copyright © 1992 by Bruce Sterling.

                                  BOOK DESIGN BY CAROLMALCOLM-RUSSO


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                            Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

           Sterling, Bruce.
             The hacker crackdown : law and disorder on the electronic frontier / Bruce Sterling.
                 p. em.
              Includes index.
              ISBN 0-553-08058-X
              I. Computer crimes-United States. 2. Telephone-United States-Corrupt
           practices. 3. Programming (Electronic computers)-United States-Corrupt practices: I.
           HV6773.2.S74 1992
           364.1'68-dc20                                                                 92-17496

                         Published simultaneously in the United States and Canada

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CHRONOLOGY OF THE HACKER CRACKDOWN                                VII

INTRODUCTION                                                      Xl

A Brief History of Telephony • Bell's Golden Vaporware • Universal
Service • Wild Boys and Wire Women • The Electronic
Communities • The Ungentle Giant • The Breakup • In Defense
of the System • The Crash Post-mortem • Landslides in Cyberspace
Steal This Phone • Phreaking and Hacking • The View from Under
the Floorboards • Boards: Core of the Underground • Phile
Phun • The Rake's Progress • Strongholds of the Elite • Sting
Boards • Hot Potatoes • War on the Legion • Terminus • Phile
9-1-1 • War Games • Real Cyberpunk

PART 3: LAW AND ORDER                                            153
Crooked Boards • The World's Biggest Hacker Bust • Teach Them a
Lesson • The U.S. Secret Service • The Secret Service Battles the
Boodlers • A Walk Downtown • FCIC: The Cutting-Edge Mess •
Cyperspace Rangers • FLETC: Training the Hacker-Trackers

PAR T 4: THE C I V ILL I B E RTAR I A N S                    229
NuPrometheus + FBI = Grateful Dead • Whole Earth + Computer
Revolution = WELL • Phiber Runs Underground and Acid Spikes the
Well • The Trial of Knight Lightning • Shadowhawk Plummets to
Earth • Kyrie in the Confessional • $79,449 • A Scholar
Investigates • Computers, Freedom, and Privacy
INDEX                                                           315
                CHRONOLOGY OF
                  THE HACKER

   1865 U.S. Secret Service (USSS) founded.
~._·-1876   Alexander Graham Bell invents telephone.

   1878 First teenage males flung off phone system by enraged
   1939 "Futurians" science-fiction group raided by Secret Service.
   1971 Yippie phone phreaks start YIPL/TAP magazine.
   1972 Ramparts magazine seized in blue-box rip-off scandal.
   1978 Ward Christensen and Randy Seuss create first personal
        computer bulletin board system.
   1982 William Gibson coins term cyberspace.
   1982 "414 gang" raided.
   1982-83 AT&T dismantled in divestiture.
   1984 Congress passes Comprehensive Crime Control Act giving USSS
        jurisdiction over credit card fraud and computer fraud.
   1984 "Legion of Doom" formed.
   1984 2600 magazine founded.
   1984 Whole Earth Software Catalog published.
   1985 First police "sting" bulletin board systems established.
   1985 Whole Earth 'Lectronic Link computer conference (WELL)
        goes on-line.
·--:1986 Computer Fraud and Abuse Act passed.
    1986 Electronic Communications and Privacy Act passed.
   1987 Chicago federal prosecutors form Computer Fraud and Abuse
        Task Force.

       --._---     --~~~
Vlll         ooooooogoooooooogoooooooooo         CHRONOLOGY

July Secret Service covertly videotapes "SummerCon" hacker
September "Prophet" cracks BellSouth AIMSX computer network and
           downloads E9I1 Document to his own computer and to
September AT&T Corporate Information Security informed of
           Prophet's action.
October Bellcore Security informed of Prophet's action.

January "Prophet" uploads E911 Document to Knight Lightning.
February 25 Knight Lightning publishes E911 Document in Phrack
               electronic newsletter.
May Chicago Task Force raids and arrests "Kyrie."
June "NuPrometheus League"            distributes Apple Computer
       proprietary software.
June 13 Florida probation office crossed with phone-sex line in
           switching-station stunt.
July "Fry Guy" raided by USSS and Chicago Computer Fraud and
      Abuse Task Force.
July Secret Service raids "Prophet," "Leftist," and "Urvile" in

January 15 Martin Luther King Day Crash strikes AT&T long-distance
           system nationwide.
January 18-19 Chicago Task Force raids Knight Lightning in St.
January 24 USSS and New York State Police raid "Phiber Optik,"
            "Acid Phreak," and "Scorpion" in New York City.
February 1 USSS raids "Terminus" in Maryland.
February 3 Chicago Task Force raids Richard Andrews' home.
February 6 Chicago Task Force raids Richard Andrews' business.
February 6 USSS arrests Terminus, Prophet, Leftist, and Urvile.
February 9 Chicago Task Force arrests Knight Lightning.
February 20 AT&T Security shuts down public-access "attctc"
              computer in Dallas.
February 21 Chicago Task Force raids Robert Izenberg in Austin.
CHRONOLOGY                 ooaooaOOQoqoODOOQROooogOODQ            IX

March 1 Chicago Task Force raids Steve Jackson Games, Inc.,
            "Mentor," and "Erik Bloodaxe" in Austin.
May 7, 8, 9 USSS and Arizona Organized Crime and Racketeering
              Unit conduct "Operation Sundevil" raids in Cincinnati,
              Detroit, Los Angeles, Miami, Newark, Phoenix,
              Pittsburgh, Richmond, Tucson, San Diego, San Jose, and
              San Francisco.
May FBI interviews John Perry Barlow re NuPrometheus case.
June Mitch Kapor and Barlow found Electronic Frontier Foundation;
       Barlow publishes Crime and Puzzlement manifesto.
July 24-27 Trial of Knight Lightning.

February CPSR Roundtable in Washington, D.C.
March 25-28 Computers, Freedom and Privacy conference in San
May 1 Electronic Frontier Foundation, Steve Jackson, and others file
        suit against members of Chicago Task Force.
July 1-2 Switching station phone software crash affects Washington,
          Los Angeles, Pittsburgh, San Francisco.
September 17 AT&T phone crash affects New York City and three

                                ThiS is a book about cops, and
wild teenage whiz kids, and lawyers, and hairy-eyed anarchists,
and industrial technicians, and hippies, and high-tech million-
aires, and game hobbyists, and computer security experts, and
Secret Service agents, and grifters, and thieves.
   This book is about the electronic frontier of the 1990s. It con-
cerns activities that take place inside computers and over tele-
phone lines.                                             . !.
   A science-fiction writer coined the useful term cybeifpace in
1982. But the territory in question, the electronic frontier, is
about 130 years old. Cyberspace is the "place" where a telephone
Xli         ooooooooooqoOQOOOOOOROgOOQQ          INTRODUCTION

conversation appears to occur. Not inside your actual phone, the
plastic device on your desk. Not inside the other person's phone,
in some other city. The place between the phones. The indefinite
place out there, where the two of you, two human beings, actually
meet and communicate.
    Although it is not exactly "real," "cyberspace" is a genuine
place. Things happen there that have very genuine consequences.
This "place" is not "real," but it is serious, it is earnest. Tens of
thousands of people have dedicated their lives to it, to the public
service of public communication by wire and electronics.
    People have worked on this "frontier" for generations now.
Some people became rich and famous from their efforts there.
Some just played in it, as hobbyists. Others soberly pondered it,
and wrote about it, and regulated it, and negotiated over it in
international forums, and sued one another about it, in gigantic,
epic court battles that lasted for years. And almost since the
beginning, some people have committed crimes in this place.
    But in the past twenty years, this electrical "space," which was
once thin and dark and one-dimensional-little more than a nar-
row speaking tube, stretching from phone to phone-has flung
itself open like a gigantic jack-in-the-box. Light has flooded upon
it, the eerie light of the glowing computer screen. This dark elec-
tric netherworld has become a vast flowering electronic land-
scape. Since the 1960s, the world of the telephone has crossbred
itself with computers and television, and though there is still no
substance to cyberspace-nothing you can handle-it has a
strange kind of physicality now. It makes good sense today to talk
of cyberspace as a place all its own.
    Because people live in it now. Not just a few people, not just a
few technicians and eccentrics, but thousands of people, quite
normal people. And not just for a little while, either, but for
hours straight, over weeks, and months, and years. Cyberspace
today is a "Net," a "Matrix," international in scope and growing
swiftly and steadily. It's growing in size, and wealth, and political
INTRODUCTION                OOOooooooogoooooooooooooooo          Xlll

    People are making entire careers in modern cyberspace. Scien-
tists and technicians, of course; they've been there for twenty
years now. But increasingly, cyberspace is filling with journalists
and doctors and lawyers and artists and clerks. Civil servants
make their careers there now, "on-line" in vast government data
banks; and so do spies, industrial, political, and just plain snoops;
and so do police, at least a few of them. And there are children
living there now.
    People have met there and been married there. There are en-
tire living communities in cyberspace today: chattering, gossip-
ing, planning, conferring and scheming, leaving one another voice
mail and electronic mail, giving one another big weightless
chunks of valuable data, both legitimate and illegitimate. They
busily pass one another computer software and the occasional
festering computer virus.
    We do not really understand how to live in cyberspace yet. We
are feeling our way into it, blundering about. That is not surpris-
ing. Our lives in the physical world, the "real" world, are also far
from perfect, despite a lot more practice. Human lives, real lives,
are imperfect by their nature, and there are human beings in
cyberspace. The way we live in cyberspace is a funhouse mirror of
the way we live in the real world. We take both our advantages
and our troubles with us.
    This book is about trouble in cyberspace. Specifically, this
book is about certain strange events in the year 1990, an unprece-
dented and startling year for the growing world of computerized
    In 1990 there came a nationwide crackdown on illicit com-
puter hackers, with arrests, criminal charges, one dramatic show
trial, several guilty pleas, and huge confiscations of data and
equipment all over the United States.
    The Hacker Crackdown of 1990 was larger, better organized,
more deliberate, and more resolute than any previous effort in the
brave new world of computer crime. The U.S. Secret Service,
private telephone security, and state and local law enforcement
              XIV         OOOOOOOOOOOOOQooogooooooooo          INTRODUCTION

              groups across the country all joined forces in a determined at-
              tempt to break the back of America's electronic underground. It
              was a fascinating effort, with very mixed results.
                 The Hacker Crackdown had another unprecedented effect; it
              spurred the creation, within "the computer community," of the
              Electronic Frontier Foundation, a new and very odd interest
              group, fiercely dedicated to the establishment and preservation of
              electronic civil liberties. The crackdown, remarkable in itself, has
              created a melee of debate over electronic crime, punishment,
              freedom of the press, and issues of search and seizure. Politics has
              entered cyberspace. Where people go, politics follow.
                 This is the story of the people of cyberspace .

..-------   ------

.-----   -~

                  THE SYSTEM

                                 On       January 15, 1990, AT&T's
long-distance telephone switching system crashed.
   This was a strange, dire, huge event. Sixty thousand people lost
their telephone service completely. During the nine long hours of
frantic effort that it took to restore service, some 70 million tele-
phone calls went uncompleted.
   Losses of service, known as "outages" in the telco trade, are a
known and accepted hazard of the telephone business. Hurri-
canes hit, and phone cables get snapped by the thousands. Earth-
quakes wrench through buried fiber-optic lines. Switching
stations catch fire and burn to the ground. These things do hap-

pen. There are contingency plans for them, and decades of expe-
rience in dealing with them. But the Crash of January 15 was
unprecedented. It was unbelievably huge, and it occurred for no
apparent physical reason.
   The crash started on a Monday afternoon in a single switching
station in Manhattan. But, unlike any mere physical damage, it
spread and spread. Station after station across America collapsed
in a chain reaction, until fully half of AT&T's network had gone
haywire and the remaining half was hard put to handle the over-
   Within nine hours, AT&T software engineers more or less un-
derstood what had caused the crash. Replicating the problem
exactly, poring over software line by line, took them a couple of
weeks. But because it was hard to understand technically, the full
truth of the matter and its implications were not widely and
thoroughly aired and explained. The root cause of the crash re-
mained obscure, surrounded by rumor and fear.
   The crash was a grave corporate embarrassment. The "culprit"
was a bug in AT&T's own software-not the sort of admission
the telecommunications giant wanted to make, especially in the
face of increasing competition. Still, the truth was told, in the
baffling technical terms necessary to explain it.
   Somehow the explanation failed to persuade American law en-
forcement officials and even telephone corporate security person-
nel. These people were not technical experts or software wizards,
and they had their own suspicions about the cause of this disas-
   The police and telco security had important sources of infor-
mation denied to mere software engineers. They had informants
in the computer underground and years of experience in dealing
with high-tech rascality that seemed to grow ever more sophisti-
cated. For years they had been expecting a direct and savage
attack against the American national telephone system. And with
the Crash of January l5-in the first month of a new, high-tech
decade-their predictions, fears, and suspicions seemed at last to
CRASHING THE SYSTEM              oooooooooooooooooooogoooooo     3

have entered the real world. A world where the telephone system
had not merely crashed but, quite likely, been crashed-by "hack-
ers. "
    The crash created a large, dark cloud of suspicion that would
color certain people's assumptions and actions for months. The
fact that it took place in the realm of software was suspicious on
its face. The fact that it occurred on Martin Luther King Day,
still the most politically touchy of American holidays, made it
more suspicious yet.
    The Crash of January 15
gave the Hacker Crackdown its        The       Crash of January 15
sense of edge and its sweaty ur-
                                       gave the Hacker
gency. It made people, power-
ful people in positions of             Crackdown its sense of
public authority, willing to be-       sweaty urgency.
lieve the worst. And, most fa-
tally, it helped to give investigators a willingness to take extreme
measures and the determination to preserve almost total secrecy.
   An obscure software fault in an aging switching system in New
York was to lead to a chain reaction of legal and constitutional
trouble all across the country.

   Like the crash in the telephone system, this chain reaction was
ready and waiting to happen. During the 1980s, the American
legal system was extensively patched to deal with the novel issues
of computer crime. There was, for instance, the Electronic Com-
munications Privacy Act of 1986 (eloquently described as "a
stinking mess" by a prominent law enforcement official). And
there was the draconian Computer Fraud and Abuse Act of 1986,
passed unanimously by the U.S. Senate, which later would reveal
a large number of flaws. Extensive, well-meant efforts had been
made to keep the legal system up-to-date. But in the day-to-day
grind of the real world, even the most elegant software tends to
crumble and suddenly reveal its hidden bugs.
   Like the advancing telephone system, the American legal sys-

tem was certainly not ruined by its temporary crash; but for those
caught under the weight of its collapse, life became a series of
blackouts and anomalies.
   In order to understand why these weird events occurred, both
in the world of technology and in the world of law, it's not
enough to understand the merely technical problems. We will get
to those; but first and foremost, we must try to understand the
telephone, and the business of telephones, and the community of
human beings that telephones have created.

   Technologies have life cycles, as cities do, as institutions do, as
laws and governments do.
   The first stage of any technology is the Question Mark, often
known as the "Golden Vaporware" stage. At this early point, the
technology is only a phantom, a mere gleam in the inventor's eye.
One such inventor was a speech teacher and electrical tinkerer
named Alexander Graham Bell.
   Bell's early inventions, while ingenious, failed to move the
world. In 1863, the teenage Bell and his brother Melville made an
artificial talking mechanism out of wood, rubber, gutta-percha,
and tin. This weird device had a rubber-covered "tongue" made
of movable wooden segments, with vibrating rubber "vocal
cords," and rubber "lips" and "cheeks." While Melville puffed a
bellows into a tin tube, imitating the lungs, young Alec Bell
would manipulate the lips, teeth, and tongue, causing the thing
to emit high-pitched falsetto gibberish.
   Another would-be technical breakthrough was the Bell "pho-
nautograph" of 1874, actually made out of a human cadaver's ear.
Clamped into place on a tripod, this grisly gadget drew sound-
wave images on smoked glass through a thin straw glued to its
vibrating earbones.
   By 1875, Bell had learned to produce audible sounds-ugly
shrieks and squawks-by using magnets, diaphragms, and electri-
cal current.
   Most Golden Vaporware technologies go nowhere.
   But the second stage of technology is the Rising Star, or the

                 ---    ----   -   -----
      CRASHING THE SYSTEM              OODOOOOgoopoooopogOQOOOOORO        5

      "Goofy Prototype," stage. The telephone, Bell's most ambitious
      gadget yet, reached this stage on March 10, 1876. On that great
      day, Alexander Graham Bell became the first person to transmit
      intelligible human speech electrically. As it happened, young Pro-
      fessor Bell, industriously tinkering in his Boston lab, had spat-
      tered his trousers with acid. His assistant, Mr. Watson, heard his
      cry for help-over Bell's experimental audio-telegraph. This was
      an event without precedent.
         Technologies in their Goofy Prototype stage rarely work very
      well. They're experimental, and therefore half-baked and rather
      frazzled. The prototype may be attractive and novel, and it does
      look as if it ought to be good for something-or-other. But nobody,
      including the inventor, is quite sure what. Inventors, and specula-
      tors, and pundits may have very firm ideas about its potential use,
      but those ideas are often very wrong.
         The natural habitat of the Goofy Prototype is in trade shows
      and in the popular press. Infant technologies need publicity and
      investment money like a tottering calf needs milk. This was very
      true of Bell's machine. To raise research and development money,
      Bell toured with his device as a stage attraction.
         Contemporary press reports of the stage debut of the tele-
      phone showed pleased astonishment mixed with considerable
      dread. Bell's stage telephone was a large wooden box with a crude
      speaker-nozzle, the whole contraption about the size and shape
      of an overgrown Brownie camera. Its buzzing steel soundplate,
      pumped up by powerful electromagnets, was loud enough to fill
      an auditorium. Bell's assistant Mr. Watson, who could manage on
      the keyboards fairly well, kicked in by playing the organ from
      distant rooms and, later, distant cities. This feat was considered
      marvelous, but very eerie indeed.
         Bell's original notion for the telephone, an idea promoted for a
      couple of years, was that it would become a mass medium. We
      might recognize Bell's idea today as something close to modern
      "cable radio." Telephones at a central source would transmit mu-
      sic, Sunday sermons, and important public speeches to a paying
      network of wired-up subscribers.

.--                                                    - - - - ---- - - - - -
6   oooooooooogoogooooooooooooo   THE HACKER CRACKDOWN

   At the time, most people thought this notion made good
sense. In fact, Bell's idea was workable. In Hungary, this philoso-
phy of the telephone was successfully put into everyday practice.
In Budapest, for decades, from 1893 until after World War I,
there was a government-run information service called "Telefon
Hirrnondo." Hirmond6 was a centralized source of news and en-
tertainment and culture, including stock reports, plays, concerts,
and novels read aloud. At certain hours of the day, the phone
would ring, you would plug in a loudspeaker for the use of the
family, and Telefon Hirmond6 would be on the air-or rather, on
the phone.
   Hirmond6 is dead tech today, but it might be considered a
spiritual ancestor of the modern telephone-accessed computer
data services, such as CompuServe, GEnie, or Prodigy. The prin-
ciple behind Hirrnondo is also not too far from computer "bulle-
tin board systems" or BBS's, which arrived in the late 1970s,
spread rapidly across America, and will figure largely in this book.
   We are used to using telephones for individual person-to-
person speech, because we are used to the Bell system. But this
was just one possibility among many. Communication networks
are very flexible and protean, especially when their hardware be-
comes sufficiently advanced. They can be put to all kinds of uses.
And they have been-and they will be.
   Bell's telephone was bound for glory, but this was due to a
combination of political decisions, canny infighting in court, in-
spired industrial leadership, receptive local conditions, and out-
right good luck. Much the same is true of communications
systems today.
   As Bell and his backers struggled to install their newfangled
system in the real world of nineteenth-century New England,
they had to fight against skepticism and industrial rivalry. There
was already a strong electrical communications network present
in America: the telegraph. The head of the Western Union tele-
graph system dismissed Bell's prototype as "an electrical toy" and
refused to buy the rights to Bell's patent. The telephone, it
CRASHING THE SYSTEM              Q   00 0 0000 Q 00 0   po   Q   000 0 0 00000 0 Q   7

seemed, might be all right as a parlor entertainment-but not for
serious business.
   Telegrams, unlike mere telephones, left a permanent physical
record of their messages. Telegrams, unlike telephones, could be
answered whenever the recipient had time and convenience. And
the telegram had a much longer distance range than Bell's early
telephone. These factors made telegraphy seem a much more
sound and businesslike technology-at least to some.
   The telegraph system was huge, and well entrenched. In 1876,
the United States had 214,000 miles of telegraph wire and 8,500
telegraph offices. There were specialized telegraphs for businesses
and stock traders, government, police, and fire departments. And
Bell's "toy" was best known as a stage-magic musical device.
   The third stage of technology is known as the "Cash Cow"
stage. In this stage, a technology finds its place in the world,
matures, and becomes settled and productive. After a year or so,
Alexander Graham Bell and his capitalist backers concluded that
eerie music piped from nineteenth-century cyberspace was not
the real selling point of his invention. Instead, the telephone
was about speech-individual, personal speech, the human voice,
human conversation, and human interaction. The telephone was
not to be managed from any centralized broadcast center. It was
to be a personal, intimate technology.
   When you picked up a telephone, you were not absorbing the
cold output of a machine-you were speaking to another human
being. Once people realized this, their instinctive dread of the
telephone as an eerie, unnatural device swiftly vanished. A "tele-
phone call" was not a "call" from a "telephone" itself, but a call
from another human being, someone you would generally know
and recognize. The real point was not what the machine could do
for you (or to you), but what you yourself, a person and citizen,
could do through the machine. This decision on the part of the
young Bell company was absolutely vital.
   The first telephone networks went up around Boston-mostly
among the technically curious and the well-to-do. (Much the
         8   oooooooooooooooooooooopoooo   THE HACKER CRACKDOWN

        same segment of the American populace that, a hundred years
        later, would be buying personal computers.) Entrenched backers
        of the telegraph continued to scoff.
           But in January 1878, a disaster made the telephone famous. A
        train crashed in Tarriffville, Connecticut. Forward-looking doctors
        in the nearby city of Hartford had had Bell's "speaking tele-
        phone" installed. An alert local druggist was able to telephone an
        entire community of local doctors, who rushed to the site to give
        aid. The disaster, as disasters do, aroused intense press coverage.
        The phone had proven its usefulness in the real world.
           After Tarriffville, the telephone network spread like crabgrass.
        By 1890, it was all over New England. By 1893, out to Chicago. By
        1897, into Minnesota, Nebraska, and Texas. By 1904, it was all
        over the continent.
                                               The telephone had become
     Alexander Graham Bell                  a mature technology. Professor
                                            Bell (now generally known as
     was a prototype of the
                                            "Dr. Bell" despite his lack of a
     high-tech entrepreneur.                formal degree) became quite
                                            wealthy. He lost interest in the
        tedious day-to-day business muddle of the booming telephone
        network and gratefully returned his attention to creatively hack-
        ing around in his various laboratories, which were now much
        larger, better ventilated, and gratifyingly better equipped. Bell
        was never to have another great inventive success, though his
        speculations and prototypes anticipated fiber-optic transmission,
        manned flight, sonar, hydrofoil ships, tetrahedral construction,
        and Montessori education. The "decibel," the standard scientific
        measure of sound intensity, was named after Bell.
           Not all Bell's vaporware notions were inspired. He was fasci-
        nated by human eugenics. He also spent many years developing a
        weird personal system of astrophysics in which gravity did not
           Bell was a definite eccentric. He was something of a hypochon-
        driac, and throughout his life he habitually stayed up until four
        A.M., refusing to rise before noon. But Bell had accomplished a


great feat; he was an idol of millions and his influence, wealth,
and great personal charm, combined with his eccentricity, made
him something of a loose cannon on deck. Bell maintained a
thriving scientific salon in his winter mansion in Washington,
D.C., which gave him considerable backstage influence in govern-
mental and scientific circles. He was a major financial backer of
the magazines Science and National Geographic, both still flour-
ishing today as important organs of the American scientific estab-
   There would never be another Alexander Graham Bell, but in
years to come there would be surprising numbers of people like
him. Bell was a prototype of the high-tech entrepreneur. High-
tech entrepreneurs will playa very prominent role in this book:
not merely as technicians and businessmen, but as pioneers of
the technical frontier, who can carry the power and prestige they
derive from high technology into the political and social arena.
   Like later entrepreneurs, Bell was fierce in defense of his own
technological territory. As the telephone began to flourish, Bell
was soon involved in violent lawsuits in the defense of his pa-
tents. His Boston lawyers were excellent, however, and Bell him-
self, as an elgcution teacher and gifted public speaker, was a
devastatingly effective legal witness. In the eighteen years of
Bell's patents, the Bell company was involved in 600 separate
lawsuits. The legal records printed filled 149 volumes. The Bell
company won every single suit.
   After Bell's exclusive patents expired, rival telephone compa-
nies sprang up all over America. Bell's company, American Bell
Telephone, was soon in deep trouble. In 1907, it fell into the
hands of the rather sinister J. P. Morgan financial cartel, robber-
baron speculators who dominated Wall Street.
   At this point, history might have taken a different turn. Amer-
ica might well have been served forever by a patchwork of locally
owned telephone companies. Many state politicians and local
businessmen considered this an excellent solution.
   But the new Bell holding company, American Telephone and
Telegraph, or AT&T, put in a new man at the helm, a visionary
10   0000000000000111111000000001100   THE HACKER CRACKDOWN

industrialist named Theodore Vail. Vail, a former Post Office
manager, understood large organizations and had an innate feel-
ing for the nature of large-scale communications. Vail quickly saw
to it that AT&T seized the technological edge once again. The
Pupin and Campbell "loading coil" and the deForest "audion"
are both extinct technology today, but in 1913 they gave Vail's
company the best long-distance lines ever built. By controlling
long distance-the links between, over, and above the smaller
local phone companies-AT&T swiftly gained the whip hand
over them, and was soon devouring them right and left.
   Vail plowed the profits back into research and development,
starting the Bell tradition of huge-scale and brilliant industrial
   Technically and financially, AT&T gradually steamrollered the
opposition. Independent telephone companies never became en-
tirely extinct, and hundreds of them flourish today. But Vail's
AT&T became the supreme communications company. At one
point, Vail's AT&T bought Western Union itself, the very com-
pany that had derided Bell's telephone as a "toy." Vail thoroughly
reformed Western Union's hidebound business along his modern
principles; but when the federal government grew anxious at this
centralization of power, Vail politely gave Western Union back.
   This centralizing process was not unique. Very similar events
had happened in American steel, oil, and railroads. But AT&T,
unlike the other companies, was to remain supreme. The monop-
olistic robber barons of those other industries were humbled and
shattered by government trust-busting.
    Vail, the former Post Office official, was quite willing to accom-
modate the U.s. government; in fact, he would forge an active
alliance with it. AT&T would become almost a wing of the Amer-
ican government, almost another Post Office-though not quite.
AT&T would willingly submit to federal regulation, but in return,
it would use the government's regulators as its own police, who
would keep out competitors and assure the Bell system's profits
and preeminence.
    This was the second birth-the political birth-of the Ameri-
CRASHING THE SYSTEM              000000000000000000000000000      11

can telephone system. Vail's arrangement was to persist, with vast
success, for many decades, until 1982. His system was an odd
kind of American industrial socialism. It was born at about the
same time as Leninist communism, and it lasted almost as long
-and, it must be admitted, to considerably better effect.
   Vail's system worked. Except perhaps for aerospace, there has
been no technology more thoroughly dominated by Americans
than the telephone. The telephone was seen from the beginning
as a quintessentially American technology. Bell's policy, and the
policy of Theodore Vail, was a profoundly democratic one of uni-
versal access. Vail's famous corporate slogan, "One Policy, One
System, Universal Service," was a political slogan, with a very
American ring to it.
   The American telephone was not to become the specialized
tool of government or business, but a general public utility. At
first, it was true, only the wealthy could afford private telephones,
and Bell's company pursued the business markets primarily. The
American phone system was a capitalist effort, meant to make
money; it was not a charity. But from the first, almost all commu-
nities with telephone service had public telephones. And many
stores-especially drugstores-offered public use of their phones.
You might not own a telephone-but you could always get into
the system, if you really needed to.
    There was nothing inevitable about this decision to make tele-
phones "public" and "universal." Vail's system involved a pro-
found act of trust in the public. This decision was a political one,
informed by the basic values of the American republic. The situa-
tion might have been very different; and in other countries, under
other systems, it certainly was.
    Joseph Stalin, for instance, vetoed plans for a Soviet phone
system soon after the Bolshevik revolution. Stalin was certain that
publicly accessible telephones would become instruments of anti-
Soviet counterrevolution and conspiracy. (He was probably right.)
When telephones did arrive in the Soviet Union, they would be
instruments of Party authority, and always heavily tapped. (Alex-
ander Solzhenitsyn's prison-camp novel The First Circle describes

           efforts to develop a phone system more suited to Stalinist pur-
              France, with its tradition of rational centralized government,
           had fought bitterly even against the electric telegraph, which
           seemed to the French entirely too anarchical and frivolous. For
           decades, nineteenth-century France communicated via the "vi-
           sual telegraph," a nation-spanning, government-owned sema-
           phore system of huge stone towers that signaled from hilltops,
           across vast distances, with big windmill-like arms. In 1846, one
           Dr. Barbay, a semaphore enthusiast, memorably uttered an early
           version of what might be called "the security expert's argument"
           against the open media:

                   No, the electric telegraph is not a sound invention. It will al-
                ways be at the mercy of the slightest disruption, wild youths,
                drunkards, bums, etc . . . . The electric telegraph meets those de-
                structive elements with only a few meters of wire over which su-
                pervision is impossible. A single man could, without being seen,
                cut the telegraph wires leading to Paris, and in twenty-four hours
                cut in ten different places the wires of the same line, without
                being arrested. The visual telegraph, on the contrary, has its tow-
                ers, its high walls, its gates well-guarded from inside by strong
                armed men. Yes, I declare, substitution of the electric telegraph
                for the visual one is a dreadful measure, a truly idiotic act.

           Dr. Barbay and his high-security stone machines were eventually
           unsuccessful, but his argument-that communication exists for
           the safety and convenience of the state, and must be carefully
           protected from the wild boys and the gutter rabble who might
           want to crash the system-would be heard again and again.
             When the French telephone system finally did arrive, its
           snarled inadequacy was to be notorious. Devotees of the Ameri-
           can Bell System often recommended a trip to France, for skeptics.
              In Edwardian Britain, issues of class and privacy were a ball-
           and-chain for telephonic progress. It was considered outrageous
           that anyone-any wild fool off the street-could simply barge

.----   --------------- - - - -

bellowing into one's office or home, preceded only by the ringing
of a telephone bell. In Britain, phones were tolerated for the use
of business, but private phones tended to be stuffed away into
closets, smoking rooms, or servants' quarters. Telephone opera-
tors were resented in Britain because they did not seem to "know
their place." And no one of breeding would print a telephone
number on a business card; this seemed a crass attempt to make
the acquaintance of strangers.
    But phone access in America
was to become a popular right         No       one of breeding
-something like universal suf-
                                       would print a telephone
frage, only more so. American
women could not yet vote               number on a business
when the phone system came             card.
through; yet from the begin-
ning American women doted on the telephone. This "feminiza-
tion" of the American telephone was often commented on by
foreigners. Phones in America were not censored or stiff or for-
malized; they were social, private, intimate, and domestic. In
America, Mother's Day is by far the busiest day of the year for the
phone network.
   The early telephone companies, and especially AT&T, were
among the foremost employers of American women. They em-
ployed the daughters of the American middle class in great ar-
mies: in 1891, eight thousand women; by 1946, almost a quarter
of a million. Women seemed to enjoy telephone work; it was
respectable, it was steady, it paid fairly well as women's work
went, and-not least-it seemed a genuine contribution to the
social good of the community. Women found Vail's ideal of pub-
lic service attractive. This was especially true in rural areas, where
women operators, running extensive rural party lines, enjoyed
considerable social power. The operator knew everyone on the
party line, and everyone knew her.
   Although Bell himself was an ardent suffragist, the telephone
company did not employ women for the sake of advancing female
liberation. AT&T did this for sound commercial reasons. The first

        14 •••••••••• 0 • • • • • • • • • • • • • • 00   THE HACKER CRACKDOWN

        telephone operators of the Bell system were not women, but teen-
        age American boys. They were telegraphic messenger boys (a
        group about to be rendered technically obsolescent), who swept
        up around the phone office, dunned customers for bills, and
        made phone connections on the switchboard, all on the cheap.
                                               Within its very first year of
    V\lithin its first year of              operation, 1878, Bell's com-
                                            pany learned a sharp lesson
    operation, Bell's company
                                            about combining teenage boys
    learned a sharp lesson                  and telephone switchboards.
    about combining boys and                Putting teenage boys in charge
                                            of the phone system brought
    telephone switchboards.                 swift and consistent disaster.
                                            Bell's chief engineer described
        them as "Wild Indians." The boys were openly rude to custom-
        ers. They talked back to subscribers, saucing off, uttering face-
        tious remarks, and generally giving lip. The rascals took Saint
        Patrick's Day off without permission. And worst of all, they
        played clever tricks with the switchboard plugs: disconnecting
        calls, crossing lines so that customers found themselves talking to
        strangers, and so forth.
           This combination of power, technical mastery, and effective
        anonymity seemed to act like catnip on teenage boys.
           This wild-kid-on-the-wires phenomenon was not confined to
        the United States; from the beginning, the same was true of the
        British phone system. An early British commentator kindly re-
        marked: "No doubt boys in their teens found the work not a little
        irksome, and it is also highly probable that under the early condi-
        tions of employment the adventurous and inquisitive spirits of
        which the average healthy boy of that age is possessed, were not
        always conducive to the best attention being given to the wants
        of the telephone subscribers."
           So the boys were flung off the system-or, at least, deprived of
        control of the switchboard. But the "adventurous and inquisitive
        spirits" of the teenage boys would be heard from in the world of
        telephony, again and again.
CRASHING THE SYSTEM               oooooooooogoooooooooooooooo     15

    The fourth stage in the technological life cycle is death: "the
Dog," dead tech. The telephone has so far avoided this fate. On
the contrary, it is thriving, still spreading, still evolving, and at
increasing speed.
    The telephone has achieved a rare and exalted state for a tech-
nological artifact: It has become a household object. The tele-
phone, like the clock, like pen and paper, like kitchen utensils and
running water, has become a technology that is visible only by its
absence. The telephone is technologically transparent. The global
telephone system is the largest and most complex machine in the
world, yet it is easy to use. More remarkable yet, the telephone is
almost entirely physically safe for the user.
    For the average citizen in the 1870s, the telephone was
weirder, more shocking, more "high tech" and harder to compre-
hend, than the most outrageous stunts of advanced computing
for us Americans in the 1990s. In trying to understand what is
happening to us today, with our bulletin board systems, direct
overseas dialing, fiber-optic transmissions, computer viruses,
hacking stunts, and a vivid tangle of new laws and new crimes, it
is important to realize that our society has been through a similar
challenge before-and that, all in all, we did rather well by it.
    Bell's stage telephone seemed bizarre at first. But the sensa-
tions of weirdness vanished quickly, once people began to hear
the familiar voices of relatives and friends, in their own homes on
their own telephones. The telephone changed from a fearsome
high-tech totem to an everyday pillar of human community.
   This has also happened, and is still happening, to computer
networks. Computer networks such as NSFnet, BITNET,
USENET, JANET are technically advanced, intimidating, and
much harder to use than telephones. Even the popular, commer-
cial computer networks, such as GEnie, Prodigy, and Compu-
Serve, cause much head-scratching and have been described as
"user-hateful." Nevertheless, they too are changing from fancy
high-tech items into everyday sources of human community.
   The words community and communication have the same root.
Wherever you put a communications network, you put a commu-

nity as well. And whenever you take away that network-confis-
cate it, outlaw it, crash it, raise its price beyond affordability-
then you hurt that community.
   Communities will fight to defend themselves. People will fight
harder and more bitterly to defend their communities than they
will fight to defend their own individual selves. And this is very
true of the "electronic community" that arose around computer
networks in the 1980s-or rather, the various electronic commu-
nities, in telephony, law enforcement, computing, and the digital
underground that, by the year 1990, were raiding, rallying, arrest-
ing, suing, jailing, fining, and issuing angry manifestos.
   None of the events of 1990 was entirely new. Nothing hap-
pened in 1990 that did not have some kind of earlier and more
understandable precedent. What gave the Hacker Crackdown its
new sense of gravity and importance was the feeling-the commu-
nity feeling-that the political stakes had been raised; that trou-
ble in cyberspace was no longer mere mischief or inconclusive
skirmishing, but a genuine fight over genuine issues, a fight for
community survival and the shape of the future.
   These electronic communities, having flourished throughout
the 1980s, were becoming aware of themselves and, increasingly,
becoming aware of other, rival communities. Worries were
sprouting up right and left, with complaints, rumors, uneasy
speculations. But it would take a catalyst, a shock, to make the
new world evident. Like Bell's great publicity break, the Tar-
riffville Rail Disaster of January 1878, it would take a cause
   That cause was the AT&T Crash of January 15,1990. After the
crash, the wounded and anxious telephone community would
come out fighting hard.

   The community of telephone technicians, engineers, opera-
tors, and researchers is the oldest community in cyberspace.
These are the veterans, the most developed group, the richest,
the most respectable, in most ways the most powerful. Whole
CRASHING THE SYSTEM              000000000000000000000000000     17

generations have come and gone since Alexander Graham Bell's
day, but the community he founded survives; people work for the
phone system today whose great-grandparents worked for the
phone system. Its specialty magazines, such as Telephony, AT6T
Technical Journal, Telephone Engineer and Management, are de-
cades old; they make computer publications such as Macworld
and PC Week look like amateur johnny-come-Iatelies.
   And the phone companies take no back seat in high technol-
ogy either. Other companies' industrial researchers may have won
new markets, but the researchers of Bell Labs have won seven
Nobel Prizes. One potent device that Bell Labs originated, the
transistor, has created entire groups of industries. Bell Labs are
world-famous for generating "a patent a day," and even have
made vital discoveries in astronomy, physics, and cosmology.
   Throughout its seventy-year history, "Ma Bell" was not so
much a company as a way of life. Until the cataclysmic divesti-
ture of the 1980s, Ma Bell was perhaps the ultimate maternalist
mega-employer. The AT&T corporate image was the "gentle gi-
ant," "the voice with a smile," a vaguely socialist-realist world of
clean-shaven linemen in shiny helmets and blandly pretty phone
girls in headsets and nylons. Bell System employees were famous
as rock-ribbed Kiwanis and Rotary members, Little League en-
thusiasts, school board people.
   During the long heyday of Ma Bell, the Bell employee corps
were nurtured top-to-bottom on a corporate ethos of public ser-
vice. There was good money in Bell, but Bell was not about
money; Bell used public relations, but never mere marketeering.
People went into the Bell System for a good life, and they had a
good life. But it was not mere money that led Bell people out in
the midst of storms and earthquakes to fight with toppled phone
poles, to wade in flooded manholes, to pull the red-eyed grave-
yard shift over collapsing switching systems. The Bell ethic was
the electrical equivalent of the postman's: Neither rain, nor snow,
nor gloom of night would stop these couriers.
   It is easy to be cynical about this, as it is easy to be cynical

    about any political or social system; but cynicism does not change
    the fact that thousands of people took these ideals very seriously.
    And some still do.
       The Bell ethos was about public service, and that was gratify-
    ing; but it was also about private power, and that was gratifying
    too. As a corporation, Bell was very special. Bell was privileged.
    Bell had snuggled up close to the state. In fact, Bell was as close
    to government as you could get in America and still make a whole
    lot of legitimate money.
       But unlike other companies, Bell was above and beyond the
    vulgar commercial fray. Through its regional operating compa-
    nies, Bell was omnipresent, local, and intimate, all over America;
    but the central ivory towers at its corporate heart were the tallest
    and the ivoriest around.
       There were other phone companies in America, to be sure; the
    so-called independents. Rural cooperatives, mostly; small fry,
    mostly tolerated, sometimes warred upon. For many decades, in-
    dependent American phone companies lived in fear and loathing
    of the official Bell monopoly (or the "Bell Octopus," as Ma Bell's
    nineteenth-century enemies described her in many angry newspa-
    per manifestos). Some few of these independent entrepreneurs,
    while legally in the wrong, fought so bitterly against the Octopus
    that their illegal phone networks were cast into the street by Bell
    agents and publicly burned.
       The pure technical sweetness of the Bell System gave its opera-
    tors, inventors, and engineers a deeply satisfying sense of power
    and mastery. They had devoted their lives to improving this vast
    nation-spanning machine; over years, whole human lives, they
    had watched it improve and grow. It was like a great technological
    temple. They were an elite, and they knew it-even if others did
     not; in fact, they felt even more powerful because others did not
       The deep attraction of this sensation of elite technical power
     should never be underestimated. "Technical power" is not for
    everybody; for many people, it simply has no charm at all. But for

~--~------      ._- -------_._--   ---   ---         -~--       ._------
CRASHING THE SYSTEM              0000°9°00000000000000000000     19

some people, it becomes the core of their lives. For a few, it is
overwhelming, obsessive; it becomes something close to an addic-
tion. People-especially clever teenage boys whose lives are other-
wise mostly powerless and put-upon-love this sensation of
secret power and are willing to do all sorts of amazing things to
achieve it. The technical power of electronics has motivated many
strange acts detailed in this book, which would otherwise be inex-
   So Bell had power beyond
mere capitalism. The Bell ser-
vice ethos worked, and it was
                                      The    deep attraction of
                                      elite technical power
often propagandized in a rather
saccharine fashion. Over the          should never be
decades, people slowly grew           underestimated.
tired of this. And then openly
impatient with it. By the early 1980s, Ma Bell was to find herself
with scarcely a real friend in the world. Vail's industrial socialism
had become hopelessly out of fashion politically. Bell would be
punished for that. And that punishment would fall harshly upon
the people of the telephone community.

   In 1983, Ma Bell was dismantled by federal court action. The
pieces of Bell are now separate corporate entities. The core of the
company became AT&T Communications and AT&T Industries
(formerly Western Electric, Bell's manufacturing arm). AT&T
Bell Labs became Bell Communications Research, Bellcore. Then
there are the Regional Bell Operating Companies, or RBOCs,
pronounced "arbocks."
   Bell was a titan and even these regional chunks are gigantic
enterprises: Fortune 50 companies with plenty of wealth and
power behind them. But the clean lines of "One Policy, One
System, Universal Service" have been shattered, apparently for-
   The "One Policy" of the early Reagan administration was to
shatter a system that smacked of noncompetitive socialism. Since
  20   000 po 0 00 0 Oil 00 0 0 0 0 0 00 0 0 00 Q 00   THE HACKER CRACKDOWN

  that time, there has been no real telephone "policy" on the fed-
  eral level. Despite the breakup, the remnants of Bell have never
  been set free to compete in the open marketplace.
     The RBOCs are still very heavily regulated, but not from the
  top. Instead, they struggle politically, economically, and legally,
  in what seems an endless turmoil, in a patchwork of overlapping
  federal and state jurisdictions. Increasingly, like other major
  American corporations, the RBOCs are becoming multinational,
  acquiring important commercial interests in Europe, Latin Amer-
  ica, and the Pacific Rim. But this, too, adds to their legal and
  political predicament.
     The people of what used to be Ma Bell are not happy about
  their fate. They feel ill used. They might have been grudgingly
  willing to make a full transition to the free market, to become
  just companies amid other companies. But this never happened.
  Instead, AT&T and the RBOCs (the "Baby Bells") feel them-
  selves wrenched from side to side by state regulators, Congress,
  the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), and especially
  the federal court of Judge Harold Greene, the magistrate who
  ordered the Bell breakup and who has been the de facto czar of
  American telecommunications ever since 1983.
     Bell people feel that they exist in a kind of paralegal limbo
  today. They don't understand what's demanded of them. If it's
  "service," why aren't they treated like a public service? And if it's
  money, then why aren't they free to compete for it? No one seems
  to know, really. Those who claim to know keep changing their
  minds. Nobody in authority seems willing to grasp the nettle for
  once and all.
     Telephone people from other countries are amazed by the
  American telephone system today. Not that it works so well; for
  nowadays even the French telephone system works, more or less.
  They are amazed that the American telephone system still works
  at all, under these strange conditions.
     Bell's "One System" of long-distance service is now only about
  80 percent of a system, with the remainder held by Sprint, MCI,
  and the midget long-distance companies. Ugly wars over dubious

CRASHING THE SYSTEM                 ooooooooqoqopoOOODOQROOOOOQ           21

corporate practices such as "slamming" (an underhanded
method of snitching clients from rivals) break out with some
regularity in the realm of long-distance service. The battle to
break Bell's long-distance monopoly was long and ugly, and since
the breakup, the battlefield has not become much prettier.
AT&T's famous shame-and-blame advertisements, which empha-
sized the shoddy work and purported ethical shadiness of its com-
petitors, were much remarked on for their studied psychological
   There is much bad blood in this industry and much long-
treasured resentment. AT&T's postbreakup corporate logo, a
striped sphere, is known in the industry as the "Death Star" (a
reference from the movie Star Wars, in which the Death Star was
the spherical high-tech fortress of the harsh-breathing imperial
ultra-baddie, Darth Vader). Even AT&T employees are less than
thrilled by the Death Star. A popular (though banned) T-shirt
among AT&T employees bears the old-fashioned bell logo of the
Bell System, plus the newfangled striped sphere, with the before-
and-after comments: "This is your brain-This is your brain on
drugs!" AT&T made a very well-financed and determined effort
to break into the personal computer market; it was disastrous,
and telco computer experts are derisively known by their compet-
itors as "the pole-climbers." AT&T and the Baby Bell RBOCs still
seem to have few friends.
   Under conditions of sharp commercial competition, a crash
like that of January 15,1990, was a major embarrassment to
AT&T. It was a direct blow against their much-treasured reputa-
tion for reliability. Within days of the crash, AT&T's chief execu-
tive officer, Bob Allen, officially apologized, in terms of deeply
pained humility:

     AT&T had a major service disruption last Monday. We didn't
  live up to our own standards of quality, and we didn't live up to
  yours. It's as simple as that. And that's not acceptable to us. Or to
  you. . . . We understand how much people have come to de-
  pend upon AT&T service, so our AT&T Bell Laboratories scien-
22     000000000000000000000000000   THE HACKER CRACKDOWN

     tists and our network engineers are doing everything possible to
     guard against a recurrence. . . . We know there's no way to make
     up for the inconvenience this problem may have caused you.

Mr. Allen's "open letter to customers" was printed in lavish ads
all over the country: in the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, The
New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Philadelphia
Inquirer, San Francisco Chronicle Examiner, Boston Globe, Dallas
Morning News, Detroit Free Press, Washington Post, Houston
Chronicle, Cleveland Plain Dealer, Atlanta Journal Constitution,
Minneapolis Star Tribune, Sf. Paul Pioneer Press Dispatch, Seattle
Times/Post Intelligencer, Tacoma News Tribune, Miami Herald,
Pittsburgh Press, Sf. Louis Post Dispatch, Denver Post, Phoenix
Republic Gazette, and Tampa Tribune.
   In another press release, AT&T went to some pains to suggest
that this "software glitch" might have happened just as easily to
MCI, although, in fact, it hadn't. (MCl's switching software was
quite different from AT&T's-though not necessarily any safer.)
AT&T also announced plans to offer a rebate of service on Valen-
tine's Day to make up for the loss during the Crash.
   "Every technical resource available, including Bell Labs scien-
tists and engineers, has been devoted to assuring it will not occur
again," the public was told. They were further assured that "The
chances of a recurrence are small-a problem of this magnitude
never occurred before."
    In the meantime, however, police and corporate security main-
tained their own suspicions about "the chances of recurrence"
and the real reason why a "problem of this magnitude" had ap-
peared, seemingly out of nowhere. Police and security knew for a
fact that hackers of unprecedented sophistication were illegally
entering, and reprogramming, certain digital switching stations.
Rumors of hidden "viruses" and secret "logic bombs" in the
switches ran rampant in the underground, with much chortling
over AT&T's predicament and idle speculation over what unsung
hacker genius was responsible for it. Some hackers, including po-

lice informants, were trying hard to finger one another as the true
culprits of the crash.
    Telco people found little comfort in objectivity when they con-
templated these possibilities. It was just too close to the bone for
them; it was embarrassing; it hurt so much, it was hard even to
talk about.
    There had always been thieving and misbehavior in the phone
system. There had always been trouble with the rival indepen-
dents and in the local loops. But to have such trouble in the core
of the system, the long-distance switching stations, was a horrify-
ing affair. To telco people, this was all the difference between
finding roaches in your kitchen and big horrid sewer rats in your
    From the outside, to the av-
erage citizen, the telcos still         It was all the difference
seem gigantic and impersonal.
                                       between finding roaches In
The American public seems to
regard them as something akin          your kitchen and big
to Soviet apparats. Even when          horrid sewer rats in your
the telcos do their best cor-
porate-citizen routine, subsi-         bedroom.
dizing magnet high schools
and sponsoring news shows on public television, they seem to win
little except public suspicion.
    But from the inside, all this looks very different. There's harsh
competition and a legal and political system that seems baffled
and bored, when not actively hostile to telco interests. There's a
loss of morale, a deep sensation of having somehow lost the up-
per hand. Technological change has caused a loss of data and
revenue to other, newer forms of transmission. There's theft, and
new forms of theft, of growing scale and boldness and sophistica-
tion. With all these factors, it was no surprise to see the telcos,
large and small, break out in a litany of bitter complaint.
    In late 1988 and throughout 1989, telco representatives grew
shrill in their complaints to those few American law enforcement
    24   000000000000000000000000000   THE HACKER CRACKDOWN

   officials who make it their business to try to understand what
   telephone people are talking about. Telco security officials had
   discovered the computer-hacker underground, infiltrated it thor-
   oughly, and become deeply alarmed at its growing expertise. Here
   they had found a target that was not only loathsome on its face,
   but clearly ripe for counterattack.
      Those bitter rivals-AT&T, Mel, and Sprint, and a crowd of
   Baby Bells: PacBell, Bell South, Southwestern Bell, NYNEX,
                                       U S West, as well as the Bell
H  ackers and code thieves             research consortium Bellcore
were wily prey.                        and the independent long-dis-
                                       tance carrier Mid-American-
   all were to have their role in the great hacker dragnet of 1990.
   After years of being battered and pushed around, the telcos had,
   at least in a small way, seized the initiative again. After years of
   turmoil, telcos and government officials were once again to work
   smoothly in concert in defense of the System. Optimism blos-
   somed; enthusiasm grew on all sides; the taste of prospective
   vengeance was sweet.

        From the beginning-even before the crackdown had a name
    -secrecy was a big problem. There were many good reasons for
    secrecy in the hacker crackdown. Hackers and code thieves were
    wily prey, slinking back to their bedrooms and basements and
    destroying vital incriminating evidence at the first hint of trouble.
    Furthermore, the crimes themselves were heavily technical and
    difficult to describe, even to police-much less the general pub-
        When such crimes had been described intelligibly to the pub-
    lic, in the past, that very publicity had tended to increase the
    crimes enormously. Telco officials, while painfully aware of the
    vulnerabilities of their systems, were anxious not to publicize
    those weaknesses. Experience showed them that those weak-
    nesses, once discovered, would be exploited pitilessly by tens of
    thousands of people-not only by professional grifters and by
    underground hackers and phone phreaks, but by many otherwise

more-or-less honest everyday folks, who regarded stealing service
from the faceless, soulless "Phone Company" as a kind of harm-
less indoor sport. When it came to protecting their interests,
telcos had long since given up on general public sympathy for
"the Voice with a Smile." Nowadays the telco's "Voice" was very
likely to be a computer's; and the American public showed much
less of the proper respect and gratitude due the fine public service
bequeathed them by Dr. Bell and Mr. Vail. The more efficient,
high tech, computerized, and impersonal the telcos became, it
seemed, the more they were met by sullen public resentment and
amoral greed.
   Telco officials wanted to punish the phone-phreak under-
ground, in as public and exemplary a manner as possible. They
wanted to make dire examples of the worst offenders, to seize the
ringleaders and intimidate the small fry, to discourage and
frighten the wacky hobbyists, and to send the professional grifters
to jail. To do all this, publicity was vital.
   Yet operational security was even more so. If word got out that
a nationwide crackdown was coming, the hackers might simply
vanish: destroy the evidence, hide their computers, go to earth,
and wait for the campaign to blow over. Even the young hackers
were crafty and suspicious; as for the professional grifters, they
tended to split for the nearest state line at the first sign of trou-
ble. For the crackdown to work well, they would all have to be
caught red-handed, swept upon suddenly, out of the blue, from
every corner of the compass.
   There was another strong motive for secrecy. In the worst-case
scenario, a blown campaign might leave the telcos open to a
devastating hacker counterattack. If saboteurs had caused the
January 15 crash-if indeed there were gifted hackers loose in the
nation's long-distance switching systems-then they might react
unpredictably to a crackdown. Even if caught, they might have
talented and vengeful friends still running around loose. Conceiv-
ably, it could turn ugly. Very ugly. In fact, it was hard to imagine
just how ugly things might turn, given that possibility.
   Counterattack from hackers was a genuine concern for the
26   oooooooooggoooooooooooooooo   THE HACKER CRACKDOWN

telcos. In point of fact, they would never suffer any such counter-
attack. But in months to come, they would be at some pains to
publicize this notion and to utter grim warnings about it.
   Still, that risk seemed well worth running. Better to run the
risk of vengeful attacks than to live at the mercy of potential
crashers. Any cop would tell you that a protection racket had no
real future.
   And publicity was such a useful thing. Corporate security of-
ficers, including telco security, generally work under conditions of
great discretion. And security officials do not make money for
their companies. Their job is to prevent the loss of money, which
is much less glamorous than actually winning profits.
   If you are a corporate security official, and you do your job
brilliantly, then nothing bad happens to your company at all.
Because of this, you appear completely superfluous. This is one of
the many unattractive aspects of security work. It's rare that these
folks have the chance to draw some healthy attention to their
   Publicity also served the interest of their friends in law enforce-
ment. Public officials, including those in law enforcement, thrive
by attracting favorable public interest. A brilliant prosecution in a
matter of vital public interest can make the career of a prosecut-
ing attorney. And for a police officer, good publicity opens the
purses of the legislature; it may bring a citation, or a promotion,
or at least a rise in status and the respect of one's peers.
    But to have both publicity and secrecy is to have one's cake
and eat it too. In months to come, as we will show, this impossi-
ble act was to cause great pain to the agents of the crackdown.
But early on, it seemed possible-maybe even likely-that the
crackdown could successfully combine the best of both worlds.
The arrest of hackers would be heavily publicized. The actual
deeds of the hackers, which were technically hard to explain and
also a security risk, would be left decently obscured. The threat
hackers posed would be heavily trumpeted; the likelihood of their
actually committing such fearsome crimes would be left to the
public's imagination. The spread of the computer underground,

     ----------         _~_-   ------

and its growing technical sophistication, would be heavily pro-
moted; the actual hackers themselves, mostly bespectacled
middle-class white suburban teenagers, would be denied any per-
sonal publicity.
   It does not seem to have occurred to any telco official that the
hackers accused would demand a day in court; that journalists
would smile upon the hackers as "good copy"; that wealthy high-
tech entrepreneurs would offer moral and financial support to
crackdown victims; that constitutional lawyers would show up
with briefcases, frowning mightily. This possibility does not seem
to have ever entered the game plan.
   But even if it had, it probably would not have slowed the
ferocious pursuit of a stolen phone-company document, melliflu-
ously known as "Control Office Administration of Enhanced 911
Services for Special Services and Major Account Centers."
   In the pages to follow, we will explore the worlds of police and
the computer underground, and the large shadowy area where
they overlap. But first, we must explore the battleground. Before
we leave the world of the telcos, we must understand what a
switching system actually is and how your telephone actually

   To the average citizen, the idea of the telephone is represented
by, well, a telephone: a device that you talk into. To a telco profes-
sional, however, the telephone itself is known, in lordly fashion,
as a "subset." The subset in your house is a mere adjunct, a
distant nerve ending, of the central switching stations, which are
ranked in levels of hierarchy, up to the long-distance electronic
switching stations, which are some of the largest computers on
   Let us imagine that it is, say, 1925, before the introduction of
computers, when the phone system was simpler and somewhat
easier to grasp. Let's further imagine that you are Miss Leticia
Luthor, a fictional operator for Ma Bell in New York City of the
   Basically, you, Miss Luther, are the "switching system." You

are sitting in front of a large vertical switchboard, known as a
"cordboard," made of shiny wooden panels, with ten thousand
metal-rimmed holes punched in them, known as jacks. The engi-
neers would have put more holes into your switchboard, but ten
thousand is as many as you can reach without actually having to
get up out of your chair.
    Each of these ten thousand holes has its own little electric
light bulb, known as a "lamp," and its own neatly printed number
    With the ease of long habit, you are scanning your board for
lit-up bulbs. This is what you do most of the time, so you are
used to it.
    A lamp lights up. This means that the phone at the end of that
line has been taken off the hook. Whenever a handset is taken off
the hook, that closes a circuit inside the phone that then signals
the local office-you-automatically. There might be somebody
calling, or then again the phone might be simply off the hook,
but this does not matter to you yet. The first thing you do is
record that number in your logbook, in your fine American
public-school handwriting. This comes first, naturally, because it
is done for billing purposes.
    You now take the plug of your answering cord, which goes
directly to your headset, and plug it into the lit-up hole. "Opera-
tor," you announce.
    In operator's classes, before taking this job, you have been is-
sued a large pamphlet full of canned operator's responses for all
kinds of contingencies, which you had to memorize. You have
also been trained in a proper nonregional, nonethnic pronuncia-
tion and tone of voice. You rarely have the occasion to make any
spontaneous remark to a customer, and in fact this is frowned
upon (except out on the rural lines where people have time on
their hands and get up to all kinds of mischief).
    A tough-sounding user's voice at the end of the line gives you a
number. Immediately, you write that number down in your log-
book, next to the caller's number, which you just wrote earlier.

-------_       .. _.-~-
CRASHING THE SYSTEM               oooooooooogooooooooooooooog     29

You then look and see if the number this guy wants is in fact on
your switchboard, which it generally is, as most calls are local
ones. Long distance costs so much that people use it sparingly.
   Only then do you pick up a         S
calling cord from a shelf at the      orne of the girls think
base of the switchboard. This is        there are bugs living in
a long elastic cord mounted on
a kind of reel so that it will zip      those cable holes.
back in when you unplug it.
There are a lot of cords down there, and when a bunch of them
are out at once they look like a nest of snakes. Some of the girls
think there are bugs living in those cable holes. They're called
"cable mites" and are supposed to bite your hands and give you
rashes. You don't believe this yourself.
   Gripping the head of your calling cord, you slip the tip of it
deftly into the sleeve of the jack for the called person. Not all the
way in, though. You just touch it. If you hear a clicking sound,
that means the line is busy and you can't put the call through. If
the line is busy, you have to stick the calling cord into a "busy-
tone jack," which will give the guy a busy tone. This way you
don't have to talk to him yourself and absorb his natural human
   But the line isn't busy. So you pop the cord all the way in.
Relay circuits in your board make the distant phone ring, and if
somebody picks it up off the hook, then a phone conversation
starts. You can hear this conversation on your answering cord,
until you unplug it. In fact you could listen to the whole conver-
sation if you wanted, but this is sternly frowned upon by manage-
ment, and frankly, when you've overheard one, you've pretty
much heard 'em all.
   You can tell how long the conversation lasts by the glow of the
calling cord's lamp, down on the calling cord's shelf. When it's
over, you unplug and the calling cord zips back into place.
   Having done this stuff a few hundred thousand times, you
become quite good at it. In fact you're plugging, and connecting,

and disconnecting ten, twenty, forty cords at a time. It's a manual
handicraft, really, quite satisfying in a way, rather like weaving on
an upright loom.
   Should a long-distance call come up, it would be different, but
not all that different. Instead of connecting the call through your
own local switchboard, you have to go up the hierarchy, onto the
long-distance lines, known as "trunklines." Depending on how far
the call goes, it may have to work its way through a whole series
of operators, which can take quite a while. The caller doesn't wait
on the line while this complex process is negotiated across the
country by the gaggle of operators. Instead, the caller hangs up,
and you call him back yourself when the call has finally worked its
way through.
   After four or five years of this work, you get married, and you
have to quit your job, this being the natural order of womanhood
in the American 1920s. The phone company has to train some-
body else-maybe two people, since the phone system has grown
somewhat in the meantime. And this costs money.
   In fact, using any kind of human being as a switching system is
a very expensive proposition. Eight thousand Leticia Luthors
would bc bad enough, but a quarter of a million of them is a
military-scale proposition and makes drastic measures in automa-
tion financially worthwhile.
   Although the phone system continues to grow today, the num-
ber of human beings employed by telcos has been dropping
steadily for years. Phone "operators" now deal with nothing but
unusual contingencies, all routine operations having been
shrugged off onto machines. Consequently, telephone operators
are considerably less machinelike nowadays, and have been
known to havc accents and actual character in their voices. When
you reach human operators today, they are rather more "human"
than they were in Leticia's day-but on the other hand, human
beings in the phone system are much harder to reach in thc first
   Over the first half of the twentieth century, "electromechani-
cal" switching systems of growing complexity were introduced

~ - - --_.~~-_.-              -   ----
CRASHING THE SYSTEM                 oooooooogoooooooooooooooooo   31

cautiously into the phone system. In certain backwaters, some of
these hybrid systems are still in use. But after 1965, the phone
system began to go completely electronic, and this is by far the
dominant mode today. Electromechanical systems have "cross-
bars," and "brushes," and other large moving mechanical parts,
which, while faster and cheaper than Leticia, are still slow and
tend to wear out fairly quickly.
    But fully electronic systems are inscribed on silicon chips, and
are lightning-fast and quite durable. They are much cheaper to
maintain than even the best electromechanical systems, and they
fit into half the space. And with every year, the silicon chip grows
smaller, faster, and cheaper yet. Best of all, automated electronics
work around the clock and don't have salaries or health insurance.
    There are, however, quite serious drawbacks to the use of com-
puter chips. When they do break down, it is a daunting challenge
to figure out what the heck has gone wrong with them. A broken
cordboard generally had a problem in it big enough to see. A
broken chip has invisible, microscopic faults. And the faults in
bad software can be so subtle as to be practically theological.
    If you want a mechanical           'T'
system to do something new,             1 he faults in bad
th~n you must travel to where           software can be so subtle
It IS, pull pieces out of it, and
wire in new pieces. This costs          as to be practically
money. However, if you want a           theological.
chip to do something new, all " ' - - - - - - = - - - - - - - - - -
you have to do is change its software, which is easy, fast, and dirt
cheap. You don't even have to see the chip to change its program.
Even if you did see the chip, it wouldn't look like much. A chip
with program X doesn't look one whit different from a chip with
program y.
   With the proper codes and sequences, and access to special-
ized phone lines, you can change electronic switching systems all
over America from anywhere you please.
   And so can other people. If they know how, and if they want
to, they can sneak into a microchip via the special phone lines


      and diddle with it, leaving no physical trace at all. If they broke
      into the operator's station and held Leticia at gunpoint, that
      would be very obvious. If they broke into a telco building and
      went after an electromechanical switch with a toolbelt, that
      would at least leave many traces. But people can do all manner of
      amazing things to computer switches just by typing on a key-
      board, and keyboards are everywhere today. The extent of this
      vulnerability is deep, dark, broad, almost mind-boggling, and yet
      this is a basic, primal fact of life about any computer on a net-
          Security experts over the past twenty years have insisted, with
      growing urgency, that this basic vulnerability represents an en-
      tirely new level of risk, of unknown but obviously dire potential to
      society. And they are right.
         An electronic switching station does pretty much everything
      Letitia did, except in nanoseconds and on a much larger scale.
      Compared to Miss Luthor's 10,000 jacks, even a primitive lESS
      switching computer, 1960s vintage, has 128,000 lines. And the
      current AT&T system of choice is the monstrous fifth-generation
          An Electronic Switching Station can scan every line on its
      "board" in a tenth of a second, and it does this over and over,
      tirelessly, around the clock. Instead of eyes, it uses "ferrod scan-
      ners" to check the condition of local lines and trunks. Instead of
      hands, it has "signal distributors," "central pulse distributors,"
      "magnetic latching relays," and "reed switches," which complete
      and break the calls. Instead of a brain, it has a "central proces-
      sor." Instead of an instruction manual, it has a program. Instead
      of a handwritten logbook for recording and billing calls, it has
      magnetic tapes. And it never has to talk to anybody. Everything a
      customer might say to it is done by punching the direct-dial tone
      buttons on your subset.
          Although an Electronic Switching Station can't talk, it does
      need an interface, some way to relate to its, er, employers. This
      interface is known as the "master control center." (This interface
      might be better known simply as "the interface," as it doesn't

.-------                                                          -----------
CRASHING THE SYSTEM                000000000000000000000000000      33

actually "control" phone calls directly. However, a term such as
"master control center" is just the kind of rhetoric that tel co
maintenance engineers-and hackers-find particularly satisfy-
    Using the master control center, a phone engineer can test
local and trunk lines for malfunctions. He (rarely she) can check
various alarm displays, measure traffic on the lines, examine the
records of telephone usage and the charges for those calls, and
change the programming.
    So, of course, can anybody else who gets into the master con-
trol center by remote control, if he (rarely she) has managed to
figure out how-or, more likely, has swiped the knowledge from
people who already know.
    In 1989 and 1990, one particular RBOC, BellSouth, which felt
particularly troubled, spent a purported $1.2 million on computer
security. Some think it spent as much as $2 million, if you count
all the associated costs. Two million dollars is still very little com-
pared to the great cost-saving utility of telephonic computer sys-
   Unfortunately, computers are also stupid. Unlike human
beings, computers possess the truly profound stupidity of the
   In the 1960s, in the first shocks of spreading computerization,
there was much easy talk about the stupidity of computers-how
they could "only follow the program" and were rigidly required to
do "only what they were told." There has been rather less talk
about the stupidity of computers since they began to achieve
grandmaster status in chess tournaments and to manifest many
other impressive forms of apparent cleverness.
   Nevertheless, computers still are profoundly brittle and stupid;
they are simply vastly more subtle in their stupidity and brittle-
ness. The computers of the 1990s are much more reliable in their
components than earlier computer systems, but they are also
called upon to do far more complex things, under far more chal-
lenging conditions.
   On a basic mathematical level, every single line of a software
34 •••••••••••••••••••••••••••     THE HACKER CRACKDOWN

program offers a chance for some possible screwup. Software does
not sit still when it works; it "runs," it interacts with itself and
with its own inputs and outputs. By analogy, it stretches like
putty into millions of possible shapes and conditions, so many
shapes that they can never all be successfully tested, not even in
the life span of the universe. Sometimes the putty snaps.
   The stuff we call "software" is not like anything that human
society is used to thinking about. Software is something like a
machine, and something like mathematics, and something like
language, and something like thought, and art, and informa-
tion . . . but software is not in fact any of those other things.
The protean quality of software is one of the great sources of its
fascination. It also makes software very powerful, very subtle, very
unpredictable, and very risky.
   Some software is bad and buggy. Some is "robust," even "bul-
letproof." The best software is that which has been tested by
thousands of users under thousands of different conditions, over
years. It is then known as "stable." This does not mean that the
software is now flawless, free of bugs. It generally means that
there are plenty of bugs in it, but the bugs are well identified and
fairly well understood.
   There is simply no way to assure that software is free of flaws.
Though software is mathematical in nature, it cannot be
"proven" like a mathematical theorem; software is more like lan-
guage, with inherent ambiguities, with different definitions, dif-
ferent assumptions, different levels of meaning that can conflict.
   Human beings can manage, more or less, with human language
because we can catch the gist of it.
   Computers, despite years of effort in "artificial intelligence,"
have proven spectacularly bad in "catching the gist" of anything
at all. The tiniest bit of semantic grit still may bring the mightiest
computer tumbling down. One of the most hazardous things you
can do to a computer program is try to improve it-to try to make
it safer. Software "patches" represent new, untried un-i'stable"
software, which is by definition riskier.
   The modern telephone system has come to depend, utterly
CRASHING THE SYSTEM              000000000000000000000000000    35

and irretrievably, upon software. And the System Crash of Janu-
ary 15, 1990, was caused by an improvement in software. Or
rather, an attempted improvement.
   As it happened, the problem itself-the problem per se-took
this form. A piece of telco software had been written in C lan-
guage, a standard language of the telco field. Within the C soft-
ware was a long "do . . . while" construct. The "do . . . while"
construct contained a "switch" statement. The "switch" state-
ment contained an "if" clause. The "if" clause contained a
"break." The "break" was supposed to break the "if" clause. In-
stead, the "break" broke the "switch" statement.
   That was the problem, the actual reason why people picking up
phones on January 15, 1990, could not talk to one another.
   Or at least, that was the subtle, abstract, cyberspatial seed of
the problem. This is how the problem manifested itself from the
realm of programming into the realm of real life.
   The System 7 software for AT&T's 4ESS switching station, the
"Generic 44E14 Central Office Switch Software," had been ex-
tensively tested, and was considered very stable. By the end of
1989, eighty of AT&T's switching systems nationwide had been
programmed with the new software. Cautiously, thirty-four sta-
tions were left to run the slower, less-capable System 6, because
AT&T suspected there might be shakedown problems with the
new and unprecedentedly sophisticated System 7 network.
   The stations with System 7 were programmed to switch over to
a backup net in case of any problems. In mid-December 1989,
however, a new high-velocity, high-security software patch was
distributed to each of the 4ESS switches that would enable them
to switch over even more quickly, making the System 7 network
that much more secure.
   Unfortunately, everyone of these 4ESS switches was now in
possession of a small but deadly flaw.
   In order to maintain the network, switches must monitor the
condition of other switches-whether they are up and running,
whether they have temporarily shut down, whether they are over-
loaded and in need of assistance, and so forth. The new software
    36   000000000 OR 0 00 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 00 0000   THE HACKER CRACKDOWN

   helped control this bookkeeping function by monitoring the
   status calls from other switches.
       It only takes four to six seconds for a troubled 4ESS switch to
   rid itself of all its calls, drop everything temporarily, and reboot
   its software from scratch. Starting over from scratch generally will
   rid the switch of any software problems that may have developed
   in the course of running the system. Bugs that arise will be simply
   wiped out by this process. It is a clever idea. This process of
   automatically rebooting from scratch is known as the "normal
    fault recovery routine." Because AT&T's software is in fact excep-
                                         tionally stable, systems rarely
Unfortunately, everyone                  have to go into "fault recovery"
                                         in the first place; but AT&T
of these 4ESS switches
                                         has long boasted of its "real-
was now in possession of                 world" reliability, and this tac-
a small but deadly flaw.                 tic is a belt-and-suspenders
       The 4ESS switch used its new software to monitor its fellow
    switches as they recovered from faults. As other switches came
   back on line after recovery, they would send their "OK" signals to
    the switch. The switch would make a little note to that effect in
    its "status map," recognizing that the fellow switch was back and
    ready to go, and should be sent some calls and put back to regular
        Unfortunately, while it was busy bookkeeping with the status
    map, the tiny flaw in the brand-new software came into play. The
    flaw caused the 4ESS switch to interact, subtly but drastically,
    with incoming telephone calls from human users. If-and only if
   -two incoming phone calls happened to hit the switch within a
    hundredth of a second, then a small patch of data would be
    garbled by the flaw.
        But the switch had been programmed to monitor itself con-
    stantly for any possible damage to its data. When the switch
    perceived that its data had been garbled somehow, then it too
    would go down, for swift repairs to its software. It would signal its

CRASHING THE SYSTEM               OOOooooooogooooooooooopoooo     37

fellow switches not to send any more work. It would go into the
fault-recovery mode for four to six seconds. And then the switch
would be fine again, and would send out its "OK, ready for work"
   However, the "OK, ready for work" signal was the very thing
that had caused the switch to go down in the first place. And all the
System 7 switches had the same flaw in their status-map soft-
ware. As soon as they stopped to make the bookkeeping note that
their fellow switch was "OK," then they too would become vul-
nerable to the slight chance that two phone calls would hit them
within a hundredth of a second.
   At approximately 2:25 P.M. EST on Monday, January 15, 1990,
one of AT&T's 4ESS toll switching systems in New York City had
an actual, legitimate, minor problem. It went into fault recovery
routines, announced, "I'm going down," then announced, "I'm
back, I'm OK." And this cheery message then blasted throughout
the network to many of its fellow 4ESS switches.
   Many of the switches, at first, escaped trouble. These lucky
switches were not hit by the coincidence of two phone calls
within a hundredth of a second. Their software did not fail-at
first. But three switches-in Atlanta, St. Louis, and Detroit-
were unlucky and were caught with their hands full. They went
down. And came back up, almost immediately. And they too
began to broadcast the lethal message that they were "OK" again,
activating the lurking software bug in yet other switches.
   As more and more switches did have that bit of bad luck and
collapsed, the call traffic became more and more densely packed
in the remaining switches, which were groaning to keep up with
the load. And of course, as the calls became more densely packed,
the switches were much more likely to be hit twice within a hun-
dredth of a second.
   It only took four seconds for a switch to get well. There was no
physical damage of any kind to the switches, after all. Physically,
they were working perfectly. This situation was "only" a software
38   00000000000 ••• 0 • • • • • • • • • 000   THE HACKER CRACKDOWN

   But the 4ESS switches were leaping up and down every four to
six seconds, in a virulent spreading wave all over America, in
utter, manic, mechanical stupidity. They kept knocking one an-
other down with their contagious "OK" messages.
   It took about ten minutes for the chain reaction to cripple the
network. Even then, switches would periodically luck out and
manage to resume their normal work. Many calls-millions of
them-were managing to get through. But millions weren't.
   The switching stations that used System 6 were not directly
affected. Thanks to these old-fashioned switches, AT&T's na-
tional system avoided complete collapse. This fact also made it
clear to engineers that System 7 was at fault.
   Bell Labs engineers, working feverishly in New Jersey, Illinois,
and Ohio, tried their entire repertoire of standard network reme-
dies on the malfunctioning System 7. None of the remedies
worked, of course, because nothing like this had ever happened to
any phone system before.
   By cutting out the backup safety network entirely, they were
able to reduce the frenzy of "OK" messages by about half. The
system then began to recover, as the chain reaction slowed. By
11:30 P.M. on Monday, January 15, sweating engineers on the
midnight shift breathed a sigh of relief as the last switch cleared
   By Tuesday they were pulling all the brand-new 4ESS software
and replacing it with an earlier version of System 7.
   If these had been human operators, rather than computers at
work, someone would simply have eventually stopped screaming.
It would have been obvious that the situation was not "OK," and
common sense would have kicked in. Humans possess common
sense-at least to some extent. Computers simply don't.
   On the other hand, computers can handle hundreds of calls
per second. Humans simply can't. If every human being in Amer-
ica worked for the phone company, we couldn't match the per-
formance of digital switches: direct dialing, three-way calling,
speed-calling, call waiting, Caller 10, all the rest of the cornuco-
 CRASHING THE SYSTEM             000000000000000000000000000    39

  pia of digital bounty. Replacing computers with operators is sim-
  ply not an option anymore.
     And yet we still, anachronistically, expect humans to be run-
  ning our phone system. It is hard for us to understand that
 we have sacrificed huge amounts of initiative and control to
 senseless yet powerful machines. When the phones fail, we want
 somebody to be responsible. We want somebody to blame.
     When the Crash of January 15 happened, the American popu-
 lace simply was not prepared to understand that enormous land-
 slides in cyberspace, like the crash itself, can happen and can be
 nobody's fault in particular. It was easier to believe, maybe even
 in some odd way more reassuring to believe, that some evil per-
 son, or evil group, had done this to us. "Hackers" had done it.
 With a virus. A Trojan horse. A software bomb. A dirty plot of
 some kind. People believed this, responsible people. In 1990, they
were looking hard for evidence to confirm their heartfelt suspi-
    And they would look in a lot of places.
    Come 1991, however, the outlines of an apparent new reality
would begin to emerge from the fog.
    On July 1 and 2, 1991, computer-software collapses in tele-
phone switching stations disrupted service in Washington, D.C.,
Pittsburgh, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. Once again, seem-
ingly minor maintenance problems had crippled the digital Sys-
tem 7. About 12 million people were affected in the Crash of July
1, 1991.
   Said The New York Times service: "Telephone company execu-
tives and federal regulators said they were not ruling out the
possibility of sabotage by computer hackers, but most seemed to
think the problems stemmed from some unknown defect in the
software running the networks."
   And sure enough, within the week, a red-faced software com-
pany, DSC Communications Corporation of Plano, Texas, owned
up to "glitches" in the "signal transfer point" software that DSC
had designed for Bell Atlantic and Pacific Bell. The immediate

cause of the July I crash was a single mistyped character: one tiny
typographical flaw in one single line of the software. One mis-
typed letter, in one single line, had deprived the nation's capital
of phone service. It was not particularly surprising that this tiny
flaw had escaped attention; a typical System 7 station requires 10
million lines of code.
   On Tuesday, September 17, 1991, came the most spectacular
outage yet. This case had nothing to do with software failures-at
least, not directly. Instead, a group of AT&T's switching stations
in New York City had simply run out of electrical power and shut
down cold. Their backup batteries had failed. Automatic warning
systems were supposed to warn of the loss of battery power, but
those automatic systems had failed as well.
   This time, Kennedy, La Guardia, and Newark airports all had
their voice and data communications cut. This horrifying event
was particularly ironic, as hacker attacks on airport computers
had long been a standard nightmare scenario, much trumpeted
by computer-security experts who feared the computer under-
ground. There had even been a Hollywood thriller about sinister
hackers ruining airport computers-Die Hard II.
   Now AT&T itself had crippled airports with computer mal-
functions-not just one airport, but three at once, some' of the
busiest in the world.
   Air traffic came to a standstill throughout the Greater New
York area, causing more than 500 flights to be canceled, in a
spreading wave all over America and even into Europe. Another
500 or so flights were delayed, affecting, all in all, about 85,000
passengers. (One of these passengers was the chairman of the
Federal Communications Commission.)
   Stranded passengers in New York and New Jersey were further
infuriated to discover that they could not even manage to make a
long-distance phone call to explain their delay to loved ones or
business associates. Thanks to the crash, about four and a half
million domestic calls and half a million international calls failed
to get through.

   The September 17 New York City crash, unlike the previous
ones, involved not a whisper of "hacker" misdeeds. On the con-
trary, by 1991, AT&T itself was suffering much of the vilification
that had formerly been directed at hackers. Congresspeople were
grumbling. So were state and federal regulators. And so was the
   For its part, ancient rival MCI took out snide full-page newspa-
per ads in New York, offering its own long-distance services for
the "next time that AT&T goes down."
   "You wouldn't find a classy company like AT&T using such
advertising," protested AT&T Chairman Robert Allen, un con-
vincingly. Once again, out came the full-page AT&T apologies in
newspapers, apologies for "an inexcusable culmination of both
human and mechanical failure." (This time, however, AT&T of-
fered no discount on later calls. Unkind critics suggested that
AT&T was worried about setting any precedent for refunding the
financial losses caused by telephone crashes.)
   Industry journals asked publicly if AT&T was "asleep at the
switch." The telephone network, America's purported marvel of
high-tech reliability, had gone down three times in eighteen
months. Fortune magazine listed the Crash of September 17
among the "Biggest Business Goofs of 1991," cruelly parodying
AT&T's ad campaign in an article entitled "AT&T Wants You
Back (Safely On the Ground, God Willing)."
   Why had those New York switching systems simply run out of
power? Because no human being had attended to the alarm sys-
tem. Why did the alarm systems blare automatically, without any
human being noticing? Because the three telco technicians who
should have been listening were absent from their stations in the
power room, on another floor of the building-attending a train-
ing class. A training class about the alarm systems for the power
   "Crashing the System" was no longer "unprecedented" by late
1991. On the contrary, it no longer even seemed an oddity.
By 1991, it was clear that all the police in the world could no

longer "protect" the phone system from crashes. By far the worst
crashes the system had ever had, had been inflicted, by the sys-
tem, upon itself And this time nobody was making cocksure
statements that this was an anomaly, something that would never
happen again. By 1991 the System's defenders had met their
nebulous Enemy, and the Enemy was-the System.

              THE DIGITAL

                               The date was May 9, 1990. The
Pope was touring Mexico City. Hustlers from the Medellin Cartel
were trying to buy black-market Stinger missiles in Florida. On
the comics page, Doonesbury character Andy was dying of AIDS.
And then . . . a highly unusual item whose novelty and calcu-
lated rhetoric won it headscratching attention in newspapers all
over America.
   The U.S. Attorney's office in Phoenix, Arizona, had issued a
press release announcing a nationwide law enforcement crack-
down against "illegal computer hacking activities." The sweep
was officially known as "Operation Sundevil."

       Eight paragraphs in the press release gave the bare facts:
    twenty-seven search warrants carried out on May 8, with three
    arrests, and 150 agents on the prowl in twelve cities across Amer-
    ica. (Different counts in local press reports yielded "thirteen,"
    "fourteen," and "sixteen" cities.) Officials estimated that crimi-
    nal losses of revenue to telephone companies "may run into mil-
    lions of dollars." Credit for the Sundevil investigations was taken
    by the    u.s.Secret Service, Assistant U.S. Attorney Tim Holtzen
    of Phoenix, and the assistant attorney general of Arizona, Gail
       The prepared remarks of Garry M. Jenkins, appearing in a U.S.
    Department of Justice press release, were of particular interest.
    Mr. Jenkins was the assistant director of the U.S. Secret Service
    and the highest-ranking federal official to take any direct public
    role in the hacker crackdown of 1990.

            Today, the Secret Service is sending a clear message to those
         computer hackers who have decided to violate the laws of this
         nation in the mistaken belief that they can successfully avoid de-
         tection by hiding behind the relative anonymity of their computer
         terminals. . . ,
            Underground groups have been formed for the purpose of ex-
         changing information relevant to their criminal activities. These
         groups often communicate with each other through message sys-
         tems between computers called "bulletin boards,"
            Our experience shows that many computer hacker suspects are
         no longer misguided teenagers, mischievously playing games with
         their computers in their bedrooms. Some are now high tech com-
         puter operators using computers to engage in unlawful conduct.

    Who were these "underground groups" and "high tech computer
    operators"? Where had they come from? What did they want?
    Were they "mischievous"? Were they dangerous? How had "mis-
    guided teenagers" managed to alarm the U.S. Secret Service?
    And just how widespread was this sort of thing?
      Of all the major players in the Hacker Crackdown-the phone

I                                                                     --_.~._--

companies, law enforcement, the civil libertarians, and the hack-
ers themselves-the hackers are by far the most mysterious, by far
the hardest to understand, by far the weirdest.
   Legitimate "hackers," those       H
computer enthusiasts who are            ow had "misguided
independent-minded but law-          teenagers" managed to
abiding, generally trace their
spiritual ancestry to elite tech-    alarm the U. S. Secret
nical universities, especially       Service?
MIT and Stanford, in the " ' - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
   But the genuine roots of the modern hacker underground prob-
ably can be traced most successfully to a now much-obscured
hippie anarchist movement known as the Yippies. The Yippies,
who took their name from the largely fictional "Youth Interna-
tional Party," carried out a loud and lively policy of surrealistic
subversion and outrageous political mischief. Their basic tenets
were flagrant sexual promiscuity, open and copious drug use, the
political overthrow of any powermonger over thirty years of age,
and an immediate end to the war in Vietnam, by any means
necessary, including the psychic levitation of the Pentagon.
   The two most visible Yippies were Abbie Hoffman and Jerry
Rubin. Rubin eventually became a Wall Street broker. Hoffman,
ardently sought by federal authorities, went into hiding for seven
years in Mexico, France, and the United States. While on
the lam, Hoffman continued to write and publish, with help
from sympathizers in the American anarcho-leftist underground.
Mostly, Hoffman survived through false ID and odd jobs. Even-
tually he underwent facial plastic surgery and adopted an entirely
new identity as one "Barry Freed." After surrendering himself to
authorities in 1980, Hoffman spent a year in prison on a cocaine
   Hoffman's worldview grew much darker as the glory days of the
1960s faded. In 1989, he purportedly committed suicide, under
odd and, to some, rather suspicious circumstances.
   Abbie Hoffman is said to have caused the Federal Bureau of
46   000000000000000000000000000   THE HACKER CRACKDOWN

Investigation to amass the single largest investigation file ever
opened on an individual American citizen. (If this is true, it is
still questionable whether the FBI regarded Hoffman as a serious
public threat-quite possibly, his file was enormous simply be-
cause Hoffman left colorful legendry wherever he went.) He was a
gifted publicist, who regarded electronic media as both play-
ground and weapon. He actively enjoyed manipulating network
television and other gullible, image-hungry media, with various
weird lies, mindboggling rumors, impersonation scams, and other
sinister distortions, all absolutely guaranteed to upset cops, presi-
dential candidates, and federal judges. Hoffman's most famous
work was a book self-reflexively titled Steal This Book, which pub-
licized a number of methods by which young, penniless hippie
agitators might live off the fat of a system supported by humor-
less drones. Steal This Book, whose title urged readers to damage
the very means of distribution that had put it into their hands,
might be described as a spiritual ancestor of a computer virus.
    Hoffman, like many a later conspirator, made extensive use of
pay phones for his agitation work-in his case, generally through
the use of cheap brass washers as coin slugs.
    During the Vietnam War, a federal surtax was imposed on
 telephone service; Hoffman and his cohorts could, and did, argue
 that in systematically stealing phone service they were engaging
in civil disobedience: virtuously denying tax funds to an illegal
 and immoral war.
    But this thin veil of decency was soon dropped entirely. Rip-
 ping off the System found its justification in deep alienation and
 a basic outlaw contempt for conventional bourgeois values. Inge-
 nious, vaguely politicized varieties of rip-off, which might be de-
 scribed as "anarchy by convenience," became very popular in
Yippie circles, and because rip-off was so useful, it was to outlast
 the Yippie movement itself.
    In the early 1970s, it required fairly limited expertise and inge-
 nuity to cheat pay phones, to divert "free" electricity and gas
 service, or to rob vending machines and parking meters for handy
THE DIGITAL UNDERGROUND ooo •• o.o.og ••• OR • • • • O • • • • • • 47

pocket change. It also required a conspiracy to spread this knowl-
edge, and the gall and nerve actually to commit petty theft, but
the Yippies had these qualifications in plenty. In June 1971, Ab-
bie Hoffman and a telephone enthusiast sarcastically known as
"AI Bell" began publishing a newsletter called Youth International
Party Line. This newsletter was dedicated to collating and spread-
ing Yippie rip-off techniques, especially of phones, to the joy of
the freewheeling underground and the insensate rage of all
straight people.
   As a political tactic, phone-service theft ensured that Yippie
advocates would always have ready access to the long-distance
telephone as a medium, despite the Yippies' chronic lack of orga-
nization, discipline, money, or even a steady home address.
   Party Line was run out of Greenwich Village for a couple of
years, then Al Bell more or less defected from the faltering ranks
of Yippiedom, changing the newsletter's name to TAP, or Techni-
cal Assistance Program. After the Vietnam War ended, the steam
began leaking out of American radical dissent. But by this time,
Bell and his dozen or so core contributors had the bit between
their teeth and had begun to derive tremendous gut-level satis-
faction from the sensation of pure technical power.
   TAP articles, once highly politicized, became pitilessly jargon-
ized and technical, in homage or parody to the Bell System's own
technical documents, which TAP studied closely, gutted, and re-
produced without permission. The TAP elite reveled in gloating
possession of the specialized knowledge necessary to beat the
   Al Bell dropped out of the game by the late 1970s, and "Tom
Edison" took over; TAP readers (some 1,400 of them, all told)
now began to show more interest in telex switches and the grow-
ing phenomenon of computer systems.
   In 1983, Tom Edison had his computer stolen and his house
set on fire by an arsonist. This was an eventually mortal blow to
TAP (though the legendary name was to be resurrected in 1990 by
a young Kentuckian computer outlaw named "PredatOr").

                                   - - - - _._----_             ...
    48   oo         og •••••   oo......   THE HACKER CRACKDOWN

                                     * * *
       Ever since telephones began to make money, there have been
    people willing to rob and defraud phone companies. The legions
    of petty phone thieves vastly outnumber those "phone phreaks"
    who "explore the system" for the sake of the intellectual chal-
    lenge. The New York metropolitan area (long in the vanguard of
    American crime) claims over 150,000 physical attacks on pay tele-
    phones every year! Studied carefully, a modern pay phone reveals
    itself as a little fortress, carefully designed and redesigned over
    generations, to resist coin slugs, zaps of electricity, chunks of
    coin-shaped ice, prybars, magnets, lockpicks, blasting caps. Public
    pay phones must survive in a world of unfriendly, greedy people,
    and a modern pay phone is as exquisitely evolved as a cactus.
                                             Because the phone network
A    modern pay phone is                  predates the computer net-
as exquisitely evolved as a           work, the scofflaws known as
                                      "phone phreaks" predate the
cactus.                               scofflaws known as "computer
                                      hackers." In practice, today,
   the line between "phreaking" and "hacking" is very blurred, just
   as the distinction between telephones and computers has blurred.
   The phone system has been digitized, and computers have
   learned to "talk" over phone lines. What's worse-and this was
   the point of Mr. Jenkins of the Secret Service-some hackers
   have learned to steal, and some thieves have learned to hack.
      Despite the blurring, one can still draw a few useful behavioral
   distinctions between phreaks and hackers. Hackers are intensely
   interested in the "System" per se and enjoy relating to machines.
   Phreaks are more social, manipulating the System in a rough-and-
   ready fashion in order to get through to other human beings, fast,
   cheap, and under the table.
      Phone phreaks love nothing so much as "bridges," illegal con-
   ference calls of ten or twelve chatting conspirators, seaboard to
   seaboard, lasting for many hours-and running, of course, on
   somebody else's tab, preferably a large corporation's.
      As phone-phreak conferences wear on, people drop out (or

simply leave the phone off the hook, while they sashay off to work
or school or baby-sitting), and new people are phoned up and
invited to join in, from some other continent, if possible. Techni-
cal trivia, boasts, brags, lies, head-trip deceptions, weird rumors,
and cruel gossip are all freely exchanged.
   The lowest rung of phone-phreaking is the theft of telephone
access codes. Charging a phone call to somebody else's stolen
number is, of course, a pig-easy way of stealing phone service,
requiring practically no technical expertise. This practice has
been very widespread, especially among lonely people without
much money who are far from home. Code theft has flourished
especially in college dorms, military bases, and, notoriously,
among roadies for rock bands. Of late, code theft has spread very
rapidly among Third Worlders in the United States, who pile up
enormous unpaid long-distance bills to the Caribbean, South
America, and Pakistan.
   The simplest way to steal phone codes is to look over a victim's
shoulder as he punches in his own code number on a public pay
phone. This technique is known as "shoulder-surfing" and is es-
pecially common in airports, bus terminals, and train stations.
The code is then sold by the thief for a few dollars. The buyer
abusing the code has no computer expertise, but calls his mom in
New York, Kingston, or Caracas and runs up a huge bill with
impunity. The losses from this primitive phreaking activity are
far, far greater than the monetary losses caused by computer-
intruding hackers.
   In the mid-to-late 1980s, until the introduction of sterner telco
security measures, computerized code theft worked like a charm
and was virtually omnipresent throughout the digital under-
ground, among phreaks and hackers alike. This was accomplished
through programming one's computer to try random code num-
bers over the telephone until one of them worked. Simple pro-
grams to do this were widely available in the underground; a
computer running all night was likely to come up with a dozen or
so useful hits. This could be repeated week after week until one
had a large library of stolen codes.
      50   ooooogoooqqoooogooooooooooo   THE HACKER CRACKDOWN

         Nowadays, the computerized dialing of hundreds of numbers
      can be detected within hours and swiftly traced. If a stolen code
      is abused repeatedly, this too can be detected within a few hours.
      But for years in the 1980s, the publication of stolen codes was a
      kind of elementary etiquette for fledgling hackers. The simplest
      way to establish your bona-fides as a raider was to steal a code
      through repeated random dialing and offer it to the "commu-
      nity" for use. Codes could be both stolen and used, simply and
      easily, from the safety of one's own bedroom, with very little fear
      of detection or punishment.
         Before computers and their phone-line modems entered Amer-
      ican homes in gigantic numbers, phone phreaks had their own
      special telecommunications hardware gadget, the famous "blue
      box." This fraud device (now rendered increasingly useless by the
      digital evolution of the phone system) could trick switching sys-
      tems into granting free access to long-distance lines. It did this by
      mimicking the system's own signal, a tone of 2600 hertz.
          Steven Jobs and Steve Wozniak, the founders of Apple Com-
      puter, Inc., once dabbled in selling blue boxes in college dorms in
      California. For many, in the early days of phreaking, blue-boxing
      was scarcely perceived as "theft," but rather as a fun (if sneaky)
      way to use excess phone capacity harmlessly. After all, the long-
      distance lines were just sitting there. . . . Whom did it hurt,
      really? If you're not damaging the system, and you're not using up
      any tangible resource, and if nobody finds out what you did, then
      what real harm have you done? What exactly have you "stolen,"
      anyway? If a tree falls in the forest and nobody hears it, how
      much is the noise worth? Even now this remains a rather dicey
          Blue-boxing was no joke to the phone companies, however.
      Indeed, when Ramparts magazine, a radical publication in Cali-
      fornia, printed the wiring schematics necessary to create a mute
      box in June 1972, the magazine was seized by police and Pacific
       Bell phone company officials. The mute box, a blue-box variant,
      allowed its user to receive long-distance calls free of charge to the
      caller. This device was closely described in a Ramparts article

     THE DIGITAL UNDERGROUND              oooooooooooooooooooooooooog   51

     wryly titled, "Regulating the Phone Company in Your Home."
     Publication of this article was held to be in violation of California
     State Penal Code section 502.7, which outlaws ownership of wire-
     fraud devices and the selling of "plans or instructions for any
     instrument, apparatus, or device intended to avoid telephone toll
         Issues of Ramparts were recalled or seized on the newsstands,
     and the resultant loss of income helped put the magazine out of
     business. This was an ominous precedent for free-expression is-
     sues, but the telco's crushing of a radical-fringe magazine passed
     without serious challenge at the time. Even in the freewheeling
     California 1970s, it was widely felt that there was something sac-
     rosanct about what the phone company knew; that the telco had
     a legal and moral right to protect itself by shutting off the flow of
     such illicit information. Most telco information was so "special-
     ized" that it would scarcely be understood by any honest member
     of the public. If not published, it would not be missed. To print
     such material did not seem part of the legitimate role of a free
        In 1990, there would be a similar telco-inspired attack on the
     electronic phreaklhacking "magazine" Phrack. The Phrack legal
     case became a central issue in the Hacker Crackdown and gave
     rise to great controversy. Phrack would also be shut down, for a
     time, at least, but this time both the telcos and their law enforce-
     ment allies would pay a much larger price for their actions. The
    Phrack case will be examined in detail later.
        Phone-phreaking as a social practice is still very much alive at
    this moment. Today, phone-phreaking is thriving much more vig-
    orously than the better-known and worse-feared practice of
    "computer hacking." New forms of phreaking are spreading rap-
    idly, following new vulnerabilities in sophisticated phone services.
        Cellular phones are especially vulnerable; their chips can be
    reprogrammed to present a false caller ID and avoid billing. Do-
    ing so also avoids police tapping, making cellular-phone abuse a
    favorite among drug dealers. "Call-sell operations" using pirate
    cellular phones can, and have, been run right out of the backs of


cars, which move from "cell" to "cell" in the local phone system,
retailing stolen long-distance service, like some kind of demented
electronic version of the neighborhood ice-cream truck.
   Private branch-exchange (PBX) phone systems in large corpo-
rations can be penetrated; phreaks dial up a local company, enter
its internal phone system, hack it, then use the company's own
PBX system to dial back out over the public network, causing the
company to be stuck with the resulting long-distance bill. This
technique is known as "diverting." Diverting can be very costly,
especially because phreaks tend to travel in packs and never stop
talking. Perhaps the worst by-product of this PBX fraud is that
victim companies and telcos have sued one another over the fi-
nancial responsibility for the stolen calls, thus enriching not only
shabby phreaks but well-paid lawyers.
    ccVoice-mail systems" can also be abused; phreaks can seize

their own sections of these sophisticated electronic answering
machines and use them for trading codes or knowledge of illegal
techniques. Voice-mail abuse does not hurt the company directly,
but finding supposedly empty slots in your company's answering
machine all crammed with phreaks eagerly chattering and hey-
duding one another in impenetrable jargon can cause sensations
of almost mystical repulsion and dread.
    Worse yet, phreaks sometimes have been known to react trucu-
lently to attempts to "clean up" the voice-mail system. Rather
than humbly acquiescing to being thrown out of their play-
ground, they may very well call up the company officials at work
 (or at home) and loudly demand free voice-mail addresses of
their very own. Such bullying is taken very seriously by spooked
    Acts of phreak revenge against straight people are rare, but
voice-mail systems are especially tempting and vulnerable, and an
infestation of angry phreaks in one's voice-mail system is no joke.
They can erase legitimate messages, or spy on private messages,
or harass users with recorded taunts and obscenities. They've
even been known to seize control of voice-mail security and lock
out legitimate users, or even shut down the system entirely.

   Cellular phone calls, cordless phones, and ship-to-shore tele-
phony all can be monitored by various forms of radio; this kind of
"passive monitoring" is spreading explosively today. Eavesdrop-
ping on other people's cordless and cellular phone calls is the
fastest-growing area in phreaking today. This practice strongly
appeals to the lust for power and conveys gratifying sensations of
technical superiority over the eavesdropping victim. Monitoring
is rife with all manner of tempting evil mischief. Simple prurient
snooping is by far the most common activity. But credit card
numbers unwarily spoken over the phone can be recorded, stolen,
and used. And tapping people's phone calls (whether through
active telephone taps or passive     A
radio monitors) does lend itself         n infestation of angry
conveniently to activities such       phone phreaks in one's
as blackmail, industrial espio-          .      .
nage, and political dirty tricks.     voice-mail system IS no
   It should be repeated that         joke.
telecommunications fraud, the " ' - - " - - - - - - - - - - - - -
theft of phone service, causes vastly greater monetary losses than
the practice of entering into computers by stealth. As mentioned,
hackers are mostly young suburban American white males, and
exist in the hundreds-but phreaks come from both sexes and
from many nationalities, ages, and ethnic backgrounds, and are
flourishing in the thousands.

  The term hacker has had an unfortunate history. This book,
The Hacker Crackdown, has little to say about "hacking" in its
finer, original sense. The term can signify the free-wheeling intel-
lectual exploration of the highest and deepest potential of com-
puter systems. Hacking can describe the determination to make
access to computers and information as free and open as possible.
Hacking can involve the heartfelt conviction that beauty can be
found in computers, that the fine aesthetic in a perfect program
can liberate the mind and spirit. This is hacking as it was defined
in Steven Levy's much-praised history of the pioneer computer
milieu, Hackers, published in 1984.

                Hackers of all kinds are absolutely soaked through with heroic
             antibureaucratic sentiment. Hackers long for recognition as a
             praiseworthy cultural archetype, the postmodern electronic
             equivalent of the cowboy and mountain man. Whether they de-
             serve such a reputation is something for history to decide. But
             many hackers-including those outlaw hackers who are computer
             intruders and whose activities are defined as criminal-actually
             attempt to live up to this techno-cowboy reputation. And given
             that electronics and telecommunications are still largely unex-
             plored territories, there is simply no telling what hackers might
                For some people, this freedom is the very breath of oxygen, the
             inventive spontaneity that makes life worth living and that flings
             open doors to marvelous possibility and individual empower-
             ment. But for many people-and increasingly so-the hacker is
             an ominous figure, a smart-aleck sociopath ready to burst out of
             his basement wilderness and savage other people's lives for his
             own anarchical convenience.
                Any form of power without responsibility, without direct and
             formal checks and balances, is frightening to people-and reason-
             ably so. It should be frankly admitted that some hackers are
             frightening and that the basis of this fear is not irrational.
                Fear of hackers goes well beyond the fear of merely criminal
                 Subversion and manipulation of the phone system is an act
             with disturbing political overtones. In America, computers and
             telephones are potent symbols of organized authority and the
             technocratic business elite.
                 But there is an element in American culture that has always
             strongly rebelled against these symbols, rebelled against all large
             industrial computers and all phone companies. A certain anarchi-
             cal tinge deep in the American soul delights in causing confusion
             and pain to all bureaucracies, including technological ones.
                There is sometimes malice and vandalism in this attitude, but
             it is a deep and cherished part of the American national charac-
             ter. The outlaw, the rebel, the rugged individual, the pioneer, the

o . _ _ - - - - - - - - .. - - - -
THE DIGITAL UNDERGROUND             aaaQgaaaaaaaQgaaaQaaaaaaaaa   55

sturdy Jeffersonian yeoman, the private citizen resisting interfer-
ence in his pursuit of happiness-these are figures that all Ameri-
cans recognize and that many will strongly applaud and defend.
   Many scrupulously law-abiding citizens today do cutting-edge
work with electronics-work that has already had tremendous so-
cial influence and will have much more in years to come. In all
truth, these talented, hardworking, law-abiding, mature, adult
people are far more disturbing to the peace and order of the
current status quo than any scofflaw group of romantic teenage
punk kids. These law-abiding hackers have the power, ability, and
willingness to influence other people's lives quite unpredictably.
They have means, motive, and opportunity to meddle drastically
with the American social order. When corraled into governments,
universities, or large multinational companies, and forced to fol-
low rulebooks and wear suits and ties, they at least have some
conventional halters on their freedom of action. But when loosed
alone, or in small groups, and fired by imagination and the en-
trepreneurial spirit, they can move mountains-causing land-
slides that will likely crash directly into your office and living
   These people, as a class, instinctively recognize that a public,
politicized attack on hackers will eventually spread to them-that
the term "hacker," once demonized, might be used to knock
their hands off the levers of power and choke them out of exis-
tence. There are hackers today who fiercely and publicly resist any
besmirching of the noble title of hacker. Naturally and under-
standably, they deeply resent the attack on their values implicit in
using the word "hacker" as a synonym for computer criminal.
   This book, sadly but in my opinion unavoidably, rather adds to
the degradation of the term. It concerns itself mostly with hack-
ing in its commonest latter-day definition, that is, intruding into
computer systems by stealth and without permission.
   The term "hacking" is used routinely today by almost all law
enforcement officials with any professional interest in computer
fraud and abuse. American police describe almost any crime com-
mitted with, by, through, or against a computer as hacking.

   Most important, "hacker" is what computer intruders choose
to call themselves. Nobody who hacks into systems willingly de-
scribes himself (rarely, herself) as a "computer intruder," "com-
puter trespasser," "cracker," "wormer," "darkside hacker," or
"high-tech street gangster." Several other demeaning terms have
been invented in the hope that the press and public will leave the
original sense of the word alone. But few people actually use
these terms. (I exempt the term "cyberpunk," which a few hack-
ers and law enforcement people actually do use. The term is
drawn from literary criticism and has some odd and unlikely
resonances, but, like hacker, cyberpunk too has become a criminal
pejorative today.)
   In any case, breaking into computer systems was hardly alien to
the original hacker tradition. The first tottering systems of the
1960s required fairly extensive internal surgery merely to function
day by day. Their users "invaded" the deepest, most arcane re-
cesses of their operating software almost as a matter of routine.
"Computer security" in these early, primitive systems was at best
an afterthought. What security existed was entirely physical, for
it was assumed that anyone allowed near this expensive, arcane
hardware would be a fully qualified professional expert.
   In a campus environment, though, this meant that grad stu-
dents, teaching assistants, undergraduates, and, eventually, all
manner of dropouts and hangers-on ended up accessing and
often running the works.
   Universities, even modern universities, are not in the business
of maintaining security over information. On the contrary, uni-
versities, as institutions, predate the "information economy" by
many centuries and are not-for-profit cultural entities, whose rea-
son for existence (purportedly) is to discover truth, codify it
through techniques of scholarship, and then teach it. Universities
are meant to pass the torch of civilization, not just download data
into student skulls, and the values of the academic community
are strongly at odds with those of all would-be information em-
pires. Teachers at all levels, from kindergarten up, have proven to

be shameless and persistent software and data pirates. Universi-
ties do not merely "leak information" but vigorously broadcast
free thought.
   This clash of values has been fraught with controversy. Many
hackers of the 1960s remember their professional apprenticeship
as a long guerilla war against the uptight mainframe-computer
"information priesthood." These computer-hungry youngsters
had to struggle hard for access to computing power, and many of
them were not above certain, er, shortcuts. But, over the years,
this practice freed computing from the sterile reserve of lab-
coated technocrats and was largely responsible for the explosive
growth of computing in general society-especially personal com-
   Access to technical power acted like catnip on certain of these
youngsters. Most of the basic techniques of computer intrusion-
password cracking, trapdoors, backdoors, Trojan horses-were in-
vented in college environments in the 1960s, in the early days of
network computing. Some off-the-cuff experience at computer
intrusion was to be in the informal resume of most hackers and
many future industry giants. Outside of the tiny cult of computer
enthusiasts, few people thought much about the implications of
"breaking into" computers. This sort of activity had not yet been
publicized, much less criminalized.
   In the 1960s, definitions of "property" and "privacy" had not
yet been extended to cyberspace. Computers were not yet indis-
pensable to society. There were no vast data banks of vulnerable,
proprietary information stored in computers, which might be ac-
cessed, copied without permission, erased, altered, or sabotaged.
The stakes were low in the early days-but they grew every year,
exponentially, as computers themselves grew.
   By the 1990s, commercial and political pressures had become
overwhelming, and they broke the social boundaries of the hack-
ing subculture. Hacking had become too important to be left to
the hackers. Society was now forced to tackle the intangible na-
ture of cyberspace-as-property, cyberspace as privately owned un-

    real estate. In the new, severe, responsible, high-stakes context of
    the "Information Society" of the 1990s, hacking was called into
       What did it mean to break into a computer without permis-
    sion and use its computational power, or look around inside its
    files without hurting anything? What were computer-intruding
    hackers anyway-how should society, and the law, best define
    their actions? Were they just browsers, harmless intellectual ex-
    plorers? Were they voyeurs, snoops, invaders of privacy? Should
    they be sternly treated as potential agents of espionage, or perhaps
    as industrial spies? Or were they best defined as trespassers, a very
    common teenage misdemeanor? Was hacking theft of service?
    (After all, intruders were getting someone else's computer to
    carry out their orders, without permission and without paying.)
    Was hacking fraud? Maybe it was best described as impersonation.
    The commonest mode of computer intrusion was (and is) to
    swipe or snoop somebody else's password and then enter the
    computer in the guise of another person-who is commonly
    stuck with the blame and the bills.
        Perhaps a medical metaphor was better-hackers should be
    defined as "sick," as computer addicts unable to control their
    irresponsible, compulsive behavior.
        But these weighty assessments meant little to the people who
    were actually being judged. From inside the underground world
    of hacking itself, all these perceptions seem quaint, wrongheaded,
    stupid, or meaningless. The most important self-perception of
    underground hackers-from the 1960s, right through to the pres-
    ent day-is that they are an elite. The day-to-day struggle in the
    underground is not over sociological definitions-who cares?-
    but for power, knowledge, and status among one's peers.
        When you are a hacker, it is your own inner conviction of your
    elite status that enables you to break, or let us say "transcend,"
    the rules. It is not that all rules go by the board. The rules habitu-
    ally broken by hackers are unimportant rules-the rules of dopey
    greedhead telco bureaucrats and pig-ignorant government pests.
        Hackers have their own rules, which separate behavior that is

THE DIGITAL UNDERGROUND             oooooooooogoooooooooooooooo   59

cool and elite from behavior that is rodentlike, stupid, and losing.
These "rules," however, are mostly unwritten and enforced by
peer pressure and tribal feeling. Like all rules that depend on the
unspoken conviction that everybody else is a good old boy, these
rules are ripe for abuse. The mechanisms of hacker peer pressure,
"teletrials" and ostracism, are rarely used and rarely work. Back-
stabbing slander, threats, and electronic harassment are freely
employed in down-and-dirty intrahacker feuds, but this rarely
forces a rival out of the scene entirely. The only real solution to
the problem of an utterly losing, treacherous, and rodentlike
hacker is to turn him in to the police. Unlike the Mafia or
Medellin Cartel, the hacker elite cannot simply execute the
bigmouths, creeps, and troublemakers among their ranks, so they
turn one another in with astonishing frequency.
   There is no tradition of silence or omerta in the hacker under-
world. Hackers can be shy, even reclusive, but when they do talk,
they tend to brag, boast, and strut. Almost everything hackers do
is invisible; if they don't brag, boast, and strut about it, then
nobody will ever know. If you don't have something to brag, boast,
and strut about, then nobody in the underground will recognize
you and favor you with vital cooperation and respect.
   The way to win a solid repu-       D
tation in the underground is by       r orbidden knowledge is
telling other hackers things          the basic currency of the
that could have been learned
only by exceptional cunning           digital underground.
and stealth. Forbidden knowl-
edge, therefore, is the basic currency of the digital underground,
like seashells among Trobriand Islanders. Hackers hoard this
knowledge, and dwell upon it obsessively, and refine it, and
bargain with it, and talk and talk about it.
   Many hackers even suffer from a strange obsession to teach-
to spread the ethos and the knowledge of the digital under-
ground. They'll do this even when it gains them no particular
advantage and presents a grave personal risk.
   And when that risk catches up with them, they will go right on

           teaching and preaching-to a new audience this time, their inter-
           rogators from law enforcement. Almost every hacker arrested tells
           everything he knows-all about his friends, his mentors, his
           disciples-legends, threats, horror stories, dire rumors, gossip,
           hallucinations. This is, of course, convenient for law enforcement
           -except when law enforcement begins to believe hacker leg-
              Phone phreaks are unique among criminals in their willingness
           to call up law enforcement officials-in the office, at their homes
           -and give them an extended piece of their mind. It is hard not
           to interpret this as begging for arrest, and in fact it is an act of
           incredible foolhardiness. Police are naturally nettled by these acts
           of chutzpah and will go well out of their way to bust these flaunt-
           ing idiots. But it can also be interpreted as a product of a
           worldview so elitist, so closed and hermetic, that electronic police
           simply are not perceived as "police" but rather as enemy phone
           phreaks who should be scolded into behaving "decently."
              Hackers at their most grandiloquent perceive themselves as the
           elite pioneers of a new electronic world. Attempts to make them
           obey the democratically established laws of contemporary Ameri-
           can society are seen as repression and persecution. After all, they
           argue, if Alexander Graham Bell had gone along with the rules of
           the Western Union telegraph company, there would have been
           no telephones. If Jobs and Wozniak had believed that IBM was
           the be-all and end-all, there would have been no personal com-
           puters. If Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson had tried to
           "work within the system," there would have been no United
               Not only do hackers privately believe this as an article of faith,
           but they have been known to write ardent manifestos about it.
           Here are some revealing excerpts from an especially vivid hacker
           manifesto: "The Techno-Revolution" by "Dr. Crash," which ap-
           peared in electronic form in Phrack, Volume 1, Issue 6, Phile 3.

                   To fully explain the true motives behind hacking, we must first
                take a quick look into the past. In the 1960s, a group of MIT

.---._.   --------                                             ---       -   -._---   -   ---
THE DIGITAL UNDERGROUND ooooooooooooooogooooooooooo                      61

  students built the first modern computer system. This wild, rebel-
  lious group of young men were the first to bear the name "hack-
  ers." The systems that they developed were intended to be used to
  solve world problems and to benefit all of mankind.
     As we can see, this has not been the case. The computer system
  has been solely in the hands of big businesses and the govern-
  ment. The wonderful device meant to enrich life has become a
  weapon which dehumanizes people. To the government and large
  businesses, people are no more than disk space, and the govern-
  ment doesn't use computers to arrange aid for the poor, but to
  control nuclear death weapons. The average American can only
  have access to a small microcomputer which is worth only a frac-
  tion of what they pay for it. The businesses keep the true state-of-
  the-art equipment away from the people behind a steel wall of
  incredibly high prices and bureaucracy. It is because of this state
  of affairs that hacking was born. . . .
     Of course, the government doesn't want the monopoly of tech-
  nology broken, so they have outlawed hacking and arrest anyone
  who is caught. . . . The phone company is another example of
  technology abused and kept from people with high prices. . . .
     Hackers often find that their existing equipment, due to the
  monopoly tactics of computer companies, is inefficient for their
  purposes. Due to the exorbitantly high prices, it is impossible to
  legally purchase the necessary equipment. This need has given still
  another segment of the fight: Credit Carding. Carding is a way of
  obtaining the necessary goods without paying for them. It is again
  due to the companies' stupidity that Carding is so easy, and shows
  that the world's businesses are in the hands of those with consid-
  erably less technical know-how than we, the hackers . . . .
     Hacking must continue. We must train newcomers to the art of
  hacking. . . . And whatever you do, continue the fight. Whether
  you know it or not, if you are a hacker, you are a revolutionary.
  Don't worry, you're on the right side.

The defense of "carding" is rare. Most hackers regard credit card
theft as "poison" to the underground, a sleazy and immoral effort
that, worse yet, is hard to get away with. Nevertheless, manifestos
advocating credit card theft, the deliberate crashing of computer

     systems, and even acts of violent physical destruction such as
     vandalism and arson do exist in the underground. These boasts
     and threats are taken quite seriously by the police. And not every
     hacker is an abstract, platonic computer nerd. Some few are quite
     experienced at picking locks, robbing phone trucks, and breaking
     and entering buildings.
        Hackers vary in their degree of hatred for authority and the
     violence of their rhetoric. But, at the bottom line, they are scoff-
     laws. They don't regard the current rules of electronic behavior as
     respectable efforts to preserve law and order and protect public
     safety. They regard these laws as immoral efforts by soulless cor-
     porations to protect their profit margins and to crush dissidents.
     "Stupid" people, including police, businessmen, politicians, and
     journalists, simply have no right to judge the actions of those
     possessed of genius, techno-revolutionary intentions, and techni-
     cal expertise.

        Hackers are generally teenagers and college kids not engaged in
     earning a living. They often come from fairly well-to-do middle-
     class backgrounds, and are markedly antimaterialistic (except,
     that is, when it comes to computer equipment). Anyone moti-
     vated by greed for mere money (as opposed to the greed for
     power, knowledge, and status) is swiftly written off as a narrow-
     minded breadhead whose interests can only be corrupt and con-
     temptible. Having grown up in the 1970s and 1980s, the young
     Bohemians of the digital underground regard straight society as
     awash in plutocratic corruption, where everyone from the Presi-
     dent down is for sale and whoever has the gold makes the rules.
        Interestingly, there's a funhouse mirror image of this attitude
     on the other side of the conflict. The police are also one of the
     most markedly antimaterialistic groups in American society,
     motivated not by mere money but by ideals of service, justice,
     esprit-de-corps, and, of course, their own brand of specialized
     knowledge and power. Remarkably, the propaganda war between
     cops and hackers has always involved angry allegations that the

THE DIGITAL UNDERGROUND             000000000000000000000000000   63

other side is trying to make a sleazy buck. Hackers consistently
sneer that antiphreak prosecutors are angling for cushy jobs as
telco lawyers and that computer-crime police are aiming to cash
in later as well-paid computer-security consultants in the private
   For their part, police publicly conflate all hacking crimes with
robbing pay phones with crowbars. Allegations of "monetary
losses" from computer intrusion are notoriously inflated. The act
of illicitly copying a document from a computer is equated with
that of directly robbing a company of, say, half a million dollars.
The teenage computer intruder in possession of this "propri-
etary" document certainly has not sold it for such a sum, would
likely have little idea how to sell it at all, and quite probably
doesn't even understand what he has. He has not made a cent in
profit from his felony but is still morally equated with a thief who
has robbed the church poorbox and lit out for Brazil.
   Police want to believe that          D
all hackers are thieves. It is a      r    alice want to believe
tortuous and almost unbear-
                                        that all hackers are
able act for the American jus-
tice system to put people in jail       thieves.
because they want to learn
things which are forbidden for them to know. In an American
context, almost any pretext for punishment is better than jailing
people to protect certain restricted kinds of information. Never-
theless, policing information is part and parcel of the struggle
against hackers.
   This dilemma is well exemplified by the remarkable activities
of "Emmanuel Goldstein," editor and publisher of a print maga-
zine known as 2600: The Hacker Quarterly. Goldstein was an En-
glish major at Long Island's State University of New York in the
 1970s, when he became involved with the local college radio sta-
tion. His growing interest in electronics caused him to drift into
Yippie TAP circles and thus into the digital underground, where
he became a self-described techno-rat. His magazine publishes

         techniques of computer intrusion and telephone "exploration" as
         well as gloating exposes of telco misdeeds and governmental fail-
         . Goldstein lives quietly and very privately in a large, crumbling
         Victorian mansion in Setauket, New York. The seaside house is
         decorated with telco decals, chunks of driftwood, and the basic
         bric-a-brac of a hippie crash pad. He is unmarried, mildly un-
         kempt, and survives mostly on TV dinners and turkey stuffing
         eaten straight out of the bag. Goldstein is a man of considerable
         charm and fluency, with a brief, disarming smile and the kind of
         pitiless, stubborn, thoroughly recidivist integrity that America's
         electronic police find genuinely alarming.
            Goldstein took his nom-de-plume, or "handle," from a charac-
         ter in Orwell's 1984, which may be taken, correctly, as a symptom
         of the gravity of his sociopolitical worldview. He himself is not a
         practicing computer intruder, though he vigorously abets these
         actions, especially when they are pursued against large corpora-
         tions or governmental agencies. Nor is he a thief, for he loudly
         scorns mere theft of phone service in favor of "exploring and
         manipulating the system." He is probably best described and un-
         derstood as a dissident.
            Weirdly, Goldstein is living in modern America under condi-
         tions very similar to those of former East European intellectual
         dissidents. In other words, he flagrantly espouses a value system
         that is deeply and irrevocably opposed to the system of those in
         power and the police. The values in 2600 are generally expressed
         in terms that are ironic, sarcastic, paradoxical, or just downright
         confused. But there's no mistaking their radically anti-
         authoritarian tenor. 2600 holds that technical power and special-
         ized knowledge, of any kind obtainable, belong by right in the
         hands of those individuals brave and bold enough to discover
         them-by whatever means necessary. Devices, laws, or systems
         that forbid access, and the free spread of knowledge, are provoca-
         tions that any free and self-respecting hacker should relentlessly
         attack. The "privacy" of governments, corporations, and other
         soulless technocratic organizations should never be protected at

~--   -----
THE DIGITAL UNDERGROUND             000000000000000000000000000   65

the expense of the liberty and free initiative of the individual
   However, in our contemporary workaday world, both govern-
ments and corporations are very anxious indeed to police infor-
mation that is secret, proprietary, restricted, confidential,
copyrighted, patented, hazardous, illegal, unethical, embarrass-
ing, or otherwise sensitive. This makes Goldstein persona non
grata and his philosophy a threat.
   Very little about the conditions of Goldstein's daily life would
astonish, say, Vaclav Havel. (We may note in passing that Presi-
dent Havel once had his word processor confiscated by the
Czechoslovak police.) Goldstein lives by samizdat, acting semi-
openly as a data center for the underground, while challenging
the powers-that-be to abide by their own stated rules: freedom of
speech and the First Amendment.
   Goldstein thoroughly looks and acts the part of techno-rat,
with shoulder-length ringlets and a piratical black fisherman's cap
set at a rakish angle. He often shows up like Banquo's ghost at
meetings of computer professionals, where he listens quietly, half
smiling and taking thorough notes.
   Computer professionals generally meet publicly, and find it
very difficult to rid themselves of Goldstein and his ilk without
extralegal and unconstitutional actions. Sympathizers, many of
them quite respectable people with responsible jobs, admire
Goldstein's attitude and surreptitiously pass him information. An
unknown but presumably large proportion of Goldstein's 2,000-
plus readership are telco security personnel and police, who are
forced to subscribe to 2600 to stay abreast of new developments
in hacking. They thus find themselves paying this guy's rent while
grinding their teeth in anguish, a situation that would have de-
lighted Abbie Hoffman (one of Goldstein's few idols).
   Goldstein is probably the best-known public representative of
the hacker underground today, and certainly, the best hated. Po-
lice regard him as a Fagin, a corrupter of youth, and speak of him
with untempered loathing. He is quite an accomplished gadfly.
   After the Martin Luther King Day Crash of 1990, for instance,
          66   000000000000000000000000000   THE HACKER CRACKDOWN

          Goldstein adeptly rubbed salt into the wound in the pages of
          2600. "Yeah, it was fun for the phone phreaks as we watched the
          network crumble," he admitted cheerfully. "But it was also an
          ominous sign of what's to come . . . . Some AT&T people, aided
          by well-meaning but ignorant media, were spreading the notion
          that many companies had the same software and therefore could
          face the same problem someday. Wrong. This was entirely an
          AT&T software deficiency. Of course, other companies could face
          entirely different software problems. But then, so too could
             After a technical discussion of the system's failings, the Long
          Island techno-rat went on to offer thoughtful criticism to the
          gigantic multinational's hundreds of professionally qualified engi-
          neers. "What we don't know is how a major force in communica-
          tions like AT&T could be so sloppy. What happened to backups?
          Sure, computer systems go down all the time, but people making
          phone calls are not the same as people logging on to computers.
          We must make that distinction. It's not acceptable for the phone
          system or any other essential service to 'go down.' If we continue
          to trust technology without understanding it, we can look forward
          to many variations on this theme.
             "AT&T owes it to its customers to be prepared to instantly
          switch to another network if something strange and unpredict-
          able starts occurring. The news here isn't so much the failure of a
          computer program, but the failure of AT&T's entire structure."
             The very idea of this . . . this person ... offering "advice"
          about "AT&T's entire structure" is more than some people can
          easily bear. How dare this near criminal dictate what is or isn't
          "acceptable" behavior from AT&T? Especially when he's publish-
          ing, in the very same issue, detailed schematic diagrams for creat-
          ing various switching-network signaling tones unavailable to the
             "See what happens when you drop a 'silver box' tone or two
          down your local exchange or through different long distance ser-
          vice carriers," advises 2600 contributor "Mr. Upsetter" in "How
          to Build a Signal Box." "If you experiment systematically and

THE DIGITAL UNDERGROUND           oooooooooOQoooooooooooooooo   67

keep good records, you will surely discover something interest-
   This is, of course, the
scientific method, generally           Telco employees regard
regarded as a praiseworthy
                                       this "exploration" as akin
activity and one of the flowers
of modern civilization. One            to flinging sticks of
can indeed learn a great deal          dynamite into their pond
with this sort of structured in-
tellectual activity. Telco em-         to see what lives on the
ployees regard this mode of            bottom.
"exploration" as akin to fling-
ing sticks of dynamite into their pond to see what lives on the
   2600 has been published consistently since 1984. It has also
run a bulletin board computer system, printed 2600 T-shirts,
taken fax calls. . . . The Spring 1991 issue has an interesting
announcement on page 45: "We just discovered an extra set of
wires attached to our fax line and heading up the pole. (They've
since been clipped.) Your faxes to us and to anyone else could be
   In the worldview of 2600, the tiny band of techno-rat brothers
(rarely, sisters) are a besieged vanguard of the truly free and hon-
est. The rest of the world is a maelstrom of corporate crime and
high-level governmental corruption, occasionally tempered with
well-meaning ignorance. To read a few issues in a row is to enter a
nightmare akin to Solzhenitsyn's, somewhat tempered by the fact
that 2600 is often extremely funny.
   Goldstein did not become a target of the Hacker Crackdown,
though he protested loudly, eloquently, and publicly about it,
and it added considerably to his fame. It was not that he is not
regarded as dangerous, because he is so regarded. Goldstein has
had brushes with the law in the past: In 1985, a 2600 bulletin
board computer was seized by the FBI, and some software on it
was formally declared "a burglary tool in the form of a computer
program." But Goldstein escaped direct repression in 1990, be-

cause his magazine is printed on paper and recognized as subject
to constitutional freedom of the press protection. As was seen in
the Ramparts case, this is far from an absolute guarantee. Still, as
a practical matter, shutting down 2600 by court order would cre-
ate so much legal hassle that it is simply unfeasible, at least for
the present. Throughout 1990, both Goldstein and his magazine
were peevishly thriving.
   Instead, the Crackdown of 1990 would concern itself with the
computerized version of forbidden data. The crackdown itself,
first and foremost, was about bulletin board systems. Bulletin
board systems, most often known by the ugly and unpluralizable
acronym "BBS," are the life-blood of the digital underground.
Boards were also central to law enforcement's tactics and strategy
in the Hacker Crackdown.
   A "bulletin board system" can be formally defined as a com-
puter that serves as an information and message-passing center
for users dialing up over the phone lines through the use of
modems. A "modem," or modulator-demodulator, is a device
that translates the digital impulses of computers into audible
analog telephone signals, and vice versa. Modems connect com-
puters to phones and thus to each other.
   Large-scale mainframe computers have been connected since
the 1960s, but personal computers, run by individuals out of their
homes, were first networked in the late 1970s. The "board" cre-
ated by Ward Christensen and Randy Seuss in February 1978,
in Chicago, Illinois, is generally regarded as the first personal-
computer bulletin board system worthy of the name.
   Boards run on many different machines, employing many dif-
ferent kinds of software. Early boards were crude and buggy, and
their managers, known as "system operators" or "sysops,' were
hardworking technical experts who wrote their own software. But
like most everything else in the world of electronics, boards be-
came faster, cheaper, better designed, and generally far more so-
phisticated throughout the 1980s. They also moved swiftly out of
the hands of pioneers and into those of the general public. By
1985 there were something in the neighborhood of 4,000 boards
THE DIGITAL UNDERGROUND              000000000000000000000000000   69

in America. By 1990 it was calculated, vaguely, that there were
about 30,000 boards in the United States, with uncounted thou-
sands overseas.
   Computer bulletin boards are unregulated enterprises. Run-
ning a board is a rough-and-ready, catch-as-catch-can proposi-
tion. Basically, anybody with a computer, modem, software, and a
phone line can start a board. With secondhand equipment and
public-domain free software, the price of a board might be quite
small-less than it would take to publish a magazine or even a
decent pamphlet. Entrepreneurs eagerly sell bulletin board soft-
ware and will coach nontechnical amateur sysops in its use.
   Boards are not "presses." They are not magazines, or libraries,
or phones, or CB radios, or traditional cork bulletin boards down
at the local laundry, though they have some passing resemblance
to those earlier media. Boards are a new medium-they may even
be a large number of new media.
   Consider these unique characteristics: Boards are cheap, yet
they can have a national, even global reach. Boards can be con-
tacted from anywhere in the global telephone network, at no cost
to the person running the board-the caller pays the phone bill,
and if the caller is local, the call is free. Boards do not involve an
editorial elite addressing a mass audience. The sysop of a board is
not an exclusive publisher or writer-he is managing an elec-
tronic salon, where individuals can address the general public,
play the part of the general public, and also exchange private mail
with other individuals. And the "conversation" on boards, though
fluid, rapid, and highly interactive, is not spoken but written. It is
also relatively anonymous, sometimes completely so.
   And because boards are cheap and ubiquitous, regulations and
licensing requirements likely would be practically unenforceable.
It would almost be easier to "regulate," "inspect," and "license"
the content of private mail-probably more so, because the mail
system is operated by the federal government. Boards are run by
individuals, independently, entirely at their own whim.
   For the sysop, the cost of operation is not the primary limiting
factor. Once the investment in a computer and modem has been

          made, the only steady cost is the charge for maintaining a phone
          line (or several phone lines). The primary limits for sysops are
          time and energy. Boards require upkeep. New users are generally
          "validated"-they must be issued individual passwords and called
          at home by voice-phone, so that their identity can be verified.
          Obnoxious users, who exist in plenty, must be chided or purged.
          Proliferating messages must be deleted when they grow old, so
          that the capacity of the system is not overwhelmed. And software
          programs (if such things are kept on the board) must be ex-
          amined for possible computer viruses. If there is a financial
          charge to use the board (increasingly common, especially in larger
          and fancier systems), then accounts must be kept and users must
          be billed. And if the board crashes-a very common occurrence-
          then repairs must be made.
             Boards can be distinguished by the amount of effort spent in
          regulating them. First, we have the completely open board, whose
          sysop is off chugging brews and watching reruns while his users
          generally degenerate over time into peevish anarchy and eventual
          silence. Second comes the supervised board, where the sysop
          breaks in every once in a while to tidy up, calm brawls, issue
          announcements, and rid the community of dolts and troublemak-
          ers. Third is the heavily supervised board, which sternly urges
          adult and responsible behavior and swiftly edits any message con-
          sidered offensive, impertinent, illegal, or irrelevant. And last
          comes the completely edited "electronic publication," which is
          presented to a silent audience that is not allowed to respond
          directly in any way.
             Boards can also be grouped by their degree of anonymity.
          There is the completely anonymous board, where everyone uses
          pseudonyms-"handles"-and even the sysop is unaware of a
          user's true identity. The sysop himself is likely pseudonymous on
          a board of this type. Second, and rather more common, is the
          board where the sysop knows (or thinks he knows) the true names
          and addresses of all users, but the users don't know one another's
          names and may not know his. Third is the board where everyone

.-----   ----------

      has to use real names and role-playing and pseudonymous postur-
      ing are forbidden.
         Boards can be grouped by their immediacy. "Chat lines" are
      boards linking several users together over several different phone
      lines simultaneously, so that people exchange messages at the
      very moment that they type. (Many large boards feature chat
      capabilities along with other services.) Less immediate boards,
      perhaps with a single phone line, store messages serially, one at a
      time. And some boards are open for business only in daylight
      hours or on weekends, which greatly slows response. A network of
      boards, such as "FidoNet," can carry electronic mail from board
      to board, continent to continent, across huge distances-but at a
      relative snail's pace, so that a message can take several days to
      reach its target audience and elicit a reply.
         Boards can be grouped by their degree of community. Some
      boards emphasize the exchange of private, person-to-person elec-
      tronic mail. Others emphasize public postings and may even
      purge people who "lurk," merely reading posts but refusing to
      participate openly. Some boards are intimate and neighborly.
      Others are frosty and highly technical. Some are little more than
      storage dumps for software, where users "download" and
      "upload" programs but interact among themselves little if at all.
         Boards can be grouped by their ease of access. Some boards are
      entirely public. Others are private and restricted only to personal
      friends of the sysop. Some boards divide users by status. On these
      boards, some users, especially beginners, strangers, or children,
      will be restricted to general topics and perhaps forbidden to post.
      Favored users, though, are granted the ability to post as they
      please and to stay on-line as long as they like, even to the disad-
      vantage of other people trying to call in. High-status users can be
      given access to hidden areas in the board, such as off-color topics,
      private discussions, and/or valuable software. Favored users may
      even become "remote sysops" with the power to take remote
      control of the board through their own home computers. Quite
      often remote sysops end up doing all the work and taking formal

72   oooooooooogoooooogooooooooo    THE HACKER CRACKDOWN

control of the enterprise, despite the fact that it's physically lo-
cated in someone else's house. Sometimes several "co-sysops"
share power.
   And boards can also be grouped by size. Massive, nationwide
commercial networks, such as CompuServe, Delphi, GEnie, and
Prodigy, are run on mainframe computers and are generally not
considered boards, though they share many of their characteris-
tics, such as electronic mail, discussion topics, libraries of soft-
ware, and persistent and growing problems with civil-liberties
issues. Some private boards have as many as thirty phone lines
and quite sophisticated hardware. And then there are tiny boards.
   Boards vary in popularity. Some are huge and crowded, where
users must claw their way in against a constant busy signal. Oth-
ers are huge and empty-there are few things sadder than a for-
merly flourishing board where no one posts any longer and the
dead conversations of vanished users lie about gathering digital
dust. Some boards are tiny and intimate, their telephone num-
bers intentionally kept confidential so that only a small number
can log on.
   And some boards are underground.
   Boards can be mysterious entities. The activities of their users
can be hard to differentiate from conspiracy. Sometimes they are
conspiracies. Boards have harbored, or have been accused of har-
boring, all manner of fringe groups, and have abetted, or been
accused of abetting, every manner of frowned-upon, sleazy, radi-
cal, and criminal activity. There are Satanist boards. Nazi boards.
Pornographic boards. Pedophile boards. Drug-dealing boards. An-
archist boards. Communist boards. Gay and lesbian boards (these
exist in great profusion, many of them quite lively with well-
established histories). Religious cult boards. Evangelical boards.
Witchcraft boards, hippie boards, punk boards, skateboarder
boards. Boards for UFO believers. There may well be boards for
serial killers, airline terrorists, and professional assassins. There is
simply no way to tell. Boards spring up, flourish, and disappear in
large numbers, in most every corner of the developed world. Even

apparently innocuous public boards can, and sometimes do, har-
bor secret areas known only to a few. And even on the vast,
public, commercial services, private mail is very private-and
quite possibly criminal.
   Boards cover most every topic imaginable, and some that are
hard to imagine. They cover a vast spectrum of social activity.
However, all board users do have something in common: their
possession of computers and phones. Naturally, computers and
phones are primary topics of conversation on almost every board.
   And hackers and phone phreaks, those utter devotees of com-
puters and phones, live by boards. They swarm by boards. They
are bred by boards. By the late 1980s, phone-phreak groups and
hacker groups, united by boards, had proliferated fantastically.
   As evidence, here is a list of hacker groups compiled by the
editors of Phrack on August 8, 1988.

  The Administration. Advanced Telecommuni-
cations, Inc. ALIAS. American Tone Trav-
elers·       Anarchy     Inc.    Apple Mafia.       The
Association. Atlantic Pirates Guild.
  Bad Ass Mother f u c k e r s . B a l L c o r a . Bell
Shock Force. Black Bag.
  Cam o r-r-e . C&M Productions. Catholics Anony-
mous· Chaos Computer Club. Chief Executive
Officers. Circle of Death. Circle of Deneb.
Club X. Coalition of Hi-Tech Pirates. Coast-
to-Coast. Corrupt Computing. Cult of the Dead
Cow. Custom Retal i a t i o n s .
  Damage Inc. D&B Communications. The Dange
Gang. Dec Hunters. Digi tal Gang. DPAK.
  Eastern Alliance. The Elite Hackers Guild.
Elite Phreakers and Hackers Club. The Elite
Society of America. EPG. Executives of Crime.
Extasyy Eli t a .
  Fargo 4A. Farmers of Doom. The Federation.
Feds R Us. First Class. Five O. Five Star·
Force Ha c k e r s . The 414s .

          Hack-A-Trip. Hackers of America. High Moun-
        tain Hackers. High Society. The Hitchhikers.
          IBM Syndicate. The Ice Pirates. Imperial
        Warlords. Inner Circle. Inner Circle II. In-
        sanity Inc. International Computer Under-
        ground Bandi t s .
          Justice League of America.
          Kaos Inc. Knights of Shadow. Knights of the
        Round Table.
          League of Adepts. Legion of Doom. Legion of
        Hackers. Lords of Chaos. Lunatic Labs, Unlim-
          Master Hackers. MAD! The Marauders. MD/PhD.
        Metal Communications, Inc. MetalliBashers,
        Inc. MBI. Metro Communications. Midwest Pi-
        rates Guild.
          NASA Elite. The NATO Association. Neon
        Knights. Nihilist Order.
          Order of the Rose. OSS.
          Pacific Pirates Guild. Phantom Access Asso-
        ciates. PHido PHreaks. The Ph i r m. Ph l a s h-
        PhoneLine Phantoms. Phone Phreakers of Amer-
        ica. Phortune 500. Phreak Hack Delinquents.
        Phreak Hack Destroyers. Phreakers, Hackers,
        and Laundromat Employees Gang (PHALSE Gang).
        Phreaks Against Geeks.        Phreaks Against
        Phreaks Against Geeks. Phreaks and Hackers of
        America. Phreaks Anonymous World Wide. Proj-
        ect Genesis. The Punk Mafia.
          The Racketeers. Red Dawn Text Fi 1 a s . Roscoe
          SABRE. Secret Circle of Pirates. Secret
        Service. 707 Club. Shadow Brotherhood. Sharp
        Inc. 65C02 Elite. Spectral Force. Star
        League. Stowaways. Strata-Crackers.
          Team Hackers     '86.   Team Hackers       '87.
        TeleComputist Newsletter Staff. Tribunal of
        Knowledge. Triple Entente. Turn Over and Die
        Syndrome (TOADS). 300 Club· 1200 Club. 2300
        Club. 2600 Club. 2601 c iue . 2AF .

    THE DIGITAL UNDERGROUND             ooooooooOOOOOOOIlOOOOOIlOllllll1l   75

      The Uni ted SoftWareZ Force. Uni ted Techni-
    cal Underground.
      Ware Brigade. The Warelords. WASP.

        Contemplating this list is an impressive, almost humbling
    business. As a cultural artifact, the thing approaches poetry.
        Underground groups-subcultures-can be distinguished from
    independent cultures by their habit of referring constantly to
    the parent society. Undergrounds by their nature constantly
    must maintain a membrane of differentiation. Funny/distinctive
    clothes and hair, specialized jargon, specialized ghettoized areas
    in cities, different hours of rising, working, sleeping. . . . The
    digital underground, which specializes in information, relies very
    heavily on language to distinguish itself. As can be seen from this
    list, they make heavy use of parody and mockery. It's revealing to
    see who they choose to mock.
        First, large corporations. We have the Phortune 500, Chief
    Executive Officers, Bellcore, IBM Syndicate, SABRE (a comput-
     erized reservation service maintained by airlines). The common
     use of "Inc." is telling-none of these groups is an actual corpora-
     tion, but all take clear delight in mimicking them.
        Second, governments and police. NASA Elite, The NATO As-
     sociation. Feds R Us and Secret Service are fine bits of fleering
     boldness. aSS-the Office of Strategic Services was the forerun-
     ner of the CIA.
        Third, criminals. Using stigmatizing pejoratives as a perverse
     badge of honor is a time-honored tactic for subcultures: punks,
     gangs, delinquents, mafias, pirates, bandits, racketeers.
         Specialized orthography, especially the use of "ph" for "f" and
     "z" for the plural "s,' are instant recognition symbols. So is the
      use of the numeral "0" for the letter "O"-computer-software
      orthography generally features a slash through the zero, making
      the distinction obvious.
         Some terms are poetically descriptive of computer intrusion:
      Stowaways, The Hitchhikers, PhoneLine Phantoms, Coast-To-
76   000 ROOO 0 000 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 00 0 0 0 0 0 0   THE HACKER CRACKDOWN

Coast. Others are simple bravado and vainglorious puffery. (Note
the insistent use of the terms "elite" and "master.") Some terms
are blasphemous, some obscene, others merely cryptic-anything
to puzzle, offend, confuse, and keep the straights at bay.
   Many hacker groups further encrypt their names by the use of
acronyms: United Technical Underground becomes UTU, Farm-
ers of Doom become FoD, the United SoftWareZ Force becomes,
at its own insistence, TuSwF, and woe to the ignorant rodent who
capitalizes the wrong letters.
   It should be further recognized that the members of these
groups are themselves pseudonymous. If you did, in fact, run
across the PhoneLine Phantoms, you would find them to consist
of "Carrier Culprit," "The Executioner," "Black Majik," "Egyp-
tian Lover," "Solid State," and "Mr Icorn." Carrier Culprit will
likely be referred to by his friends as "CC," as in "I got these
dialups from CC of PLP."
   It's quite possible that this entire list refers to as few as a
thousand people. It is not a complete list of underground
groups-there has never been such a list, and there never will be.
Groups rise, flourish, decline, share membership, maintain a
cloud of wannabes and casual hangers-on. People pass in and out,
are ostracized, get bored, are busted by police, or are cornered by
telco security and presented with huge bills. Many "underground
groups" are software pirates, "warez dOOdz," who might break
copy protection and pirate programs but likely wouldn't dare to
intrude on a computer system.
   The true population of the digital underground is hard to esti-
mate. There is constant turnover. Most hackers start young, come
and go, then drop out at age twenty-twa-the age of college
graduation. And a large majority access pirate boards, adopt a
handle, swipe software and perhaps abuse a phone code or two,
while never actually joining the elite.
   Some professional informants, who make it their business to
retail knowledge of the underground to paymasters in private cor-
porate security, have estimated the hacker population at as high
as fifty thousand. This is likely highly inflated, unless one counts

     every single teenage software pirate and petty phone-booth thief.
     My best guess is about five thousand people. Of these, I would
     guess that as few as a hundred are truly "elite"-active computer
     intruders, skilled enough to penetrate sophisticated systems and
     truly to worry corporate security and law enforcement.
        Another interesting speculation is whether this group is grow-
     ing or not. Young teenage hackers are often convinced that hack-
     ers exist in vast swarms and will soon dominate the cybernetic
     universe. Older and wiser veterans, perhaps as wizened as twenty-
     four or twenty-five years old, are convinced that the glory days are
     long gone, that the cops have the underground's number now,
     and that kids these days are dirt-stupid and just want to play
        My own assessment is that computer intrusion, as a nonprofit
     act of intellectual exploration and mastery, is in slow decline, at
     least in the United States; but that electronic fraud, especially
     telecommunication crime, is growing by leaps and bounds.
        One might find a useful parallel to the digital underground in
     the drug underground. There was a time, now much obscured by
     historical revisionism, when Bohemians freely shared joints at
     concerts, and hip, small-scale marijuana dealers might turn peo-
     ple on just for the sake of enjoying a long, stoned conversation
     about the Doors and Allen Ginsberg. Now drugs are increasingly
     verboten, except in a high-stakes, highly criminal world of highly
     addictive drugs. Over years of disenchantment and police harass-
     ment, a vaguely ideological, free-wheeling drug underground
     has relinquished the business of drug-dealing to a far more
     savage criminal hard core. This is not a pleasant prospect to
     contemplate, but the analogy is fairly compelling.
        What does an underground board look like? What distin-
     guishes it from a standard board? It isn't necessarily the conversa-
     tion-hackers often talk about common board topics, such as
     hardware, software, sex, science fiction, current events, politics,
     movies, personal gossip. Underground boards can best be distin-
     guished by their files, or "philes," precomposed texts that teach
     the techniques and ethos of the underground. These are prized

"'---------------------                                   ---          , , - -   "'----

reservoirs of forbidden knowledge. Some are anonymous, but
most proudly bear the handle of the hacker who has created them
and his group affiliation, if he has one.
   Here is a partial table of contents of philes from an under-
ground board, somewhere in the heart of middle America, circa
1991. The descriptions are mostly self-explanatory.

BANKAMER.ZIP             540606-11-91 Hacking Bank
CHHACK.ZIP               448106-11-91 Chilton
CITIBANK.ZIP             411806-11-91 Hacking
CREDIMTC.ZIP             324106-11-91 Hacking Mtc
                         Credit Company
DIGEST.ZIP               515906-11-91 Hackers Digest
HACK.ZIP                 14031 06-11-91 How To Hack
HACKBAS.ZIP              5073 06-11-91 Basics Of
HACKDICT.ZIP             42774 06-11-91 Hackers
HACKER.ZIP               5793806-11-91 Hacker Info
HACKERME.ZIP             314806-11-91 Hackers Manual
HACKHAND.ZIP             4814 06-11-91 Hackers
HACKTHES.ZIP             48290 06-11-91 Hackers
HACKVMS.ZIP              4696 06-11-91 Hacking Vms
MCDON.ZIP                3830 06-11-91 Hacking
                         Macdonalds (Home Of The
P5ooUNIX.ZIP             15525 06-11-91 Phortune 500
                         Guide To Unix
RADHACK.ZIP              841106-11-91 Radio Hacking
TAOTRASH.DOC             4096 12-25-89 Suggestions
                         For Trashing
TECHHACK.ZIP             5063 06-11-91 Technical

The preceding files are do-it-yourself manuals about computer
intrusion. The list is only a small section of a much larger library
of hacking and phreaking techniques and history. We now move
into a different and perhaps surprising area.

                         I          I
                          I              I
                              Anarchy    I
                          I              I
ANARC.ZIP               364106-11-91 Anarchy Files
ANARCHST.ZIP            6370306-11-91 Anarchist
                        Book                     .
ANARCHY.ZIP             2076 06-11-91 Anarchy At
ANARCHY3.ZIP            6982 06-11-91 Anarchy No 3
ANARCTOY.ZIP            236106-11-91 Anarchy Toys
ANTIMODM.ZIP;           287706-11-91 Anti-modem
ATOM.ZIP                449406-11-91 How To Make An
                        Atom Bomb
BARBITUA.ZIP            3982 06-11-91 Barbi turate
BLCKPWDR.ZIP            281006-11-91 Black Powder
BOMB.ZIP                376506-11-91 How To Make
BOOM.ZIP                2036 06-11-91 Things That Go
CHLORINE.ZIP            1926 06-11-91 Chlorine Bomb
COOKBOOK.ZIP            1500 06-11-91 Anarchy Cook
DESTROY.ZIP             3947 06-11-91 Destroy Stuff
DUSTBOMB.ZIP            2576 06-11-91 Dust Bomb
ELECTERR.ZIP            323006-11-91 Electronic
EXPLOS1.ZIP             259806-11-91 Explosives 1
EXPLOSIV.ZIP            18051 06-11-91 More
EZSTEAL.ZIP             452106-11-91 Ez-stealing
80   oooooooooooooooooooooogoooo   THE HACKER CRACKDOWN

FLAME.ZIP                2240 06-11-91 Flame Thrower
FLASHLT.ZIP              253306-11-91 Flashlight
FMBUG.ZIP                2906 06-11-91 How To Make An
                         Fm Bug
OMEEXPL.ZIP              2139 06-11-91 Home
HOW2BRK.ZIP              3332 06-11-91 How To Break In
LETTER.ZIP               2990 06-11-91 Letter Bomb
LOCK.ZIP                 219906-11-91 How To Pick
MRSHIN.ZIP               3991 06-11-91 Briefcase
NAPALM.ZIP               3563 06-11-91 Napalm At Home
NITRO.ZIP                315806-11-91 Fun With Nitro
PARAMIL.ZIP              296206-11-91 Paramilitary
PICKING.ZIP              3398 06-11-91 Picking Locks
PIPEBOMB.ZIP             213706-11-91 Pipe Bomb
POTASS.ZIP               398706-11-91 Formulas With
PRANK.TXT                1107408-03-90 More Pranks
                         To Pull On Idiots!
REVENGE.ZIP              444706-11-91 Revenge
ROCKET.ZIP               2590 06-11-91 Rockets For
SMUGGLE.ZIP              338506-11-91 How To Smuggle

   Holy cow! The damned thing is full of stuff about bombs!
   What are we to make of this?
   First, it should be acknowledged that spreading knowledge
about demolitions to teenagers is a highly and deliberately antiso-
cial act. It is not, however, illegal.
   Second, it should be recognized that most of these philes were
in fact written by teenagers. Most adult American males who can
remember their teenage years will recognize that the notion of
building a flamethrower in your garage is an incredibly neat-o
idea. Actually building a flamethrower in your garage, however, is

                                                -----~ - - - - - -
THE DIGITAL UNDERGROUND          OOOOOOORQooooooooooooOQoooo   81

fraught with discouraging difficulty. Stuffing gunpowder into a
booby-trapped flashlight, so as to blow the arm off your high
school vice-principal, can be a thing of dark beauty to contem-
plate. Actually committing assault by explosives will earn you the
sustained attention of the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and
   Some people, however, actu-
ally will try these plans. A       B     lowing the arm off your
determinedly murderous Amer-
                                      high school vice-principal
ican teenager can probably buy
or steal a handgun far more           can be a thing of dark
easily than he can brew fake          beauty to contemplate.
"napalm" in the kitchen sink.
Nevertheless, if temptation is spread before people a certain
number will succumb, and a small minority actually will attempt
these stunts. A large minority of that small minority will either
failor, quite likely, maim themselves, since these philes have not
been checked for accuracy, are not the product of professional
experience, and are often highly fanciful. But the gloating men-
ace of these philes is not to be entirely dismissed.
   Hackers may not be "serious" about bombing; if they were, we
would hear far more about exploding flashlights, homemade ba-
zookas, and gym teachers poisoned by chlorine and potassium.
However, hackers are very serious about forbidden knowledge.
They are possessed not merely by curiosity but by a positive lust
to know. The desire to know what others don't is scarcely new.
But the intensity of this desire, as manifested by these young
technophilic denizens of the Information Age, may in fact be new
and may represent some basic shift in social values-a harbinger
of what the world may come to, as society lays more and more
value on the possession, assimilation, and retailing of information
as a basic commodity of daily life.
   There have always been young men with obsessive interests in
these topics. Never before, however, have they been able to net-
work so extensively and easily, and to propagandize their interests
with impunity to random passersby. High school teachers will
     82   000000000000000000000000000   THE HACKER CRACKDOWN

     recognize that there's always one in a crowd,but when the one in
     a crowd escapes control by jumping into the phone lines and
     becomes a hundred such kids all together on a board, then trou-
     ble is brewing visibly. The urge of authority to do something, even
     something drastic, is hard to resist. And in 1990, authority did
     something. In fact, authority did a great deal.

        The process by which boards create hackers goes something
     like this. A youngster becomes interested in computers-usually,
     computer games. He hears from friends that "bulletin boards"
     exist where games can be obtained for free. (Many computer
     games are "freeware," not copyrighted-invented simply for the
     love of it and given away to the public; some of these games are
     quite good.) He bugs his parents for a modem or, quite often,
     uses his parents' modem.
        The world of boards suddenly opens up. Computer games can
     be quite expensive, real budget-breakers for a kid, but pirated
     games, stripped of copy protection, are cheap or free. They are
     also illegal, but it is very rare, almost unheard of, for a small-scale
     software pirate to be prosecuted. Once "cracked" of its copy pro-
     tection, the program, being digital data, becomes infinitely repro-
     ducible. Even the instructions to the game, any manuals that
     accompany it, can be reproduced as text files or photocopied
     from legitimate sets. Other users on boards can give many useful
     hints in game-playing tactics. And a youngster with an infinite
     supply of free computer games can certainly cut quite a swath
     among his modemless friends.
        And boards are pseudonymous. No one need know that you're
     fourteen years old-with a little practice at subterfuge, you can
     talk to adults about adult things, and be accepted and taken
     seriously! You can even pretend to be a girl, or an old man, or
     anybody you can imagine. If you find this kind of deception grati-
     fying, there is ample opportunity to hone your ability on boards.
        But local boards can grow stale. And almost every board main-
     tains a list of phone numbers to other boards, some in distant,
     tempting, exotic locales. Who knows what they're up to, in Ore-

r------~-     -----
THE DIGITAL UNDERGROUND               ooooooooooooogooogOOOQDOOQD   83

gon or Alaska or Florida or California? It's very easy to find out-
just order the modem to call through its software; nothing to this,
just typing on a keyboard, the same thing you would do for most
any computer game. The machine reacts swiftly and in a few
seconds you are talking to a bunch of interesting people on an-
other seaboard.
   And yet the bills for this trivial action can be staggering! Just
by going tippety-tap with your fingers, you may have saddled your
parents with four hundred bucks in long-distance charges and
gotten chewed out but good. That hardly seems fair.
   How horrifying to have made friends in another state and to be
deprived of their company-and their software-just because
telephone companies demand absurd amounts of money! How
painful, to be restricted to boards in one's own area code-what
the heck is an "area code" anyway, and what makes it so special?
A few grumbles, complaints, and innocent questions of this sort
will often elicit a sympathetic reply from another board user-
someone with some stolen codes to hand. You dither awhile,
knowing this isn't quite right, then you make up your mind to try
them anyhow-and they work! Suddenly you're doing something
even your parents can't do. Six months ago you were just some
kid-now you're the Crimson Flash of Area Code 5121 You're
bad-you're nationwide!
   Maybe you'll stop at a few abused codes. Maybe you'll decide
that boards aren't all that interesting after all, that it's wrong, not
worth the risk-but maybe you won't. The next step is to pick up
your own repeat-dialing program-to learn to generate your own
stolen codes. (This was dead easy five years ago, much harder to
get away with nowadays, but not yet impossible.) And these dial-
ing programs are not complex or intimidating-some are as small
as twenty lines of software.
   Now you too can share codes. You can trade codes to learn
other techniques. If you're smart enough to catch on, and obses-
sive enough to want to bother, and ruthless enough to start seri-
ously bending rules, then you'll get better fast. You start to
develop a rep. You move up to a heavier class of board-one with

a bad attitude, the kind of board that naive dopes like your class-
mates and your former self have never even heard of! You pick up
the jargon of phreaking and hacking from the board. You read a
few of those anarchy philes-and man, you never realized you
could be a real outlaw without ever leaving your bedroom.
   You still play other computer games, but now you have a new
and bigger game. This one will bring you a different kind of status
than destroying even 8 zillion lousy space invaders.
   Hackers perceive hacking as a "game." This is not an entirely
unreasonable or sociopathic perception. You can win or lose at
hacking, succeed or fail, but it never feels "real." It's not simply
that imaginative youngsters sometimes have a hard time telling
"make-believe" from "real life." Cyberspace is not real! "Real"
things are physical objects, such as trees and shoes and cars.
Hacking takes place on a screen. Words aren't physical, numbers
(even telephone numbers and credit card numbers) aren't physi-
cal. Sticks and stones may break my bones, but data will never
hurt me. Computers simulate reality, such as computer games
that simulate tank battles or dogfights or spaceships. Simulations
are just make-believe, and the stuff in computers is not real.
   Consider this: If "hacking" is supposed to be so serious and
real-life and dangerous, then how come nine-year-old kids have
computers and modems? You wouldn't give a nine-year-old his
own car, or his own rifle, or his own chainsaw-those things are
"real. "
   People underground are perfectly aware that the "game" is
frowned upon by the powers that be. Word gets around about
busts in the underground. Publicizing busts is one of the primary
functions of pirate boards, but they also promulgate an attitude
about them, and their own idiosyncratic ideas of justice. The
users of underground boards won't complain if some guy is
busted for crashing systems, spreading viruses, or stealing money
by wire fraud. They may shake their heads with a sneaky grin, but
they won't openly defend these practices. But when a kid is
charged with some theoretical amount of theft: $233,846.14, for
instance, because he sneaked into a computer and copied some-

 - - - - - - - - -

    thing, and kept it in his house on a floppy disk-this is regarded
    as a sign of near insanity on the part of prosecutors, a sign that
    they've drastically mistaken the immaterial game of computing
    for their real and boring everyday world of fatcat corporate
       It's as if big companies and their suck-up lawyers think that
    computing belongs to them, and they can retail it with price
    stickers, as if it were boxes of laundry soap! But pricing "informa-
    tion" is like trying to price air or price dreams. Well, anybody on a
    pirate board knows that computing can be, and ought to be, free.
    Pirate boards are little independent worlds in cyberspace, and
    they don't belong to anybody but the underground. Underground
    boards aren't "brought to you by Procter & Gamble."
       To log on to an underground board can mean to experience
    liberation, to enter a world where, for once, money isn't every-
    thing and adults don't have all the answers.
       Let's sample another vivid hacker manifesto. Here are some
    excerpts from "The Conscience of a Hacker," by "The Mentor,"
    from Phrack, Volume One, Issue 7, Phile 3.

      I made a discovery today. I found a computer.
    Wait a second, this is cool. It does what I want
    it to. If it makes a mistake, it's because I
    screwed it up· Not because it doesn't like
    me· . . .
      And then it happened . . . a door opened to a
    world . . . rushing through the phone line
    like heroin through an addict's veins, an
    electronic pulse is sent out, a refuge from
    day-to-day incompetencies is sought . . . a
    board is found. "This is it . . . this is
    where I belong . . . "
      I know everyone here . . . even if I've never
    met them, never talked to them, may never hear
    from them again . . . I know you a l L. . . .
      This is our world now· . . the world of the
    electron and the switch, the beauty of the
    baud. We make use of a service already
86 ••••••••• 000.0 • • • • • • 000.0..   THE HACKER CRACKDOWN

existing without paying for what could be
dirt-cheap if it wasn't run by profiteering
gluttons, and you call us criminals. We ex-
plore . . . and you call us criminals. We seek
after knowledge . . . and you call us crimi-
nals. We exist without skin color, without na-
tionality, without religious bias . . . and
you call us criminals. You build atomic bombs,
you wage wars, you murder, cheat and lie to us
and try to make us bel ieve that it's for our own
good, yet we're the criminals.
  Yes, I am a criminal. My crime is that of cu-
riosity. My crime is that of judging people
by what they say and think, not what they
look like. My crime is that of outsmarting
you, something that you will never forgive me

   There have been underground boards almost as long as there
have been boards. One of the first was 8BBS, which became a
stronghold of the West Coast phone-phreak elite. After going on-
line in March 1980, 8BBS sponsored "Susan Thunder" and "Tuc"
and, most notoriously, "the Condor." The Condor bore the sin-
gular distinction of becoming the most vilified American phreak
and hacker ever. Angry underground associates, fed up with Con-
dor's peevish behavior, turned him in to police, along with a
heaping double-helping of outrageous hacker legendry. As a re-
sult, Condor was kept in solitary confinement for seven months,
for fear that he might start World War III by triggering missile
silos from the prison pay phone. (Having served his time, Condor
is now walking around loose; WWIIl has thus far conspicuously
failed to occur.)
   The sysop of 8BBS was an ardent free-speech enthusiast who
simply felt that any attempt to restrict the expression of his users
was unconstitutional and immoral. Swarms of the technically cu-
rious entered 8BBS and emerged as phreaks and hackers, until, in
1982, a friendly 8BBS alumnus passed the sysop a new modem
that had been purchased by credit card fraud. Police took this
I   , THE DIGITAL UNDERGROUND ooooooooooooooopooooooooooo

     opportunity to seize the entire board and remove what they con-
(    sidered an attractive nuisance.
        Plovernet was a powerful East Coast pirate board that operated
     in both New York and Florida. Owned and operated by teenage
     hacker "Quasi Moto," Plovernet attracted five hundred eager
     users in 1983. "Emmanuel Goldstein" was one-time co-sysop of
     Plovernet, along with "Lex Luthor," founder of the "Legion of
     Doom" group. Plovernet bore the signal honor of being the origi-
     nal home of the Legion of Doom, about which the reader will be
     hearing a great deal, soon.
        Pirate-80, or P-80, run by a sysop known as "Scan Man," got
     into the game very early in Charleston and continued steadily for
     years. P-80 flourished so flagrantly that even its most hardened
     users became nervous, and some slanderously speculated that
     Scan Man must have ties to corporate security, a charge he vigor-
     ously denied.
        "414 Private" was the home board for the first group to attract
     conspicuous trouble, the teenage "414 gang," whose intrusions
     into Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and Los Alamos military
     computers were to be a nine-day wonder in 1982.
        At about this time, the first software piracy boards began to
     open up, trading cracked games for the Atari 800 and the Com-
     modore C64. Naturally these boards were heavily frequented by
     teenagers. And with the 1983 release of the hacker-thriller movie
     War Games, the scene exploded. It seemed that every kid in
     America had demanded and gotten a modem for Christmas.
     Most of these dabbler wannabes put their modems in the attic
     after a few weeks, and most of the remainder minded their Ps
     and Qs and stayed well out of hot water. But some stubborn
     and talented diehards had this hacker kid in War Games figured
     for a happening dude. They simply could not rest until they had
     contacted the underground-or, failing that, created their
         In the mid-1980s, underground boards sprang up like digital
      fungi. ShadowSpawn Elite. Sherwood Forest I, II, and III. Digital
      Logic Data Service in Florida, sysoped by no less a man than

"Digital Logic" himself; Lex Luthor of the Legion of Doom was
prominent on this board, because it was in his area code. Lex's
own board, Legion of Doom, started in 1984. The Neon Knights
ran a network of Apple-hacker boards: Neon Knights North,
South, East, and West. Free World II was run by "Major Havoc."
Lunatic Labs is still in operation as of this writing. Dr. Ripco in
Chicago, an anything-goes anarchist board with an extensive and
raucous history, was seized by Secret Service agents in 1990 on
Sundevil day but came up again almost immediately, with new
machines and scarcely diminished vigor.
    The St. Louis scene was not to rank with major centers of
American hacking such as New York and LA But St. Louis did
rejoice in possession of "Knight Lightning" and "Taran King,"
two of the foremost journalists native to the underground. Mis-
souri boards such as Metal Shop AE, Metal Shop Private, and
Metal Shop Brewery may not have been the heaviest boards
around in terms of illicit expertise. But they became boards where
hackers could exchange social gossip and try to figure out what
the heck was going on nationally-and internationally. Gossip
from Metal Shop was put into the form of news files, then assem-
bled into a general electronic publication, Phrack, a portmanteau
title coined from "phreak" and "hack." The Phrack editors were
as obsessively curious about other hackers as hackers were about
    Phrack, being free of charge and lively reading, began to circu-
late throughout the underground. As Taran King and Knight
Lightning left high school for college, Phrack began to appear on
mainframe machines linked to BITNET, and, through BITNET
to the Internet, that loose but extremely potent not-for-profit
network where academic, governmental, and corporate machines
trade data through the UNIX TCP/IP protocol. (The Internet
Worm of November 2-3, 1988, created by Cornell grad stu-
dent Robert Morris, was to be the largest and best-publicized
computer-intrusion scandal to date. Morris said that his inge-
nious "worm" program was meant to explore the Internet harm-

                 ---------------- -----------
THE DIGITAL UNDERGROUND            oooOOOOOOOllllllllllllRQOllllllllllllll1l   89

lessly, but due to bad programming, the worm replicated out of
control and crashed some six thousand Internet computers.
Smaller-scale and less ambitious Internet hacking was a standard
for the underground elite.)
    Most any underground board not hopelessly lame and out-of-it
would feature a complete run of Phrack-and, possibly, the
lesser-known standards of the underground: the Legion of Doom
Technical Journal, the obscene and raucous Cult of the Dead Cow
files, P/HUN magazine, Pirate, the Syndicate Reports, and perhaps
the highly anarcho-political Activist Times Incorporated.
    Possession of Phrack on one's board was prima facie evidence
of a bad attitude. Phrack was seemingly everywhere, aiding, abet-
ting, and spreading the underground ethos. And this did not es-
cape the attention of corporate security or the police.
    We now come to the touchy subject of police and boards.
Police do, in fact, own boards. In 1989, there were police-
sponsored boards in California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia,
Idaho, Michigan, Missouri, Texas, and Virginia: boards such as
Crime Bytes, Crimestoppers, All Points, and Bullet-N-Board. Po-
lice officers, as private computer enthusiasts, ran their own
boards in Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida,
 Missouri, Maryland, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Tennes-
see, and Texas. Police boards have often proved helpful in com-
 munity relations. Sometimes crimes are reported on police
    Sometimes crimes are committed on police boards. This has
 sometimes happened by accident, as naive hackers blunder onto
 police boards and blithely begin offering telephone codes. Far
 more often, however, it occurs through the now almost-
 traditional use of "sting boards." The first police sting boards
 were established in 1985: Underground Tunnel in Austin, Texas,
 whose sysop Sergeant Robert Ansley called himself "Pluto"-The
 Phone Company in Phoenix, Arizona, run by Ken MacLeod of
 the Maricopa County Sheriff's office-and Sergeant Dan Pas-
 quale's board in Fremont, California. Sysops posed as hackers,
         90   000000000000000000000000000   THE HACKER CRACKDOWN

       and swiftly garnered coteries of ardent users, who posted codes
       and loaded pirate software with abandon, and came to a sticky
                                              Sting boards, like other
    Sting boards are cheap to boards, are cheap to operate;
    operate; very cheap, by the very cheap, by the standards of
                                           undercover police operations.
    standards of undercover                Once accepted by the local un-
    police operations.                     derground, sysops will likely
                                           be invited into other pirate
       boards, where they can compile more dossiers. And when the
       sting is announced and the worst offenders arrested, the publicity
       is generally gratifying. The resultant paranoia in the underground
       -perhaps more justly described as a "deterrence effect"-tends
       to quell local lawbreaking for quite a while.
          Obviously police do not have to beat the underbrush for hack-
       ers. On the contrary, they can go trolling for them. Those caught
       can be grilled. Some become useful informants. They can lead
       the way to pirate boards all across thc country.
          And boards all across the country showed the sticky finger-
       prints of Phrack, and of that loudest and most flagrant of all
       underground groups, the Legion of Doom.
          The term "Legion of Doom" came from comic books. The
       Legion of Doom, a conspiracy of costumed supervillains headed
       by the chrome-domed criminal ultra-mastermind Lex Luthor,
       gave Superman a lot of four-color graphic trouble for a number of
       decades. Of course, Superman, that exemplar of Truth, Justice,
       and the American Way, always won in the long run. This didn't
       matter to the hacker Doomsters-Legion of Doom was not some
       thunderous and evil Satanic reference, it was not meant to be
       taken seriously. Legion of Doom came from funny books and was
       supposed to be funny.
          Legion of Doom did have a good, mouth-filling ring to it,
       though. It sounded really cool. Other groups, such as the Farmers
       of Doom, closely allied to LaD, recognized this grandiloquent
       quality and made fun of it. There was even a hacker group called

THE DIGITAL UNDERGROUND            000 •••• 0 ••   0 •••••••   0 • • • • • • 00   91

"Justice League of America," named after Superman's club of
true-blue crime-fighting superheros.
   But they didn't last; the Legion did.
   The original Legion of Doom, hanging out on Quasi Mote's
Plovernet board, were phone phreaks. They weren't much into
computers. Lex Luthor himself (who was under eighteen when he
formed the Legion) was a COSMOS expert, COSMOS being the
"Central System for Mainframe Operations," a telco internal
computer network. Lex would eventually become quite a dab
hand at breaking into IBM mainframes, but although everyone
liked Lex and admired his attitude, he was not considered a truly
accomplished computer intruder. Nor was he the "mastermind"
of the Legion of Doom-LoD was never big on formal leadership.
As a regular on Plovernet and sysop of his Legion of Doom BBS,
Lex was the Legion's cheerleader and recruiting officer.
   Legion of Doom was built on the ruins of an earlier phreak
group, The Knights of Shadow. Later, LoD was to subsume the
personnel of the hacker group Tribunal of Knowledge. People
came and went constantly in LoD; groups split up or formed
   Early on, the LoD phreaks befriended a few computer-
intrusion enthusiasts, who became the associated Legion of
Hackers. Then the two groups conflated into the Legion of
Doom/Hackers, or LoD/H. When the original "hacker" wing,
Messrs. "Compu-Phreak" and "Phucked Agent 04," found other
matters to occupy their time, the extra "/H" slowly atrophied out
of the name; but by this time the phreak wing, Messrs. Lex
Luthor, "Blue Archer," "Gary Seven," "Kerrang Khan," "Master
of Impact," "Silver Spy," "The Marauder," and "The Video-
smith," had picked up a plethora of intrusion expertise and had
become a force to be reckoned with.
   LoD members seemed to have an instinctive understanding
that the way to real power in the underground lay through covert
publicity. LaD was flagrant. Not only was it one of the earliest
groups, but members took pains to distribute their illicit knowl-
edge widely. Some LoD members, such as "The Mentor," were

            close to evangelical about it. Legion of Doom Technical Journal
            began to show up on boards throughout the underground.
               LoD Technical Journal was named in cruel parody of the an-
            cient and honored AT6T Technical Journal. The material in these
            two publications was quite similar-much of it adopted from
            public journals and discussions in the telco community. And yet,
            the predatory attitude of LoD made even its most innocuous
            data seem deeply sinister, an outrage, a clear and present danger.
               To see why this should be, let's consider the following (in-
            vented) paragraphs, as a kind of thought experiment.

              (A) W. Fred Brown, AT&T Vice President for
            Advanced Technical Development, testified
            May 8 at a Washington hearing of the National
            Telecommunications and Information Adminis-
            tration (NTIA), regarding Bellcore's GARDEN
            project. GARDEN (Generalized Automatic Re-
            mote Distributed Electronic Network) is a
            telephone-switch programming tool that makes
            it possible to develop new telecom services,
            including hold-on-hold and customized mes-
            sage transfers, from any keypad terminal,
            within seconds. The GARDEN prototype com-
            bines centrex lines with a minicomputer using
            UNIX operating system software.
              (B) Crimson Flash 512 of the Centrex Mob-
            sters reports: DOOdz, you wouldn't believe
            this GARDEN bullshit Bellcore's just come up
            with! Now you don't even need a lousy Commo-
            dore to reprogram a switch-just log on to GAR-
            DEN as a technician, and you can reprogram
            switches right off the keypad in any public
            phone booth! You can give yourself hold-on-
            hold and customized message transfers, and
            best of all, the thing is run off (notoriously
            insecure) centrex lines using-get this-stan-
            dard UNIX software! Ha ha ha ha!

               Message (A), couched in typical techno-bureaucratese, appears
            tedious and almost unreadable, scarcely threatening or menacing.

'-----~~-   -   ---

Message (B), on the other hand, is a dreadful thing, prima facie
evidence of a dire conspiracy, definitely not the kind of thing you
want your teenager reading.
   The data, however, are identical. They are public data, pre-
sented before the federal government in an open hearing. They
are not "secret." They are not "proprietary." They are not even
"confidential." On the contrary, the development of advanced
software systems is a matter of great public pride to Bellcore.
   However, when Bellcore publicly announces a project of this
kind, it expects a certain attitude from the public-something
along the lines of gosh wow, you guys are great, keep that up,
whatever it is-certainly not cruel mimicry, one-upmanship, and
outrageous speculations about possible security holes.
   Now put yourself in the place of a policeman confronted by an
outraged parent, or telco official, with a copy of version (B). This
well-meaning citizen, to his horror, has discovered a local bulletin
board carrying outrageous stuff like (B), which his son is examin-
ing with a deep and unhealthy interest. If (B) were printed in a
book or magazine, you, as an American law enforcement officer,
would know that it would take a hell of a lot of trouble to do
anything about it; but it doesn't take technical genius to recog-
nize that if there's a computer in your area harboring stuff like
(B), there's going to be trouble.
   In fact, if you ask around, any computer-literate cop will tell
you straight out that boards with stuff like (B) are the source of
trouble. And the worst source of trouble on boards are the ring-
leaders inventing and spreading stuff like (B). If it weren't for
these jokers, there wouldn't be any trouble.
   And Legion of Doom was on boards like nobody else.
Plovernet. The Legion of Doom Board. The Farmers of Doom
Board. Metal Shop. OSUNY. Blottoland. Private Sector. Atlantis.
Digital Logic. Hell Phrozen Over.
   LoD members also ran their own boards. "Silver Spy" started
his own board, Catch-22, considered one of the heaviest around.
So did Mentor, with his Phoenix Project. When they didn't run
boards themselves, they showed up on other people's boards, to
   94   ooooooooOQQoooooooooooooooo   THE HACKER CRACKDOWN

   brag, boast, and strut. And where they themselves didn't go, their
   philes went, carrying evil knowledge and an even more evil atti-
       As early as 1986, the police were under the vague impression
   that everyone in the underground was Legion of Doom. LoD was
   never that large-considerably smaller than either Metal Com-
   munications or The Administration, for instance-but LoD got
   tremendous press. Especially in Phrack, which at times read like
   an LoD fan magazine; and Phrack was everywhere, especially in
   the offices of telco security. You couldn't get busted as a phone
   phreak, a hacker, or even a lousy codes kid or warez dood, without
   the cops asking if you were LoD.
                                         This was a difficult charge to
Somewhere at the center               deny, as LoD never distributed
                                      membership badges or lami-
of this conspiracy there
                                      nated 10 cards. If it had, it
had to be some adult                  likely would have died out
masterminds.                          quickly, for turnover in mem-
                                      bership was considerable. LoD
   was less a high-tech street gang than an ongoing state of mind.
    LoD was the Gang That Refused to Die. By 1990 LoD had ruled
   for years, and it seemed weird to police that they continually were
   busting people who were only sixteen years old. All these teenage
   small-timers were pleading the tiresome hacker litany of "just
   curious, no criminal intent." Somewhere at the center of this
   conspiracy there had to be some serious adult masterminds, not
   this seemingly endless supply of myopic suburban white kids with
   high SATs and funny haircuts.
       There was no question that most any American hacker arrested
    would "know" LoD. They all knew the handles of contributors to
   LoD Tech Journal, and were likely to have learned their craft
    through LoD boards and LoD activism. But they'd never met
   anyone from LoD. Even some of the rotating cadre who were
   actually and formally "in LoD" knew one another only by board
    mail and pseudonyms. This was a highly unconventional profile
    for a criminal conspiracy. Computer networking, and the rapid
THE DIGITAL UNDERGROUND             00000000000000,0000000000.00   95

evolution of the digital underground, made the situation very
diffuse and confusing.
   Furthermore, a big reputation in the digital underground did
not coincide with one's willingness to commit "crimes." Instead,
reputation was based on cleverness and technical mastery. As a
result, it often seemed that the heavier the hackers were, the less
likely they were to have committed any kind of common, easily
prosecutable crime. There were some hackers who could really
steal. And there were hackers who could really hack. But the two
groups didn't seem to overlap much, if at all. For instance, most
people in the underground looked up to Emmanuel Goldstein of
2600 as a hacker demigod. But Goldstein's publishing activities
were entirely legal-he just printed dodgy stuff and talked about
politics, he didn't even hack. When you came right down to it,
Goldstein spent half his time complaining that computer security
wasn't strong enough and ought to be improved drastically across
the board!
   Truly heavy-duty hackers, those with serious technical skills
who had earned the respect of the underground, never stole
money or abused credit cards. Sometimes they might abuse
phone codes-but often they seemed to get all the free phone
time they wanted without leaving a trace of any kind.
   The best hackers, the most powerful and technically accom-
plished, were not professional fraudsters. They raided computers
habitually but wouldn't alter anything, or damage anything. They
didn't even steal computer equipment-most had day jobs mess-
ing with hardware and could get all the cheap secondhand equip-
ment they wanted. The hottest hackers, unlike the teenage
wannabes, weren't snobs about fancy or expensive hardware.
Their machines tended to be raw secondhand digital hot rods full
of custom add-ons that they'd cobbled together out of chicken
wire, memory chips, and spit. Some were adults, computer soft-
ware writers and consultants by trade, and making quite good
livings at it. Some of them actually worked for the phone company
-and for those, the "hackers" actually found under the skirts of
Ma Bell, there would be little mercy in 1990.

   It has long been an article of faith in the underground that the
"best" hackers never get caught. They're far too smart, suppos-
edly. They never get caught because they never boast, brag, or
strut. These demigods may read underground boards (with a con-
descending smile), but they never say anything there. The "best"
hackers, according to legend, are adult computer professionals,
such as mainframe system administrators, who already know the
ins and outs of their particular brand of security. Even the "best"
hacker can't break in to just any computer at random: the knowl-
edge of security holes is too specialized, varying widely with dif-
ferent software and hardware. But if people are employed to run,
say, a UNIX mainframe or a VAXNMS machine, then they tend
to learn security from the inside out. Armed with this knowledge,
they can look into most anybody else's UNIX or VMS without
much trouble or risk, if they want to. And, according to hacker
legend, of course they want to, so of course they do. They just
don't make a big deal of what they've done. So nobody ever finds
   It is also an article of faith in the underground that profes-
sional telco people "phreak" like crazed weasels. Of course they
spy on Madonna's phone calls-I mean, wouldn't you? Of course
they give themselves free long distance-why the hell should they
pay, they're running the whole shebang!
   It has, as a third matter, long been an article of faith that any
hacker caught can escape serious punishment if he confesses how
he did it. Hackers seem to believe that governmental agencies and
large corporations are blundering about in cyberspace like eyeless
jellyfish or cave salamanders. They feel that these large but pa-
thetically stupid organizations will proffer up genuine gratitude,
and perhaps even a security post and a big salary, to the hot-shot
intruder who will deign to reveal to them the supreme genius of
his modus operandi.
   In the case of longtime LoD member "Control-C." this actu-
ally happened, more or less. Control-C had led Michigan Bell on
a merry chase, and when captured in 1987, he turned out to be a
bright and apparently physically harmless young fanatic, fasci-

    nated by phones. There was no chance in hell that Control-C
    would actually repay the enormous and largely theoretical sums
    in long-distance service that he had accumulated from Michigan
    Bell. He could always be indicted for fraud or computer intrusion,
    but there seemed little real point in this-he hadn't physically
    damaged any computer. He'd just plead guilty, and he'd likely get
    the usual slap on the wrist, and in the meantime it would be a big
    hassle for Michigan Bell just to bring up the case. But if kept on
    the payroll, he might at least keep his fellow hackers at bay.
       There were uses for him. For instance, a contrite Control-C
    was featured on Michigan Bell internal posters, sternly warning
    employees to shred their trash. He'd always gotten most of his
    best inside info from "trashing"-raiding telco dumpsters, for
    useful data indiscreetly thrown away. He signed these posters too.
    Control-C had become something like a Michigan Bell mascot.
    And in fact, Control-C did keep other hackers at bay. Little hack-
    ers were quite scared of Control-C and his heavy-duty Legion of
    Doom friends. And big hackers were his friends and didn't want
    to screw up his cushy situation.
       No matter what one might say of LoD, the members did stick
    together. When "Wasp," an apparently genuinely malicious New
    York hacker, began crashing Bellcore machines, Control-C re-
    ceived swift volunteer help from The Mentor and the Georgia
    LoD wing made up of "The Prophet," "Urvile," and "Leftist."
    Using Mentor's Phoenix Project board to coordinate, the Doom-
    sters helped telco security to trap Wasp, by luring him into a
    machine with a tap and line trace installed. Wasp lost. LoD won!
    And my, did they brag.
       Urvile, Prophet, and Leftist were well qualified for this activity,
    probably more so even than the quite accomplished Control-C.
    The Georgia boys knew all about phone switching stations.
    Though relative johnny-come-latelies in the Legion of Doom,
    they were considered some of LoD's heaviest guys, into the hairi-
    est systems around. They had the good fortune to live in or near
    Atlanta, home of the sleepy and apparently tolerant BellSouth

      98   OOOOOOOOOooOOooQooooooooooo   THE HACKER CRACKDOWN

         As RBOC security went, BellSouth was "cake." U S West (of
      Arizona, the Rockies, and the Pacific Northwest) was tough and
      aggressive, probably the heaviest RBOC around. Pacific Bell, Cali-
      fornia's PacBell, was sleek, high tech, and a longtime veteran of
      the LA phone-phreak wars. NYNEX had the misfortune to run
      the New York City area and was warily prepared for most any-
      thing. Even Michigan Bell, a division of the Ameritech RBOC, at
      least had the elementary sense to hire its own hacker as a useful
      scarecrow. But BellSouth, even though its corporate public rela-
      tions proclaimed it to have "Everything You Expect From a
      Leader," was pathetic.
         When rumor about LoD's mastery of Georgia's switching net-
      work got around to BellSouth through Bellcore and te1co security
      scuttlebutt, at first it refused to believe it. If you paid serious
      attention to every rumor out and about these hacker kids, you
      would hear all kinds of wacko saucer-nut nonsense: that the Na-
      tional Security Agency monitored all American phone calls, that
      the CIA and DEA tracked traffic on bulletin boards with word-
      analysis programs, that the Condor could start World War III
      from a pay phone.
         If there were hackers into BellSouth switching stations, then
      how come nothing had happened? Nothing had been hurt. Bell-
      South's machines weren't crashing. BellSouth wasn't suffering
      especially badly from fraud. BellSouth's customers weren't com-
      plaining. BellSouth was headquartered in Atlanta, ambitious me-
      tropolis of the new high-tech Sunbelt; and BellSouth was
      upgrading its network by leaps and bounds, digitizing the works
      left, right, and center. It could hardly be considered sluggish or
      naive. BellSouth's technical expertise was second to none, thank
      you kindly.
         But then came the Florida business.
         On June 13, 1989, callers to the Palm Beach County Probation
      Department, in Delray Beach, Florida, found themselves involved
      in a remarkable discussion with a phone-sex worker named
      "Tina" in New York State. Somehow, any call to this probation
      office near Miami was instantly and magically transported across

.------       ----------

state lines, at no extra charge to the user, to a pornographic
phone-sex hotline hundreds of miles away!
   This practical joke may seem utterly hilarious at first hearing,
and indeed there was a good deal of chuckling about it in phone-
phreak circles, including the autumn 1989 issue of 2600. But for
Southern Bell (the division of the BellSouth RBOC supplying
local service for Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, and South Car-
olina), this was a smoking gun. For the first time ever, a computer
intruder had broken into a BellSouth central office switching sta-
tion and reprogrammed it!
   Or so BellSouth thought in June 1989. Actually, LaD members
had been frolicking harmlessly in BellSouth switches since Sep-
tember 1987. The stunt of June 13-call-forwarding a number
through manipulation of a switching station-was child's play for
hackers as accomplished as the Georgia wing of LaD. Switching
calls interstate sounded like a big deal, but it took only four lines
of code to accomplish this. An easy, yet more discreet, stunt
would be to call-forward another number to your own house. If
you were careful and considerate, and changed the software back
later, then not a soul would know. Except you. And whoever you
had bragged to about it.
   As for BellSouth, what it didn't know wouldn't hurt it.
   Except now somebody had blown the whole thing wide open,
and BellSouth knew.
   A now alerted and considerably paranoid BellSouth began
searching switches right and left for signs of impropriety, in that
hot summer of 1989. No fewer than forty-two BellSouth employ-
ees were put on twelve-hour shifts, twenty-four hours a day, for
two solid months, poring over records and monitoring computers
for any sign of phony access. These forty-two overworked experts
were known as BellSouth's "Intrusion Task Force."
   What the investigators found astounded them. Proprietary
telco databases had been manipulated: phone numbers had been
created out of thin air, with no users' names and no addresses
and, perhaps worst of all, no charges and no records of use. The
new digital ReMOB (Remote Observation) diagnostic feature
    100   000000000000000000000000000   THE HACKER CRACKDOWN

   had been tampered with extensively-hackers had learned to
   reprogram ReMOB software, so that they could listen in on any
   switch-routed call at their leisure! They were using telco property
   to spy!
      The electrifying news went out throughout law enforcement in
   1989. It had never really occurred to anyone at BellSouth that its
   prized and brand-new digital switching stations could be repro-
   grammed. People seemed utterly amazed that anyone could have
   the nerve. Of course these switching stations were "computers,"
   and everybody knew hackers liked to "break into computers." But
   telephone people's computers were different from normal peo-
   ple's computers.
      The exact reason why these computers were "different" was
   rather ill defined. It certainly wasn't the extent of their security.
   The security on these BellSouth computers was lousy; the AIMSX
   computers, for instance, didn't even have passwords. But there
   was no question that BellSouth strongly felt that its computers
   were very different indeed. And if there were some criminals out
   there who had not gotten that message, BellSouth was deter-
   mined to see that message taught.
      After all, a 5ESS switching station was no mere bookkeeping
   system for some local chain of florists. Public service depended on
   these stations. Public safety depended on these stations.
                                           And hackers, lurking in there
H  ackers could spy on                  call-forwarding or ReMobbing,
anybody in the local area!             could spy on anybody in the lo-
                                       cal area! They could spy on
    telco officials! They could spy on police stations! They could spy
    on local offices of the Secret Service. . . .
       In 1989, electronic cops and hacker-trackers began using
    scrambler phones and secured lines. It only made sense. There
    was no telling who was into those systems. Whoever they were,
    they sounded scary. This was some new level of antisocial daring.
    Could be West German hackers, in the pay of the KGB. That too
    had seemed a weird and farfetched notion, until Clifford Stoll
    had poked and prodded a sluggish Washington law-enforcement

                  ------       -   ----~

bureaucracy into investigating a computer intrusion that turned
out to be exactly that-hackers, in the pay of the KGB! Stoll, the
systems manager for an Internet lab in Berkeley, California, had
ended up on the front page of The New York Times, proclaimed a
national hero in the first true story of international computer
espionage. Stoll's counterspy efforts, which he related in a best-
selling book, The Cuckoo's Egg, in 1989, had established the cred-
ibility of "hacking" as a possible threat to national security. The
U.S. Secret Service doesn't mess around when it suspects a possi-
ble action by a foreign intelligence apparat.
   The Secret Service scrambler phones and secured lines put a
tremendous kink in law enforcement's ability to operate freely; to
get the word out, cooperate, prevent misunderstandings. Never-
theless, 1989 scarcely seemed the time for half-measures. If the
police and Secret Service themselves were not operationally se-
cure, then how could they reasonably demand measures of secu-
rity from private enterprise? At least, the inconvenience made
people aware of the seriousness of the threat.
   If there was a final spur needed to get the police off the dime,
it came in the realization that the emergency 911 system was
vulnerable. The 911 system has its own specialized software, but
it is run on the same digital switching systems as the rest of the
telephone network. The system is not physically different from
normal telephony. But it is certainly culturally different, because
this is the area of telephonic cyberspace reserved for the police
and emergency services.
   Your average policeman may not know much about hackers or
phone phreaks. Computer people are weird; even computer cops
are rather weird; the stuff they do is hard to figure out. But a
threat to the 911 system is anything but abstract. If the 911
system goes, people can die.
    Imagine being in a car wreck, staggering to a phone booth,
punching 911, and hearing "Tina" pick up the phone-sex line some-
where in New York! The situation's no longer comical, somehow.
    And was it possible? No question. Hackers had attacked 911
systems before. Phreaks can max-out 911 systems just by siccing a
     102   oooogoooooooooooooooooooooo   THE HACKER CRACKDOWN

     bunch of computer modems on them in tandem, dialing them
     over and over until they clog. That's very crude and low tech, but
     it's still a serious business.
         The time had come for action. It was time to take stern mea-
     sures with the underground. It was time to start picking up the
     dropped threads, the loose edges, the bits of braggadocio here
     and there; it was time to get on the stick and start putting serious
     casework together. Hackers weren't "invisible." They thought they
     were invisible; but the truth was, they had just been tolerated too
         Under sustained police attention in the summer of 1989, the
     digital underground began to unravel as never before.
         The first big break in the case came very early on: July 1989,
     the following month. The perpetrator of the "Tina" switch was
     caught and confessed. His name was "Fry Guy," a sixteen-year-
     old in Indiana. Fry Guy had been a very wicked young man.
         Fry Guy had earned his handle from a stunt involving French
     fries. Fry Guy had filched the log-in of a local MacDonald's man-
     ager and had logged on to the MacDonald's mainframe on the
     Sprint Te1enet system. Posing as the manager, Fry Guy had al-
     tered MacDonald's records and given generous raises to some
     teenage hamburger-flipping friends. He had not been caught.
         Emboldened by success, Fry Guy moved on to credit card
     abuse. Fry Guy was quite an accomplished talker, with a gift for
     "social engineering." If you can do social engineering-fast talk,
     fake-outs, impersonation, conning, scamming-then card abuse
     comes easy. (Getting away with it in the long run is another
         Fry Guy had run across Urvile of the Legion of Doom on the
     ALTOS Chat board in Bonn, Germany. ALTOS Chat was a so-
     phisticated board, accessible through such globe-spanning com-
     puter networks as BITNET, Tymnet, and Telenet. ALTOS was
     much frequented by members of Germany's Chaos Computer
     Club. Two Chaos hackers who hung out on ALTOS, "Jaeger" and
     "Pengo," had been the central villains of Clifford Stoll's Cuckoo's
     Egg case: consorting in East Berlin with a spymaster from the

- - - - - - - - -
THE DIGITAL UNDERGROUND            000 . . 00000000000000 • • • • 0.0.   103

KGB and breaking into American computers for hire, through the
   When LoD members learned the story of Jaeger's depredations
from Stoll's book, they were rather less than impressed, techni-
cally speaking. On LoD's own favorite board of the moment,
Black Ice, LoD members bragged that they themselves could
have done all the Chaos break-ins in a week flat! Nevertheless,
LoD was grudgingly impressed by the Chaos rep, the sheer hairy-
eyed daring of hash-smoking anarchist hackers who had rubbed
shoulders with the fearsome big boys of international Commu-
nist espionage. LoD members sometimes traded bits of knowl-
edge with friendly German hackers on ALTOS-phone numbers
for vulnerable VAX/VMS computers in Georgia, for instance.
Dutch and British phone phreaks, and the Australian clique of
"Phoenix," "Nom," and "Electron," were ALTOS regulars too. In
underground circles, to hang out on ALTOS was considered the
sign of an elite dude, a sophisticated hacker of the international
digital jet set.
   Fry Guy quickly learned how to raid information from credit
card consumer-reporting agencies. He had over a hundred stolen
credit card numbers in his notebooks and upward of a thousand
swiped long-distance access codes. He knew how to get onto
ALTOS and how to talk the talk of the underground convinc-
ingly. He now wheedled knowledge of switching-station tricks
from Urvile on the ALTOS system.
   Combining these two forms of knowledge enabled Fry Guy to
bootstrap his way up to a new form of wire fraud. First, he'd
snitched credit card numbers from credit-company computers.
The data he copied included names, addresses, and phone num-
bers of the random cardholders.
   Then Fry Guy, impersonating a cardholder, called up Western
Union and asked for a cash advance on "his" credit card. Western
Union, as a security guarantee, would call the customer back, at
home, to verify the transaction.
   But, just as he had switched the Florida probation office to
Tina in New York, Fry Guy switched the cardholder's number to a
104   000000000000 DO 0 0 00 0 00 0 00 QRO   THE HACKER CRAC KDOWN

local pay phone. There he would lurk in wait, muddying his trail
by routing and rerouting the call through switches as far away as
Canada. When the call came through, he would boldly "social
engineer," or con, the Western Union people, pretending to be
the legitimate cardholder. Because he'd answered the proper
phone number, the deception was not very hard. Western
Union's money was then shipped to a confederate of Fry Guy's in
his hometown in Indiana.
   Fry Guy and his cohort, using LoD techniques, stole $6,000
from Western Union between December 1988 and July 1989.
They also dabbled in ordering delivery of stolen goods through
card fraud. Fry Guy was intoxicated with success. The sixteen-
year-old fantasized wildly to hacker rivals, boasting that he'd used
ripped-off money to hire himself a big limousine and had driven
out-of-state with a groupie from his favorite heavy-metal band,
Motley Crue.
   Armed with knowledge, power, and a gratifying stream of free
money, Fry Guy now took it upon himself to call local representa-
tives of Indiana Bell security, to brag, boast, strut, and utter tor-
menting warnings that his powerful friends in the notorious
Legion of Doom could crash the national telephone network. Fry
Guy even named a date for the scheme: the Fourth of July, a
national holiday.
   This egregious example of the begging-far-arrest syndrome was
followed shortly by Fry Guy's arrest. After the Indiana telephone
company figured out who he was, the Secret Service had DNRs-
Dialed Number Recorders-installed on his home phone lines.
These devices are not taps and can't record the substance of
phone calls, but they do record the phone numbers of all calls
going in and out. Tracing these numbers showed Fry Guy's long-
distance code fraud, his extensive ties to pirate bulletin boards,
and numerous personal calls to his LaD friends in Atlanta. By
July 11, 1989, Prophet, Urvile, and Leftist also had Secret Service
DNR "pen registers" installed on their own lines.
   The Secret Service showed up in force at Fry Guy's house on
July 22, 1989, to the horror of his unsuspecting parents. The


raiders were led by a special agent from the service's Indianapolis
office. However, the raiders were accompanied and advised by
Timothy M. Foley of the Chicago office (a gentleman about
whom we will soon be hearing a great deal).
   Following federal computer-        'fl
crime techniques that had              1 he Secret Service showed
been standard since the early            up in force to the horror
1980s, the Secret Service                            '
searched the house thoroughly            of Fry Guy's unsuspecting
and seized all of Fry Guy's elec-        parents.
tronic equipment and note-          CL...:                               _

books. All his equipment went out the door in the custody of the
Secret Service, which put a swift end to his depredations.
   The Secret Service interrogated Fry Guy at length. His case
was put in the charge of Deborah Daniels, the federal U.S. Attor-
ney for the Southern District of Indiana. Fry Guy was charged
with eleven counts of computer fraud, unauthorized computer
access, and wire fraud. The evidence was thorough and irrefut-
able. For his part, Fry Guy blamed his corruption on the Legion
of Doom and offered to testify against it.
   Fry Guy insisted that the Legion intended to crash the phone
system on a national holiday. And when AT&T crashed on Mar-
tin Luther King Day, 1990, this lent a credence to his claim that
genuinely alarmed telco security and the Secret Service.
   Fry Guy eventually pled guilty on May 31, 1990. On Septem-
ber 14 he was sentenced to forty-four months' probation and four
hundred hours' community service. He could have had it much
worse; but it made sense to prosecutors to take it easy on this
teenage minor, while zeroing in on the notorious kingpins of the
Legion of Doom.
   But the case against LoD had nagging flaws. Despite the best
effort of investigators, it was impossible to prove that the Legion
had crashed the phone system on January 15, because it, in fact,
hadn't done so. The investigations of 1989 did show that certain
members of the Legion of Doom had achieved unprecedented
power over the telco switching stations and that they were in

      active conspiracy to obtain more power yet. Investigators were
      privately convinced that the Legion of Doom intended to do
      awful things with this knowledge, but mere evil intent was not
      enough to put them in jail.
         And although the Atlanta Three-Prophet, Leftist, and espe-
      cially Urvile-had taught Fry Guy plenty, they were not them-
      selves credit card fraudsters. The only thing they'd "stolen" was
      long-distance service-and because they'd done much of that
      through phone-switch manipulation, there was no easy way to
      judge how much they'd "stolen," or whether this practice was
      even "theft" of any easily recognizable kind.
         Fry Guy's theft of long-distance codes had cost the phone
      companies plenty. The theft of long-distance service may be a
      fairly theoretical "loss," but it costs genuine money and genuine
      time to delete all those stolen codes and to reissue new codes to
      the innocent owners of the corrupted ones. The owners of the
      codes themselves are victimized, and lose time and money and
      peace of mind in the hassle. And then there were the credit card
      victims to deal with too, and Western Union. When it came to
      rip-off, Fry Guy was far more of a thief than LoD. It was only
      when it came to actual computer expertise that Fry Guy was
      small potatoes.
         The Atlanta Three thought most "rules" of cyberspace were
      for rodents and losers, but they did have rules. They never crashed
      anything, and they never took money. These were rough rules of
      thumb, and rather dubious principles when it comes to the ethi-
      cal subtleties of cyberspace, but they enabled the Atlanta Three
      to operate with a relatively clear conscience (though never with
      peace of mind).
         If you didn't hack for money, if you weren't robbing people of
      actual funds-money in the bank, that is-then nobody really got
      hurt, in LoD's opinion. "Theft of service" was a bogus issue, and
      "intellectual property" was a bad joke. But LoD had only elitist
      contempt for rip-off artists, "leechers," thieves. The members
      considered themselves clean. In their opinion, if you didn't smash
      up or crash any systems (well, not on purpose, anyhow-acci-

r---'-'--- -

dents can happen, just ask Robert Morris), then it was very unfair
to call you a "vandal" or a "cracker." When you were hanging out
on-line with your "pals" in telco security, you could face them
down from the higher plane of hacker morality. And you could
mock the police from the supercilious heights of your hacker's
quest for pure knowledge.
   But from the point of view of law enforcement and telco secu-
rity, however, Fry Guy was not really dangerous. The Atlanta
Three were dangerous. It wasn't the crimes they were committing,
but the danger, the potential hazard, the sheer technical power
LoD had accumulated, that had made the situation untenable.
    Fry Guy was not LoD. He'd never laid eyes on anyone in LoD;
his only contacts with them had been electronic. Core members
of the Legion of Doom tended to meet physically for conventions
every year or so, to get drunk, give each other the hacker high
sign, send out for pizza, and ravage hotel suites. Fry Guy had
never done any of this. Deborah Daniels assessed Fry Guy accu-
rately as "an LoD wannabe."
    Nevertheless Fry Guy's crimes would be directly attributed to
LoD in much future police propaganda. LoD would be described
as "a closely knit group" involved in "numerous illegal activities"
including "stealing and modifying individual credit histories" and
"fraudulently obtaining money and property." Fry Guy did this,
but the Atlanta Three didn't; they simply weren't into theft, but
rather intrusion. This caused a strange kink in the prosecution's
strategy. LoD was accused of "disseminating information about
attacking computers to other computer hackers in an effort to
shift the focus of law enforcement to those other hackers and
away from the Legion of Doom."
    This last accusation (taken directly from a press release by the
Chicago Computer Fraud and Abuse Task Force) sounds particu-
larly farfetched. One might conclude at this point that investiga-
tors would have been well advised to go ahead and "shift their
focus" from the Legion of Doom. Maybe they should concentrate
on "those other hackers"-the ones who were actually stealing
money and physical objects.
       108            0011 ••••••• 1 •••••• 00.0......   THE HACKER CRACKDOWN

          But the Hacker Crackdown of 1990 was not a simple policing
       action. It wasn't meant just to walk the beat in cyberspace-it
       was a crackdown, a deliberate attempt to nail the core of the
       operation, to send a dire and potent message that would settle
       the hash of the digital underground for good.
          By this reasoning, Fry Guy wasn't much more than the elec-
       tronic equivalent of a cheap streetcorner dope dealer. As long as
       the masterminds of LoD were still flagrantly operating, pushing
       their mountains of illicit knowledge right and left and whipping
       up enthusiasm for blatant lawbreaking, then there would be an
       infinite supply of Fry Guys.
          Because LoD was flagrant, it had left trails everywhere, to
       be picked up by law enforcement in New York, Indiana, Florida,
       Texas, Arizona, Missouri, even Australia. But 1990's war on the
       Legion of Doom was led out of Illinois, by the Chicago Com-
       puter Fraud and Abuse Task Force.

           The Computer Fraud and Abuse Task Force, led by federal
       prosecutor William J. Cook, had started in 1987 and had swiftly
       become one of the most aggressive local "dedicated computer-
       crime units." Chicago was a natural home for such a group. The
       world's first computer bulletin board system had been invented in
       Illinois. The state had some of the nation's first and sternest
       computer crime laws. Illinois State Policewere markedly alert to
       the possibilities of white-collar crime and electronic fraud.
           And William J. Cook in particular was a rising star in electronic
       crime-busting. He and his fellow federal prosecutors at the U.S.
       Attorney's office in Chicago had a tight relation with the Secret
       Service, especially go-getting Chicago-based agent Timothy Fo-
       ley. While Cook and his Department of Justice colleagues plotted
       strategy, Foley was their man on the street.
           Throughout the 1980s, the federal government had given pros-
       ecutors an armory of new, untried legal tools against computer
       crime. Cook and his colleagues were pioneers in the use of these
       new statutes in the real-life cut-and-thrust of the federal court-
       room .

.-------_   ..   _.

   On October 2, 1986, the U.S. Senate had passed the Com-
puter Fraud and Abuse Act unanimously, but there had been
pitifully few convictions under this statute. Cook's group took its
name from this statute, because it was determined to transform
this powerful but rather theoretical act of Congress into a real-life
engine of legal destruction against computer fraudsters and scoff-
   It was not a question of merely discovering crimes, investigat-
ing them, and then trying and punishing their perpetrators. The
Chicago unit, like most everyone else in the business, already
knew who the bad guys were: the Legion of Doom and the writers
and editors of Phrack. The task at hand was to find some legal
means of putting these characters away.
   This approach might seem a bit dubious to someone not ac-
quainted with the gritty realities of prosecutorial work. But prose-
cutors don't put people in jail for crimes they have committed;
they put people in jail for crimes they have committed that can
be proved in court. Chicago federal police put Al Capone in prison
for income-tax fraud. Chicago is a big town, with a rough-and-
ready bare-knuckle tradition on both sides of the law.
    Fry Guy had broken the case wide open and alerted telco secu-
rity to the scope of the problem. But Fry Guy's crimes would not
put the Atlanta Three behind bars-much less the wacko under-
ground journalists of Phrack. So on July 22, 1989, the same day
that Fry Guy was raided in Indiana, the Secret Service descended
upon the Atlanta Three.
    Likely this was inevitable. By the summer of 1989, law enforce-
ment was closing in on the Atlanta Three from at least six direc-
tions at once. First, there were the leads from Fry Guy, which had
led to the DNR registers being installed on the lines of the Three.
The DNR evidence alone would have finished them off, sooner or
    But second, the Atlanta lads were already well known to Con-
trol-C and his telco security sponsors. LoD's contacts with telco
security had made its members overconfident and even more
boastful than usual; they felt that they had powerful friends in

high places and that they were being tolerated openly by telco
security. But BellSouth's Intrusion Task Force was hot on the trail
of LoD and sparing no effort or expense.
   The Atlanta Three had also been identified by name and listed
on the extensive antihacker files maintained, and retailed for pay,
by private security operative John Maxfield of Detroit. Maxfield,
who had extensive ties to telco security and many informants in
the underground, was a bete noire of the Phrack crowd, and the
dislike was mutual.
   The Atlanta Three themselves had written articles for Phrack.
This boastful act could not possibly escape telco and law enforce-
ment attention.
   "Knightmare," a high school-age hacker from Arizona, was a
close friend and disciple of Atlanta LoD, but he had been nabbed
by the formidable Arizona Organized Crime and Racketeering
Unit. Knightmare was on some of LoD's favorite boards-Black
Ice in particular-and was privy to their secrets. And to have Gail
Thackeray, the assistant attorney general of Arizona, on one's trail
was a dreadful peril for any hacker.
   And perhaps worst of all, Prophet had committed a major
blunder by passing an illicitly copied BellSouth computer file to
Knight Lightning, who had published it in Phrack. This, as we
will see, was an act of dire consequence for almost everyone con-
   On July 22, 1989, the Secret Service showed up at Leftist's
house, where he lived with his parents. A massive squad of some
twenty officers surrounded the building: Secret Service, federal
marshals, local police, possibly BellSouth telco security; it was
hard to tell in the crush. Leftist's dad, at work in his basement
office, first noticed a muscular stranger in plain clothes crashing
through the backyard with a drawn pistol. As more strangers
poured into the house, Leftist's dad naturally assumed there was
an armed robbery in progress.
   Like most hacker parents, Leftist's mom and dad had only the
vaguest notions of what their son had been up to all this time.
Leftist had a day job repairing computer hardware. His obsession

                           _   ..   _---_.   - - - '-_.'
                                                  ..       ._------
THE DIGITAL UNDERGROUND ooooooooooooooooogooooooooo        III

with computers seemed a bit odd, but harmless enough, and
likely to produce a well-paying career. The sudden, overwhelming
raid left Leftist's parents traumatized.
   Leftist himself had been out      ,-------------
after work with his co-workers,        Like most hacker parents,
surrounding a couple of pitch-
                                       Leftist's mom and dad
ers of margaritas. As he came
trucking on tequila-numbed             had only the vaguest
feet up the pavement, toting a         notions of what their son
bag full of floppy disks, he no-
ticed a large number of un-            had been up to.
marked cars parked in his
driveway. All the cars sported tiny microwave antennas.
   The Secret Service had knocked the front door off its hinges,
almost flattening his mom.
    Inside, Leftist was greeted by Special Agent James Cool of the
U.S. Secret Service, Atlanta office. Leftist was flabbergasted. He'd
never met a Secret Service agent before. He could not imagine
that he'd ever done anything worthy of federal attention. He'd
always figured that if his activities became intolerable, one of his
contacts in telco security would give him a private phone call and
tell him to knock it off.
    But now Leftist was pat-searched for weapons by grim profes-
sionals, and his bag of floppies was quickly seized. He and his
parents were all shepherded into separate rooms and grilled at
length as a score of officers scoured their home for anything elec-
    Leftist was horrified as his treasured IBM AT personal com-
puter with its forty-meg hard disk and his recently purchased
80386 IBM clone with a whopping hundred-meg hard disk both
went swiftly out the door in Secret Service custody. They also
seized all his disks, all his notebooks, and a tremendous booty in
dog-eared telco documents that Leftist had snitched from trash
    Leftist figured the whole thing for a big misunderstanding.
He'd never been into military computers. He wasn't a spy or a
112   oooooooooogoooooooooooooooo   THE HACKER CRACKDOWN

Communist. He was just a good 01' Georgia hacker, and now he
just wanted all these people out of the house. But it seemed they
wouldn't go until he made some kind of statement.
   And so, he leveled with them.
   And that, Leftist said later from his federal prison camp in
Talladega, Alabama, was a big mistake.
   The Atlanta area was unique, in that it had three members of
the Legion of Doom who actually occupied more or less the same
physical locality. Unlike the rest of LoD, who tended to associate
by phone and computer, Atlanta LoD actually were "tightly knit."
It was no real surprise that the Secret Service agents appre-
hending Urvile at the computer labs at Georgia Tech would dis-
cover Prophet with him as well.
   Urvile, a twenty-one-year-old Georgia Tech student in polymer
chemistry, posed quite a puzzling case for law enforcement.
Urvile-also known as "Necron 99," as well as other handles, for
he tended to change his cover alias about once a month-was
both an accomplished hacker and a fanatic simulation-gamer.
   Simulation games are an unusual hobby; but then hackers are
unusual people, and their favorite pastimes tend to be somewhat
out of the ordinary. The best-known American simulation game
is probably Dungeons & Dragons, a multiplayer parlor entertain-
ment played with paper, maps, pencils, statistical tables, and a
variety of oddly shaped dice. Players pretend to be heroic charac-
ters exploring a wholly invented fantasy world. The fantasy worlds
of simulation gaming are commonly pseudomedieval, involving
swords and sorcery-spell-casting wizards, knights in armor, uni-
corns and dragons, demons and goblins.
   Urvile and his fellow garners preferred their fantasies highly
technological. They made use of a game known as "GURPS," the
"Generic Universal Role Playing System," published by a com-
pany called Steve Jackson Games (SJG).
   GURPS served as a framework for creating a wide variety of
artificial fantasy worlds. Steve Jackson Games published a smor-
gasboard of books, full of detailed information and gaming hints,

                                             ~   ---------
THE DIGITAL UNDERGROUND              000009000090000000000000900   113

which were used to flesh-out many different fantastic back-
grounds for the basic CURPS framework. Urvile made extensive
use of two SJC books called CURPS High-Tech and CURPS Spe-
   In the artificial fantasy world of CURPS Special Ops, players
entered a modern fantasy of intrigue and international espionage.
On beginning the game, players started small and powerless, per-
haps as minor-league CIA agents or penny-ante arms dealers. But
as players persisted through a series of game sessions (which gen-
erally lasted for hours, over long, elaborate campaigns that might
be pursued for months on end), they would achieve new skills,
new knowledge, new power. They would acquire and hone new
abilities, such as marksmanship, karate, wiretapping, or Water-
gate burglary. They could also win various kinds of imaginary
booty, such as Berettas, or martini shakers, or fast cars with ejec-
tion seats and machine guns under the headlights.
   As might be imagined from the complexity of these games,
Urvile's gaming notes were very detailed and extensive. Urvile was
a "dungeonmaster," inventing scenarios for his fellow garners,
giant simulated adventure-puzzles for his friends to unravel.
Urvile's game notes covered dozens of pages with all sorts of
exotic lunacy, all about ninja raids on Libya and break-ins on
encrypted Red Chinese supercomputers. His notes were written
on scrap paper and kept in loose-leaf binders.
   The handiest scrap paper around Urvile's college digs were the
many pounds of BellSouth printouts and documents that he had
snitched out of te1co dumpsters. His notes were written on the
back of misappropriated te1co property. Worse yet, the gaming
notes were interspersed chaotically with Urvile's hand-scrawled
records involving actual computer intrusions that he had commit-
   Not only was it next to impossible to tell Urvile's fantasy game
notes from cyberspace "reality," but Urvile himself barely made
this distinction. It's no exaggeration to say that to Urvile it was all
a game. Urvile was very bright, highly imaginative, and quite

careless of other people's notions of propriety. His connection to
"reality" was not something to which he paid a great deal of
   Hacking was a game for Urvile. It was an amusement he was
carrying out, it was something he was doing for fun. And Urvile
was an obsessive young man. He could no more stop hacking than
he could stop in the middle of a jigsaw puzzle, or stop in the
middle of reading a Stephen Donaldson fantasy trilogy. (The
name "Urvile" came from a best-selling Donaldson novel.)
   Urvile's airy, bulletproof attitude seriously annoyed his interro-
gators. First of all, he didn't consider that he'd done anything
wrong. There was scarcely a shred of honest remorse in him. On
the contrary, he seemed privately convinced that his police inter-
rogators were operating in a demented fantasy world all their
own. Urvile was too polite and well behaved to say this straight
out, but his reactions were askew and disquieting.
   For instance, there was the business about LoD's ability to
monitor phone calls to the police and Secret Service. Urvile
agreed that this was quite possible and posed no big problem for
LoD. In fact, he and his friends had kicked the idea around on
the Black Ice board, much as they had discussed many other nifty
notions, such as building personal flamethrowers and jury-rigging
fistsful of blasting caps. They had hundreds of dial-up numbers
for government agencies that they'd gotten through scanning At-
lanta phones or had pulled from raided VAX/VMS mainframe
    Basically, they'd never gotten around to listening in on the
cops because the idea wasn't interesting enough to bother with.
Besides, if they'd been monitoring Secret Service phone calls,
obviously they'd never have been caught in the first place. Right?
   The Secret Service was less than satisfied with this rapierlike
hacker logic.
   Then there was the issue of crashing the phone system. No
problem, Urvile admitted sunnily. Atlanta LoD could have shut
down phone service all over Atlanta any time it liked. Even the

      - - - .   ---~-   --------                --     .   _ _._---. - - - -

911 service? Nothing special about that, Urvile explained pa-
tiently. Bring the switch to its knees, with say the UNIX
"makedir" bug, and 911 goes down too as a matter of course. The
911 system wasn't very interesting, frankly. It might be tremen-
dously interesting to cops (for odd reasons of their own), but as
technical challenges went, the 911 service was yawnsville.
   So of course the Atlanta Three could crash service. They prob-
ably could have crashed service all over BellSouth territory, if
they'd worked at it for a while. But Atlanta LoD weren't crashers.
Only losers and rodents were crashers. LoD were elite.
   Urvile privately was convinced that sheer technical expertise
could win him free of any kind of problem. As far as he was
concerned, elite status in the digital underground had placed him
permanently beyond the intellectual grasp of cops and straights.
Urvile had a lot to learn.
   Of the three LoD stalwarts, Prophet was in the most direct
trouble. Prophet was a UNIX programming expert who burrowed
in and out of the Internet as a matter of course. He'd started his
hacking career at around age fourteen, meddling with a UNIX
mainframe system at the University of North Carolina.
   Prophet himself had written the handy Legion of Doom file
"UNIX Use and Security From the Ground Up." UNIX (pro-
nounced "you-nicks") is a powerful, flexible computer operating
system for multiuser, multitasking computers. In 1969, when
UNIX was created in Bell Labs, such computers were exclusive to
large corporations and universities, but today UNIX is run on
thousands of powerful home machines. UNIX was particularly
well suited to telecommunications programming and had become
a standard in the field. Naturally, UNIX also became a standard
for the elite hacker and phone phreak.
   Lately Prophet had not been so active as Leftist and Urvile,
but Prophet was a recidivist. In 1986, when he was eighteen,
Prophet had been convicted of "unauthorized access to a com-
puter network" in North Carolina. He'd been discovered breaking
into the Southern Bell Data Network, a UNIX-based internal
116 ••• QIl • • • • • • • • • •   RO..........   THE HACKER CRACKDOWN

telco network supposedly closed to the public. He'd gotten a typi-
cal hacker sentence: six months suspended, 120 hours commu-
nity service, and three years' probation.
    After that humiliating bust, Prophet had gotten rid of most of
his tonnage of illicit phreak and hacker data and had tried to go
straight. He was, after all, still on probation. But by the autumn
of 1988, the temptations of cyberspace had proved too much for
young Prophet, and he was shoulder to shoulder with Urvile and
Leftist into some of the hairiest systems around.
    In early September 1988, he'd broken into BellSouth's central-
ized automation system, AIMSX, or "Advanced Information
Management System." AIMSX was an internal business network
for BellSouth, where telco employees stored electronic mail, data-
bases, memos, and calendars, and did text processing. Because
AIMSX did not have public dial-ups, it was considered utterly
invisible to the public and was not well secured-it didn't even
require passwords. Prophet abused an account known as "waa 1,"
the personal account of an unsuspecting telco employee. Dis-
guised as the owner of waal, Prophet made about ten visits to
    Prophet did not damage or delete anything in the system. His
presence in AIMSX was harmless and almost invisible. But he
could not rest content with that.
    One particular piece of processed text on AIMSX was a telco
document known as "Bell South Standard Practice 660-225-
104SV Control Office Administration of Enhanced 911 Services
for Special Services and Major Account Centers dated March
    Prophet had not been looking for this document. It was merely
one among hundreds of similar documents with impenetrable
titles. However, having blundered over it in the course of his
illicit wanderings through AIMSX, he decided to take it with him
as a trophy. It might prove very useful in some future boasting,
bragging, and strutting session. So, some time in September
1988, Prophet ordered the AIMSX mainframe computer to copy

this document (henceforth called simply "the E911 Document")
and to transfer this copy to his home computer.
   No one noticed that Prophet
had done this. He had "stolen"          Prophet decided to take
the E911 Document in some
                                        the E911 Document with
sense, but notions of property
in cyberspace can be tricky.            him as a trophy.
BellSouth noticed nothing
wrong, because BellSouth still had its original copy. It had not
been "robbed" of the document itself. Many people were sup-
posed to copy this document-specifically, people who worked
for the nineteen BellSouth "special services and major account
centers," scattered throughout the southeastern United States.
That was what it was for, why it was present on a computer
network in the first place: so that it could be copied and read-by
telco employees. But now the data had been copied by someone
who wasn't supposed to look at it.
   Prophet now had his trophy. But he further decided to store
yet another copy of the E911 Document on another person's
computer. This unwitting person was a computer enthusiast
named Richard Andrews who lived near Joliet, Illinois. Richard
Andrews was a UNIX programmer by trade, and ran a powerful
UNIX board called Jolnet, in the basement of his house.
   Prophet, using the handle "Robert Johnson," had obtained an
account on Richard Andrews' computer. And there he stashed the
E911 Document, by storing it in his own private section of An-
drews' computer.
   Why did Prophet do this? If he had eliminated the E911 Doc-
ument from his own computer and kept it hundreds of miles
away, on another machine, under an alias, then he might have
been fairly safe from discovery and prosecution-although his
sneaky action had certainly put the unsuspecting Richard An-
drews at risk.
   But, like most hackers, Prophet was a packrat for illicit data.
When it came to the crunch, he could not bear to part with his
118   ooooooopooooooooooooooooooo   THE HACKER CRACKDOWN

trophy. When Prophet's place in Decatur, Georgia, was raided in
July 1989, there was the E911 Document, a smoking gun. And
there was Prophet in the hands of the Secret Service, doing his
best to "explain."
   Our story now takes us away from the raids of the summer of
1989, leaving the Atlanta Three "cooperating fully" with their
numerous investigators. And they did cooperate, as their sentenc-
ing memorandum from the U.S. District Court of the Northern
Division of Georgia explained-just before all three of them were
sentenced to various federal prisons in November 1990.
   We must now catch up on the other aspects of the war on the
Legion of Doom. It was a war on a network-in fact, a network of
three networks, which intertwined and interrelated in a complex
fashion. The Legion itself, with Atlanta LoD, and its hanger-on
Fry Guy, was the first. The second was Phrack magazine, with its
editors and contributors.
   The third network involved the electronic circle around a
hacker known as "Terminus."
   The war against these hacker networks was carried out by a law
enforcement network. Atlanta LoD and Fry Guy were pursued by
U.S. Secret Service agents and federal prosecutors in Atlanta,
Indiana, and Chicago. Terminus found himself pursued by the
Secret Service and federal prosecutors from Baltimore and Chi-
cago. And the war against Phrack was almost entirely a Chicago
   The investigation of Terminus involved a great deal of energy,
mostly from the Chicago Task Force, but it was to be the least
known and least publicized of the crackdown operations. Termi-
nus, who lived in Maryland, was a UNIX programmer and consul-
tant, fairly well known (under his given name) in the UNIX
community, as an acknowledged expert on AT&T minicom-
puters. Terminus idolized AT&T, especially Bellcore, and longed
for public recognition as a UNIX maven; his highest ambition was
to work for Bell Labs.
   But Terminus had odd friends and a spotted history. He had
once been the subject of an admiring interview in Phrack (Vol-

         -----------                    _
                                      ...   ..-   -----   ----
    THE DIGITAL UNDERGROUND             000000000000000000000000000   119

    ume II, Issue 14, Phile 2-dated May 1987). In this article,
    Phrack co-editor Taran King described Terminus as an electronics
    engineer, five foot nine inches tall, brown-haired, born in 1959-
    at twenty-eight years old, quite mature for a hacker.
       Terminus had once been sysop of a phreak/hack underground
    board called MetroNet, which ran on an Apple II. Later he'd
    replaced MetroNet with an underground board called MegaNet,
    specializing in IBMs. In his younger days, Terminus had written
    one of the very first and most elegant code-scanning programs for
    the IBM-PC. This program had been distributed widely in the
    underground. Uncounted legions of PC-owning phreaks and
    hackers had used Terminus' scanner program to rip off telco
    codes. This feat had not escaped the attention of telco security; it
    hardly could, because Terminus' earlier handle, "Terminal Tech-
    nician," was proudly written right on the program.
       When he became a full-time computer professional (specializ-
    ing in telecommunications programming), he adopted the handle
    Terminus, meant to indicate that he had "reached the final point
    of being a proficient hacker." He'd moved up to the UNIX-based
    Netsys board on an AT&T computer, with four phone lines and
    an impressive 240 megs of storage. Netsys carried complete issues
    of Ph rack, and Terminus was quite friendly with its publishers,
    Taran King and Knight Lightning.
       In the early 1980s, Terminushad been a regular on Plovernet,
    Pirate-80, Sherwood Forest, and Shadowland, all well-known pi-
    rate boards, all heavily frequented by the Legion of Doom. As it
    happened, Terminus was never officially "in LoD," because he'd
    never been given the official LoD high sign and back slap by
    Legion maven Lex Luthor. Terminus had never physically met
    anyone from LoD. But that scarcely mattered much-the Atlanta
    Three themselves had never been officially vetted by Lex either.
       As far as law enforcement was concerned, the issues were clear.
    Terminus was a full-time, adult computer professional with par-
    ticular skills at AT&T software and hardware-but Terminus
    reeked of the Legion of Doom and the underground.
       On February 1, 1990-half a month after the Martin Luther

120   000000000000000000000000000   THE HACKER CRACKDOWN

King Day Crash-U.S. Secret Service agents Tim Foley from Chi-
cago and Jack Lewis from the Baltimore office, accompanied by
AT&T security officer Jerry Dalton, traveled to Middletown,
Maryland. There they grilled Terminus in his home (to the stark
terror of his wife and small children) and, in their customary
fashion, hauled his computers out the door.
   The Netsys machine proved to contain a plethora of arcane
UNIX software-proprietary source code formally owned by
AT&T. Software such as: UNIX System Five Release 3.2; UNIX
SV Release 3.1; UUCP communications software; KORN SHELL;
RFS; IWB; WWB; DWB; the C++ programming language;
   In the long-established piratical tradition of the underground,
Terminus had been trading this illicitly copied software with a
small circle of fellow UNIX programmers. Very unwisely, he had
stored seven years of his electronic mail on his Netsys machine,
which documented all the friendly arrangements he had made
with his various colleagues.
   Terminus had not crashed the AT&T phone system on January
15. He was, however, blithely running a not-for-profit AT&T
software-piracy ring. This was not an activity AT&T found amus-
ing. AT&T security officer Jerry Dalton valued this "stolen"
property at over $300,000.
   AT&T's entry into the tussle of free enterprise had been com-
plicated by the new, vague ground rules of the information
economy. Until the breakup of Ma Bell, AT&T was forbidden to
sell computer hardware or software. Ma Bell was the phone com-
pany; Ma Bell was not allowed to use the enormous revenue from
telephone utilities in order to finance any entry into the com-
puter market.
   AT&T nevertheless invented the UNIX language. And some-
how AT&T managed to make UNIX a minor source of income.
Weirdly, UNIX was not sold as computer software, but actually
retailed under an obscure regulatory exemption allowing sales of
surplus equipment and scrap. Any bolder attempt to promote or
retail UNIX would have aroused angry legal opposition from com-


puter companies. Instead, UNIX was licensed to universities, at
modest rates, where the acids of academic freedom ate away
steadily at AT&T's proprietary rights.
   Come the breakup, AT&T recognized that UNIX was a poten-
tial goldmine. By now, large chunks of UNIX code had been cre-
ated that were not AT&T's and were being sold by others. An
entire rival UNIX-based operating system had arisen in Berkeley,
California (one of the world's great founts of ideological hack-
erdom). Today, hackers commonly consider Berkeley UNIX to be
technically superior to AT&T's System V UNIX, but AT&T has
not allowed mere technical elegance to intrude on the real-world
business of marketing proprietary software. AT&T has made its
own code deliberately incompatible with other folks' UNIX and
has written code that it can prove is copyrightable, even if that
code happens to be somewhat awkward-"kludgey." AT&T
UNIX user licenses are serious business agreements, replete with
very clear copyright statements and nondisclosure clauses.
   AT&T has not exactly kept the UNIX cat in the bag, but it
kept a grip on its scruff with some success. By the rampant, explo-
sive standards of software piracy, AT&T UNIX source code is
heavily copyrighted, well guarded, well licensed. Traditionally
UNIX was run only on mainframe machines, owned by large
groups of suit-and-tie professionals, rather than on bedroom ma-
chines where people can get up to easy mischief.
   And AT&T UNIX source code is serious high-level program-
ming. The number of skilled UNIX programmers with any actual
motive to swipe UNIX source code is small. It's tiny, compared to
the tens of thousands prepared to rip off, say, entertaining PC
games such as "Leisure Suit Larry."
   But by 1989, the warez-dOOd underground, in the persons of
Terminus and his friends, was gnawing at AT&T UNIX. And the
property in question was not sold for twenty bucks over the
counter at the local branch of Babbage's or Egghead's; this was
massive, sophisticated, multiline, multiauthor corporate code
worth tens of thousands of dollars.
   It must be recognized at this point that Terminus' purported
          122   00 • • • • • • • • 0.00000 •• 000 •• 000   THE HACKER CRACKDOWN

           ring of UNIX software pirates had not actually made any money
           from their suspected crimes. The $300,000 figure bandied about
           for the contents of Terminus' computer did not mean that Termi-
           nus was in actual illicit possession of three hundred thousand of
           AT&T's dollars. Terminus was shipping software back and forth,
           privately, person to person, for free. He was not making a com-
           mercial business of piracy. He hadn't asked for money; he didn't
           take money. He lived quite modestly.
      'T'.                                        AT&T employees-as well
       1 hey were humble digital               as freelance UNIX consultants,
      drudges, wandering with                              such as Te~min~,s-co~monl::
                                                           worked with     propnetary
      mop and bucket through                               AT&T software, both in the of-
      the Great Technological             fice and at horne on their pri-
                                          vate machines. AT&T rarely
      Temple of AT6T.                     sent security officers out to
                                          comb the hard disks of its con-
         sultants. Cheap freelance UNIX contractors were quite useful to
         AT&T; they didn't have health insurance or retirement programs,
         much less union membership in the Communication Workers of
         America. They were humble digital drudges, wandering with mop
         and bucket through the Great Technological Temple of AT&T;
         but when the Secret Service arrived at their homes, it seemed
         they were eating with company silverware and sleeping on com-
         pany sheets! Outrageously, they behaved as if the things they
         worked with every day belonged to them!
            And these were no mere hacker teenagers with their hands full
         of trash paper and their noses pressed to the corporate window-
         pane. These guys were UNIX wizards, not only carrying AT&T
         data in their machines and their heads, but eagerly networking
         about it, over machines that were far more powerful than any-
         thing previously imagined in private hands. How do you keep
         people disposable, yet assure their awestruck respect for your
         property? It was a dilemma.
            Much UNIX code was public domain, available for free. Much
         "proprietary" UNIX code had been extensively rewritten, perhaps

r--                                   ------~~~-
THE DIGITAL UNDERGROUND             000000000000000000000000000   123

altered so much that it became an entirely new product-or per-
haps not. Intellectual property rights for software developers
were, and are, extraordinarily complex and confused. And soft-
ware "piracy," like the private copying of videos, is one of the
most widely practiced "crimes" in the world today.
    The U.S. Secret Service was not expert in UNIX or familiar
with the customs of its use. The USSS, considered as a body, did
not have one single person in it who could program in a UNIX
environment-no, not even one. The Secret Service was making
extensive use of expert help, but the "experts" it had chosen were
AT&T and Bellcore security officials, the very victims of the pur-
ported crimes under investigation, the very people whose interest
in AT&T's "proprietary" software was most pronounced.
    On February 6, 1990, Terminus was arrested by Agent Lewis.
Eventually Terminus would be sent to prison for his illicit use of a
piece of AT&T software.
    The issue of pirated AT&T software would bubble along in the
background during the war on the Legion of Doom. Some half-
dozen of Terminus' on-line acquaintances, including people in
Illinois, Texas, and California, were grilled by the Secret Service
in connection with the illicit copying of software. Except for Ter-
minus, however, none was charged with a crime. None of them
shared his peculiar prominence in the hacker underground.
    But that did not mean that these people would, or could, stay
out of trouble. The transferral of illicit data in cyberspace is hazy
and ill-defined business, with paradoxical dangers for everyone
concerned: hackers, signal carriers, board owners, cops, prosecu-
tors, even random passersby. Sometimes well-meant attempts to
avert trouble or punish wrongdoing bring more trouble than
would simple ignorance, indifference, or impropriety.
    Terminus' Netsys board was not a common-or-garden bulletin
board system, though it had most of the usual functions of a
board. Netsys was not a stand-alone machine, but part of the
globe-spanning UUCP cooperative network. The UUCP network
uses a set of UNIX software programs called "UNIX-to-UNIX
Copy," which allows UNIX systems to throw data to one another
     124   0000000000 00 00 0 OR 00 00 00 000 0     THE HACKER CRACKDOWN

     at high speed through the public telephone network. UUCP is a
     radically decentralized, not-for-profit network of UNIX com-
     puters. There are tens of thousands of these UNIX machines.
     Some are small, but many are powerful and also link to other
     networks. UUCP has certain arcane links to major networks such
     as JANET, EasyNet, BITNET, JUNET, VNET, DASnet,
     PeaceNet, and FidoNet, as well as the gigantic Internet. (The
     so-called Internet is not actually a network itself but rather an
     "internetwork" connections standard that allows several globe-
     spanning computer networks to communicate with one another.
     Readers fascinated by the weird and intricate tangles of modern
     computer networks may enjoy John S. Quarterman's authorita-
     tive 719-page explication, The Matrix, Digital Press, 1990.)
        A skilled user of Terminus' UNIX machine could send and
     receive electronic mail from almost any major computer network
     in the world. Netsys was not called a "board" per se, but rather a
     "node." Nodes were larger, faster, and more sophisticated than
     mere boards, and for hackers, to hang out on internationally con-
     nected nodes was quite the step up from merely hanging out on
     local boards.
        Terminus' Netsys node in Maryland had a number of direct
     links to other, similar UUCP nodes, run by people who shared his
     interests and at least something of his free-wheeling attitude.
     One of these nodes was Jolnet, owned by Richard Andrews, who,
     like Terminus, was an independent UNIX consultant. [olnet also
     ran UNIX and could be contacted at high speed by mainframe
     machines from all over the world. [olnet was quite a sophisticated
     piece of work, technically speaking, but it was still run by an
     individual, as a private, not-for-profit hobby. [olnet was used
     mostly by other UNIX programmers-for mail, storage, and ac-
     cess to networks. [olnet supplied network access to about two
     hundred people as well as a local junior college.
        Among its various features and services, [olnet also carried
     Phrack magazine.
        For reasons of his own, Richard Andrews had become suspi-
     cious of a new user called "Robert Johnson." Andrews took it

t---------           -----               -   ----   -------------
     THE DIGITAL UNDERGROUND            ooooooooqoooooooooooooooooo   125

     upon himself to have a look at what "Robert Johnson" was stor-
     ing in [olnet, And Andrews found the E911 Document.
        "Robert Johnson" was Prophet from the Legion of Doom, and
     the E911 Document was illicitly copied data from Prophet's raid
     on the BellSouth computers.
        The E911 Document, a particularly illicit piece of digital prop-
     erty, was about to resume its long, complex, and disastrous career.

        It struck Andrews as fishy that someone not a telephone em-
     ployee should have a document referring to the Enhanced 911
     System. Besides, the document itself bore an obvious warning.


        These standard nondisclosure tags are often appended to all
     sorts of corporate material. Telcos as a species are particularly
     notorious for stamping most everything in sight as "not for use or
     disclosure." Still, this particular piece of data was about the 911
     System. That sounded bad to Rich Andrews.
        Andrews was not prepared to ignore this sort of trouble. He
     thought it would be wise to pass the document along to a friend
     and acquaintance on the UNIX network, for consultation. So,
     around September 1988, Andrews sent yet another copy of the
     E911 Document electronically to an AT&T employee, one
     Charles Boykin, who ran a UNIX-based node called "attctc" in
     Dallas, Texas.
        Attctc was the property of AT&T and was run from AT&T's
     Customer Technology Center in Dallas, hence the name "attctc."
     Attctc was better known as "Killer," the name of the machine
     that the system was running on. Killer was a hefty, powerful,
     AT&T 3B2 500 model, a multiuser, multitasking UNIX platform
     with 32 meg of memory and a mind-boggling 3.2 Gigabytes of
     storage. When Killer had first arrived in Texas, in 1985, the 3B2

126   000000000000000000000000000   THE HACKER CRACKDOWN

had been one of AT&T's great white hopes for going head-to-
head with IBM for the corporate computer-hardware market.
Killer had been shipped to the Customer Technology Center in
the Dallas Infomart, essentially a high-technology mall, and there
it sat, a demonstration model.
    Charles Boykin, a veteran AT&T hardware and digital commu-
nications expert, was a local technical backup man for the AT&T
3B2 system. As a display model in the Infomart mall, Killer had
little to do, and it seemed a shame to waste the system's capacity.
So Boykin ingeniously wrote some UNIX bulletin board software
for Killer and plugged the machine in to the local phone network.
Killer's debut in late 1985 made it the first publicly available
UNIX site in the state of Texas. Anyone who wanted to play was
    The machine immediately attracted an electronic community.
It joined the UUCP network and offered network links to over
eighty other computer sites, all of which became dependent on
Killer for their links to the greater world of cyberspace. And it
wasn't just for the big guys; personal computer users also stored
freeware programs for the Amiga, the Apple, the IBM, and the
Macintosh on Killer's vast 3,200 meg archives. At one time, Killer
had the largest library of public-domain Macintosh software in
    Eventually, Killer attracted about 1,500 users, all busily com-
municating, uploading and downloading, getting mail, gossip-
ping, and linking to arcane and distant networks.
    Boykin received no pay for running Killer. He considered it
good publicity for the AT&T 3B2 system (whose sales were some-
what less than stellar), but he also simply enjoyed the vibrant
community his skill had created. He gave away the bulletin board
UNIX software he had written, free of charge.
    In the UNIX programming community, Charlie Boykin had
the reputation of a warm, open-hearted, level-headed kind of guy.
In 1989, a group of Texan UNIX professionals voted Boykin "Sys-
tem Administrator of the Year." He was considered a fellow you
could trust for good advice.

   In September 1988, without warning, the E911 Document
came plunging into Boykin's life, forwarded by Richard Andrews.
Boykin immediately recognized that the document was hot prop-
erty. He was not a voice-communications man and knew little
about the ins and outs of the Baby Bells, but he certainly knew
what the 911 System was, and he was angry to see confidential
data about it in the hands of a nogoodnik. This was clearly a
matter for te1co security. So, on September 21, 1988, Boykin
made yet another copy of the E911 Document and passed this
one along to a professional acquaintance of his, one Jerome Dal-
ton, from AT&T Corporate Information Security. Jerry Dalton
was the very fellow who would later raid Terminus' house.
   From AT&T's security division, the E911 Document went to
   Bellcore (or BELL COmmunications REsearch) had once been
the central laboratory of the Bell System. Bell Labs employees
had invented the UNIX pro-          K
gramming language. Now Bell-            luepfel recognized the
core was a quasi-independent,       document for what it was:
jointly owned company that
acted as the research arm for       a trophy from a hacker
all seven of the Baby Bell          break-in.
RBOCs. Bellcore was in a good
position to coordinate security technology and consultation for
the RBOCs, and the gentleman in charge of this effort was Henry
M. Kluepfel, a veteran of the Bell System who had worked there
for twenty-four years.
   On October 13, 1988, Dalton passed the E911 Document to
Henry Kluepfel. Kluepfel, a veteran expert witness in telecommu-
nications fraud and computer-fraud cases, had certainly seen
worse trouble than this. He recognized the document for what it
was: a trophy from a hacker break-in.
   However, whatever harm had been done in the intrusion was
presumably old news. At this point Kluepfel apparently decided
there was little to be done. He made a careful note of the circum-
stances and shelved the problem for the time being.

   Whole months passed.
   February 1989 arrived. The Atlanta Three were living it up in
Bell South's switches and had not yet met their comeuppance.
The Legion was thriving. So was Phrack magazine. A good six
months had passed since Prophet's AIMSX break-in. Prophet, as
hackers will, grew weary of sitting on his laurels. Knight Lightning
and Taran King, the editors of Phrack, were always begging him
for material they could publish. Prophet decided that the heat
must be off by this time, and that he could safely brag, boast, and
   So he sent a copy of the E911 Document-yet another one-
from Rich Andrews' [olnet machine to Knight Lightning's
BITNET account at the University of Missouri.
   Let's review the fate of the Document so far.

o.   The original E911 Document. This in the AIMSX system on a
     mainframe computer in Atlanta, available to hundreds of peo-
     ple, but all of them, presumably, BellSouth employees. An
     unknown number of them may have their own copies of this
     document, but they are all professionals and all trusted by the
     phone company.

1. Prophet's illicit copy, at home on his own computer in Deca-
   tur, Georgia.

2. Prophet's backup copy, stored on Rich Andrews' Jolnet ma-
   chine in the basement of Andrews' house near Joliet, Illinois.
3. Charles Boykin's copy on Killer in Dallas, Texas, sent by Rich
   Andrews from Joliet.

4. Jerry Dalton's copy at AT&T Corporate Information Security
   in New Jersey, sent by Boykin from Dallas.

5. Henry Kluepfel's copy at Bellcore security headquarters in
   New Jersey, sent by Dalton.
6. Knight Lightning's copy, sent by Prophet from Rich Andrews'
   machine, and now in Columbia, Missouri.

          ----------------------                           -~--- - - -   ---~~

         We can see that the "security" situation of this proprietary docu-
         ment, once dug out of AIMSX, swiftly became bizarre. Without
         any money changing hands, without any particular special effort,
         these data had been reproduced at least six times and had spread
         itself all over the continent. By far the worst, however, was yet to
            In February 1989, Prophet and Knight Lightning bargained
         electronically over the fate of this trophy. Prophet wanted to
         boast but, at the same time, scarcely wanted to be caught.
            For his part, Knight Lightning was eager to publish as much of
         the document as he could manage. Knight Lightning was a
         fledgling political science major with a particular interest in
         freedom-of-information issues. He would gladly publish almost
         anything that would reflect glory on the prowess of the under-
         ground and embarrass the telcos. However, Knight Lightning
         himself had contacts in telco security, and sometimes consulted
         them on material he'd received that might be too dicey for publi-
            Prophet and Knight Lightning decided to edit the E911 Docu-
         ment so as to delete most of its identifying traits. First of all, its
         large NOT FOR USE OR DISCLOSURE warning had to go.
         Then there were other matters. For instance, it listed the office
         telephone numbers of several BellSouth 911 specialists in Florida.
         If these phone numbers were published in Phrack, the BellSouth
         employees involved would very likely be hassled by phone
         phreaks, which would anger BellSouth no end and pose a definite
         operational hazard for both Prophet and Phrack.
            So Knight Lightning cut the Document almost in half, remov-
         ing the phone numbers and some of the touchier and more spe-
         cific information. He passed it back electronically to Prophet;
         Prophet was still nervous, so Knight Lightning cut a bit more.
         They finally agreed that it was ready to go and that it would be
         published in Phrack under the pseudonym "The Eavesdropper."
            And this was done on February 25, 1989.
            The twenty-fourth issue of Phrack featured a chatty interview
         with coed phone-phreak "Chanda Leir," three articles on

Ir - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

      BITNET and its links to other computer networks, an article on
      800 and 900 numbers by "Unknown User," "VaxCat's" article on
      telco basics (slyly entitled "Lifting Ma Bell's Veil of Secrecy,")
      and the usual "Phrack World News."
         The News section, with painful irony, featured an extended
      account of the sentencing of "Shadowhawk," an eighteen-year-
      old Chicago hacker who had just been put in federal prison by
      William J. Cook himself.
         And then there were the two articles by The Eavesdropper.
      The first was the heavily edited E911 Document, now titled
      "Control Office Administration Of Enhanced 911 Services for
      Special Services and Major Account Centers." Eavesdropper's
      second article was a glossary of terms explaining the blizzard of
      telco acronyms and buzzwords in the E911 Document.
         The hapless document was now distributed, in the usual
      Phrack routine, to a good 150 sites. Not 150 people, mind you-
      150 sites, some of them linked to UNIX nodes or bulletin board
      systems, which themselves had readerships of tens, dozens, even
      hundreds of people.
         This was February 1989. Nothing happened immediately.
      Summer came, and the Atlanta crew was raided by the Secret
      Service. Fry Guy was apprehended. Still nothing whatever hap-
      pened to Phrack. Six more issues of Phrack came out, thirty in all,
      more or less on a monthly schedule. Knight Lightning and co-
      editor Taran King went untouched.
         Phrack tended to duck and cover whenever the heat came
      down. During the summer busts of 1987 (hacker busts tended to
      cluster in summer, perhaps because hackers were easier to find at
      home than in college), Phrack had ceased publication for several
      months and laid low. Several LoD hangers-on had been arrested,
      but nothing had happened to the Phrack crew, the premier gos-
      sips of the underground. In 1988, Phrack had been taken over by
      a new editor, "Crimson Death," a raucous youngster with a taste
      for anarchy files.
         The year 1989, however, looked like a bounty year for the un-
      derground. Knight Lightning and co-editor Taran King took up

THE DIGITAL UNDERGROUND •• RR • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • RRO ••••   131

the reins again, and Phrack flourished. Atlanta LoD went down
hard in the summer of 1989, but Phrack rolled merrily on.
Prophet's E911 Document seemed unlikely to cause Phrack any
trouble. By January 1990, it had been available in Phrack for al-
most a year. Kluepfel and Dalton, officers of Bellcore and AT&T
security, had possessed the document for sixteen months-in
fact, they'd had it even before Knight Lightning himself and had
done nothing in particular to stop its distribution. They hadn't
even told Rich Andrews or Charles Boykin to erase the copies
from their UNIX nodes, Jolnet and Killer.
    But then came the monster Martin Luther King Day Crash of
January 15, 1990.
   A flat three days later, on January 18, four agents showed up at
Knight Lightning's fraternity house. One was Timothy Foley, the
second Barbara Golden, both of them Secret Service agents from
the Chicago office. Also along was a University of Missouri secu-
rity officer, and Reed Newlin, a security man from Southwestern
Bell, the RBOC having jurisdiction over Missouri.
    Foley accused Knight Lightning of causing the nationwide
crash of the phone system.
    Knight Lightning was aghast at this allegation. On the face of
it, the suspicion was not entirely implausible-though Knight
Lightning knew that he himself hadn't done it. Plenty of hot-dog
hackers had bragged that they could crash the phone system,
however. Shadowhawk, for instance, the Chicago hacker whom
William Cook had recently put in jail, had several times boasted
on boards that he could "shut down AT&T's public switched
    And now this event, or something that looked just like it, had
actually taken place. The crash had lit a fire under the Chicago
Task Force. And the former fence-sitters at Bellcore and AT&T
were now ready to roll. The consensus among telco security-
already horrified by the skill of the BellSouth intruders-was
that the digital underground was out of hand. LoD and Phrack
must go.
    And in publishing Prophet's E911 Document, Phrack had pro-
132   ooooooooooooOQQoooooooooooo   THE HACKER CRACKDOWN

vided law enforcement with what appeared to be a powerful legal
   Foley confronted Knight Lightning about the E911 Document.
   Knight Lightning was cowed. He immediately began "cooper-
ating fully" in the usual tradition of the digital underground.
   Knight Lightning was grilled for four hours by Foley and his
cohorts. He handed over his electronic mailing list of Phrack sub-
scribers. He admitted that Prophet had passed him the E9ll
Document, and he admitted that he had known it was stolen
booty from a hacker raid on a telephone company. Knight Light-
ning signed a statement to this effect and agreed, in writing, to
cooperate with investigators.
   Next day-January 19, 1990, a Friday-the Secret Service re-
turned with a search warrant and thoroughly searched Knight
Lightning's upstairs room in the fraternity house. Interestingly,
they left him in possession of his computer, his floppy disks, and
his modem. (The computer had no hard disk, and in Foley's
judgment was not a store of evidence.) But this was a very minor
bright spot among Knight Lightning's rapidly multiplying trou-
bles. By this time he was in plenty of hot water, not only with
federal police, prosecutors, telco investigators, and university se-
curity, but with the elders of his own campus fraternity, who were
outraged to think that they had been unwittingly harboring a
federal computer criminal.
   On Monday the 29th, Knight Lightning was summoned to
Chicago, where he was further grilled by Foley and USSS veteran
agent Barbara Golden, this time with an attorney present. And on
February 6, he was formally indicted by a federal grand jury.
   The trial of Knight Lightning, which occurred on July 24-27,
1990, was the crucial show trial of the Hacker Crackdown. We
will examine the trial at some length in Part Four of this book.
   In the meantime, we must continue our dogged pursuit of the
E911 Document.
   It must have been clear by January 1990 that the E911 Docu-
ment, in the form Phrack had published it back in February 1989,
had gone off at the speed of light in at least 150 different direc-
THE DIGITAL UNDERGROUND         oooaoooooaoODDOpaoODooopOOp   133

tions. To attempt to put this electronic genie back in the bottle
was flatly impossible.
   And yet, the E911 Document was still stolen property, for-
mally and legally speaking. Any electronic transference of this
document, by anyone unauthorized to have it, could be inter-
preted as an act of wire fraud. Interstate transfer of stolen prop-
erty, including electronic property, was a federal crime.
   The Chicago Computer Fraud and Abuse Task Force had been
assured that the E911 Document was worth a hefty sum of
money. In fact, they had a precise estimate of its worth from
BellSouth security personnel: $79,449. A sum of this scale seemed
to warrant vigorous prosecution. Even if the damage could not be
undone, at least this large sum offered a good legal pretext for
stern punishment of the thieves. It seemed likely to impress
judges and juries. And it could be used in court to mop up the
Legion of Doom.
   The Atlanta crowd was al-
ready in the bag by the time      The        Mentor was a hacker
the Chicago Task Force had
                                     zealot who regarded
gotten around to Phrack. But
the Legion was a hydra-headed        computer intrusion as
thing. In late 1989, a brand-        something close to a moral
new Legion of Doom board,
Phoenix Project, had gone up         duty.
in Austin, Texas. Phoenix Proj-
ect was sysoped by no less a man than the Mentor himself, ably
assisted by University of Texas student and hardened Doomster
"Erik Bloodaxe."
   As we have seen from his Phrack manifesto, Mentor was a
hacker zealot who regarded computer intrusion as something
close to a moral duty. Phoenix Project was an ambitious effort,
intended to revive the digital underground to what Mentor con-
sidered the full flower of the early 1980s. The Phoenix board
would also boldly bring elite hackers face-to-face with the telco
"opposition." On Phoenix, America's cleverest hackers suppos-
edly would shame the telco squareheads out of their stick-in-the-
       134   oooooooooogoooooooooooooooo   THE HACKER CRACKDOWN

       mud attitudes and perhaps convince them that the Legion of
       Doom elite were really an all-right crew. The premiere of Phoenix
       Project was heavily trumpeted by Phrack, and Phoenix Project
       carried a complete run of Phrack issues, including the E911 Doc-
       ument as Phrack had published it.
          Phoenix Project was only one of many-possibly hundreds-of
       nodes and boards all over America that were in guilty possession
       of the E911 Document. But Phoenix was an outright, unashamed
       Legion of Doom board. Under Mentor's guidance, it was flaunt-
       ing itself in the face of telco security personnel. Worse yet, it was
       actively trying to win them over as sympathizers for the digital
       underground elite. Phoenix had no cards or codes on it. Its hacker
       elite considered Phoenix at least technically legal. But Phoenix
       was a corrupting influence, where hacker anarchy was eating away
       like digital acid at the underbelly of corporate propriety.
          The Chicago Computer Fraud and Abuse Task Force now pre-
       pared to descend upon Austin, Texas.

           Oddly, not one but two trails of the task force's investigation
       led toward Austin. The city of Austin, like Atlanta, had made
       itself a bulwark of the Sunbelt's Information Age, with a strong
       university research presence and a number of cutting-edge elec-
       tronics companies, including Motorola, Dell, CompuAdd, IBM,
       Sematech, and MCC.
           Where computing machinery went, hackers generally followed.
       Austin boasted not only Phoenix Project, currently LoD's most
       flagrant underground board, but a number of UNIX nodes.
           One of these nodes was Elephant, run by a UNIX consultant
       named Robert Izenberg. Izenberg, in search of a relaxed southern
       lifestyle and a lower cost of living, had recently migrated to Aus-
       tin from New Jersey. In New Jersey, Izenberg had worked for an
       independent contracting company, programming UNIX code for
       AT&T itself. Terminus had been a frequent user on Izenberg's
       privately owned Elephant node.
           Having interviewed Terminus and examined the records on

t--~-~- --~---     --------~-------              -------
----~   ------------------------------


        Netsys, the Chicago Task Force was now convinced that it had
        discovered an underground gang of UNIX software pirates that
        was demonstrably guilty of interstate trafficking in illicitly copied
        AT&T source code. Izenberg was swept into the dragnet around
        Terminus, the self-proclaimed ultimate UNIX hacker.
           Izenberg, in Austin, had settled down into a UNIX job with a
        Texan branch of IBM. He was no longer working as a contractor
        for AT&T, but he had friends in New Jersey, and he still logged
        on to AT&T UNIX computers back in New Jersey, more or less
        whenever it pleased him. Izenberg's activities appeared highly
        suspicious to the task force. He might well be breaking into
        AT&T computers, swiping AT&T software, and passing it to Ter-
        minus and other possible confederates, through the UNIX node
        network. And this data was worth, not merely $79,499, but hun-
        dreds of thousands of dollars!
           On February 2 I, 1990, Robert Izenberg arrived home from
        work at IBM to find that all the computers had vanished mysteri-
        ously from his Austin apartment. Naturally he assumed that he
        had been robbed. His Elephant node, his other machines, his
        notebooks, his disks, his tapes, all gone! However, nothing much
        else seemed disturbed-the place had not been ransacked.
           The puzzle became much stranger some five minutes later.
        Austin U.S. Secret Service Agent Al Soliz, accompanied by Uni-
        versity of Texas campus-security officer Larry Coutorie and
        the ubiquitous Tim Foley, made their appearance at Izenberg's
        door. They were in plain clothes: slacks, polo shirts. They came
        in, and Tim Foley accused Izenberg of belonging to the Legion of
           Izenberg told them that he had never heard of the Legion of
        Doom. And what about a certain stolen E911 Document, which
        posed a direct threat to the police emergency lines? Izenberg
        claimed that he'd never heard of that either.
           His interrogators found this difficult to believe. Didn't he
        know Terminus?

136   000000000000000000000000000   THE HACKER CRACKDOWN

   They gave him Terminus' real name. Oh yes, said Izenberg. He
knew that guy all right-he was leading discussions on the In-
ternet about AT&T computers, especially the AT&T 3B2.
   AT&T had thrust this machine into the marketplace, but, like
many of AT&T's ambitious attempts to enter the computing
arena, the 3B2 project had something less than a glittering suc-
cess. Izenberg himself had been a contractor for the division of
AT&T that supported the 3B2. The entire division had been shut
   Nowadays, the cheapest and quickest way to get help with this
fractious piece of machinery was to join one of Terminus' discus-
sion groups on the Internet, where friendly and knowledgeable
hackers would help you for free. Naturally the remarks within this
group were less than flattering about the Death Star . . . was
that the problem?
   Foley told Izenberg that Terminus had been acquiring hot soft-
ware through his, Izenberg's, machine.
   Izenberg shrugged this off. A good eight megabytes of data
flowed through his UUCP site every day. UUCP nodes spewed
data like fire hoses. Elephant had been directly linked to Netsys-
not surprising, since Terminus was a 3B2 expert and Izenberg had
been a 3B2 contractor. Izenberg was also linked to attctc and the
University of Texas. Terminus was a well-known UNIX expert and
might have been up to all manner of hijinks on Elephant. Noth-
ing Izenberg could do about that. That was physically impossible.
Needle in a haystack.
   In a four-hour grilling, Foley urged Izenberg to come clean and
admit that he was in conspiracy with Terminus and a member of
the Legion of Doom.
   Izenberg denied this. He was no weirdo teenage hacker-he
was thirty-two years old and didn't even have a "handle."
Izenberg was a former TV technician and electronics specialist
who had drifted into UNIX consulting as a full-grown adult.
Izenberg had never met Terminus physically. He'd once bought a
cheap high-speed modem from him, though.
   Foley told him that this modem (a Telebit T2500 that ran at

     19.2 kilobaud, and which had just gone out lzenberg's door in
     Secret Service custody) was likely hot property. lzenberg was
     taken aback to hear this; but then again, most of Izenberg's
     equipment, like that of most freelance professionals in the indus-
     try, was discounted, passed hand-to-hand through various kinds
     of barter and gray market. There was no proof that the modem
     was stolen, and even if it was, lzenberg hardly saw how that gave
     them the right to take every electronic item in his house.
        Still, if the u.s. Secret Service figured it needed his computer
     for national security reasons-or whatever-then Izenberg would
     not kick. He figured he would somehow make the sacrifice of his
     twenty thousand dollars' worth of professional equipment, in the
     spirit of full cooperation and good citizenship.
        Robert Izenberg was not arrested. lzenberg was not charged
     with any crime. His UUCP node-full of some 140 megabytes of
     the files, mail, and data of himself and his dozen or so entirely
     innocent users-went out the door as "evidence." Along with the
     disks and tapes, lzenberg had lost about 800 megabytes of data.
        Six months would pass before lzenberg decided to phone the
     Secret Service and ask how the case was going. That was the first
     time that Robert lzenberg would ever hear the name of William
     Cook. As of January 1992, a full two years after the seizure,
     lzenberg, still not charged with any crime, would be struggling
     through the morass of the courts, in hope of recovering his thou-
     sands of dollars' worth of seized equipment.
        In the meantime, the lzenberg case received absolutely no
     press coverage. The Secret Service had walked into an Austin
     home, removed a UNIX bulletin board system, and met with no
     operational difficulties whatsoever.
        Except that word of a crackdown had percolated through the
     Legion of Doom. The Mentor voluntarily shut down the Phoenix
     Project. It seemed a pity, especially as telco security employees
     had, in fact, shown up on Phoenix, just as he had hoped-along
     with the usual motley crowd of LoD heavies, hangers-on, phreaks,
     hackers, and wannabes. There was "Sandy" Sandquist from U.S.
     Sprint security, and some guy named Henry Kluepfel, from

138   .00 ••••••••••• 00 •••• 00.00.Q   THE HACKER CRACKDOWN

Bellcore itself! Kluepfel had been trading friendly banter with
hackers on Phoenix since January 30 (two weeks after the Martin
Luther King Day Crash). The presence of such a stellar te1co
official seemed quite the coup for Phoenix Project.
   Still, Mentor could judge the climate. Atlanta in ruins, Phrack
in deep trouble, something weird going on with UNIX nodes-
discretion was advisable. Phoenix Project went off-line.
   Kluepfel, of course, had been monitoring this LoD bulletin
board for his own purposes-and those of the Chicago unit. As
far back as June 1987, Kluepfel had logged on to a Texas under-
ground board called Phreak Klass 2600. There he'd discovered a
Chicago youngster named "Shadowhawk," strutting and boasting
about rifling AT&T computer files, and bragging of his ambitions
to riddle AT&T's Bellcore computers with Trojan horse programs.
Kluepfel had passed the news to Cook in Chicago, Shadowhawk's
computers had gone out the door in Secret Service custody, and
Shadowhawk himself had gone to jail.
   Now it was Phoenix Project's turn. Phoenix Project postured
about "legality" and "merely intellectual interest," but it reeked
of the underground. It had Phrack on it. It had the E911 Docu-
ment. It had a lot of dicey talk about breaking into systems,
including some bold and reckless stuff about a supposed "decryp-
tion service" that Mentor and friends were planning to run, to
help crack encrypted passwords off of hacked systems.
   Mentor was an adult. There was a bulletin board at his place of
work as well. Kleupfellogged onto this board too and discovered
it was called Illuminati. It was run by some company called Steve
Jackson Games.
   On March 1, 1990, the Austin crackdown went into high gear.
   On the morning of March I-a Thursday-twenty-one-year-
old University of Texas student Erik Bloodaxe, co-sysop of Phoe-
nix Project and an avowed member of the Legion of Doom, was
wakened by a police revolver leveled at his head.
   Bloodaxe watched, jittery, as Secret Service agents appropri-
ated his 300 baud terminal and, rifling his files, discovered his
treasured source code for Robert Morris' notorious Internet

                                        - - -   ~ _..   _-   - - _ . _ - - - _..

worm. But Bloodaxe, a wily operator, had suspected that some-
thing like this might be coming. All his best equipment had been
hidden away elsewhere. The raiders took everything electronic,
however, including his telephone. They were stymied by his hefty
arcade-style Pac-Man game and left it in place, as it was simply
too heavy to move.
   Bloodaxe was not arrested.
He was not charged with any            The 21-year-old
crime. A good two years later,
                                       University of Texas
the police still had what they
had taken from him, however.           student was wakened by         a
   The Mentor was less wary.           police revolver leveled at
The dawn raid rousted him and
his wife from bed in their un-         his head.
derwear, and six Secret Service
agents, accompanied by an Austin policeman and Henry Kluepfel
himself, made a rich haul. Off went the works, into the agents'
white Chevrolet minivan: an IBM PC AT clone with 4 meg of
RAM and a 120-meg hard disk; a Hewlett-Packard LaserJet II
printer; a completely legitimate and highly expensive SCO-Xenix
286 operating system; Pagemaker disks and documentation; and a
Microsoft Word word processing program. Mentor's wife had her
incomplete academic thesis stored on the hard disk; that went
too, and so did the couple's telephone. As of two years later, all
this property remained in police custody.
   Mentor remained under guard in his apartment as agents pre-
pared to raid Steve Jackson Games. The fact that this was a busi-
ness headquarters and not a private residence did not deter the
agents. It was still very early; no one was at work yet. The agents
prepared to break down the door, but Mentor, eavesdropping on
the Secret Service walkie-talkie traffic, begged them not to do it
and offered his key to the building.
   The exact details of the next events are unclear. The agents
would not let anyone else into the building. Their search warrant,
when produced was unsigned. Apparently they breakfasted from
the local Whataburger, as the litter from hamburgers was later
         140   ooooooooooooOOQoooOOOOOOQOR   THE HACKER CRACKDOWN

         found inside. They also sampled extensively a bag of jellybeans
         kept by an SJC employee. Someone tore a "Dukakis for Presi-
         dent" sticker from the wall.
             SJC employees, diligently showing up for the day's work, were
         met at the door and briefly questioned by U.S. Secret Service
         agents. The employees watched in astonishment as agents wield-
         ing crowbars and screwdrivers emerged with captive machines.
         They attacked outdoor storage units with boltcutters. The agents
         wore blue nylon windbreakers with SECRET SERVICE stenciled across
         the back, with running shoes and jeans.
             Jackson's company lost three computers, several hard disks,
         hundreds of floppy disks, two monitors, three modems, a laser
         printer, various power cords, cables, and adapters (and, oddly, a
         small bag of screws, bolts, and nuts). The seizure of Illuminati
         BBS deprived SJC of all the programs, text files, and private
         e-mail on the board. The loss of two other SJC computers was a
         severe blow as well, because it caused the loss of electronically
         stored contracts, financial projections, address directories, mailing
         lists, personnel files, business correspondence, and, not least, the
         drafts of forthcoming games and gaming books.
             No one at Steve Jackson Carnes was arrested. No one was ac-
         cused of any crime. No charges were filed. Everything appropri-
         ated was officially kept as "evidence" of crimes never specified.
             After the Phrack show trial, the Steve Jackson Carnes scandal
         was the most bizarre and aggravating incident of the Hacker
         Crackdown of 1990. This raid by the Chicago Task Force on a
         science-fiction gaming publisher was to rouse a swarming host of
         civil liberties issues and gave rise to an enduring controversy that
         was still recomplicating itself, and growing in the scope of its
         implications, a full two years later.
             The pursuit of the E911 Document stopped with the Steve
         Jackson Carnes raid. As we have seen, there were hundreds, per-
         haps thousands of computer users in America with the E911
         Document in their possession. Theoretically, the task force had a
         perfect legal right to raid any of these people, and legally could
         have seized the machines of anybody who subscribed to Phrack.


     However, there was no copy of the E911 Document on Jackson's
     Illuminati board. And there the Chicago raiders stopped dead;
     they have not raided anyone since.
        It might be assumed that Rich Andrews and Charlie Boykin,
     who had brought the E911 Document to the attention of telco
     security, might be spared any official suspicion. But as we have
     seen, the willingness to "cooperate fully" offers little, if any, as-
     surance against federal antihacker prosecution.
        Richard Andrews found himself in deep trouble, thanks to the
     E911 Document. Andrews lived in Illinois, the native stomping
     grounds of the Chicago Task Force. On February 3 and 6, both his
     home and his place of work were raided by USSS. His machines
     went out the door too, and he was grilled at length (though not
     arrested). Andrews proved to be in purportedly guilty possession
     of: UNIX SVR 3.2; UNIX SVR 3.1; UUCP; PMON; WWB; IWB;
     DWB; NROFF; KORN SHELL '88; C++; and QUEST, among
     other items. Andrews had received this proprietary code-which
     AT&T officially valued at well over $250,000-through the UNIX
     network, much of it supplied to him by Terminus as a personal
     favor. Perhaps worse yet, Andrews admitted to returning the
     favor, by passing Terminus a copy of AT&T proprietary STAR-
     LAN source code.
        Even Charles Boykin, himself an AT&T employee, entered
     some very hot water. By 1990, he'd almost forgotten about the
     E911 problem he'd reported in September 1988; in fact, since
     that date, he'd passed two more security alerts to Jerry Dalton,
     concerning matters that Boykin considered far worse than the
     E911 Document.
        But by 1990, year of the crackdown, AT&T Corporate Informa-
     tion Security was fed up with Killer. This machine offered no
     direct income to AT&T and was providing aid and comfort to a
     cloud of suspicious yokels from outside the company, some of
     them actively malicious toward AT&T, its property, and its cor-
     porate interests. Whatever goodwill and publicity had been won
     among Killer's 1,500 devoted users was considered no longer
     worth the security risk. On February 20, 1990, Jerry Dalton ar-

--_._- - - - -

rived in Dallas and simply unplugged the phone jacks, to the
puzzled alarm of Killer's many Texan users. Killer went perma-
nently off-line, with the loss of vast archives of programs and
huge quantities of electronic mail; it was never restored to ser-
vice. AT&T showed no particular regard for the "property" of
these 1,500 people. Whatever "property" the users had been stor-
ing on AT&T's computer simply vanished completely.
   Boykin, who had himself reported the E911 problem, now
found himself under a cloud of suspicion. In a weird private-
security replay of the Secret Service seizures, Boykin's own home
was visited by AT&T Security and his own machines were carried
out the door.
   However, there were marked special features in the Boykin
case. Boykin's disks and his personal computers were examined
swiftly by his corporate employers and returned politely in just
two days (unlike Secret Service seizures, which commonly take
months or years). Boykin was not charged with any crime or
wrongdoing, and he kept his job with AT&T (though he retired in
September 1991, at the age of fifty-two).
   It's interesting to note that the U.S. Secret Service somehow
failed to seize Boykin's Killer node and carry AT&T's own com-
puter out the door. Nor did they raid his home. They seemed
perfectly willing to take the word of AT&T Security that AT&T's
employee and AT&T's Killer node were free of hacker contraband
and on the up-and-up.
   It's digital water-under-the-bridge at this point, as Killer's
3,200 megabytes of Texan electronic community were erased in
1990 and Killer itself was shipped out of the state.
   But the experiences of Andrews and Boykin, and the users of
their systems, remained side issues. They did not begin to assume
the social, political, and legal importance that gathered, slowly
but inexorably, around the issue of the raid on Steve Jackson

   We must now turn our attention to Steve Jackson Games it-
self, and explain what SJG was, what it really did, and how it had

    managed to attract this particularly odd and virulent kind of trou-
    ble. The reader may recall that this is not the first but the second
    time that the company has appeared in this narrative; a Steve
    Jackson game called GURPS was a favorite pastime of Atlanta
    hacker Urvile, and Urvile's science-fictional gaming notes had
    been mixed up promiscuously with notes about his actual com-
    puter intrusions.
       First, Steve Jackson Games, Inc., was not a publisher of "com-
    puter games." SJG published "simulation games," parlor games
    that were played on paper, with pencils, and dice, and printed
    guidebooks full of rules and statistics tables. No computers were
    involved in the games themselves. When you bought a Steve
    Jackson Game, you did not receive any software disks. What you
    got was a plastic bag with some cardboard game tokens, maybe a
    few maps or a deck of cards. Most of the products were books.
       However, computers were deeply involved in the Steve Jackson
    Games business. Like almost all modern publishers, Steve Jack-
    son and his fifteen employees used computers to write text, keep
    accounts, and run the business generally. They also used a com-
    puter to run their official bulletin board system for Steve Jackson
    Games, a board called Illuminati. On Illuminati, simulation
    garners who happened to own computers and modems could as-
    sociate, trade mail, debate the theory and practice of gaming, and
    keep up with the company's news and its product announce-
       Illuminati was a modestly popular board, run on a small com-
    puter with limited storage, only one phone line, and no ties to
    large-scale computer networks. It did, however, have hundreds of
    users, many of them dedicated garners willing to call from out of
       Illuminati was not an "underground" board. It did not feature
    hints on computer intrusion, or "anarchy files," or illicitly posted
    credit card numbers, or long-distance access codes. Some of Illu-
    minati's users, however, were members of the Legion of Doom.
    And so was one of Steve Jackson's senior employees-the Men-
    tor. Mentor wrote for Phrack and also ran an underground board,


        Phoenix Project-but Mentor was not a computer professional.
        Mentor was the managing editor of Steve Jackson Games and a
        professional game designer by trade. These LoD members did
        not use Illuminati to help their hacking activities. They used it to
        help their game-playing activities-and they were even more
        dedicated to simulation gaming than they were to hacking.
                                               Illuminati got its name
    I lluminati involved flying             from a card game that Steve
                                           Jackson himself, the company's
    saucers, the CIA, the
                                            founder and sole owner, had
    KGB, the phone                         invented. This multiplayer card
    companies, the Ku Klux                 game was one of Mr. Jackson's
                                           best-known, most successful,
    Klan, and the Boy Scouts.               most technically innovative
                                            products. Illuminati was a
        game of paranoiac conspiracy in which various antisocial cults
        warred covertly to dominate the world. Illuminati was hilarious,
        and great fun to play, involving flying saucers, the CIA, the KGB,
        the phone companies, the Ku Klux Klan, South American Nazis,
        cocaine cartels, the Boy Scouts, and dozens of other splinter
        groups from the twisted depths of Mr. Jackson's professionally
        fervid imagination. For the uninitiated, any public discussion of
        the Illuminati card game sounded, by turns, utterly menacing or
        completely insane.
           And then there was SJC's Car Wars, in which souped-up ar-
        mored hot rods with rocket launchers and heavy machine guns
        did battle on the American highways of the future. The lively Car
        Wars discussion on the Illuminati board featured many meticu-
        lous, painstaking discussions of the effects of grenades,
        landmines, flamethrowers, and napalm. It sounded like hacker
        anarchy files run amuck.
           Mr. Jackson and his coworkers earned their daily bread by sup-
        plying people with make-believe adventures and weird ideas. The
        more far-out, the better.
           Simulation gaming is an unusual hobby, but garners have not
        generally had to beg the permission of the Secret Service to exist.

       THE DIGITAL UNDERGROUND            oooooqOQROOOOlIlIlIQROlllloqooll1l   145

       Wargames and role-playing adventures are an old and honored
       pastime, much favored by professional military strategists. Once
       little known, these games are now played by hundreds of thou-
       sands of enthusiasts throughout North America, Europe, and Ja-
       pan. Caming books, once restricted to hobby outlets, now
       commonly appear in chain stores such as B. Dalton's and
       Waldenbooks, and sell vigorously.
           Steve Jackson Carnes, Inc., of Austin, Texas, was a games com-
       pany of the middle rank. In 1989, SJC grossed about a million
       dollars. Jackson himself had a good reputation in his industry as a
       talented and innovative designer of rather unconventional games,
       but his company was something less than a titan of the field-
       certainly not like the multimillion-dollar TSR Inc., or Britain's
       gigantic Carnes Workshop.
           SJC's Austin headquarters was a modest two-story brick office
       suite, cluttered with phones, photocopiers, fax machines, and
       computers. It bustled with semiorganized activity and was lit-
       tered with glossy promotional brochures and dog-eared science-
       fiction novels. Attached to the offices was a large tin-roofed
       warehouse piled twenty feet high with cardboard boxes of games
       and books. Despite the weird imaginings that went on within it,
       the SJC headquarters was quite a quotidian, everyday sort of
       place. It looked like what it was: a publisher's digs.
           Both Car Wars and Illuminati were well-known, popular
       games. But the mainstay of the Jackson organization was their
       Generic Universal Role-Playing System, "GURPS." The GURPS
       system was considered solid and well designed, an asset for play-
       ers. But perhaps the most popular feature of the CURPS system
       was that it allowed gaming masters to design scenarios that
       closely resembled well-known books, movies, and other works of
       fantasy. Jackson had licensed and adapted works from many sci-
       ence fiction and fantasy authors. There was GURPS Conan,
       GURPS Riverworld, GURPS Horseclans, GURPS Witch World,
       names eminently familiar to science-fiction readers. And there
       was GURPS Special Ops, from the world of espionage fantasy and
       unconventional warfare .

146 •••••••• ooR ••••••••••••••••   THE HACKER CRACKDOWN

   And then there was GURPS Cyberpunk.
   "Cyberpunk" was a term given to certain science-fiction writ-
ers who had entered the genre in the 1980s. Cyberpunk, as the
label implies, had two general distinguishing features. First, its
writers had a compelling interest in information technology, an
interest closely akin to science fiction's earlier fascination with
space travel. And second, these writers were "punks," with all the
distinguishing features that that implies: Bohemian artiness,
youth run wild, an air of deliberate rebellion, funny clothes and
hair, odd politics, a fondness for abrasive rock and roll; in a word,
   The cyberpunk SF writers were a small group of mostly college-
educated white middle-class litterateurs, scattered through the
United States and Canada. Only one, Rudy Rucker, a professor of
computer science in Silicon Valley, could rank with even the
humblest computer hacker. Except for Professor Rucker, the
cyberpunk authors were not programmers or hardware experts;
they considered themselves artists (as, indeed, did Professor
Rucker). However, these writers all owned computers, and took
an intense and public interest in the social ramifications of the
information industry.
   The cyberpunks had a strong following among the global gen-
eration that had grown up in a world of computers, multinational
networks, and cable television. Their outlook was considered
somewhat morbid, cynical, and dark, but then again, so was the
outlook of their generational peers. As that generation matured
and increased in strength and influence, so did the cyberpunks.
As science-fiction writers went, they were doing fairly well for
themselves. By the late 1980s, their work had attracted attention
from gaming companies, including Steve Jackson Games, which
was planning a cyberpunk simulation for the flourishing GURPS
gaming system.
   The time seemed ripe for such a product, which had already
been proven in the marketplace. The first games company out of
 the gate, with a product boldly called Cyberpunk in defiance of
 possible infringement-of-copyright suits, had been an upstart
THE DIGITAL UNDERGROUND ••••••••••••• a ••••• allOaaa ••         147

group called R. Talsorian. Talsorian's Cyberpunk was a fairly de-
cent game, but the mechanics of the simulation system left a lot
to be desired. Commercially, however, the game did very well.
   The next cyberpunk game had been the even more successful
Shadowrun by FASA Corporation. The mechanics of this game
were fine, but the scenario was rendered moronic by sappy fantasy
elements such as elves, trolls, wizards, and dragons-all highly
ideologically incorrect, according to the hard-edged, high-tech
standards of cyberpunk science fiction.
   Other game designers were chomping at the bit. Prominent
among them was the Mentor, a gentleman who, like most of his
friends in the Legion of Doom, was quite the cyberpunk devotee.
Mentor reasoned that the time had come for a real cyberpunk
gaming book-one that the princes of computer-mischief in the
Legion of Doom could play without laughing themselves sick.
This book, GURPS Cyberpunk, would reek of culturally on-line
    Mentor was particularly well qualified for this task. Naturally,
he knew far more about computer intrusion and digital skulldug-
gery than any previously published cyberpunk author. Not only
that, but he was good at his work. A vivid imagination combined
with an instinctive feeling for the working of systems and, espe-
cially, the loopholes within them are excellent qualities for a pro-
fessional game designer.
    By March 1, GURPS Cyberpunk was almost complete, ready to
print and ship. Steve Jackson expected vigorous sales for this
item, which, he hoped, would keep the company financially afloat
for several months. GURPS Cyberpunk, like the other GURPS
"modules," was not a "game" like a Monopoly set, but a book: a
bound paperback book the size of a glossy magazine, with a slick
color cover, and pages full of text, illustrations, tables, and foot-
notes. It was advertised as a game and was used as an aid to
game-playing, but it was a book, with an ISBN number, published
in Texas, copyrighted, and sold in bookstores.
    And now that book, stored on a computer, had gone out the
door in the custody of the Secret Service.
        148   oooooooooooOQOooooooooooooo   THE HACKER CRACKDOWN

           The day after the raid, Steve Jackson visited the local Secret
        Service headquarters with a lawyer in tow. There he confronted
        Tim Foley (still in Austin at that time) and demanded his book
        back. But there was trouble. GURPS Cyberpunk, alleged a Secret
        Service agent to astonished businessman Steve Jackson, was "a
        manual for computer crime."
           "It's science fiction," Jackson said.
           "No, this is real." This statement was repeated several times,
        by several agents. Jackson's ominously accurate game had passed
        from pure, obscure, small-scale fantasy into the impure, highly
        publicized, large-scale fantasy of the Hacker Crackdown.
           No mention was made of the real reason for the search. Ac-
        cording to their search warrant, the raiders had expected to find
        the E911 Document stored on Jackson's bulletin board system.
        But that warrant was sealed-a procedure that most law enforce-
        ment agencies will use only when lives are demonstrably in dan-
        ger. The raiders' motives were not discovered until the Jackson
        search warrant was unsealed by his lawyers many months later.
        The Secret Service, and the Chicago Computer Fraud and Abuse
        Task Force, said absolutely nothing to Steve Jackson about any
        threat to the police 911 System. They said nothing about the
        Atlanta Three, nothing about Phrack or Knight Lightning, noth-
        ing about Terminus.
           Jackson was left to believe that his computers had been seized
        because he intended to publish a science-fiction book that law
        enforcement considered too dangerous to see print.
           This misconception was repeated again and again, for months,
        to an ever-widening public audience. It was not the truth of the
        case; but as months passed, and this misconception was printed
        again and again publicly, it became one of the few publicly
        known "facts" about the mysterious Hacker Crackdown. The Se-
        cret Service had seized a computer to stop the publication of a
        cyberpunk science-fiction book.
           The second section of this book, "The Digital Underground,"
        is almost finished now. We have become acquainted with all the
        major figures of this case who actually belong to the underground

r - ----.. - -
THE DIGITAL UNDERGROUND •••• ooO.O •••          149

milieu of computer intrusion. We have some idea of their history,
their motives, their general modus operandi. We now know,
I hope, who they are, where          r--r.
they came from, and more            1 he Secret Service had
or less what they want. In           seized a computer to stop
the next section of this book,
"Law and Order," we leave this       the publication of a
milieu and directly enter the        "cyberpunk" science-fiction
world of America's computer-         b k
crime police.                        ",--_0_0 _
                                            _ .                       _
   At this point, however, I
have another figure to introduce: myself.
   My name is Bruce Sterling. I live in Austin, Texas, where I am a
science-fiction writer by trade: specifically, a cyberpunk science-
fiction writer.
   Like my cyberpunk colleagues in the United States and
Canada, I've never been entirely happy with this literary label-
especially after it became a synonym for a computer criminal.
But I did once edit a book of stories by my colleagues, called
Mirrorshades: The Cyberpunk Anthology, and I've long been a
writer of literary-critical cyberpunk manifestos. I am not a hacker
of any description, though I do have readers in the digital under-
   When the Steve Jackson Games seizure occurred, I naturally
took an intense interest. If cyberpunk books were being banned
by federal police in my own hometown, I reasonably wondered
whether I myself might be next. Would my computer be seized
by the Secret Service? At the time, I was in possession of an aging
Apple IIe without so much as a hard disk. If I were to be raided as
an author of computer-crime manuals, the loss of my feeble word
processor would likely provoke more snickers than sympathy.
   I'd known Steve Jackson for many years. We knew one another
as colleagues, for we frequented the same local science-fiction
conventions. I'd played Jackson games and recognized his clever-
ness; but he certainly had never struck me as a potential mas-
termind of computer crime.
    150   000000000000000000000000000   THE HACKER CRACKDOWN

        I also knew a little about computer bulletin board systems. In
    the mid-1980s I had taken an active role in an Austin board
    named SMOF-BBS, one of the first boards dedicated to science
    fiction. I had a modem, and on occasion I'd logged on to Illumi-
    nati, which always looked entertainingly wacky but certainly
    harmless enough.
        At the time of the Jackson seizure, I had no experience whatso-
    ever with underground boards. But I knew that no one on Illumi-
    nati talked about breaking into systems illegally or about robbing
    phone companies. Illuminati didn't even offer pirated computer
    games. Steve Jackson, like many creative artists, was markedly
    touchy about theft of intellectual property.
        It seemed to me that Jackson was either seriously suspected of
    some crime-in which case, he would be charged soon, and
    would have his day in court-or else he was innocent, in which
    case the Secret Service would quickly return his equipment and
    everyone would have a good laugh. I rather expected the good
    laugh. The situation was not without its comic side. The raid,
    known as the "Cyberpunk Bust" in the science-fiction commu-
    nity, was winning a great deal of free national publicity both for
    Jackson himself and the cyberpunk science-fiction writers gener-
        Besides, science-fiction people are used to being misinter-
    preted. Science fiction is a colorful, disreputable, slipshod occu-
    pation, full of unlikely oddballs, which, of course, is why we like
    it. Weirdness can be an occupational hazard in our field. People
    who wear Halloween costumes are sometimes mistaken for mon-
        Once upon a time-back in 1939, in New York City-science
    fiction and the U.S. Secret Service collided in a comic case of
    mistaken identity. This weird incident involved a literary group
    quite famous in science fiction, known as "the Futurians," whose
    membership included such future genre greats as Isaac Asimov,
    Frederik Pohl, and Damon Knight. The Futurians were every bit
    as offbeat and wacky as any of their spiritual descendants, includ-

         THE DIGITAL UNDERGROUND             000000000000000000000000000   151

         ing the cyberpunks, and were given to communal living, sponta-
         neous group renditions of light opera, and midnight fencing
         exhibitions on the lawn. The Futurians didn't have bulletin board
         systems, but they did have the technological equivalent in 1939
         -mimeographs and a private printing press. These were in steady
         use, producing a stream of science-fiction fan magazines, literary
         manifestos, and weird articles, which were picked up in ink-sticky
         bundles by a succession of strange, gangly, spotty young men in
         fedoras and overcoats.
            The neighbors grew alarmed at the antics of the Futurians and
         reported them to the Secret Service as suspected counterfeiters.
         In the winter of 1939, a squad of USSS agents with drawn guns
         burst into Futurian House, prepared to confiscate the forged cur-
         rency and illicit printing presses. There they discovered a slum-
         bering science-fiction fan named George Hahn, a guest of the
         Futurian commune who had just arrived in New York. Hahn man-
         aged to explain himself and his group, and the Secret Service
         agents left the Futurians in peace henceforth. (Alas, Hahn died in
         1991, just before I had discovered this astonishing historical par-
         allel and just before I could interview him for this book.)
            But the Jackson case did not come to a swift and comic end.
         No quick answers came his way, or mine; no swift reassurances
         that all was right in the digital world, that matters were well in
         hand after all. Quite the opposite. In my alternate role as a some-
         time pop-science journalist, I interviewed Jackson and his staff
         for an article for a British magazine. The strange details of the
         raid left me more concerned than ever. Without its computers,
         the company had been crippled financially and operationally.
         Half the SJG workforce, a group of entirely innocent people, had
         been fired, deprived of their livelihoods by the seizure. It began to
         dawn on me that authors-American writers-might well have
         their computers seized, under sealed warrants, without any crimi-
         nal charge; and that, as Steve Jackson had discovered, there was
         no immediate recourse for this. This was no joke; this wasn't
         science fiction; this was real.


            I determined to put science fiction aside until I had discovered
         what had happened and where this trouble had come from. It was
         time to enter the purportedly real world of electronic free expres-
         sion and computer crime. Hence, this book. Hence, the world of
         the telcos; and the world of the digital underground; and next,
         the world of the police .

.-----          - - -     --~----------             ----

                      AND ORDER

                                    O f the various antihacker ac-
    tivities of 1990, Operation Sundevil had by far the highest public
    profile. The sweeping, nationwide computer seizures of May 8,
    1990, were unprecedented in scope and highly, if rather selec-
    tively, publicized.
       Unlike the efforts of the Chicago Computer Fraud and Abuse
    Task Force, Operation Sundevil was not intended to combat
    hacking in the sense of computer intrusion or sophisticated raids
    on telco switching stations. Nor did it have anything to do with
    hacker misdeeds with AT&T's software or with Southern Bell's
    proprietary documents.


    Instead, Operation Sundevil was a crackdown on those tradi-
tional scourges of the digital underground: credit card theft and
telephone code abuse. The ambitious activities out of Chicago,
and the somewhat lesser-known but vigorous antihacker actions
of the New York State Police in 1990, were never a part of Opera-
tion Sundevil per se, which was based in Arizona.
    Nevertheless, after the spectacular May 8 raids, the public,
misled by police secrecy, hacker panic, and a puzzled national
press corps, conAated all aspects of the nationwide crackdown in
1990 under the blanket term Operation Sundevil. "Sundevil" is
still the best-known synonym for the crackdown. But the Arizona
organizers of Sundevil really did not deserve this reputation-any
more, -for instance, than all hackers deserve a reputation as hack-
    There was some justice in this confused perception, though.
For one thing, the confusion was abetted by the Washington
office of the Secret Service, which responded to Freedom of In-
formation Act requests on Operation Sundevil by referring inves-
tigators to the publicly known cases of Knight Lightning and the
Atlanta Three. And Sundevil was certainly the largest aspect of
the crackdown, the most deliberate and the best organized. As a
crackdown on electronic fraud, Sundevil lacked the frantic pace
of the war on the Legion of Doom; on the contrary, Sundevil's
targets were picked out with cool deliberation over an elaborate
investigation lasting two full years.
   And once again the targets were bulletin board systems.
    Boards can be powerful aids to organized fraud. Underground
boards carry lively, extensive, detailed, and often quite Aagrant
"discussions" of lawbreaking techniques and lawbreaking activi-
ties. "Discussing" crime in the abstract, or "discussing" the par-
ticulars of criminal cases, is not illegal-but there are stem state
and federal laws against coldbloodedly conspiring in groups in
order to commit crimes.
    In the eyes of police, people who actively conspire to break
the law are not regarded as "clubs," "debating salons," "users'
      LAW AND ORDER                ooogoooooogoPQQOOOOOOOQOOOO        155

      groups," or "free speech advocates." Rather, such people tend to
      find themselves formally indicted by prosecutors as "gangs,"
      "racketeers," "corrupt organizations," and "organized crime fig-
      ures. "
         What's more, the illicit data contained on outlaw boards goes
      well beyond mere acts of speech and/or possible criminal conspir-
      acy. As we have seen, it was common practice in the digital un-
      derground to post purloined telephone codes on boards, for any
      phreak or hacker who cared to abuse them. Is posting digital
      booty of this sort supposed to be protected by the First Amend-
      ment? Hardly-though the issue, like most issues in cyberspace,
      is not entirely resolved. Some theorists argue that merely to recite
      a number publicly is not illegal-only its use is illegal. But an-
      tihacker police point out that magazines and newspapers (more
      traditional forms of free expression) never publish stolen tele-
      phone codes (even though this might well raise their circulation).
         Stolen credit card numbers, being riskier and more valuable,
      were posted publicly less often on boards-but there is no ques-
      tion that some underground boards carried "carding" traffic, gen-
      erally exchanged through private mail.
         Underground boards also carried handy programs for "scan-
      ning" telephone codes and raiding credit card companies, as well
      as the usual obnoxious galaxy of pirated software, cracked pass-
      words, blue-box schematics, intrusion manuals, anarchy files,
      porn files, and so forth.
         But besides their nuisance potential for the spread of illicit
      knowledge, bulletin boards have another vitally interesting aspect
      for the professional investigator. Bulletin boards are cram-full of
      evidence. All that busy trading of electronic mail, all those hacker
      boasts, brags, and struts, even the stolen codes and cards, can be
      neat, electronic, real-time recordings of criminal activity.
         As an investigator, when you seize a pirate board, you have
      scored a coup as effective as tapping phones or intercepting mail.
      However, you have not actually tapped a phone or intercepted a
      letter. The rules of evidence regarding phone taps and mail inter-

..-._---------         -------------------~

    ceptions are old, stern, and well understood by police, prosecutors
    and defense attorneys alike. The rules of evidence regarding
    boards are new, waffling, and understood by nobody at all.
'T'                                        SundeviI was the largest
 1 he rules of evidence                 crackdown on boards in world
regarding bulletin boards                 history. On May 7, 8, and 9,
                                          1990, about forty-two com-
are understood by nobody                  puter systems were seized. Of
at all.                                   those forty-two computers,
                                          about twenty-five actually were
      running boards. (The vagueness of this estimate is attributable to
      the vagueness of [a] what a "computer system" is, and [b] what it
      actually means to "run a board" with one-or with two-com-
      puters, or with three.)

    ~    About twenty-five boards vanished into police custody in May
      1990. As we have seen, there are an estimated 30,000 boards in
      America today. If we assume that one board in a hundred is up to
      no good with codes and cards (which rather flatters the honesty
'I of the board-using community), then that would leave 2,975 out-
      law boards untouched by Sundevil. Sundevil seized about one-
i     tenth of 1 percent of all computer bulletin boards in America.
  ' Seen objectively, this is something less than a comprehensive
 / assault. In 1990, Sundevil's organizers-the team at the Phoenix
1     Secret Service office and the Arizona attorney general's office-
      had a list of at least three hundred boards that they considered
      fully deserving of search and seizure warrants. The twenty-five
      boards actually seized were merely among the most obvious and
      egregious of this much larger list of candidates, All these boards
  I had been examined beforehand-either by informants, who had
      passed printouts to the Secret Service, or by Secret Service agents
 1 themselves, who not only come equipped with modems but know
 l how to use them.
         There were a number of motives for Sundevil. First, it offered a
      chance to get ahead of the curve on wire-fraud crimes. Tracking
      back credit card ripoffs to their perpetrators can be appallingly
      difficult. If these miscreants have any kind of electronic sophisti-

                       --~     ...   --------
    r            LAW AND ORDER                ooooooooooqoooooooooooooooo         157

                 cation, they can snarl their tracks through the phone network
                 into a mind-boggling, untraceable mess, while still managing to
                 "reach out and rob someone." Boards, however, full of brags and
                 boasts, codes and cards, offer evidence in the handy congealed
                    Seizures themselves-the mere physical removal of machines
                 -tend to take the pressure off. During Sundevil, a large number
                 of code kids, warez dOOdz, and credit card thieves would be de-
                 prived of those boards-their means of community and conspir-
                 acy-in one swift blow. As for the sysops themselves (commonly
                 among the boldest offenders), they would be stripped directly of
                 their computer equipment, and rendered digitally mute and
                    And this aspect of Sundevil was carried out with great success.
                 Sundevil seems to have been a complete tactical surprise-unlike
                 the fragmentary and continuing seizures of the war on the Legion
                 of Doom, Sundevil was precisely timed and utterly overwhelming.
                 At least forty "computers" were seized during May 7, 8, and 9,
                 1990, in Cincinnati, Detroit, Los Angeles, Miami, Newark, Phoe-
                 nix, Tucson, Richmond, San Diego, San Jose, Pittsburgh, and San
                 Francisco. Some cities saw multiple raids, such as the five sepa-
                 rate raids in the New York City environs. Plano, Texas, (essentially
                 a suburb of the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex and a hub of the
                 telecommunications industry) saw four computer seizures. Chi-
                 cago, ever in the forefront, saw its own local Sundevil raid, briskly
                 carried out by Secret Service agents Timothy Foley and Barbara
                    Many of these raids occurred not in the cities proper, but in
                 associated white middle-class suburbs-places such as Mount
                 Lebanon, Pennsylvania, and Clark Lake, Michigan. There were a
                 few raids on offices; most took place in people's homes, the clas-
                 sic hacker basements and bedrooms.
                    The Sundevil raids were searches and seizures, not a group of
                 mass arrests. Only four arrests took place. "Tony the Trashman,"
                 a longtime teenage bete noire of the Arizona Racketeering unit,
                 was arrested in Tucson on May 9. "Dr. Ripco," sysop of an outlaw

-       -   _. - - - - - ~ -
158 •••••••••••• oo •••••••••• g ••   THE HACKER CRACKDOWN

board with the misfortune to exist In Chicago itself, was also
arrested-on illegal weapons charges. Local units also arrested a
nineteen-year-old female phone phreak named "Electra" in Penn-
sylvania and a male juvenile in California. Federal agents, how-
ever, were not seeking arrests, but computers.
    Hackers generally are not indicted (if at all) until the evidence
in their seized computers is evaluated-a process that can take
weeks, months, even years. When hackers are arrested on the
spot, it's generally for other reasons. Drugs and/or illegal weapons
show up in a good third of antihacker computer seizures. The
Sundevil raid in Chicago discovered unregistered handguns; the
Californian teenager had illicit drugs.
    That scofflaw teenage hackers (or their parents) should have
marijuana in their homes is probably not a shocking revelation,
but the surprisingly common presence of illegal firearms in hacker
dens is a bit disquieting. A personal computer can be a great
equalizer for the techno-cowboy-much like that more tradi-
tional American "Great Equalizer," the personal sixgun. Maybe
it's not all that surprising that some guy obsessed with power
through illicit technology would also have a few illicit high-
velocity-impact devices around. An element of the digital under-
ground particularly dotes on those "anarchy philes," and this
element tends to shade into the crackpot milieu of survivalists,
gun nuts, anarcho-leftists, and the ultra-libertarian right wing.
    This is not to say that hacker raids to date have uncovered any
major crack dens or illegal arsenals; but Secret Service agents do not
regard hackers as "just kids." They regard hackers as unpredictable
people, bright and slippery. It doesn't help matters that the hacker
himself has been "hiding behind his keyboard" all this time. Com-
monly, police have no idea what he looks like. This makes him an
unknown quantity, someone best treated with proper caution.
    To date, no hacker has come out shooting, though hackers
sometimes do brag on boards that they will do just that. Threats
of this sort are taken seriously. Secret Service hacker raids tend to
be swift, comprehensive, and well manned (even overmanned);
agents generally burst through every door in the home at once,

       ----.',. - - - -
           LAW AND ORDER                OOQOOOOOODOOOQQOoooogoooooo        159

           sometimes with drawn guns. Any potential resistance is quelled
           swiftly. Hacker raids are usually raids on people's homes. It can be
           a very dangerous business to raid an American home; people can
           panic when strangers invade their sanctum. Statistically speaking,
           the most dangerous thing a police officer can do is to enter some-
           one's home. (The second most dangerous thing is to stop a car in
           traffic.) People have guns in their homes. More cops are hurt in
           homes than are ever hurt in biker bars or massage parlors.
               But in any case, no one was hurt during Sundevil, or indeed
           during any part of the Hacker Crackdown.
              Nor were there any allegations of any physical mistreatment of
           a suspect. Guns were pointed, interrogations were sharp and pro-
           longed; but no one in 1990 claimed any act of brutality by any
           crackdown raider.
              In addition to the forty or so computers, Sundevil reaped
           floppy disks in particularly great abundance-an estimated
           23,000 of them, which naturally included every manner of illegiti-
           mate data: pirated games, stolen codes, hot credit card numbers,
           the complete text and software of entire pirate bulletin boards.
           These floppy disks, which remain in police custody today, offer a
           gigantic, almost embarrassingly rich source of possible criminal
           indictments. These 23,000 floppy disks also include a thus-far
           unknown quantity of legitimate computer games, legitimate soft-
           ware, purportedly "private" mail from boards, business records,
           and personal correspondence of all kinds.
               Standard computer-crime search warrants lay great emphasis
           on seizing written documents as well as computers-specifically
           including photocopies, computer printouts, telephone bills, ad-
           dress books, logs, notes, memoranda, and correspondence. In
           practice, this has meant that diaries, gaming magazines, software
           documentation, nonfiction books on hacking and computer secu-
           rity, sometimes even science-fiction novels have all vanished out
           the door in police custody. A wide variety of electronic items have
           been known to vanish as well, including telephones, televisions,
           answering machines, Sony Walkmans, desktop printers, compact
           disks, and audiotapes .

.-   ---

   No fewer than 150 members of the Secret Service were sent
into the field during Sundevil. They frequently were accompa-
nied by squads of local and/or state police. Most of these officers
-especially the locals-had never been on an antihacker raid
before. (This was one reason, in fact, why so many of them were
invited along in the first place.) Also, the presence of a uniformed
police officer assures the raidees that the people entering their
homes are, in fact, police. Secret Service agents wear plain
clothes. So do the telco security experts who commonly accom-
pany the Secret Service on raids (and who make no particular
effort to identify themselves as mere employees of telephone
companies) .
   A typical hacker raid goes something like this. First, police
storm in rapidly, through every entrance, with overwhelming
force, in the assumption that this tactic will keep casualties to a
minimum. Second, possible suspects are removed immediately
from the vicinity of any and all computer systems, so that they
will have no chance to purge or destroy evidence. Suspects are
herded into a room without computers, commonly the living
room, and kept under guard-not armed guard, for the guns are
swiftly holstered, but under guard nevertheless. They are pre-
sented with the search warrant and warned that anything they say
may be held against them. Commonly they have a great deal to
say, especially if they are unsuspecting parents.
   Somewhere in the house is the "hot spot"-a computer tied to
a phone line (possibly several computers and several phones).
Commonly it's a teenager's bedroom, but it can be anywhere in
the house; there may be several such rooms. This "hot spot" is
put in the charge of a two-agent team, the "finder" and the
"recorder." The finder is computer-trained, commonly the case
agent who actually obtained the search warrant from a judge. He
or she understands what is being sought and actually carries out
the seizures: unplugs machines, opens drawers, desks, files,
floppy-disk containers, and so on. The recorder photographs all
the equipment, just as it stands-especially the tangle of wired
connections in the back, which can otherwise be a real nightmare
        LAW AND ORDER               ooooooooooqooooooooooopoooo        161

        to restore. The recorder also commonly photographs every room
        in the house, lest some wily criminal claim that the police had
        robbed him during the search. Some recorders also carry video-
        cams or tape recorders; however, it's more common for the re-
        corder simply to take written notes. Objects are described and
        numbered as the finder seizes them, generally on standard
        preprinted police inventory forms.
           Even Secret Service agents were not, and are not, expert com-
        puter users. They have not made, and do not make, judgments on
        the fly about potential threats posed by various forms of equip-
        ment. They may exercise discretion; they may leave Dad his
        computer, for instance, but they don't have to. Standard
        computer-crime search warrants, which date back to the early
        1980s, use a sweeping language that targets computers, most any-
        thing attached to a computer, most anything used to operate a
        computer-most anything that remotely resembles a computer-
        plus most any and all written documents surrounding it. Com-
        puter-crime investigators have strongly urged agents to seize the
            In this sense, Operation Sundevil appears to have been a com-
        plete success. Boards went down all over America and were
        shipped en masse to the computer investigation lab of the Secret
        Service, in Washington, D.C., along with the 23,000 floppy disks
        and unknown quantities of printed material.
            But the seizure of twenty-five boards and the multimegabyte
        mountains of possibly useful evidence contained in these boards
         (and in their owners' other computers, also out the door) were far
        from the only motives for Operation Sunde vil, An unprecedented
        action of great ambition and size, Sundevil's motives can only be
        described as political. It was a public relations effort, meant to
        pass certain messages, meant to make certain situations clear:
        both in the mind of the general public and in the minds of
        various constituencies of the electronic community.
            First-and this motivation was vital-a "message" would be
        sent from law enforcement to the digital underground. This very
         message was recited in so many words by Garry M. Jenkins, the


    assistant director of the U.S. Secret Service, at the Sundevil press
    conference in Phoenix on May 9, 1990, immediately after the
    raids. In brief, hackers were mistaken in their foolish belief that
    they could hide behind the "relative anonymity of their computer
    terminals." On the contrary, they should fully understand that
    state and federal cops were actively patrolling the beat in cyber-
    space-that they were on the watch everywhere, even in those
    sleazy and secretive dens of cybernetic vice, the underground
                                            This is not an unusual mes-
 S tate and federal cops                sage for police to convey pub-
                                        licly to crooks. The message is
 were actively patrolling
                                        a standard message; only the
 the beat in cyberspace.                context is new.
                                            In this respect, the Sundevil
    raids were the digital equivalent of the standard vice-squad crack-
    down on massage parlors, porno bookstores, head shops, or float-
    ing crap games. There may be few or no arrests in a raid of this
    sort; no convictions, no trials, no interrogations. Police may well
    walk out the door with many pounds of sleazy magazines, X-rated
    videotapes, sex toys, gambling equipment, baggies of mari-
    Juana . . .
       Of course, if something truly horrendous is discovered by the
    raiders, there will be arrests and prosecutions. Far more likely,
    however, there will simply be a brief but sharp disruption of the
    closed and secretive world of the nogoodniks. There will be
    "street hassle." "Heat." "Deterrence." And, of course, the imme-
    diate loss of the seized goods. It is very unlikely that any of this
    seized material ever will be returned. Whether charged or not,
    whether convicted or not, the perpetrators will almost surely lack
    the nerve ever to ask for this stuff to be given back.
       Arrests and trials-putting people in jail-may involve all
    kinds of formal legalities; but dealing with the justice system is
    far from the only task of police. Police do not simply arrest peo-
    ple. They don't simply put people in jail. That is not how the
    police perceive their jobs. Police "protect and serve." Police "keep

           LAW AND ORDER                0000000000   goo   DODO 0 0 0 Q 00 0 Q 0 Q   163

           the peace," they "keep public order." Like other forms of public
           relations, keeping public order is not an exact science. Keeping
           public order is something of an art form.
              If a group of tough-looking teenage hoodlums was loitering on
           a streetcomer, no one would be surprised to see a street cop arrive
           and sternly order them to "break it up." On the contrary, the
           surprise would come if one of these ne'er-do-wells stepped briskly
           into a phone booth, called a civil rights lawyer, and instituted a
           civil suit in defense of his constitutional rights of free speech and
           free assembly. But something much along this line was one of the
           many anomolous outcomes of the Hacker Crackdown.
              Sundevil also carried useful "messages" for other constituents
           of the electronic community. These messages may not have been
           read aloud from the Phoenix podium in front of the press corps,
           but there was little mistaking their meaning. There was a message
           of reassurance for the primary victims of coding and carding: the
           telcos and the credit companies. Sundevil was greeted with joy by
           the security officers of the electronic business community. After
           years of high-tech harassment and spiraling revenue losses, their
           complaints of rampant outlawry were being taken seriously by law
           enforcement. No more head-scratching or dismissive shrugs; no
           more feeble excuses about "lack of computer-trained officers" or
           the low priority of "victimless" white-collar telecommunication
              Computer-crime experts have long believed that computer-
           related offenses are drastically underreported. They regard this as
           a major open scandal of their field. Some victims are reluctant to
           come forth, because they believe that police and prosecutors are
           not computer literate and can and will do nothing. Others are
           embarrassed by their vulnerabilities and will take strong measures
           to avoid any publicity; this is especially true of banks, which fear a
           loss of investor confidence should an embezzlement case or wire-
           fraud surface. And some victims are so helplessly confused by
           their own high technology that they never even realize that a
           crime has occurred-even when they have been fleeced to the

..---   - ---~ - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
      164   00000000000000000000000000.   THE HACKER CRACKDOWN

         The results of this situation can be dire. Criminals escape
      apprehension and punishment. The computer-crime units that
      do exist can't get work. The true scope of computer crime-its
      size, its real nature, the scope of its threats, and the legal reme-
      dies for it-all remain obscured.
         Another problem is very little publicized, but it is a cause of
      genuine concern. Where there is persistent crime but no effective
      police protection, then vigilantism can result. Telcos, banks,
      credit companies, the major corporations that maintain extensive
      computer networks vulnerable to hacking-these organizations
      are powerful, wealthy, and politically influential. They are disin-
      clined to be pushed around by crooks (or by most anyone else, for
      that matter). They often maintain well-organized private security
      forces, commonly run by experienced veterans of military and
      police units who have left public service for the greener pastures
      of the private sector. For police, the corporate security manager
      can be a powerful ally; but if this gentleman finds no allies in the
      police, and the pressure is on from his board of directors, he may
      quietly take certain matters into his own hands.
          Nor is there any lack of disposable hired help in the corporate
      security business. Private security agencies-the "security busi-
      ness" generally-grew explosively in the 1980s. Today there are
      spooky gumshoed armies of "security consultants," "rent-a-cops,"
      "private eyes," "outside experts"-every manner of shady opera-
      tor who retails in "results" and discretion. Of course, many of
      these gentlemen and ladies may be paragons of professional and
      moral rectitude. But as anyone who has read a hard-boiled detec-
      tivc novel knows, police tend to be less than fond of this sort of
      private-sector competition.
          Companies in search of computer security even have been
      known to hire hackers. Police shudder at this prospect.
          Police treasure good relations with the business community.
      Rarely will you see a police officer so indiscreet as to allege pub-
      licly that some major employer in his state or city has succumbed
      to paranoia and gone off the rails. Nevertheless, police-and
      computer police in particular-are aware of this possibility. Com-

r-------                  _ . _ - _ .. _ - _ .
          LAW AND ORDER                oooooqOQQOPOODOpOgoooopoOOO        165

          puter-crime police can and do spend up to half of their business
          hours just doing public relations: seminars, "dog and pony
          shows," sometimes with parents' groups or computer users, but
          generally with their core audience: the likely victims of hacking
          crimes. These, of course, are telcos, credit card companies, and
          large computer-equipped corporations. The police strongly urge
          these people, as good citizens, to report offenses and press crimi-
          nal charges; they pass the message that there is someone in au-
          thority who cares, understands, and, best of all, will take useful
          action should a computer crime occur.
             But reassuring talk is cheap. Sundevil offered action.
             The final message of Sundevil was intended for internal con-
          sumption by law enforcement. Sundevil was offered as proof that
          the community of American computer-crime police had come of
          age. Sundevil was proof that enormous things such as Sundevil
          itself could now be accomplished. Sundevil was proof that the
          Secret Service and its local law-enforcement allies could act like a
          well-oiled machine. It was also proof that the Arizona Organized
          Crime and Racketeering Unit-the sparkplug of Sundevil-
          ranked with the best in the world in ambition, organization, and
          sheer conceptual daring.
             And, as a final fillip, Sundevil was a message from the Secret
          Service to their longtime rivals in the Federal Bureau of Investiga-
          tion. By congressional fiat, both USSS and FBI formally share
          jurisdiction over federal computer-crimebusting activities. Nei-
          ther of these groups has ever been remotely happy with this mud-
          dled situation. It seems to suggest that Congress cannot make up
          its mind as to which of these groups is better qualified. And there
          is scarcely a Special Agent or a G-man anywhere without a very
          firm opinion on that topic.

             For the neophyte, one of the most puzzling aspects of the
          crackdown on hackers is why the U.S. Secret Service has anything
          at all to do with this matter.
             The Secret Service is best known for its primary public role: its
          agents protect the President of the United States. They also

.----   -----._---_._---

   guard the President's family, the Vice President and his family,
   former Presidents, and presidential candidates. They sometimes
   guard foreign dignitaries who are visiting the United States, espe-
   cially foreign heads of state, and have been known to accompany
   American officials on diplomatic missions overseas.
       Special Agents of the Secret Service don't wear uniforms, but
   the USSS also has two uniformed police agencies. There's the
   former White House Police (now known as the Secret Service
   Uniformed Division, because they currently guard foreign embas-
   sies in Washington as well as the White House itself). And
   there's the uniformed Treasury Police Force.
       The Secret Service has been charged by Congress with a num-
   ber of little-known duties. It guards the precious metals in Trea-
   sury vaults. It guards the most valuable historical documents of
   the United States: originals of the Constitution, the Declara-
   tion of Independence, Lincoln's Second Inaugural Address, an
   American-owned copy of the Magna Carta, and so forth. Once
   agents were assigned to guard the Mona Lisa, on her American
   tour in the 1960s.
       The entire Secret Service is a division of the Treasury Depart-
   ment. Secret Service Special Agents (there are about 1,900 of
                                        them) are bodyguards for the
C   ash is fading in                    President et al., but they all
                                        work for the Treasury. And the
importance today as
                                        Treasury (through its divisions
money has become                        of the U.S. Mint and the Bu-
electronic.                             reau of Engraving and Printing)
                                        prints the nation's money.
       As Treasury police, the Secret Service guards the nation's cur-
   rency; it is the only federal law enforcement agency with direct
    jurisdiction over counterfeiting and forgery. It analyzes docu-
   ments for authenticity, and its fight against fake cash is still quite
   lively (especially since the skilled counterfeiters of Medellin, Co-
   lombia, have gotten into the act). Government checks, bonds,
    and other obligations, which exist in untold millions and are
   worth untold billions, are common targets for forgery, which the
LAW AND ORDER               oooooooooogOOOOQOOOOOOOOOOO        167

Secret Service also battles. It even handles forgery of postage
   But cash is fading in importance today as money has become
electronic. As necessity beckoned, the Secret Service moved from
fighting the counterfeiting of paper currency and the forging of
checks, to the protection of funds transferred by wire.
   From wire fraud, it was a simple skip-and-jump to what is
known formally as "access device fraud." Congress granted the
Secret Service the authority to investigate access device fraud
under Title 18 of the United States Code (U.s.c. Section 1029).
   The term "access device" seems intuitively simple. It's some
kind of high-tech gizmo you use to get money with. It makes
good sense to put this sort of thing in the charge of counterfeit-
ing and wire-fraud experts.
   However, in Section 1029, the term "access device" is defined
very generously. An access device is: "any card, plate, code, ac-
count number, or other means of account access that can be
used, alone or in conjunction with another access device, to ob-
tain money, goods, services, or any other thing of value, or that
can be used to initiate a transfer of funds."
   "Access device" can therefore be construed to include credit
cards themselves (a popular forgery item nowadays). It also in-
cludes credit card account numbers, those standards of the digital
underground. The same goes for telephone charge cards (an in-
creasingly popular item with te1cos, which are tired of being
robbed of pocket change by phone-booth thieves). And also tele-
phone access codes, those other standards of the digital under-
ground. (Stolen telephone codes may not "obtain money," but
they certainly do obtain valuable "services," which is specifically
forbidden by Section 1029.)
   We can now see that Section 1029 already pits the U.S. Secret
Service directly against the digital underground, without any
mention at all of the word "computer."
   Standard phreaking devices, such as blue boxes, used to steal
phone service from old-fashioned mechanical switches, are un-
questionably "counterfeit access devices." Thanks to Section
        168   000000000000000000000000000   THE HACKER CRACKDOWN

        1029, it is not only illegal to use counterfeit access devices, but it
        is even illegal to build them. "Producing," "designing," "duplicat-
        ing," or "assembling" blue boxes are all federal crimes today, and
        if you do this, the Secret Service has been charged by Congress to
        come after you.
           Automatic teller machines, which replicated all over America
        during the 1980s, are definitely "access devices" too, and an at-
        tempt to tamper with their punch-in codes and plastic bank cards
        falls directly under Section 1029.
            Section 1029 is remarkably elastic. Suppose you find a com-
        puter password in sornebody's trash. That password might be a
        "code"-it's certainly a "means of account access." Now suppose
        you log on to a computer and copy some software for yourself.
        You've certainly obtained "service" (computer service) and a
        "thing of value" (the software). Suppose you tell a dozen friends
        about your swiped password and let them use it too. Now you're
        "trafficking in unauthorized access devices." And when Prophet,
        a member of the Legion of Doom, passed a stolen telephone
        company document to Knight Lightning at Phrack magazine,
        they were both charged under Section 10291
           There are two limitations on Section 1029. First, the offense
        must "affect interstate or foreign commerce" in order to become
        a matter of federal jurisdiction. The term "affect . . . com-
        merce" is not well defined; but you may take it as a given that the
        Secret Service can take an interest if you've done almost anything
        that happens to cross a state line. State and local police can be
        touchy about their jurisdictions and can sometimes be mulish
        when the feds show up. But when it comes to computer crime,
        the local police are pathetically grateful for federal help-in fact,
        they complain that they can't get enough of it. If you're stealing
        long-distance service, you're almost certainly crossing state lines,
        and you're definitely affecting the interstate commerce of the
        telcos. And if you're abusing credit cards by ordering stuff out of
        glossy catalogs from, say, Vermont, you're in for it.
            The second limitation is money. As a rule, the feds don't pur-
        sue penny-ante offenders. Federal judges will dismiss cases that

r----- - - - -
     LAW AND ORDER                ooooooooqoooooooooooooooooo        169

     appear to waste their time. Federal crimes must be serious; Sec-
     tion 1029 specifies a minimum loss of a thousand dollars.
        We now come to the very next section of Title 18, which is
     Section 1030, "Fraud and related activity in connection with
     computers." This statute gives the Secret Service direct jurisdic-
     tion over acts of computer intrusion. On the face of it, the Secret
     Service would now seem to command the field. Section 1030,
     however, is nowhere near so ductile as Section 1029.
        The first annoyance is Section 1030(d), which reads:
        "(d) The United States Secret Service shall, in addition to any
     other agency having such authority, have the authority to investi-
     gate offenses under this section. Such authority of the United
     States Secret Service shall be exercised in accordance with an
     agreement which shall be entered into by the Secretary of the
     Treasury and the Attorney General." (Author's italics.)
        The secretary of the treasury is the titular head of the Secret
     Service, while the attorney general is in charge of the FBI. In
     Section (d), Congress shrugged off responsibility for the
     computer-crime turf battle between the Service and the Bureau,
     and made them fight it out all by themselves. The result was a
     rather dire one for the Secret Service, for the FBI ended up with
     exclusive jurisdiction over computer break-ins having to do with
     national security, foreign espionage, federally insured banks, and
     U.S. military bases, while retaining joint jurisdiction over all the
     other computer intrusions. Essentially, when it comes to Section
     1030, the FBI not only gets the real glamour stuff for itself, but
     can peer over the shoulder of the Secret Service and barge in to
     meddle whenever it suits them.
        The second problem has to do with the dicey term "Federal
     interest computer." Section 1030 (a)(2) makes it illegal to "access
     a computer without authorization" if that computer belongs to a
     financial institution or an issuer of credit cards (fraud cases, in
     other words). Congress was quite willing to give the Secret Ser-
     vice jurisdiction over money-transferring computers, but Con-
     gress balked at letting the Service investigate any and all
     computer intrusions. Instead, the USSS had to settle for the


    money machines and the "Federal interest computers." A "Fed-
    eral interest computer" is a computer that the government itself
    owns or is using. Large networks of interstate computers, linked
    over state lines, are also considered to be of federal interest. (This
    notion of federal interest is legally rather foggy and has never
    been clearly defined in the courts. The Secret Service has never
    yet had its hand slapped for investigating computer break-ins that
    were not of federal interest, but conceivably someday this might
       So the Secret Service's authority over "unauthorized access" to
    computers covers a lot of territory, but by no means the whole
    ball of cyberspatial wax. If you are, for instance, a local computer
    retailer, or the owner of a local bulletin board system, then a
    malicious local intruder can break in, crash your system, trash
    your files and scatter viruses, and the U.S. Secret Service cannot
    do a single thing about it.
       At least, it can't do anything directly. But the Secret Service
    will do plenty to help the local people who can.
'T'                                        The FBI may have dealt it-
 1 he tassel-toting Secret              self an ace off the bottom of
Service has ready-and-able               the deck when it comes to Sec-
                                         tion 1030; but that's not the
hacker-trackers installed in             whole story; that's not the
every state in the Union.               street. What Congress thinks is
                                        one thing, and Congress has
    been known to change its mind. The real turf struggle is out there
    in the streets where it's happening. If you're a local street cop
    with a computer problem, the Secret Service wants you to know
    where you can find the real expertise. While the Bureau crowd are
    off having their favorite shoes polished (wing tips) and making
    derisive fun of the Service's favorite shoes ("pansy-ass tassels"),
    the tassel-toting Secret Service has a crew of ready-and-able
    hacker-trackers installed in the capital of every state in the Union.
    Need advice? They'll give you advice, or at least point you in the
    right direction. Need training? They can see to that too.
       If you're a local cop and you call in the FBI, the FBI (as is
LAW AND ORDER                ooooooooooqoooooooooooooooo        171

widely and slanderously rumored) will order you around like a
coolie, take all the credit for your busts, and mop up every possi-
ble scrap of reflected glory. The Secret Service, on the other
hand, doesn't brag a lot. Secret Service agents are quiet types.
Very quiet. Very cool. Efficient. High tech. Mirror shades, icy
stares, radio earplugs, an Uzi machine-pistol tucked somewhere
in that well-cut jacket. American samurai, sworn to give their
lives to protect our President. "The granite agents." Trained in
martial arts, absolutely fearless. Every single one of 'em has a top-
secret security clearance. Something goes a little wrong, you're
not gonna hear any whining and moaning and political buck-
passing out of these guys.
    The facade of the granite agent is not, of course, the reality.
Secret Service agents are human beings. And the real glory in
Service work is not in battling computer crime-not yet, anyway
-but in protecting the President. The real glamour of Secret
Service work is in the White House detail. If you're at the Presi-
dent's side, then the kids and the wife see you on television; you
rub shoulders with the most powerful people in the world. That's
the real heart of Service work, the number-one priority. More
than one computer investigation has stopped dead in the water
when Service agents vanished at the President's need.
    There's romance in the work of the Service. The intimate ac-
cess to circles of great power; the esprit-de-corps of a highly
trained and disciplined elite; the high responsibility of defending
the Chief Executive; the fulfillment of a patriotic duty. And as
police work goes, the pay's not bad. But there's squalor in Service
work too. You may get spat upon by protesters howling abuse-
and if they get violent, if they get too close, sometimes you have
 to knock one of them down-discreetly.
    The real squalor in Service work is drudgery such as "the
quarterlies," traipsing out four times a year, year in, year out, to
interview the various pathetic wretches, many of them in prisons
and asylums, who have seen fit to threaten the President's life.
And then there's the grinding stress of searching all those faces in
 the endless bustling crowds, looking for hatred, looking for psy-
172   000000000000000000000000000   THE HACKER CRACKDOWN

chosis, looking for the tight, nervous face of an Arthur Bremer, a
Squeaky Fromme, a Lee Harvey Oswald. It's watching all those
grasping, waving hands for sudden movements, while your ears
strain at your radio headphone for the long-rehearsed cry of
    It's poring, in grinding detail, over the biographies of every
rotten loser who ever shot at a President. It's the unsung work of
the Protective Research Section, which studies scrawled, anony-
mous death threats with all the meticulous tools of antiforgery
   And it's maintaining the hefty computerized files on anyone
who ever threatened the President's life. Civil libertarians have
become increasingly concerned at the government's use of com-
puter files to track American citizens-but the Secret Service file
of potential presidential assassins, which contains upward of
twenty thousand names, rarely causes a peep of protest. If you
ever state that you intend to kill the President, the Secret Service
will want to know and record who you are, where you are, what
you are, and what you're up to. If you're a serious threat-if
you're officially considered "of protective interest"-then the Se-
cret Service may well keep tabs on you for the rest of your natural
    Protecting the President has first call on all the Service's re-
sources. But there's a lot more to the Service's traditions and
history than standing guard outside the Oval Office.
    The Secret Service is the nation's oldest general federal law-
enforcement agency. Compared to the Secret Service, the FBI are
new-hires and the CIA are temps. The Secret Service was
founded way back in 1865, at the suggestion of Hugh McCulloch,
Abraham Lincoln's secretary of the treasury. McCulloch wanted a
specialized Treasury police to combat counterfeiting. Abraham
Lincoln agreed that this seemed a good idea, and, with a terrible
irony, Abraham Lincoln was shot that very night by John Wilkes
    The Secret Service originally had nothing to do with protecting
LA W AND ORDER              000000000000000000000000000        173

Presidents. They didn't take this on as a regular assignment until
after the Garfield assassination in 1881. And they didn't get any
congressional money for it until President McKinley was shot in
1901. The Service was originally designed for one purpose: de-
stroying counterfeiters.

   There are interesting parallels between the Service's nine-
teenth-century entry into counterfeiting and America's twenti-
eth-century entry into computer crime.
   In 1865, America's paper currency was a terrible muddle. Secu-
rity was drastically bad. Currency was printed on the spot by local
banks in literally hundreds of different designs. No one really
knew what the heck a dollar bill was supposed to look like. Bogus
bills passed easily. If some joker told you that a one-dollar bill
from the Railroad Bank of Lowell, Massachusetts, had a woman
leaning on a shield, with a locomotive, a cornucopia, a compass,
various agricultural implements, a railroad bridge, and some fac-
tories, then you pretty much had to take his word for it. (And in
fact he was telling the truth!)
   Sixteen hundred local American banks designed and printed
their own paper currency, and there were no general standards for
security. Like a badly guarded node in a computer network, badly
designed bills were easy to fake and posed a security hazard for
the entire monetary system.
   No one knew the exact extent of the threat to the currency.
There were panicked estimates that as much as a third of the
entire national currency was faked. Counterfeiters-known as
"boodlers" in the underground slang of the time-were mostly
technically skilled printers who had gone bad. Many had once
worked printing legitimate currency. Boodlers operated in rings
and gangs. Technical experts engraved the bogus plates-com-
monly in basements in New York City. Smooth confidence men
passed large wads of high-quality, high-denomination fakes, in-
cluding the really sophisticated stuff-government bonds, stock
certificates, and railway shares. Cheaper, botched fakes were sold
174   000000000000000000000000000   THE HACKER CRACKDOWN

or sharewared to low-level gangs of boodler wannabes. (The really
cheesy lowlife boodlers merely upgraded real bills by altering face
values, changing ones to fives, tens to hundreds, and so on.)
   The techniques of boodling were little known and regarded
with a certain awe by the mid-nineteenth-century public. The
ability to manipulate the system for rip-off seemed diabolically
clever. As the skill and daring of the boodlers increased, the situa-
tion became intolerable. The federal government stepped in and
began offering its own federal currency, which was printed in
fancy green ink, but only on the back-the original "greenbacks."
And at first, the improved security of the well-designed, well-
printed federal greenbacks seemed to solve the problem; but then
the counterfeiters caught on. Within a few years things were
worse than ever: a centralized system where all security was bad!
   The local police were helpless. The government tried offering
blood money to potential informants, but this met with little
success. Banks, plagued by boodling, gave up hope of police help
and hired private security men instead. Merchants and bankers
queued up by the thousands to buy privately printed manuals on
currency security, slim little books such as Laban Heath's Infalli-
ble Government Counterfeit Detector. The back of the book of-
fered Heath's patent microscope for five bucks.
   Then the Secret Service entered the picture. The first agents
were a rough and ready crew. Their chief was one William P.
Wood, a former guerilla in the Mexican War who'd won a reputa-
tion busting contractor fraudsters for the War Department dur-
ing the Civil War. Wood, who was also Keeper of the Capital
Prison, had a sideline as a counterfeiting expert, bagging boodlers
for the federal bounty money.
   Wood was named chief of the new Secret Service in July 1865.
There were only ten agents in all: Wood himself, a handful who'd
worked for him in the War Department, and a few former private
investigators-counterfeiting experts-whom Wood had won
over to public service. (The Secret Service of 1865 was much the
size of the Chicago Computer Fraud Task Force or the Arizona
Racketeering Unit of 1990.) These ten "Operatives" had an addi-

 tional twenty or so "Assistant Operatives" and "Informants." Be-
 sides salary and per diem, each Secret Service employee received
 a whopping twenty-five dollars for each boodler he captured.
    Wood himself publicly esti-      III
 mated that at least half of          VV ood estimated that at
America's currency was coun-           least half of America's
terfeit, a perhaps pardonable
perception. Within a year the          currency was counterfeit.
Secret Service had arrested
over two hundred counterfeiters. They busted about two hundred
boodlers a year for four years straight.
   Wood attributed his success to traveling fast and light, hitting
the bad guys hard, and avoiding bureaucratic baggage. "Because
my raids were made without military escort and I did not ask the
assistance of state officers, I surprised the professional counter-
   Wood's social message to the once-impudent boodlers bore an
eerie ring of Sundevil: "It was also my purpose to convince such
characters that it would no longer be healthy for them to ply their
vocation without being handled roughly, a fact they soon discov-
    William P. Wood, the Secret Service's guerilla pioneer, did not
 end well. He succumbed to the lure of aiming for the really big
 score. The notorious Brockway Gang of New York City, headed by
 William E. Brockway, the "King of the Counterfeiters," had
 forged a number of government bonds. They'd passed these bril-
liant fakes on the prestigious Wall Street investment firm of Jay
Cooke and Company. The Cooke firm was frantic and offered a
huge reward for the forgers' plates.
    Laboring diligently, Wood confiscated the plates (though not
\Ir. Brockway) and claimed the reward. But the Cooke company
treacherously reneged. Wood got involved in a down-and-dirty
lawsuit with the Cooke capitalists. Wood's boss, Secretary of the
Treasury McCulloch, felt that Wood's demands for money and
glory were unseemly, and even when the reward money finally
came through, McCulloch refused to pay Wood anything. Wood

              found himself mired in a seemingly endless round of federal suits
              and congressional lobbying.
                 Wood never got his money..\TId he lost his job to boot. He
              resigned in 1869.
                 Wood's agents suffered too. On :\Iay 12, 1869, the second
              chief of the Secret Service took m-er, and almost immediately
              fired most of Wood's pioneer Secret Sen-ice agents: operatives,
              assistants, and informants alike. The practice of receiving twenty-
              five dollars per crook was abolished..-\nd the Secret Service began
              the long, uncertain process of thorough professionalization.
                 Wood ended badly. He must have felt stabbed in the back. In
              fact his entire organization was mangled.
                  On the other hand, William P. \ \ 'ood was the first head of the
              Secret Service. William Wood was the pioneer. People still honor
              his name. Who remembers the name of the second head of the
              Secret Service?
                 As for William Brockway (also known as "Colonel Spencer"),
              he was finally arrested by the Secret Service in 1880. He did five
              years in prison, got out, and was still boodling at the age of

                 Anyone with an interest in Operation Sundevil-s-or in Ameri-
              can computer crime generally-could scarcely miss the presence
              of Gail Thackeray, Assistant Attorney General of the State of
              Arizona. Computer-crime training manuals often cited Thack-
              eray's group and her work; she was the highest-ranking state offi-
              cial to specialize in computer-related offenses. Her name had
              been on the Sundevil press release I though modestly ranked well
              after the local federal prosecuting attornev and the head of the
              Phoenix Secret Service office).
                 As public commentary, and controversv, began to mount about
              the Hacker Crackdown, this A.rizona state official began to
              achieve a higher and higher public profile. Though uttering al-
              most nothing specific about the Sundevil operation itself, she
              coined some of the most striking soundbites of the growing pro-
              paganda war: "Agents are operating in good faith, and I don't

.------   -


think you can say that for the hacker community" was one. An-
other was the memorable "I am not a mad dog prosecutor"
(Houston Chronicle, September 2, 1990). In the meantime, the
Secret Service maintained its usual extreme discretion; the Chi-
cago Unit, smarting from the backlash of the Steve Jackson scan-
dal, had gone completely to earth.
   As I collated my growing pile of newspaper clippings, Gail
Thackeray ranked as a comparative fount of public knowledge on
police operations.
   I decided that I had to get to know Gail Thackeray. I wrote to
her at the Arizona Attorney General's Office. Not only did she
kindly reply to me, but, to my astonishment, she knew very well
what "cyberpunk" science fiction was.
   Shortly after this, Gail Thackeray lost her job. And I temporar-
ily misplaced my own career as a science-fiction writer, to become
a full-time computer-crime journalist. In early March 1991, I flew
to Phoenix, Arizona, to interview Gail Thackeray for my book on
the hacker crackdown.

   "Credit cards didn't used to cost anything to get," says Gail
Thackeray. "Now they cost forty bucks-and that's all just to
cover the costs from rip-off artists."
   Electronic nuisance criminals are parasites. One by one they're
not much harm, no big deal. But they never come just one by
one. They come in swarms, heaps, legions, sometimes whole sub-
cultures. And they bite. Every time we buy a credit card today, we
lose a little financial vitality to a particular species of bloodsucker.
   What, in her expert opinion, are the worst forms of electronic
crime, I ask, consulting my notes. Is it credit card fraud? Breaking
into ATM bank machines? Phone-phreaking? Computer intru-
sions? Software viruses? Access-code theft? Records tampering?
Software piracy? Pornographic bulletin boards? Satellite TV
piracy? Theft of cable service? It's a long list. By the time I reach
the end of it I feel rather depressed.
   "Oh, no," says Gail Thackeray, leaning forward over the table,
her whole body gone stiff with energetic indignation, "the biggest

damage is telephone fraud. Fake sweepstakes, fake charities.
Boiler-room con operations. You could payoff the national debt
with what these guys steal. . . . They target old people, they get
hold of credit ratings and demographics, they rip off the old and
the weak." The words come tumbling out of her.
   It's low-tech stuff, your everyday boiler-room fraud. Grifters,
conning people out of money over the phone, have been around
for decades. This is where the word "phony" came from!
   It's just that it's so much easier now, horribly facilitated by
advances in technology and the byzantine structure of the mod-
ern phone system. The same professional fraudsters do it over
and over, Thackeray tells me, hiding behind dense onion shells of
fake companies . . . fake holding corporations nine or ten layers
deep, registered all over the map. They get a phone installed
under a false name in an empty safe house. And then they call-
forward everything out of that phone to yet another phone, a
phone that may even be in another state. And they don't even
pay the charges on their phones; after a month or so, they just
split. Set up somewhere else in another Podunkville with the
same seedy crew of veteran phone crooks. They buy or steal com-
mercial credit card reports, slap them on the PC, have a program
pick out people over sixty-five who pay a lot to charities. A whole
subculture living off this, merciless folks on the con.
   "The 'light bulbs for the blind' people," Thackeray muses,
with a special loathing. "There's just no end to them."
   We're sitting in a downtown diner in Phoenix, Arizona. It's a
tough town, Phoenix. A state capital seeing some hard times.
Even to a Texan like myself, Arizona state politics seem rather
baroque. There was, and remains, endless trouble over the Martin
Luther King holiday, the sort of stiff-necked, foot-shooting inci-
dent for which Arizona politics seem famous. There was Evan
Mecham, the eccentric Republican millionaire governor who was
impeached, after reducing state government to a ludicrous sham-
bles. Then there was the national Keating scandal, involving Ari-
zona savings and loans, in which both of Arizona's U.S. senators,
DeConcini and McCain, played sadly prominent roles.
    LAW AND ORDER                QRoooOOgOROOOOQROOOOOOOOQOO        179

       And the very latest is the bizarre AzScam case, in which seven
    state legislators were videotaped, eagerly taking cash from an in-
    formant of the Phoenix city police department, who was posing
    as a Vegas mobster.
       "Oh," Thackeray says cheerfully. "These people are amateurs
    here, they thought they were finally getting to play with the big
    boys. They don't have the least idea how to take a bribe! It's not
    institutional corruption. It's not like back in Philly."
       Gail Thackeray was a former prosecutor in Philadelphia. Now
    she's a former assistant attorney general of the state of Arizona.
    Since moving to Arizona in 1986, she had worked under the aegis
    of Steve Twist, her boss in the attorney general's office. Steve
    Twist wrote Arizona's pioneering computer crime laws and natu-
    rally took an interest in seeing them enforced. It was a snug
    niche, and Thackeray's Organized Crime and Racketeering Unit
    won a national reputation for ambition and technical knowledge-
    ability . . . until the latest election in Arizona. Thackeray's boss
    ran for the top job and lost. The victor, the new attorney general,
    apparently went to some pains to eliminate the bureaucratic
    traces of his rival, including his pet group-Thackeray's group.
    Twelve people got their walking papers.
       Now Thackeray's painstakingly assembled computer lab sits
    gathering dust somewhere in the glass-and-concrete Attorney
    General's HQ on 1275 Washington Street. Her computer-crime
    books, her painstakingly garnered back issues of phreak and
    hacker zines-all bought at her own expense-are piled in boxes
    somewhere. The state of Arizona is simply not particularly inter-
    ested in electronic racketeering at the moment.
       At the moment of our interview, Gail Thackeray, officially un-
    employed, is working out of the county sheriff's office, living on
    her savings, and prosecuting several cases-working sixty-hour
    weeks, just as always-for no pay at all. "I'm trying to train peo-
    ple," she mutters.
        Half her life seems to be spent training people-merely point-
    ing out, to the naive and incredulous (such as myself), that this
    stuff is actually going on out there. It's a small world, computer
       180 •••••••••••••••••   11.........   THE HACKER CRACKDOWN

     crime. A young world. Gail Thackeray, a trim blond Baby Boomer
      who favors Grand Canyon white-water rafting to kill some slow
      time, is one of the world's most senior, most veteran hacker-
      trackers. Her mentor was Donn Parker, the California think-tank
      theorist who got it all started way back in the mid-1970s, the
      "grandfather of the field," "the great bald eagle of computer
      cnme. "
          And what she has learned, Gail Thackeray teaches. Endlessly.
      Tirelessly. To anybody. To Secret Service agents and state police,
      at the Glynco, Georgia, federal training center. To local police, on
      "roadshows" with her slide projector and notebook. To corporate
      security personnel. To journalists. To parents.
                                            Even crooks look to Gail
   S ometimes whole crowds               Thackeray for advice. Phone
   of phone phreaks will call           phreaks call her at the office.
                                        They know very well who she
   Gail Thackeray.                      is. They pump her for informa-
                                        tion on what the cops are up
     to, how much they know. Sometimes whole crowds of phone
     phreaks, hanging out on illegal conference calls, will call Gail
     Thackeray up. They taunt her. And, as always, they boast. Phone
     phreaks, real stone phone phreaks, simply cannot shut up. They
     natter on for hours.
        Left to themselves, they talk mostly about the intricacies of
     ripping off phones; it's about as interesting as listening to hot-
     rodders talk about suspension and distributor caps. They also
     gossip cruelly about each other. And when talking to Gail Thack-
     eray, they incriminate themselves. "I have tapes," Thackeray says
        Phone phreaks just talk like crazy. "Dial-Tone" out in Alabama
     has been known to spend half an hour simply reading stolen
     phone codes aloud into voice-mail answering machines. Hun-
     dreds, thousands of numbers, recited in a monotone, without a
     break-an eerie phenomenon. When arrested, it's a rare phone
     phreak who doesn't inform at endless length on everybody he

-------_.       -   -----------

       Hackers are no better. What other group of criminals, she asks
    rhetorically, publishes newsletters and holds conventions? She
    seems deeply nettled by the sheer brazenness of this behavior,
    though to an outsider, this activity might make one wonder
    whether hackers should be considered "criminals" at all. Skate-
    boarders have magazines, and they trespass a lot. Hot-rod people
    have magazines and they break speed limits and sometimes kill
    people. . . .
       I ask her whether it would be any loss to society if phone
    phreaking and computer hacking, as hobbies, simply dried up and
    blew away, so that nobody ever did it again.
       She seems surprised. "No," she says swiftly. "Maybe a little
    . . . in the old days . . . the MIT stuff. . . . But there's a lot
    of wonderful, legal stuff you can do with computers now, you
    don't have to break into somebody else's just to learn. You don't
    have that excuse. You can learn all you like."
       Did you ever hack into a system? I ask.
       The trainees do it at Glynco. Just to demonstrate system vul-
    nerabilities. She's cool to the notion. Genuinely indifferent.
       "What kind of computer do you have?"
       "A Compaq 286LE," she mutters.
       "What kind do you wish you had?"
       At this question, the unmistakable light of true hackerdom
    flares in Gail Thackeray's eyes. She becomes tense, animated, the
    words pour out: "An Amiga 2000 with an IBM card and Mac
    emulation! The most common hacker machines are Amigas and
    Commodores. And Apples." If she had the Amiga, she enthuses,
    she could run a whole galaxy of seized computer-evidence disks
    on one convenient multifunctional machine. A cheap one too.
    Not like the old attorney general lab, where they had an ancient
    CP/M machine, assorted Amiga flavors and Apple flavors, a cou-
    ple IBMs, all the utility software . . . but no Commodores. The
    workstations down at the attorney general's are Wang dedicated
    word processors. Lame machines tied into an office net-though
    at least they get on-line to the Lexis and Westlaw legal data



182   oOOOOOOaoOllOllllllllOllOOOOllOgoll   THE HACKER CRACKDOWN

   I don't say anything. I recognize the syndrome, though. This
computer fever has been running through segments of our society
for years now. It's a strange kind of lust: K hunger, meg hunger;
but it's a shared disease; it can kill parties dead, as conversation
spirals into the deepest and most deviant recesses of software
releases and expensive peripherals. . . . The mark of the hacker
beast. I have it too. The whole "electronic community," whatever
the hell that is, has it. Gail Thackeray has it. Gail Thackeray is a
hacker cop. My immediate reaction is a strong rush of indignant
pity: Why doesn't somebody buy this woman her Amiga?! It's not
like she's asking for a Cray X-MP supercomputer mainframe; an
Amiga's a sweet little cookie-box thing. We're losing zillions in
organized fraud; prosecuting and defending a single hacker case
in court can cost a hundred grand easy. How come nobody can
come up with four lousy grand so this woman can do her job? For
a hundred grand we could buy every computer cop in America an
Amiga. There aren't that many of 'em.
    Computers. The lust, the hunger, for computers. The loyalty
they inspire, the intense sense of possessiveness. The culture they
have bred. I myself am sitting in downtown Phoenix, Arizona,
because it suddenly occurred to me that the police might-just
might-come and take away my computer. The prospect of this,
the mere implied threat, was unbearable. It literally changed my
life. It was changing the lives of many others. Eventually it would
change everybody's life.
    Gail Thackeray was one of the top computer-crime people in
America. And I was just some novelist, and yet I had a better
computer than hers. Practically everybody I knew had a better
computer than Gail Thackeray and her feeble laptop 286. It was
like sending the sheriff in to clean up Dodge City and arming her
with a slingshot cut from an old rubber tire.
    But then again, you don't need a howitzer to enforce the law.
You can do a lot just with a badge. With a badge alone, you can
basically wreak havoc, take a terrible vengeance on wrongdoers.
Ninety percent of "computer crime investigation" is just "crime

investigation": names, places, dossiers, modus operandi, search
warrants, victims, complainants, informants. . . .
   What will computer crime look like in ten years? Will it get
better? Did Sundevil send'em reeling back in confusion?
   It'll be like it is now, only     C
worse, she tells me with perfect         riminals often are some
conviction. Still there in the        of the first through the
background, ticking along,
changing with the times: the          gate of a new technology.
criminal underworld. It'll be
like drugs are. Like our problems with alcohol. All the cops and
laws in the world never solved our problems with alcohol. If
there's something people want, a certain percentage of them are
just going to take it. Fifteen percent of the populace will never
steal. Fifteen percent will steal most anything not nailed down.
The battle is for the hearts and minds of the remaining 70 per-
   And criminals catch on fast. If there's not "too steep a learning
curve"-if it doesn't require a baffling amount of expertise and
practice-then criminals often are some of the first through the
gate of a new technology. Especially if it helps them to hide.
They have tons of cash, criminals. The new communications tech
-pagers, cellular phones, faxes, Federal Express-were pioneered
by rich corporate people and by criminals. In the early years of
pagers and beepers, dope dealers were so enthralled by this tech-
nology that owning a beeper was practically prima facie evidence
of cocaine dealing. CB radio exploded when the speed limit was
reduced to 55 and breaking the highway law became a national
pastime. Dope dealers send cash by Federal Express, despite, or
perhaps because of, the warnings in FedEx offices that tell you
never to try this. Fed Ex uses X rays and dogs on its mail, to stop
drug shipments. That doesn't work very well.
   Drug dealers went wild over cellular phones. There are simple
methods of faking IDs on cellular phones, making the location of
the call mobile, free of charge, and effectively untraceable. Now
184   000000000000000000000000000   THE HACKER CRACKDOWN

victimized cellular companies routinely bring in vast toll lists of
calls to Colombia and Pakistan.
   Judge Greene's fragmentation of the phone company is driving
law enforcement nuts. Four thousand telecommunications com-
panies. Fraud skyrocketing. Every temptation in the world avail-
able with a phone and a credit card number. Criminals
untraceable. A galaxy of "new neat rotten things to do."
   If there was one thing Thackeray would like to have, it would
be an effective legal end-run through this new fragmentation
   It would be a new form of electronic search warrant, an "elec-
tronic letter of marque" to be issued by a judge. It would create a
new category of "electronic emergency." Like a wiretap, its use
would be rare, but it would cut across state lines and force swift
cooperation from all concerned. Cellular, phone, laser, computer
network, PBXes, AT&T, Baby Bells, long-distance entrepreneurs,
packet radio. Some document, some mighty court order, that
could slice through four thousand separate forms of corporate red
tape and get her at once to the source of calls, the source of
e-mail threats and viruses, the sources of bomb threats, kidnap-
ping threats. "From now on," she says, "the Lindberg baby will
always die."
   Something that would make the Net sit still, if only for a mo-
ment. Something that would get her up to speed. Seven-league
boots. That's what she really needs. "Those guys move in nano-
seconds and I'm on the Pony Express."
   And then too, there's the coming international angle. Electronic
crime has never been easy to localize, to tie to a physical jurisdic-
tion. And phone phreaks and hackers loathe boundaries, they jump
them whenever they can. The English. The Dutch. And the Ger-
mans, especially the ubiquitous Chaos Computer Club. The Aus-
tralians. They've all learned phone phreaking from America. It's a
growth mischief industry. The multinational networks are global,
but governments and the police simply aren't. Neither are the
laws. Or the legal frameworks for citizen protection.
LAW AND ORDER             oooooooooooooooooooooopoooo     185

   One language is global, though-English. Phone phreaks speak
English; it's their native tongue even if they're Germans. English
may have started in England but now it's the Net language; it
might as well be called "CNNese."
   Asians just aren't much into phone phreaking. They're the
world masters at organized software piracy. The French aren't
into phone phreaking either. The French are into computerized
industrial espionage.
   In the old days of the MIT
righteous hackerdom, crashing         Hackers in Amtrak
systems didn't hurt anybody.
                                      computers, or in air-traffic
Not all that much, anyway. Not
permanently. Now the players          control computers, will kill
are more venal. Now the conse-        somebody someday.
quences are worse. Hacking
will begin killing people soon. Hackers in Amtrak computers, or
in air-traffic control computers, will kill somebody someday.
Maybe a lot of people. Gail Thackeray expects it.
   And the viruses are getting nastier. The "Scud" virus is the
latest one out. It wipes hard disks.
   According to Thackeray, the idea that phone phreaks are Robin
Hoods is a fraud. They don't deserve this repute. Basically, they
pick on the weak. AT&T now protects itself with the fearsome
ANI (Automatic Number Identification) trace capability. When
AT&T wised up and tightened security generally, the phreaks
drifted into the Baby Bells. The Baby Bells lashed out in 1989 and
1990, so the phreaks switched to smaller long-distance entrepre-
neurs. Today, they are moving into locally owned PBXes and
voice-mail systems, which are full of security holes, dreadfully
easy to hack. These victims aren't the moneybags Sheriff of Not-
tingham or Bad King John, but small groups of innocent people
who find it hard to protect themselves and who really suffer from
these depredations. Phone phreaks pick on the weak. They do it
for power. If it was legal, they wouldn't do it. They don't want
service, or knowledge, they want the thrill of power-tripping.

There's plenty of knowledge or service around, if you're willing to
pay. Phone phreaks don't pay, they steal. It's because it is illegal
that it feels like power, that it gratifies their vanity.
   I leave Gail Thackeray with a handshake at the door of her
office building-a vast International Style office building down-
town. The sheriff's office is renting part of it. I get the vague
impression that quite a lot of the building is empty-real estate
   In a Phoenix sports apparel store, in a downtown mall, I meet
the "Sun Devil" himself. He is the cartoon mascot of Arizona
State University, whose football stadium, Sundevil, is near the
local Secret Service HQ-hence the name Operation Sundevil.
The Sun Devil himself is named "Sparky." Sparky the Sun Devil
is maroon and bright yellow, the school colors. Sparky brandishes
a three-tined yellow pitchfork. He has a small mustache, pointed
ears, a barbed tail, and is dashing forward jabbing the air with the
pitchfork, with an expression of devilish glee.
   Phoenix was the home of Operation Sundevil. The Legion of
Doom ran a hacker bulletin board called The Phoenix Project. An
Australian hacker named "Phoenix" once burrowed through the
Internet to attack Cliff Stoll, then bragged and boasted about it
to The New York Times. This net of coincidence is both odd and
   The headquarters of the Arizona attorney general, Gail Thack-
eray's former workplace, is on 1275 Washington Avenue. Many of
the downtown streets in Phoenix are named after prominent
American presidents: Washington, Jefferson, Madison. . . .
   After dark, all the employees go home to their suburbs. Wash-
ington, Jefferson, and Madison-what would be the Phoenix
inner city, if there was an inner city in this sprawling automobile-
bred town-become the haunts of transients and derelicts. The
homeless. The sidewalks along Washington are lined with orange
trees. Ripe fallen fruit lies scattered like croquet balls on the
sidewalks and gutters. No one seems to be eating them. I try a
fresh one. It tastes unbearably bitter.
   The attorney general's office, built in 1981 during the Babbitt
LAW AND ORDER                ooooooogooooooooooooooooooo         187

administration, is a long low two-story building of white cement
and wall-size sheets of curtain glass. Behind each glass wall is a
lawyer's office, quite open and visible to anyone strolling by.
Across the street is a dour government building labeled simply
ECONOMIC SECURITY, something that has not been in great supply in
the American Southwest lately.
    The offices are about twelve feet square. They feature tall
wooden cases full of red-spined lawbooks; Wang computer
monitors; telephones; Post-it notes galore. Also framed law diplo-
mas and a general excess of bad Western landscape art. Ansel
Adams photos are a big favorite, perhaps to compensate for the
dismal specter of the parking lot, two acres of striped black
asphalt, which features gravel landscaping and some sickly look-
ing barrel cacti.
    It has grown dark. Gail Thackeray has told me that the people
who work late here are afraid of muggings in the parking lot. It
seems cruelly ironic that a woman tracing electronic racketeers
across the interstate labyrinth of cyberspace should fear an assault
by a homeless derelict in the parking lot of her own workplace.
    Perhaps this is less than coincidence. Perhaps these two seem-
ingly disparate worlds are somehow generating one another.
The poor and disenfranchised take to the streets, while the rich
and computer-equipped, safe in their bedrooms, chatter over
 their modems. Quite often the derelicts kick the glass out and
 break in to the lawyers' offices, if they see something they need or
 want badly enough.
    I cross the parking lot to the street behind the attorney gen-
 eral's office. A pair of young tramps are bedding down on flat-
 tened sheets of cardboard, under an alcove stretching over the
 sidewalk. One tramp wears a glitter-covered T-shirt reading CALI-
 FORNIA in Coca-Cola cursive. His nose and cheeks look chafed and
 swollen; they glisten with what seems to be Vaseline. The other
 tramp has a ragged long-sleeved shirt and lank brown hair parted
 in the middle. They both wear blue jeans coated in grime. They
 are both drunk.
    "You guys crash here a lot?" I ask them .
188   oooooooooooooooooORoooooooo   THE HACKER CRACKDOWN

   They look at me warily. I am wearing black jeans, a black pin-
striped suit jacket, and a black silk tie. I have odd shoes and a
funny haircut.
   "It's our first time here," says the red-nosed tramp unconvinc-
ingly. There is a lot of cardboard stacked here. More than any two
people could use.
   "We usually stay at the Vinnie's down the street," says the
brown-haired tramp, puffing a Marlboro with a meditative air as
he sprawls with his head on a blue nylon backpack. "The Saint
   "You know who works in that building over there?" I ask,
   The brown-haired tramp shrugs. "Some kind of attorneys, it
   We urge one another to take it easy. I give thern five bucks.
   A block down the street I meet a vigorous workman who is
wheeling along some kind of industrial trolley; it has what ap-
pears to be a tank of propane on it.
   We make eye contact. We nod politely. I walk past him. "Hey!
Excuse me, sir!" he says.
   "Yes?" I say, stopping and turning.
   "Have you seen," the guy says rapidly, "a black guy, about six
foot seven, scars on both his cheeks like this"-he gestures-
"wears a black baseball cap on backward, wandering around here
   "Sounds like I don't much want to meet him," I say.
   "He took my wallet," says my new acquaintance. "Took it this
morning. Y'know, some people would be scared of a guy like that.
But I'm not scared. I'm from Chicago. I'm gonna hunt him down.
We do things like that in Chicago."
   "I went to the cops and now he's got an APB out on his ass,"
he says with satisfaction. "You run into him, you let me know."
   "Okay," I say. "What is your name, sir?"
   "And how can I reach you?"

                            - - - - - - - - - - - - ._--_       ..   _-------

   "Oh," Stanley says, in the same rapid voice, "you don't have to
reach, uh, me. You can just call the cops. Go straight to the
cops." He reaches into a pocket and pulls out a greasy piece of
pasteboard. "See, here's my report on him."
   I look. The "report," the size of an index card, is labeled
"PRO-ACT: Phoenix Residents Opposing Active Crime Threat."
Or is it "Organized Against Crime Threat"? In the darkening
street it's hard to read. Some kind of vigilante group? Neighbor-
hood watch? I feel very puzzled.
   "Are you a police officer, sir?"
   He smiles, seems very pleased by the question.
   "No," he says.
   "But you are a 'Phoenix Resident'?"
   "Would you believe a homeless person," Stanley says.
   "Really? But what's with the . . ." For the first time I take a
close look at Stanley's trolley. It's a rubber-wheeled thing of in-
dustrial metal, but the device I had mistaken for a tank of pro-
pane is in fact a water cooler. Stanley also has an army duffel bag,
stuffed tight as a sausage with clothing or perhaps a tent, and, at
the base of his trolley, a cardboard box and a battered leather
   "I see," I say, quite at a loss. For the first time I notice that
Stanley has a wallet. He has not lost his wallet at all. It is in his
back pocket and chained to his belt. It's not a new wallet. It
seems to have seen a lot of wear.
   "Well, you know how it is, brother," says Stanley. Now that I
know that he is homeless-a possible threat-my entire percep-
tion of him has changed in an instant. His speech, which once
seemed just bright and enthusiastic, now seems to have a danger-
ous tang of mania. "I have to do this!" he assures me. "Track this
guy down . . . . It's a thing I do . . . you know . . . to keep
myself together!" He smiles, nods, lifts his trolley by its decaying
rubber handgrips.
   "Gotta work together, y'know,' Stanley booms, his face alight
with cheerfulness. "The police can't do everything!"
   The gentlemen I met in my stroll in downtown Phoenix are

the only computer illiterates in this book. To regard them as
irrelevant, however, would be a grave mistake. As computeriza-
tion spreads across society, the populace at large is subjected to
wave after wave of future shock. But, as a necessary converse, the
"computer community" itself is subjected to wave after wave of
incoming computer illiterates. How will those currently enjoying
America's digital bounty regard, and treat, all this teeming refuse
yearning to breathe free? Will the electronic frontier be another
Land of Opportunity-or an armed and monitored enclave,
where the disenfranchised snuggle on their cardboard at the
locked doors of our houses of justice?
    Some people just don't get along with computers. They can't
read. They can't type. They just don't have it in their heads to
master arcane instructions from wirebound manuals. Somewhere,
the process of computerization of the populace will reach a limit.
Some people-quite decent people maybe, who might have
thrived in any other situation-will be left irretrievably outside
the bounds. What's to be done with these people, in the bright
new shiny electroworld? How will they be regarded by the mouse-
whizzing masters of cyberspace? With contempt? Indifference?
    In retrospect, it astonishes me to realize how quickly poor
Stanley became a perceived threat. Surprise and fear are closely
allied feelings. And the world of computing is full of surprises.
    I met one character in the streets of Phoenix whose role in this
book is supremely and directly relevant. That personage was Stan-
ley's giant thieving scarred phantom. This phantasm is every-
where in this book. He is the specter haunting cyberspace.
    Sometimes he's a maniac vandal ready to smash the phone
system for no sane reason at all. Sometimes he's a fascist Fed,
coldly programming his mighty mainframes to destroy our Bill of
 Rights. Sometimes he's a tel co bureaucrat, covertly conspiring to
 register all modems in the service of an Orwellian surveillance
regime. Mostly, though, this fearsome phantom is a hacker. He's
 strange, he doesn't belong, he's not authorized, he doesn't smell
 right, he's not keeping his proper place, he's not one of us. The
   LAW AND ORDER               oooooooooooooogooooogoooooo       191

   focus of fear is the hacker, for much the same reasons that Stan-
   ley's fancied assailant is black.
      Stanley's demon can't go away, because he doesn't exist. De-
   spite singleminded and tremendous effort, he can't be arrested,
   sued, jailed, or fired. The only constructive way to do anything
   about him is to learn more about Stanley himself. This learning
   process may be repellent, it may be ugly, it may involve grave
   elements of paranoiac confusion, but it's necessary. Knowing
   Stanley requires something more than class-crossing condescen-
   sion. It requires more than steely legal objectivity. It requires
   human compassion and sympathy.
      To know Stanley is to know his demon. If you know the other
   guy's demon, then maybe you'll come to know some of your own.
   You'll be able to separate reality from illusion. And then you
   won't do your cause, and yourself, more harm than good. Like
   poor damned Stanley from Chicago did.

      The Federal Computer Investigations Committee (FCIC) is
   the most important and influential organization in the realm of
   American computer crime. Because the police of other countries
   have largely taken their computer-crime cues from American
   methods, the FCIC might well be called the most important
   computer crime group in the world.
      It is also, by federal standards, an organization of great
   unorthodoxy. State and local investigators mix with federal
   agents. Lawyers, financial auditors, and computer-security pro-
   grammers trade notes with street cops. Industry vendors and telco
   security people show up to explain their gadgetry and plead for
   protection and justice. Private investigators, think-tank experts,
   and industry pundits throw in their two cents' worth. The FCIC
   is the antithesis of a formal bureaucracy.
      Members of the FCIC are obscurely proud of this fact; they
   recognize their group as aberrant but are entirely convinced that
   this, for them, outright weird behavior is nevertheless absolutely
   necessary to get their jobs done.
      FCIC regulars-from the Secret Service, the FBI, the Internal

192   ooooooooooooooooooOOQOOOOOO   THE HACKER CRACKDOWN

Revenue Service, the Department of Labor, the offices of federal
attorneys, state police, the air force, from military intelligence-
often attend meetings, held hither and thither across the country,
at their own expense. The FCIC doesn't get grants. It doesn't
charge membership fees. It doesn't have a boss. It has no head-
quarters-just a mail drop in Washington, D.C., at the Fraud
Division of the Secret Service. It doesn't have a budget. It doesn't
have schedules. It meets three times a year-sort of. Sometimes
it issues publications, but the FCIC has no regular publisher, no
treasurer, not even a secretary. There are no minutes of FCIC
meetings. Nonfederal people are considered "nonvoting mem-
bers," but there's not much in the way of elections. There are no
badges, lapel pins, or certificates of membership. Everyone is on a
first-name basis. There are about forty of them. Nobody knows
how many, exactly. People come, people go-sometimes people
"go" formally but still hang around anyway. Nobody has ever
exactly figured out what "membership" of this "committee" ac-
tually entails.
    Strange as this may seem to some, to anyone familiar with the
social world of computing, the "organization" of the FCIC is very
    For years now, economists and management theorists have
speculated that the tidal wave of the information revolution
would destroy rigid, pyramidal bureaucracies, where everything is
top-down and centrally controlled. Highly trained "employees"
would take on much greater autonomy, being self-starting and
self-motivating, moving from place to place, task to task, with
great speed and fluidity. "Ad-hocracy" would rule, with groups of
people spontaneously knitting together across organizational
lines, tackling the problem at hand, applying intense computer-
aided expertise to it, and then vanishing whence they came.
    This is more or less what has actually happened in the world of
federal computer investigation. With the conspicuous exception
of the phone companies, which are after all over a hundred years
old, practically every organization that plays any important role in
this book functions just like the FCIC. The Chicago Task Force,

----- - - - - - - - - - - - - -
        LAW AND ORDER                000000000000000000000000000         193

        the Arizona Racketeering Unit, the Legion of Doom, the Phrack
        crowd, the Electronic Frontier Foundation-they all look and act
        like "tiger teams" or "users' groups." They are all electronic ad-
        hocracies leaping up spontaneously to attempt to meet a need.
           Some are police. Some are, by strict definition, criminals.
        Some are political interest groups. But every single group has that
        same quality of apparent spontaneity: "Hey, gang! My uncle's got
        a barn-let's put on a show!"
           Everyone of these groups is embarrassed by this "amateur-
        ism," and, for the sake of their public image in a world of
        noncomputer people, they all attempt to look as stern and formal
        and impressive as possible. These electronic frontier dwellers re-
        semble groups of nineteenth-century pioneers hankering after the
        respectability of statehood. There are, however, two crucial differ-
        ences in the historical experience of these "pioneers" of the nine-
        teenth and twenty-first centuries.
           First, powerful information technology does play into the
        hands of small, fluid, loosely organized groups. There have always
        been pioneers, hobbyists, amateurs, dilettantes, volunteers,
        movements, users' groups, and blue-ribbon panels of experts
        around. But a group of this kind-when technically equipped to
        ship huge amounts of specialized information, at lightning speed,
        to its members, to government, and to the press-is simply a
        different kind of animal. It's like the difference between an eel
        and an electric eel.
           The second crucial change is that American society is currently
        in a state approaching permanent technological revolution. In the
        world of computers particularly, it is practically impossible ever to
        stop being a "pioneer," unless you either drop dead or deliber-
        ately jump off the bus. The scene has never slowed down enough
        to become well institutionalized. And after twenty, thirty, forty
        years, the "computer revolution" continues to spread, to perme-
        ate new corners of society. Anything that really works is already
           If you spend your entire working life as a "pioneer," the word
        begins to lose its meaning. Your way of life looks less and less like

...--                         ------------------ ----
     194   000000000000000000000000000   THE HACKER CRACKDOWN

   an introduction to "something else" more stable and organized,
   and more and more like just the way things are. A "permanent
    revolution" is really a contradiction in terms. If "turmoil" lasts
   long enough, it simply becomes a new kind of society-still the
   same game of history, but new players, new rules.
      Apply this to the world of late twentieth-century law enforce-
    ment, and the implications are novel and puzzling indeed. Any
   bureaucratic rulebook you write about computer crime will be
   flawed when you write it and almost an antique by the time it
   sees print. The fluidity and fast reactions of the FCIC give it a
                                       great advantage in this regard,
If  the FCIC went over a               which explains its success.
                                       Even with the best will in the
cliff in a bus, the U.S.
                                       world (which it does not, in
law enforcement                        fact, possess), it is impossible
community would be                     for an organization the size of
                                       the u.s. Federal Bureau of In-
rendered deaf, dumb, and               vestigation to get up to speed
blind in the world of                  on the theory and practice of
                                       computer crime. If it tried to
computer crime.                        train all its agents to do this, it
   would be suicidal, as the Bureau would never be able to do any-
     thing else.
        The FBI does try to train its agents in the basics of electronic
     crime, at its base in Quantico, Virginia. And the Secret Service,
     along with many other law enforcement groups, runs quite suc-
     cessful and well attended training courses on wire fraud, business
     crime, and computer intrusion at the Federal Law Enforcement
     Training Center (FLETC, pronounced "Hetsy") in Glynco, Geor-
     gia. But the best efforts of these bureaucracies does not remove
     the absolute need for a "cutting-edge mess" like the FCIC.
        For you see, the FCIC is the trainer of the rest of law enforce-
     ment. Practically and literally speaking, it is the Glynco com-
     puter-crime faculty by another name. If the FCIC went over a
     cliff on a bus, the u.S. law enforcement community would be
     rendered deaf, dumb, and blind in the world of computer crime,
LAW AND ORDER                ooooooogoogoogogooooooooooo         195

and would swiftly feel a desperate need to reinvent it. And this is
no time to go starting from scratch.
   On June 11, 1991, I once again arrived in Phoenix, Arizona, for
the latest meeting of the Federal Computer Investigations Com-
mittee. This was more or less the twentieth meeting of this stellar
group. The count was uncertain, because nobody could figure out
whether to include the meetings of "the Colloquy," which is
what the FCIC was called in the mid-1980s before it had even
managed to obtain the dignity of its own acronym.
   Since my last visit to Arizona, in May, the local AzScam brib-
ery scandal had resolved itself in a general muddle of humiliation.
The Phoenix chief of police, whose agents had videotaped nine
state legislators up to no good, had resigned his office in a tussle
with the Phoenix city council over the propriety of his undercover
operations. He could now join Gail Thackeray and eleven of her
closest associates in the shared experience of politically motivated
unemployment. As of June, resignations were still continuing at
the Arizona attorney general's office, which could be interpreted
as either a New Broom Sweeping Clean or a Night of the Long
Knives Part II, depending on your point of view.
   The meeting of FCIC was held at the Scottsdale Hilton Re-
sort. Scottsdale is a wealthy suburb of Phoenix, known as "Scotts-
dull" to scoffing local trendies, but well equipped with posh
shopping malls and manicured lawns, while conspicuously under-
supplied with homeless derelicts. The Scottsdale Hilton Resort
was a sprawling hotel in postmodern crypto-southwestern style. It
featured a mission bell tower plated in turquoise tile and vaguely
resembling a Saudi minaret.
   Inside it was all barbarically striped Santa Fe style decor. There
was a health spa downstairs and a large oddly shaped pool in the
patio. A poolside umbrella stand offered Ben and Jerry's politi-
cally correct Peace Pops.
   I registered as a member of FCIC, attaining a handy discount
rate, then went in search of the feds. Sure enough, at the back of
the hotel grounds came the unmistakable sound of Gail Thack-
erayholding forth .

   Because 1 had also attended the Computers Freedom and Pri-
vacy conference (about which more later), this was the second
time I had seen Thackeray in a group of her law enforcement
colleagues. Once again 1 was struck by how simply pleased they
seemed to see her. It was natural that she'd get some attention, as
Gail was one of two women in a group of some thirty men; but
there was a lot more to it than that.
   Gail Thackeray personifies the social glue of the FCIC. The
members could give a damn about her losing her job with the
attorney general. They were sorry about it, of course, but hell,
they'd all lost jobs. If they were the kind of guys who liked steady
boring jobs, they would never have gotten into computer work in
the first place.
   I wandered into her circle and was immediately introduced to
five strangers. The conditions of my visit at FCIC were reviewed.
I would not quote anyone directly. I would not tie opinions ex-
pressed to the agencies of the attendees. I would not (a purely
hypothetical example) report the conversation of a guy from the
Secret Service talking quite civilly to a guy from the FBI, as these
two agencies never talk to each other, and the IRS (also present,
also hypothetical) never talks to anybody.
   Worse yet, I was forbidden to attend the first conference. And
I didn't. I have no idea what the FCIC was up to behind closed
doors that afternoon. I rather suspect that the members were
engaging in a frank and thorough confession of their errors, goof-
ups, and blunders, as this has been a feature of every FCIC meet-
ing since their legendary Memphis beer bust of 1986. Perhaps the
single greatest attraction of FCIC is that it is a place where you
can go, let your hair down, and level completely with people who
actually comprehend what you are talking about. Not only do
they understand you, but they really pay attention, they are grate-
ful for your insights, and they forgive you, which in nine cases out
of ten is something even your boss can't do, because as soon as
you start talking "ROM," "BBS," or "T-l trunk," his eyes glaze
   I had nothing much to do that afternoon. The FCIC was

                                 ._ ...   _ - -.... _ - - - -
LAW AND ORDER               OOOODOOpOOOOORORQOOOpqoooop        197

beavering away in the conference room. Doors were firmly closed,
windows too dark to peer through. I wondered what a real hacker,
a computer intruder, would do at a meeting like this.
   The answer came at once. He would "trash" the place. Not
reduce the place to trash in some orgy of vandalism; that's not
the use of the term in the hacker milieu. No, he would quietly
empty the trash baskets and silently raid any valuable data indis-
creetly thrown away.
   Journalists have been known to do this. (Journalists hunting
information have been known to do almost every single unethical
thing that hackers have ever done. They also throw in a few awful
techniques all their own.) The legality of "trashing" is somewhat
dubious, but it is not in fact flagrantly illegal. It was, however,
absurd to contemplate trashing the FCIC. These people knew all
about trashing. I wouldn't last fifteen seconds.
   The idea sounded interesting, though. I'd been hearing a lot
about the practice lately. On the spur of the moment, I decided I
would try trashing the office across the hall from the FCIC, an
area that had nothing to do with the investigators.
   The office was tiny: six chairs, a table. . . . Nevertheless, it
was open, so I dug around in its plastic trash can.
   To my utter astonishment, I came up with the torn scraps of a
Sprint long-distance phone bill. More digging produced a bank
statement and the scraps of a handwritten letter, along with gum,
cigarette ashes, candy wrappers, and a day-old issue of USA To-
   The trash went back in its receptacle while the scraps of data
went into my travel bag. I detoured through the hotel souvenir
shop for some Scotch tape and went up to my room.
   Coincidence or not, it was quite true. Some poor soul had, in
fact, thrown a Sprint bill into the hotel's trash. Date May 1991,
total amount due: $252.36. Not a business phone either, but a
residential bill, in the name of someone called Evelyn (not her
real name). Evelyn's records showed a ** PAST DUE BILL **!
Here was her nine-digit account ID. Here was a stern computer-
printed warning:


   I examined my watch. Still plenty of time left for the FCIC to
carryon. I sorted out the scraps of Evelyn's Sprint bill and reas-
sembled them with fresh Scotch tape. Here was her ten-digit
Foncard number. Didn't seem to have the 10 number necessary
to cause real fraud trouble.
   I did, however, have Evelyn's home phone number. And the
phone numbers for a whole crowd of Evelyn's long-distance
friends and acquaintances. In San Diego, Folsom, Redondo, Las
Vegas, La Jolla, Topeka, Northampton, Massachusetts. Even
somebody in Australia!
   I examined other documents. Here was a bank statement. It
was Evelyn's IRA account down at a bank in San Mateo, Califor-
nia (total balance $1877.20). Here was a charge-card bill for
$382.64. She was paying it off bit by bit.
   Driven by motives that were completely unethical and pruri-
ent, I now examined the handwritten notes. They had been torn
fairly thoroughly, so much so that it took me almost an entire five
minutes to reassemble them.
   They were drafts of a love letter. They had been written on the
lined stationery of Evelyn's employer, a biomedical company.
Probably written at work when she should have been doing some-
thing else.

      Dear Bob [not his real name], I guess in everyone's life there
  comes a time when hard decisions have to be made, and this is a
  difficult one for me-very upsetting. Since you haven't called me,
  and I don't understand why, I can only surmise it's because you
  don't want to. I thought I would have heard from you Friday. I did
  have a few unusual problems with my phone and possibly you
  tried, I hope so.
      Robert, you asked me to "let go" . . .

The first note ended. Unusual problems with her phone? I looked
swiftly at the next note.

     Bob, not hearing from you for the whole weekend has left me
  very perplexed . . .

Next draft.

     Dear Bob, there is so much I don't understand right now, and I
  wish I did. I wish I could talk to you, but for some unknown
  reason you have elected not to call-this is so difficult for me to
  understand . . .

She tried again.

      Bob, Since I have always held you in such high esteem, I had
  every hope that we could remain good friends, but now one essen-
  tial ingredient is missing-respect. Your ability to discard people
  when their purpose is served is appalling to me. The kindest thing
  you could do for me now is to leave me alone. You are no longer
  welcome in my heart or home . . .

Try again.

     Bob, I wrote a very factual note to you to say how much respect
  I had lost for you, by the way you treat people, me in particular, so
  uncaring and cold. The kindest thing you can do for me is to leave
  me alone entirely, as you are no longer welcome in my heart or
  home. I would appreciate it if you could retire your debt to me as
  soon as possible-I wish no link to you in any way. Sincerely,

Good heavens, I thought, the bastard actually owes her money! I
turned to the next page .

         Bob: very simple. GOODBYE! No more mind games-no more
      fascination-no more coldness-no more respect for you! It's over
      -Finis. Evie

   There were two versions of the final brushoff letter, but they read
   about the same. Maybe she hadn't sent it. The final item in my
   illicit and shameful booty was an envelope addressed to "Bob" at
   his home address, but it had no stamp on it and it hadn't been
       Maybe she'd just been blowing off steam because her rascal
   boyfriend had neglected to call her one weekend. Big deal. Maybe
   they'd kissed and made up, maybe she and Bob were down at
    Pop's Chocolate Shop now, sharing a malted. Sure.
                                        Easy to find out. All I had to
P  hone phreaks and                  do was call Evelyn up. With a
hackers deceive people over            half-clever story and enough
                                       brass-plated gall I could proba-
the phone all the time.                bly trick the truth out of her.
                                       Phone phreaks and hackers de-
   ceive people over the phone all the time. It's called "social engi-
   neering." Social engineering is a very common practice in the
   underground, and almost magically effective. Human beings are
   almost always the weakest link in computer security. The sim-
   plest way to learn Things You Are Not Meant To Know is simply
   to call up and exploit the knowledgeable people. With social en-
   gineering, you use the bits of specialized knowledge you already
   have as a key to manipulate people into believing that you are
   legitimate. You can then coax, flatter, or frighten them into re-
   vealing almost anything you want to know. Deceiving people (es-
   pecially over the phone) is easy and fun. Exploiting their
   gullibility is very gratifying; it makes you feel very superior to
      If I'd been a malicious hacker on a trashing raid, I would now
   have Evelyn very much in my power. Given all this inside data, it
   wouldn't take much effort at all to invent a convincing lie. If I
   was ruthless enough, and jaded enough, and clever enough, this

     momentary indiscretion of hers-maybe committed in tears, who
     knows-could cause her a whole world of confusion and grief.
        I didn't even have to have a malicious motive. Maybe I'd be
     "on her side" and call up Bob instead, and anonymously threaten
     to break both his kneecaps if he didn't take Evelyn out for a steak
     dinner pronto. It was still profoundly none of my business. To have
     gotten this knowledge at all was a sordid act and to use it would
     be to inflict a sordid injury.
        To do all these awful things would require exactly zero high-
     tech expertise. All it would take was the willingness to do it and a
     certain amount of bent imagination.
        I went back downstairs. The hard-working FCIC members,
     who had labored forty-five minutes over their schedule, were
     through for the day and adjourned to the hotel bar. We all had a
        I had a chat with a guy about "Isis," or rather IACIS, the
     International Association of Computer Investigation Specialists.
     They're into "computer forensics," the techniques of picking
     computer systems apart without destroying vital evidence. IACIS,
     currently run out of Oregon, is comprised of investigators in the
     United States, Canada, Taiwan, and Ireland. "Taiwan and Ire-
     land?" I said. Are Taiwan and Ireland really in the forefront of this
     stuff? Well, not exactly, my informant admitted. They just hap-
     pen to have been the first ones to have caught on by word of
     mouth. Still, the international angle counts, because this is obvi-
     ously an international problem. Phone lines go everywhere.
        There was a Mountie here from the Royal Canadian Mounted
     Police. He seemed to be having quite a good time. Nobody had
     flung this Canadian out because he might pose a foreign security
     risk. These are cyberspace cops. They still worry a lot about "juris-
     dictions," but mere geography is the least of their troubles.
        NASA had failed to show. NASA suffers a lot from computer
     intrusions, in particular from Australian raiders and a well-
     trumpeted Chaos Computer Club case, and in 1990 there was a
     brief press flurry when it was revealed that one of NASA's Hous-
     ton branch exchanges had been systematically ripped off by a


gang of phone phreaks. But the NASA guys had had their funding
cut. They were stripping everything.
   Air Force OSI, its Office of Special Investigations, is the only
federal entity dedicated full time to computer security. It had
been expected to show up in force, but some of them had can-
celed-a Pentagon budget pinch.
   As the empties piled up, the guys began joshing around and
telling war stories. "These are cops," Thackeray said tolerantly.
"If they're not talking shop they talk about women and beer."
   I heard the story about the guy who, asked for "a copy" of a
computer disk, photocopied the label on it. He put the floppy disk
onto the glass plate of a photocopier. The blast of static when the
copier worked completely erased all the real information on the
   Some other poor souls threw a whole bag of confiscated disk-
ettes into the squad-car trunk next to the police radio. The
powerful radio signal blasted them too.
   We heard a bit about Dave Geneson, the first computer prose-
cutor, a mainframe system administrator in Dade County turned
lawyer. Dave Geneson was one guy who had hit the ground run-
ning, a signal virtue in making the transition to computer crime.
It generally was agreed that it was easier to learn the world of
computers first, then police or prosecutorial work. You could take
certain computer people and train'em to successful police work
-but of course they had to have the cop mentality. They had to
have street smarts. Patience. Persistence. And discretion. You've
got to make sure they're not hot shots, showoffs, "cowboys."
    Most of the folks in the bar had backgrounds in military intelli-
gence, or drugs, or homicide. In was rudely opined that "military
intelligence" was a contradiction in terms, while even the grisly
world of homicide was considered cleaner than drug enforce-
 ment. One guy had been way undercover doing dope work in
 Europe for four years straight. "I'm almost recovered now," he
said deadpan, with the acid black humor that is pure cop. "Hey,
 now I can say fucker without putting mother in front of it."
    "In the cop world," another guy said earnestly, "everything is

     good and bad, black and white. In the computer world everything
     is gray."
        One guy-a founder of the FCIC, who'd been with the group
     since it was just the Colloquy-described his own introduction to
     the field. He'd been a Washington, D.C., homicide guy called in
     on a "hacker" case. From the word "hacker" he naturally assumed
     he was on the trail of a knife-wielding marauder, and went to the
     computer center expecting blood and a body. When he finally
     figured out what was happening there (after loudly demanding, in
     vain, that the programmers "speak English"), he called headquar-
     ters and told them he was clueless about computers. They told
     him nobody else knew diddly either and to get the hell back to
        So, he said, he had proceeded by comparisons. By analogy. By
     metaphor. "Somebody broke in to your computer, huh?" Break-
     ing and entering; I can understand that. How'd he get in? "Over
     the phone lines." Harassing phone calls, I can understand that!
     What we need here is a tap and a trace!
        It worked. It was better than nothing. And it worked a lot
     faster when he got hold of another cop who'd done something
     similar. And then the two of them got another, and another, and
     pretty soon the Colloquy was a happening thing. It helped a lot
     that everybody seemed to know Carlton Fitzpatrick, the data-
     processing trainer in Glynco.
        The ice broke big-time in Memphis in 1986. The Colloquy had
     attracted a bunch of new guys-Secret Service, FBI, military,
     other feds, heavy guys. Nobody wanted to tell anybody anything.
     They suspected that if word got back to the home office, they'd
     all be fired. They passed an uncomfortably guarded afternoon.
        The formalities got them nowhere. But after the formal session
     was over, the organizers brought in a case of beer. As soon as the
      participants knocked it off with the bureaucratic ranks and turf-
     fighting, everything changed. "I bared my soul," one veteran rem-
     inisced proudly. By nightfall they were building pyramids of
     empty beer cans and doing everything but composing a team
     fight song .

.--------    ------------------------

   FCIC were not the only computer-crime people around. There
was DATTA (District Attorneys' Technology Theft Association),
though they specialized mostly in chip theft, intellectual prop-
erty, and black-market cases. There was HTCIA (High Tech
Computer Investigators Association), also out in Silicon Valley, a
year older than FCIC and featuring brilliant people such as Don-
ald Ingraham. There was LEETAC (Law Enforcement Electronic
Technology Assistance Committee) in Florida, and computer-
crime units in Illinois and Maryland and Texas and Ohio and
Colorado and Pennsylvania. But these were local groups. FCIC
were the first to really network nationally and on a federal level.
   FCIC people live on the phone lines. Not on bulletin board
systems-they know very well what boards are, and they know
that boards aren't secure. Everyone in the FCIC has a voice-
phone bill like you wouldn't believe. FCIC people have been
tight with the telco people for a long time. Telephone cyberspace
is their native habitat.
   FCIC has three basic subtribes: the trainers, the security peo-
ple, and the investigators. That's why it's called an "Investiga-
tions Committee" with no mention of the term "computer
crime"-the dreaded "C-word." FCIC, officially, is "an associa-
tion of agencies rather than individuals"; unofficially, this field is
small enough that the influence of individuals and individual
expertise is paramount. Attendance is by invitation only, and
most everyone in FCIC considers himself a prophet without
honor in his own house.
   Again and again I heard this, with different terms but identical
sentiments. "1'd been sitting in the wilderness talking to myself."
"I was totally isolated." "I was desperate." "FCIC is the best
thing there is about computer crime in America." "FCIC is what
really works." "This is where you hear real people telling you
what's really happening out there, not just lawyers picking nits."
"We taught each other everything we knew."
   The sincerity of these statements convinces me that this
is true. FCIC is the real thing and it is invaluable. It's also


very sharply at odds with the rest of the traditions and power
structure in American law enforcement. There probably hasn't
been anything around as loose and go-getting as the FCIC
since the start of the U.S. Secret Service in the 1860s. FC1C
people are living like twenty-
first-century people in a twenti-    He confessed that later
eth-century environment, and
                                     that day he'd arrested a
while there's a great deal to be
said for that, there's also a        small tree.
great deal to be said against it,
and those against it happen to control the budgets.
   I listened to two FCIC guys from Jersey compare life histories.
One of them had been a biker in a fairly heavy-duty gang in the
1960s. "Oh, did you know so-and-so?" said the other guy from
Jersey. "Big guy, heavyset?"
   "Yeah, I knew him."
   "Yeah, he was one of ours. He was our plant in the gang."
   "Really? Wow! Yeah, I knew him. Helluva guy."
   Thackeray reminisced at length about being tear-gassed blind
in the November 1969 antiwar protests in Washington Circle,
covering them for her college paper. "Oh, yeah I was there," said
another cop. "Glad to hear that tear gas hit somethin'. Haw haw
haw." He'd been so blind himself, he confessed, that later that
day he'd arrested a small tree.
   FCIC is an odd group, sifted out by coincidence and necessity,
and turned into a new kind of cop. There are a lot of specialized
cops in the world-your bunco guys, your drug guys, your tax
guys, but the only group that matches FCIC for sheer isolation
are probably the child-pornography people. Because they both
deal with conspirators who are desperate to exchange forbidden
data and also desperate to hide; and because nobody else in law
enforcement even wants to hear about it.
   FCIC people tend to change jobs a lot. They tend not to get
the equipment and training they want and need. And they tend
to get sued quite often .
206   ooooooogooooooooooooooooooo   THE HACKER CRACKDOWN

   As the night wore on and a band set up in the bar, the talk
grew darker. Nothing ever gets done in government, someone
opined, until there's a disaster. Computing disasters are awful,
but there's no denying that they greatly help the credibility of
FCIC people. The Internet worm, for instance. "For years we'd
been warning about that-but it's nothing compared to what's
coming." They expect horrors, these people. They know that
nothing will really get done until there is a horror.

   Next day we heard an extensive briefing from a guy who'd been
a computer cop, gotten into hot water with an Arizona city coun-
cil, and now installed computer networks for a living (at a consid-
erable raise in pay). He talked about pulling fiber-optic networks
    Even a single computer, with enough peripherals, is a literal
"network"-a bunch of machines all cabled together, generally
with a complexity that puts stereo units to shame. FCIC people
invent and publicize methods of seizing computers and main-
taining their evidence. Simple things, sometimes, but vital rules
of thumb for street cops, who nowadays often stumble across a
busy computer in the midst of a drug investigation or a white-
collar bust. For instance: Photograph the system before you touch
it. Label the ends of all the cables before you detach anything.
"Park" the heads on the disk drives before you move them. Get
the diskettes. Don't put the diskettes in magnetic fields. Don't
write on diskettes with ballpoint pens. Get the manuals. Get the
printouts. Get the handwritten notes. Copy data before you look
at it, and then examine the copy instead of the original.
    Now our lecturer distributed copied diagrams of a typical LAN,
or "Local Area Network," which happened to be out of Connecti-
cut. One hundred and fifty-nine desktop computers, each with its
own peripherals. Three "file servers." Five "star couplers," each
with thirty-two ports. One sixteen-port coupler off in the corner
office. All these machines talking to each other, distributing elec-
tronic mail, distributing software, distributing, quite possibly,
        LAW AND ORDER                 Q   0 Q ROO 0 Q 0000 DO 0 00 Q 900 00 000 Q   207

        criminal evidence. All linked by high-capacity fiber-optic cable. A
        bad guy-cops talk a lot about "bad guys"-might be lurking on
        PC #47 or #123 and distributing his ill doings onto some dupe's
        "personal" machine in another office-or another floor-or,
        quite possibly, two or three miles away! Or, conceivably, the evi-
        dence might be "data-striped"-split up into meaningless slivers
        stored, one by one, on a whole crowd of different disk drives.
            The lecturer challenged us for solutions. I for one was utterly
        clueless. As far as I could figure, the Cossacks were at the gate;
        there were probably more disks in this single building than were
        seized during the entirety of Operation Sundevil.
            "Inside informant," somebody said. Right. There's always the
        human angle, something easy to forget when contemplating the
        arcane recesses of high technology. Cops are skilled at getting
        people to talk, and computer people, given a chair and some
        sustained attention, will talk about their computers till their
        throats go raw. There's a case on record of a single question-
        "How'd you do it?"-eliciting a forty-five-minute videotaped
        confession from a computer criminal who not only completely
        incriminated himself but drew helpful diagrams.
            Computer people talk. Hackers brag. Phone phreaks talk patho-
        logically-why else are they stealing phone codes, if not to natter
        for ten hours straight to their friends on an opposite seaboard?
        Computer-literate people do in fact possess an arsenal of nifty
        gadgets and techniques that would allow them to conceal all
        kinds of exotic skullduggery, and if they could only shut up about
        it, they could probably get away with all manner of amazing in-
        formation crimes. But that's just not how it works-or at least,
        that's not how it's worked so far.
            Most every phone phreak ever busted has swiftly implicated his
        mentors, his disciples, and his friends. Most every white-collar
        computer criminal, smugly convinced that his clever scheme is
        bulletproof, swiftly learns otherwise when, for the first time in his
        life, an actual no-kidding police officer leans over, grabs the front
        of his shirt, looks him right in the eye, and says: "All right, asshole


-you and me are going downtown!" All the hardware in the
world will not insulate your nerves from those actual real-life
sensations of terror and guilt.
   Cops know ways to get from point A to point Z without
thumbing through every letter in some smart-ass bad guy's al-
phabet. Cops know how to cut to the chase. Cops know a lot of
things other people don't know.
   Hackers know a lot of things other people don't know too.
Hackers know, for instance, how to sneak into your computer
through the phone lines. But cops can show up right on your
doorstep and carry off you and your computer in separate steel
boxes. A cop interested in hackers can grab them and grill them.
A hacker interested in cops has to depend on hearsay, under-
ground legends, and what cops are willing to publicly reveal. And
the Secret Service didn't get named "the Secret Service" because
they blab a lot.
   Some people, our lecturer informed us, were under the mis-
taken impression that it was "impossible" to tap a fiber-optic line.
Well, he announced, he and his son had just whipped up a fiber-
optic tap in his workshop at home. He passed it around the audi-
ence, along with a circuit-covered LAN plug-in card so we'd all
recognize one if we saw it on a case. We all had a look.
   The tap was a classic "Goofy Prototype"-a thumb-length
rounded metal cylinder with a pair of plastic brackets on it. From
one end dangled three thin black cables, each of which ended in a
tiny black plastic cap. When you plucked the safety cap off the
end of a cable, you could see the glass fiber-no thicker than a
   Our lecturer informed us that the metal cylinder was a "wave-
length division multiplexer." Apparently, what one did was to cut
the fiber-optic cable, insert two of the legs into the cut to com-
plete the network again, and then read any passing data on the
line by hooking up the third leg to some kind of monitor.
Sounded simple enough. I wondered why nobody had thought of
it before. I also wondered whether this guy's son back at the
workshop had any teenage friends.

                   ---------                       __
                                            -~ ~ _ .   - -

   We had a break. The guy sitting next to me was wearing a
giveaway baseball cap advertising the Uzi submachine gun. We
had a desultory chat about the merits of Uzis. Long a favorite
of the Secret Service, it seems Uzis went out of fashion with
the advent of the Persian Gulf War, our Arab allies taking some
offense at Americans toting Israeli weapons. Besides, I was
informed by another expert, Uzis jam. The equivalent weapon
of choice today is the Heckler & Koch, manufactured in Ger-
   The guy with the Uzi cap was a forensic photographer. He also
did a lot of photographic surveillance work in computer-crime
cases. He used to, that is, until the firings in Phoenix. He was
now a private investigator and, with his wife, ran a photography
salon specializing in weddings and portrait photos. At-one must
repeat-a considerable raise in income.
   He was still FCIC. If you were FCIC, and you needed to talk
to an expert about forensic photography, well, there he was, will-
ing and able. If he hadn't shown up, people would have missed
   Our lecturer had raised the point that preliminary investiga-
tion of a computer system is vital before any seizure is under-
taken. It's vital to understand how many machines are in there,
what kinds there are, what kind of operating system they use, how
many people use them, where the actual data itself is stored. To
simply barge into an office demanding "all the computers" is a
recipe for swift disaster.
   This entails some discreet inquiries beforehand. In fact, what it
entails is basically undercover work. An intelligence operation.
Spying, not to put too fine a point on it.
   In a chat after the lecture, I asked an attendee whether "trash-
ing" might work.
   I received a swift briefing on the theory and practice of "trash
covers." Police "trash covers," like "mail covers" or like wiretaps,
require the agreement of a judge. This obtained, the "trashing"
work of cops is just like that of hackers, only more so and much
better organized. So much so, I was informed, that mobsters in
        210    ooooooooooooooooooopooooooo   THE HACKER CRACKDOWN

        Phoenix make extensive use of locked garbage cans picked up by
        a specialty high-security trash company.
            In one case, a tiger team of Arizona cops had trashed a local
        residence for four months. Every week they showed up on the
        municipal garbage truck, disguised as garbagemen, and carried
        the contents of the suspect cans off to a shade tree, where they
        combed through the garbage-a messy task, especially consider-
        ing that one of the occupants was undergoing kidney dialysis. All
        useful documents were cleaned, dried, and examined. A discarded
        typewriter ribbon was an especially valuable source of data, as its
        long one-strike ribbon of film contained the contents of every
        letter mailed out of the house. The letters were neatly retyped by
        a police secretary equipped with a large desk-mounted magnify-
        ing glass.
            There is something weirdly disquieting about the whole sub-
        ject of trashing-an unsuspected and indeed rather disgusting
        mode of deep personal vulnerability. Things that we pass by every
        day, that we take utterly for granted, can be exploited with so
        little work. Once discovered, the knowledge of these vulnerabili-
        ties tends to spread.
            Take the lowly subject of manhole covers. The humble manhole
        cover reproduces many of the dilemmas of computer security in
        miniature. Manhole covers are, of course, technological artifacts,
        access points to our buried urban infrastructure. To the vast ma-
         jority of us, manhole covers are invisible. They are also vulnera-
        ble. For many years now, the Secret Service has made a point of
        caulking manhole covers along all routes of the presidential mo-
         torcade. This is, of course, to deter terrorists from leaping out of
         underground ambush or, more likely, planting remote-control car-
         smashing bombs beneath the street.
            Lately, manhole covers have seen more and more criminal ex-
         ploitation, especially in New York City. Recently, a telco in New
        York City discovered that a cable television service had been
         sneaking into telco manholes and installing cable service along-
         side the phone lines-without paying royalties. New York compa-

--   - - - -
LAW AND ORDER                OOQooqoooaOOOQooogOOQOOOOOQ        211

nies have also suffered a general plague of (a) underground
copper cable theft; (b) dumping of garbage, including toxic

   Industry complaints reached
the ears of an innovative New
waste; and (c) hasty dumping of murder victims.

                                      uiie likely it has never
England industrial-security com-       occurred to you to peer
pany, and the result was a new
product known as "the Intimi-          under a manhole cover.
dator," a thick titanium-steel
bolt with a precisely machined head that requires a special device
to unscrew. All these "keys" have registered serial numbers kept
on file with the manufacturer. There are now some thousands of
these Intimidator bolts being sunk into American pavements
wherever our President passes, like some macabre parody of
strewn roses. They are also spreading as fast as steel dandelions
around U.S. military bases and many centers of private industry.
   Quite likely it has never occurred to you to peer under a man-
hole cover, perhaps climb down and walk around down there with
a flashlight, just to see what it's like. Formally speaking, this
might be trespassing, but if you didn't hurt anything, and didn't
make an absolute habit of it, nobody would really care. The free-
dom to sneak under manholes was likely a freedom you never
intended to exercise.
   You now are rather less likely to have that freedom at all. You
may never even have missed it until you read about it here, but if
you're in New York City it's gone, and elsewhere it's likely going.
This is one of the things that crime, and the reaction to crime,
does to us.
   The tenor of the meeting now changed as the Electronic Fron-
tier Foundation arrived. The EFF, whose personnel and history
will be examined in detail in the next section, is a pioneering civil
liberties group that arose in direct response to the Hacker Crack-
down of 1990.
   Now Mitchell Kapor, the foundation's president, and Michael
Godwin, its chief attorney, were confronting federal law enforce-

ment mana a mana for the first time ever. Ever alert to the mani-
fold uses of publicity, Mitch Kapor and Mike Godwin had
brought their own journalist in tow: Robert Draper, from Austin,
whose recent well-received book about Rolling Stone magazine
was still on the stands. Draper was on assignment for Texas
   The Steve Jackson/EFF civil lawsuit against the Chicago Com-
puter Fraud and Abuse Task Force was a matter of considerable
regional interest in Texas. There were now two Austinite journal-
ists here on the case. In fact, counting Godwin (a former Austin-
ite and former journalist), there were three of us. Lunch was like
Old Home Week.
    Later, I took Draper up to my hotel room. We had a long frank
talk about the case, networking earnestly like a miniature
freelance-journo version of the FCIC: privately confessing the
numerous blunders of journalists covering the story, and trying
hard to figure out who was who and what the hell was really going
on out there. I showed Draper everything I had dug out of the
Hilton trash can. We pondered the ethics of trashing for a while
and agreed that they were dismal. We also agreed that finding a
Sprint bill on your first time out was a heck of a coincidence.
    First I'd "trashed"-and now, mere hours later, I'd bragged to
someone else. Having entered the lifestyle of hackerdom, I was
now, unsurprisingly, following its logic. Having discovered some-
thing remarkable through a surreptitious action, I of course had
to brag, and to drag the passing Draper into my iniquities. I felt I
needed a witness. Otherwise nobody would have believed what
I'd discovered. . . .
    Back at the meeting, Thackeray cordially, if rather tentatively,
introduced Kapor and Godwin to her colleagues. Papers were dis-
tributed. Kapor took center stage. The brilliant Bostonian high-
tech entrepreneur, normally the hawk in his own administration
and quite an effective public speaker, seemed visibly nervous, and
frankly admitted as much. He began by saying he considered
computer intrusion to be morally wrong and that the EFF was
             LA W AND ORDER                00 Q 000 0 0 DO Q 0 000 ROO 0 0 000 000 0   213

             not a "hacker defense fund," despite what had appeared in print.
             Kapor chatted a bit about the basic motivations of his group,
             emphasizing their good faith and willingness to listen and seek
             common ground with law enforcement-when, er, possible.
                Then, at Godwin's urging, Kapor suddenly remarked that
             EFF's own Internet machine had been "hacked" recently and
             that EFF did not consider this incident amusing.
                After this surprising confession, things began to loosen up
             quite rapidly. Soon Kapor was fielding questions, parrying objec-
             tions, challenging definitions, and juggling paradigms with some-
             thing akin to his usual gusto.
                Kapor seemed to score quite an effect with his shrewd and
             skeptical analysis of the merits of telco Caller-ID services. (On
             this topic, FCIC and EFF have never been at loggerheads, and
             have no particular established earthworks to defend.) Caller-ID
             has generally been promoted as a privacy service for consumers, a
             presentation Kapor described as a "smokescreen," the real point
             of Caller-ID being to allow corporate customers to build extensive
             commercial databases on everybody who phones or faxes them.
             Clearly, few people in the room had considered this possibility,
             except perhaps for two late arrivals from U S West RBOC secu-
             rity, who chuckled nervously.
                Mike Godwin then made an extensive presentation entitled
             "Civil Liberties Implications of Computer Searches and
             Seizures." Now, at last, we were getting to the real nitty-gritty
             here, real political horse-trading. The audience listened with close
             attention, angry mutters rising occasionally: "He's trying to teach
             us our jobs!" "We've been thinking about this for years! We think
             about these issues every day!" "If I didn't seize the works, I'd be
             sued by the guy's victims!" "I'm violating the law if I leave ten
             thousand disks full of illegal pirated software and stolen codes!"
             "It's our job to make sure people don't trash the Constitution-
             we're the defenders of the Constitution!" "We seize stuff when
             we know it will be forfeited anyway as restitution for the victim!"
                 "If it's forfeitable, then don't get a search warrant, get a forfei-

_ - - - . - - -   _ 0     0       -
214   000000000000000000000000000   THE HACKER CRACKDOWN

ture warrant," Godwin suggested coolly. He further remarked
that most suspects in computer crime don't want to see their
computers vanish out the door, headed God knew where, for who
knows how long. They might not mind a search, even an exten-
sive search, but they want their machines searched on-site.
   "Are they gonna feed us?" somebody asked sourly.
   "How about if you take copies of the data?" Godwin parried.
   "That'll never stand up in court."
   "Okay, you make copies, give them the copies, and take the
originals. "
   Godwin championed bulletin board systems as repositories of
First Amendment protected free speech. He complained that fed-
eral computer-crime training manuals gave boards a bad press,
suggesting that they are hotbeds of crime haunted by pedophiles
and crooks, whereas the vast majority of the nation's thousands of
boards are completely innocuous and nowhere near so romanti-
cally suspicious.
   People who run boards violently resent it when their systems
are seized, and their dozens (or hundreds) of users look on in
abject horror. Their rights of free expression are cut short. Their
right to associate with other people is infringed. And their privacy
is violated as their private electronic mail becomes police prop-
   Not a soul spoke up to defend the practice of seizing boards.
The issue passed in chastened silence. Legal principles aside (and
those principles cannot be settled without laws passed or court
precedents), seizing bulletin boards has become public-relations
poison for American computer police.
   And anyway, it's not entirely necessary. If you're a cop, you can
get almost everything you need from a pirate board, just by using
an inside informant. Plenty of vigilantes-well, concerned citizens
-will inform police the moment they see a pirate board hit their
area (and will tell the police all about it, in such technical detail,
actually, that you kinda wish they'd shut up). They will happily
supply police with extensive downloads or printouts. It's impossi-
        LAW AND ORDER               000000000000000000000000000        215

        hie to keep this fluid electronic information out of the hands of
           Some people in the electronic community become enraged at
        the prospect of cops "monitoring" bulletin boards. This does
        have touchy aspects, as Secret Service people in particular ex-
        amine bulletin boards with some regularity. But to expect elec-
        tronic police to be deaf, dumb, and blind in regard to this
        particular medium rather flies in the face of common sense. Po-
        lice watch television, listen to radio, read newspapers and maga-
        zines; why should the new medium of boards be different? Cops
        can exercise the same access to electronic information as every-
        body else. As we have seen, quite a few computer police maintain
        their own bulletin boards, including antihacker sting boards,
        which have generally proven quite effective.
            As a final clincher, their Mountie friends in Canada (and col-
        leagues in Ireland and Taiwan) don't have First Amendment or
        American constitutional restrictions, but they do have phone
        lines and can call any bulletin board in America whenever they
        please. The same technological determinants that play into the
        hands of hackers, phone phreaks, and software pirates can play
        into the hands of police. "Technological determinants" don't
        have any human allegiances. They're not black or white, or Estab-
        lishment or Underground, or pro or anti anything.
            Godwin complained at length about what he called "the
         Clever Hobbyist hypothesis"-the assumption that the hacker
         you're busting is clearly a technical genius, and must therefore be
         searched with extreme thoroughness. So: from the law's point of
         view, why risk missing anything? Take the works. Take the guy's
         computer. Take his books. Take his notebooks. Take the electronic
         drafts of his love letters. Take his Walkman. Take his wife's com-
         puter. Take his dad's computer. Take his kid sister's computer.
         Take his employer's computer. Take his compact disks-they
         might be CD-ROM disks, cunningly disguised as pop music. Take
         his laser printer-he might nave hidden something vital in the
         printer's 5 meg of memory. Take his software manuals and hard-
         ware documentation. Take his science-fiction novels and his

     216   000000000000000000000000000   THE HACKER CRACKDOWN

     simulation-gaming books. Take his Nintendo Game-Boy and his
     Pac-Man arcade game. Take his answering machine, take his tele-
     phone out of the wall. Take anything remotely suspicious.
                                        Godwin pointed out that
It   doesn't require an               most hackers are not, in fact,
entire computer system                   clever genius hobbyists. Quite
                           .             a few are crooks and grifters
and ten thousand dzsks to                who don't have much in the
prove a case in court.                  way of technical sophistication,
                                        just some rule-of-thumb rip-off
     techniques. The same goes for most fifteen-year-olds who've
     downloaded a code-scanning program from a pirate board.
     There's no real need to seize everything in sight. It doesn't re-
     quire an entire computer system and ten thousand disks to prove
     a case in court.
        What if the computer is the instrumentality of a crime? some-
     one demanded.
        Godwin admitted quietly that the doctrine of seizing the in-
     strumentality of a crime was pretty well established in the Ameri-
     can legal system.
        The meeting broke up. Godwin and Kapor had to leave. Kapor
     was testifying next morning before the Massachusetts Depart-
     ment of Public Utility about ISDN narrowband wide-area
        As soon as they were gone, Thackeray seemed elated. She had
     taken a great risk with this. Her colleagues had not, in fact, torn
     Kapor's and Godwin's heads off. She was very proud of them, and
     told them so.
        "Did you hear what Godwin said about instrumentality of a
     crime?" she exulted, to nobody in particular. "Wow, that means
     Mitch isn't going to sue me."

        America's computer police are an interesting group. As a social
     phenomenon they are far more interesting, and far more impor-
     tant, than teenage phone phreaks and computer hackers. First,
LAW AND ORDER                000000000000000000000000000         217

they're older and wiser; not dizzy hobbyists with leaky morals, but
seasoned adult professionals with all the responsibilities of public
service. And, unlike hackers, they possess not merely technical
power alone, but heavy-duty legal and social authority.
    And, very interestingly, they are just as much at sea in cyber-
space as everyone else. They are not happy about this. Police are
authoritarian by nature, and prefer to obey rules and precedents.
(Even those police who secretly enjoy a fast ride in rough territory
will soberly disclaim any "cowboy" attitude.) But in cyberspace
there are no rules and precedents. They are groundbreaking pio-
neers, Cyberspace Rangers, whether they like it or not.
    In my opinion, any teenager enthralled by computers, fasci-
nated by the ins and outs of computer security, and attracted by
the lure of specialized forms of knowledge and power, would do
well to forget all about hacking and set his (or her) sights on
becoming a fed. Feds can trump hackers at almost every single
thing hackers do, including gathering intelligence, undercover
disguise, trashing, phone-tapping, building dossiers, networking,
and infiltrating computer systems-criminal computer systems.
Secret Service agents know more about phreaking, coding, and
carding than most phreaks can find out in years, and when it
comes to viruses, break-ins, software bombs, and Trojan horses,
feds have direct access to red-hot confidential information that is
only vague rumor in the underground.
    And if it's an impressive public rep you're after, there are few
 people in the world who can be so chillingly impressive as a well-
 trained, well-armed U.S. Secret Service agent.
    Of course, a few personal sacrifices are necessary in order to
 obtain that power and knowledge. First, you'll have the galling
 discipline of belonging to a large organization; but the world of
 computer crime is still so small, and so amazingly fast moving,
 that it will remain spectacularly fluid for years to come. The sec-
 ond sacrifice is that you'll have to give up ripping people off. This
 is not a great loss. Abstaining from the use of illegal drugs, also
 necessary, will be a boon to your health.
218   000000000000000000000000000   THE HACKER CRACKDOWN

   A career in computer security is not a bad choice for a young
man or woman today. The field almost certainly will expand dras-
tically in years to come. If you are a teenager today, by the time
you become a professional, the pioneers you have read about in
this book will be the grand old men and women of the field,
swamped by their many disciples and successors. Of course, some
of them, like William P. Wood of the 1865 Secret Service, may
well be mangled in the whirring machinery of legal controversy;
but by the time you enter the computer-crime field, it may have
stabilized somewhat, while remaining entertainingly challenging.
   But you can't just have a badge. You have to win it. First,
there's the federal law enforcement training. And it's hard-it's a
challenge. A real challenge-not for wimps and rodents.
   Every Secret Service agent must complete grueling courses at
the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center. (In fact, Secret
Service agents are retrained periodically during their entire ca-
reers. )
    In order to get a glimpse of what this might be like, in July
 1991 I myself traveled to FLETC.

   The Federal Law Enforcement Training Center is a 1,500-acre
facility on Georgia's Atlantic coast. It's a milieu of marshgrass,
seabirds, damp, clinging sea breezes, palmettos, mosquitoes, and
bats. Until 1974, it was a navy air base, and still features a work-
ing runway, and some WWII vintage blockhouses and officers'
quarters. The center has since benefited by a $40 million retrofit,
but there's still enough forest and swamp on the facility for the
Border Patrol to put in tracking practice.
   As a town, Glynco scarcely exists. The nearest real town is
Brunswick, a few miles down Highway 17, where I stayed at the
aptly named Marshview Holiday Inn. I had Sunday dinner at a
seafood restaurant called Jinright's, where I feasted on deep-fried
alligator tail. This local favorite was a heaped basket of bite-sized
chunks of white, tender, almost fluffy reptile meat, steaming in a
peppered batter crust. Alligator makes a culinary experience
           LA W AND ORDER               ooooooooooooopooooopooooooo        219

           that's hard to forget, especially when liberally basted with home-
           made cocktail sauce from a Jinright squeeze bottle.
               The crowd of clientele were tourists, fishermen, local black
           folks in their Sunday best, and white Georgian locals who all
           seemed to bear an uncanny resemblance to Georgia humorist
           Lewis Grizzard.
               The 2,400 students from 75 federal agencies who make up the
           FLETC population scarcely seem to make a dent in the low-key
           local scene. The students look like tourists, and the teachers seem
           to have taken on much of the relaxed air of the Deep South. My
           host was Mr. Carlton Fitzpatrick, the program coordinator of the
           Financial Fraud Institute. Carlton Fitzpatrick is a mustached, sin-
           ewy, well-tanned Alabama native somewhere near his late forties,
           with a fondness for chewing tobacco, powerful computers, and
           salty, down-home homilies. We'd met before, at FCIC in Ari-
               The Financial Fraud Institute is one of the nine divisions at
           FLETC. Besides Financial Fraud, there's Driver & Marine, Fire-
           arms, and Physical Training. These are specialized pursuits. There
           are also five general training divisions: Basic Training, Operations,
           Enforcement Techniques, Legal Division, and Behavioral Sci-
               Somewhere in this curriculum is everything necessary to turn
           green college graduates into federal agents. First they're given ID
           cards. Then they get the rather miserable-looking blue coveralls
           known as "smurf suits." The trainees are assigned a barracks and
           a cafeteria, and immediately set on FLETC's bone-grinding phys-
            ical training routine. Besides the obligatory daily jogging (the
            trainers run up danger flags beside the track when the humidity
            rises high enough to threaten heat stroke), there's the Nautilus
            machines, the martial arts, the survival skills . . .
               The eighteen federal agencies that maintain on-site academies
            at FLETC employ a wide variety of specialized law enforcement
            units, some of them rather arcane. There's Border Patrol, IRS
            Criminal Investigation Division, Park Service, Fish and Wildlife,

.-------    ----------------------------------                                     ---
220 •••••••••••••••••••••••••••   THE HACKER CRACKDOWN

Customs, Immigration, Secret Service, and the Treasury's uni-
formed subdivisions . . . If you're a federal cop and you don't
work for the FBI, you train at FLETG This includes people as
apparently obscure as the agents of the Railroad Retirement
Board Inspector General. Or the Tennessee Valley Authority
Police, who are in fact federal police officers, and can and do
arrest criminals on the federal property of the Tennessee Valley
    And then there are the computer-crime people. All sorts, all
backgrounds. Mr. Fitzpatrick is not jealous of his specialized
knowledge. Cops all over, in every branch of service, may feel a
need to learn what he can teach. Backgrounds don't matter
much. Fitzpatrick himself was originally a border patrol veteran,
then became a border patrol instructor at FLETC. His Spanish is
still fluent-but he found himself strangely fascinated when the
first computers showed up at the training center. Fitzpatrick did
have a background in electrical engineering, and though he never
considered himself a computer hacker, he somehow found him-
self writing useful little programs for this new and promising
    He began looking into the general subject of computers and
crime, reading Donn Parker's books and articles, keeping an ear
cocked for war stories, useful insights from the field, the up-and-
coming people of the local computer-crime and high-technology
units. . . . Soon he got a reputation around FLETC as the resi-
dent "computer expert," and that reputation alone brought him
more exposure, more experience-until one day he looked
around, and sure enough he was a federal computer-crime expert.
    In fact, this unassuming, genial man may be the federal com-
puter-crime expert. There are plenty of very good computer peo-
ple, and plenty of very good federal investigators, but the area
where these worlds of expertise overlap is very slim. And Carlton
Fitzpatrick has been right at the center of that since 1985, the
first year of the Colloquy, a group that owes much to his influ-
LAW AND ORDER             ooooooooooooogooogooooooooo      221

   He seems quite at home in his modest, acoustic-tiled office,
with its Ansel Adams-style Western photographic art, a gold-
framed Senior Instructor Certificate, and a towering bookcase
crammed with three-ring binders with ominous titles such as
Daiapro Reports on Information Security and CFCA Telecom Secu-
rity '90.
   The phone rings every ten minutes; colleagues show up at the
door to chat about new developments in locksmithing or to shake
their heads over the latest dismal developments in the BCCI
global banking scandal.
   Carlton Fitzpatrick is a fount of computer-crime war stories,
related in an acerbic drawl. He tells me the colorful tale of a
hacker caught in California some years back. He'd been raiding
systems, typing code without a detectable break, for twenty,
twenty-four, thirty-six hours straight. Not just logged on-typing.
Investigators were baffled. Nobody could do that. Didn't he have
to go to the bathroom? Was it some kind of automatic keyboard-
whacking device that could actually type code?
   A raid on the suspect's home cr-r-r-------------
revealed a situation of aston-      1 he suspect had been
ishing squalor. The hacker         sitting in front of his
turned out to be a Pakistani
computer-science student who       computer for a day and a
had flunked out of a California    half straight.
university. He'd gone com- " ' - - - - - - - - = - - - - - - - - -
pletely underground as an illegal electronic immigrant and was
selling stolen phone service to stay alive. The place was not
merely messy and dirty, but in a state of psychotic disorder. Pow-
ered by some weird mix of culture shock, computer addiction,
and amphetamines, the suspect had in fact been sitting in front
of his computer for a day and a half straight, with snacks and
drugs at hand on the edge of his desk and a chamber pot under
his chair.
   Word about stuff like this gets around in the hacker-tracker
222   000000000000000000000000000   THE HACKER CRACKDOWN

    Carlton Fitzpatrick takes me for a guided tour by car around
the FLETC grounds. One of our first sights is the biggest indoor
firing range in the world. There are federal trainees in there, Fitz-
patrick assures me politely, blasting away with a wide variety of
automatic weapons: Uzis, Clocks, AK-47s. . . . He's willing to
take me inside. I tell him I'm sure that's really interesting, but I'd
rather see his computers. Carlton Fitzpatrick seems quite sur-
prised and pleased. I'm apparently the first journalist he's ever
seen who has turned down the shooting gallery in favor of micro-
    Our next stop is a favorite with touring congressmen: the
three-mile-long FLETC driving range. Here trainees of the Driver
& Marine Division are taught high-speed pursuit skills, setting
and breaking roadblocks, diplomatic security driving for VIP lim-
ousines. . . . A favorite FLETC pastime is to strap a passing
senator into the passenger seat beside a Driver & Marine trainer,
hit a hundred miles an hour, then take it right into "the skid
pan," a section of greased track where two tons of Detroit iron
can whip and spin like a hockey puck.
    Cars don't fare well at FLETC. First they're rifled again and
again for search practice. Then they do 25,000 miles of high-
speed pursuit training; they get about seventy miles per set of
steel-belted radials. Then it's off to the skid pan, where some-
times they roll and tumble headlong in the grease. When they're
sufficiently grease-stained, dented, and creaky, they're sent to the
roadblock unit, where they're battered without pity. And finally
they're sacrificed to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms,
whose trainees learn the ins and outs of car-bomb work by blow-
ing them into smoking wreckage.
    There's a railroad boxcar on the FLETC grounds, and a large
grounded boat, and a propless plane; all training grounds for
 searches. The plane sits forlornly on a patch of weedy tarmac next
 to an eerie blockhouse known as the "ninja compound," where
antiterrorism specialists practice hostage rescues. As I gaze on
 this creepy paragon of modern low-intensity warfare, my nerves
 are jangled by a sudden staccato outburst of automatic weapons

      fire, somewhere in the woods to my right. "Nine-millimeter,"
      Fitzpatrick judges calmly.
          Even the eldritch ninja compound pales somewhat compared
      to the truly surreal area known as "the raid-houses." This is a
      street lined on both sides with nondescript concrete-block houses
      with flat pebbled roofs. They were once officers' quarters. Now
      they are training grounds. The first one to our left, Fitzpatrick
      tells me, has been specially adapted for computer search-and-
      seizure practice. Inside it has been wired for video from top to
      bottom, with eighteen pan-and-tilt remotely controlled video-
      cams mounted on walls and in corners. Every movement of the
      trainee agent is recorded live by teachers, for later taped analysis.
      Wasted movements, hesitations, possibly lethal tactical mistakes
      -all are gone over in detail.
          Perhaps the weirdest single
      aspect of this building is its      D     own at the far end
      front door, scarred and scuffed
                                            some people are practicing
      all along the bottom, from the
      repeated impact, day after day,       a murder.
      of federal shoe leather.
          Down at the far end of the row of raid-houses some people are
      practicing a murder. We drive by slowly as some very young and
      rather nervous-looking federal trainees interview a heavyset bald
      man on the raid-house lawn. Dealing with murder takes a lot of
       practice; first you have to learn to control your own instinctive
       disgust and panic, then you have to learn to control the reactions
       of a nerve-shredded crowd of civilians, some of whom may have
       just lost a loved one, some of whom may be murderers-quite
       possibly both at once.
          A dummy plays the corpse. The roles of the bereaved, the
       morbidly curious, and the homicidal are played, for pay, by local
       Georgians: waitresses, musicians, most anybody who needs to
       moonlight and can learn a script. These people, some of whom
       are FLETC regulars year after year, must surely have one of the
       strangest jobs in the world.
          Something about the scene: "normal" people in a weird situa-

224   000000000000000000000000000   THE HACKER CRACKDOWN

tion, standing around talking in bright Georgia sunshine, unsuc-
cessfully pretending that something dreadful has gone on, while a
dummy lies inside on faked bloodstains. . . . Behind this weird
masquerade, like a nested set of Russian dolls, are grim future
realities of real death, real violence, real murders of real people,
that these young agents will really investigate, many times during
their careers. Over and over. Will those anticipated murders look
like this, feel like this-not as "real" as these amateur actors are
trying to make it seem, but both as "real," and as numbingly
unreal, as watching fake people standing around on a fake lawn?
Something about this scene unhinges me. It seems nightmarish
to me, Kafkaesque. I simply don't know how to take it; my head is
turned around; I don't know whether to laugh, cry, or just shud-
   When the tour is over, Carlton Fitzpatrick and I talk about
computers. For the first time cyberspace seems like quite a com-
fortable place. It seems very real to me suddenly, a place where I
know what I'm talking about, a place I'm used to. It's real.
"Real." Whatever.
   Carlton Fitzpatrick is the only person I've met in cyberspace
circles who is happy with his current equipment. He's got a 5 meg
RAM PC with a 1I2 meg hard disk; a 660 meg's on the way. He's
got a Compaq 386 desktop and a Zenith 386 laptop with 120
meg. Down the hall is a NEC Multi-Sync 2A with a CD-ROM
drive and a 9600 baud modem with four com lines. There's a
training minicomputer, and a 10 meg local mini just for the Cen-
ter, and a lab full of student PC clones and half-a-dozen Macs or
so. There's a Data General MV 2500 with 8 meg on board and a
370 meg disk.
   Fitzpatrick plans to run a UNIX board on the Data General
when he's finished beta-testing the software for it, which he
wrote himself. It'll have e-mail features, massive files on all man-
ner of computer-crime and investigation procedures, and will fol-
low the computer-security specifics of the Department of
Defense "Orange Book." He thinks it will be the biggest BBS in
the federal government.
LAW AND ORDER               OOOOOQooooooooogooooooooooo        225

   Will it have Phrack on it? I ask wryly.
   Sure, he tells me. Phrack, TAP, Computer Underground Digest,
all that stuff. With proper disclaimers, of course.
   I ask him if he plans to be the sysop. Running a system that
size is very time-consuming, and Fitzpatrick teaches two three-
hour courses every day.
   No, he says seriously, FLETC has to get its money's worth out
of the instructors. He thinks he can get a local volunteer to do it,
a high school student.
    He says a bit more, something I think about an Eagle Scout
law-enforcement liaison program, but my mind has rocketed off
in disbelief.
    "You're going to put a teenager in charge of a federal security
BBS?,' I'm speechless. It hasn't escaped my notice that the
FLETC Financial Fraud Institute is the ultimate hacker-trashing
target; there is stuff in here, stuff of such utter and consummate
cool by every standard of the digital underground. . . . I imag-
ine the hackers of my acquaintance fainting dead-away from
forbidden-knowledge greed fits at the mere prospect of cracking
the superultra top-secret computers used to train the Secret Ser-
vice in computer crime.
    "Uhm, Carlton," I babble, "I'm sure he's a really nice kid and
all, but that's a terrible temptation to set in front of somebody
who's, you know, into computers and just starting out."
    "Yeah," he says, "that did occur to me." For the first time I
begin to suspect that he's pulling my leg.
    He seems proudest when he shows me an ongoing project
 called "JICC," Joint Intelligence Control Council. It's based on
 the services provided by EPIC, the EI Paso Intelligence Center,
which supplies data and intelligence to the Drug Enforcement
Administration, the Customs Service, the Coast Guard, and the
 state police of the four southern border states. Certain EPIC files
 can now be accessed by drug-enforcement police of Central
America, South America, and the Caribbean, who can also trade
 information among themselves. Using a telecom program called
 "White Hat," written by two brothers named Lopez from the

Dominican Republic, police can now network internationally on
inexpensive PCs. Carlton Fitzpatrick is teaching a class of drug-
war agents from the Third World, and he's very proud of their
progress. Perhaps soon the sophisticated smuggling networks of
the Medellin Cartel will be matched by a sophisticated computer
network of the Medellin Cartel's sworn enemies. They'll track
boats, contraband, the international drug lords who now leap over
borders with great ease, defeating the police through the clever
use of fragmented national jurisdictions.
   JICC and EPIC must remain beyond the scope of this book.
They seem to me to be very large topics fraught with complica-
tions that I am not fit to judge. I do know, however, that the
international, computer-assisted networking of police, across na-
tional boundaries, is something that Carlton Fitzpatrick considers
very important, a harbinger of a desirable future. I also know that
networks by their nature ignore physical boundaries. And I also
know that where you put communications you put a community,
and that when those communities become self-aware they will
fight to preserve themselves and to expand their influence. I
make no judgments whether this is good or bad. It's just cyber-
space; it's just the way things are.
   I asked Carlton Fitzpatrick what advice he would have for a
twenty-year-old who wanted to shine someday in the world of
electronic law enforcement.
   He told me that the number-one rule was simply not to be
scared of computers. You don't need to be an obsessive "com-
puter weenie," but you mustn't be buffaloed just because some
machine looks fancy. The advantages computers give smart
crooks are matched by the advantages they give smart cops.
Cops in the future will have to enforce the law "with their
heads, not their holsters." Today you can make good cases with-
out ever leaving your office. In the future, cops who resist the
computer revolution will never get far beyond walking a
   I asked Carlton Fitzpatrick if he had some single message for

LAW AND ORDER                ooooooooqoooooooooooooooooo        227

the public, some single thing that he would most like the Ameri-
can public to know about his work.
   He thought about it for a while. "Yes," he said finally. "Tell me
the rules, and I'll teach those rules!" He looked me straight in the
eye. "1 do the best that 1 can."

                 THE CIVIL

                                 The story of the Hacker Crack-
down, as we have followed it thus far, has been technological,
subcultural, criminal, and legal. The story of the civil libertarians,
though it partakes of all those other aspects, is profoundly and
thoroughly political.
   In 1990, the obscure, long-simmering struggle over the owner-
ship and nature of cyberspace became loudly and irretrievably
public. People from some of the oddest corners of American soci-
ety suddenly found themselves public figures. Some of these peo-
ple found this situation much more than they had ever bargained
for. They backpedaled and tried to retreat back to the mandarin


     obscurity of their cozy subcultural niches. This was generally to
     prove a mistake.
        But the civil libertarians seized the day. They found them-
     selves organizing, propagandizing, podium-pounding, persuading,
     touring, negotiating, posing for publicity photos, submitting to
     interviews, squinting in the limelight as they tried a tentative, but
     growingly sophisticated, buck-and-wing upon the public stage.
         It's not hard to see why the civil libertarians should have this
     competitive advantage.
        The hackers of the digital underground are a hermetic elite.
     They find it hard to make any remotely convincing case for their
     actions in front of the general public. Actually, hackers roundly
     despise the "ignorant" public, and have never trusted the judg-
     ment of "the system." Hackers do propagandize, but only among
     themselves, mostly in giddy, badly spelled manifestos of class
     warfare, youth rebellion, or naive techie utopianism. Hackers
     must strut and boast in order to establish and preserve their un-
     derground reputations. But if they speak out too loudly and pub-
     licly, they will break the fragile surface tension of the
     underground, and they will be harassed or arrested. Over the
     longer term, most hackers stumble, get busted, get betrayed, or
     simply give up. As a political force, the digital underground is
         The telcos, for their part, are an ivory tower under protracted
     siege. They have plenty of money with which to push their calcu-
     lated public image, but they waste much energy and goodwill
     attacking one another with slanderous and demeaning ad cam-
     paigns. The telcos have suffered at the hands of politicians, and,
     like hackers, they don't trust the public's judgment. And this
     distrust may be well founded. Should the general public of the
     high-tech 1990s come to understand its own best interests in
     telecommunications, the situation might well pose a grave threat
      to the specialized technical power and authority that the telcos
     have relished for over a century. The telcos do have strong advan-
      tages: loyal employees, specialized expertise, influence in the halls
      of power, tactical allies in law enforcement, and unbelievably vast
        THE CIVIL LIBERTARIANS          000000000000000000000000000   231

        amounts of money. But politically speaking, they lack genuine
        grassroots support. They simply don't seem to have many friends.
           Cops know a lot of things other people don't know. But cops
        willingly reveal only those aspects of their knowledge that they
        feel will meet their institutional purposes and further public or-
        der. Cops have respect, they have responsibilities, they have
        power in the streets and even power in the home, but cops don't
        do particularly well in limelight. When pressed, they will step out
        in the public gaze to threaten bad guys, or to cajole prominent
        citizens, or perhaps to sternly lecture the naive and misguided.
        But then they retreat to their time-honored fortresses: the station
        house, the courtroom, and the rule book.
           The electronic civillibertari- . . . - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
        ans, however, have proven to        The      ability to shove one's
        be born political animals. They
                                              issue onto the public
        seemed to grasp very early on
        the postmodern truism that            agenda and keep it there
        communication is power. Pub-          is power.
        licity is power. Soundbites are
        power. The ability to shove one's issue onto the public agenda-
        and keep it there-is power. Fame is power. Simple personal flu-
        ency and eloquence can be power, if you can somehow catch the
        public's eye and ear.
            The civil libertarians had no monopoly on "technical power"-
        though they all owned computers, most were not particularly ad-
        vanced computer experts. They had a good deal of money, but
        nowhere near the earthshaking wealth and the galaxy of resources
        possessed by telcos or federal agencies. They had no ability to
        arrest people. They carried out no phreak and hacker covert dirty
            But they really knew how to network.
            Unlike the other groups in this book, the civil libertarians have
        operated very much in the open, more or less right in the public
        hurly-burly. They have lectured audiences galore and talked to
        countless journalists, and have learned to refine their spiels.
        They've kept the cameras clicking, kept those faxes humming,

232   oooooooo •••• o.o ••• oaoooo...   THE HACKER CRACKDOWN

swapped that e-mail, run those photocopiers on overtime, licked
envelopes, and spent small fortunes on airfare and long distance.
In an information society, this open, overt, obvious activity has
proven to be a profound advantage.
   In 1990, the civil libertarians of cyberspace assembled out of
nowhere in particular, at warp speed. This "group" (actually, a
networking gaggle of interested parties that scarcely deserves even
that loose term) has almost nothing in the way of formal organi-
zation. Those formal civil libertarian organizations that did take
an interest in cyberspace issues, mainly the Computer Profession-
als for Social Responsibility and the American Civil Liberties
Union, were carried along by events in 1990, and acted mostly as
adjuncts, underwriters, or launching pads.
   The civil libertarians nevertheless enjoyed the greatest success
of any of the groups in the Crackdown of 1990. At this writing,
their future looks rosy and the political initiative is firmly in their
hands. This should be kept in mind as we study the highly un-
likely lives and lifestyles of the people who actually made this

   In June 1989, Apple Computer, Inc., of Cupertino, California,
had a problem. Someone illicitly had copied a small piece of
Apple's proprietary software, software that controlled an internal
chip driving the Macintosh screen display. This Color QuickDraw
source code was a closely guarded piece of Apple's intellectual
property. Only trusted Apple insiders were supposed to possess it.
   But the "NuPrometheus League" wanted things otherwise.
This person (or persons) made several illicit copies of this source
code, perhaps as many as two dozen. He (or she, or they) then
put those illicit floppy disks into envelopes and mailed them to
people all over America: people in the computer industry who
were associated with, but not directly employed by, Apple Com-
   The NuPrometheus caper was a complex, highly ideological,
and very hackerlike crime. Prometheus, it will be recalled, stole
the fire of the gods and gave this potent gift to the general ranks

of downtrodden mankind. A similar god-in-the-manger attitude
was implied for the corporate elite of Apple Computer, while the
"Nu" Prometheus had himself cast in the role of rebel demigod.
The illicitly copied data was given away for free.
   The new Prometheus, whoever he was, escaped the fate of the
ancient Greek Prometheus, who was chained to a rock for centu-
ries by the vengeful gods while an eagle tore and ate his liver. On
the other hand, NuPrometheus chickened out somewhat by com-
parison with his role model. The small chunk of Color Quick-
Draw code he had filched and replicated was more or less useless
to Apple's industrial rivals (or, in fact, to anyone else). Instead of
giving fire to mankind, it was more as if NuPrometheus had pho-
tocopied the schematics for part of a Bic lighter. The act was not
a genuine work of industrial espionage. It was best interpreted as
a symbolic, deliberate slap in the face for the Apple corporate
   Apple's internal struggles were well known in the industry. Ap-
ple's founders, Jobs and Wozniak, had both taken their leave long
since. Their raucous core of senior employees had been a barn-
storming crew of I960s Californians, many of them markedly less
than happy with the new button-down multimillion-dollar regime
at Apple. Many of the programmers and developers who had in-
vented the Macintosh model in the early 1980s had also left the
company. It was they, not the current masters of Apple's corpo-
rate fate, who had invented the stolen Color QuickDraw code.
The NuPrometheus stunt was well calculated to wound company
   Apple called the FBI. The Bureau takes an interest in high-
profile intellectual-property theft cases, industrial espionage, and
theft of trade secrets. These were likely the right people to call,
and rumor has it that the entities responsible were in fact discov-
ered by the FBI and then quietly squelched by Apple manage-
ment. NuPrometheus was never publicly charged with a crime,
prosecuted, or jailed. But there were no further illicit releases of
Macintosh internal software. Eventually the painful issue of
NuPrometheus was allowed to fade .
    234   000000000000000000000000000   THE HACKER CRACKDOWN

      In the meantime, however, a large number of puzzled bystand-
   ers found themselves entertaining surprise guests from the FBI.
      One of these people was John Perry Barlow. Barlow is a most
   unusual man, difficult to describe in conventional terms. He is
                                      perhaps best known as a song-
A   large number of                   writer for the Grateful Dead,
                                      for he composed lyrics for
puzzled bystanders found
                                      "Hell in a Bucket," "Picasso
themselves entertaining               Moon," "Mexicali Blues," "I
surprise guests from the              Need a Miracle," and many
                                      more; he has been writing for
FBI.                                  the band since 1970.
                                         Before we tackle the vexing
   question as to why a rock lyricist should be interviewed by the
   FBI in a computer-crime case, it might be well to say a word or
   two about the Grateful Dead. The Grateful Dead are perhaps the
   most successful and long-lasting of the numerous cultural emana-
   tions from the Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco, in the
   glory days of Movement politics and lysergic transcendence. The
   Grateful Dead are a nexus, a veritable whirlwind, of applique
   decals, psychedelic vans, tie-dyed T-shirts, earth-color denim,
   frenzied dancing, and open and unashamed drug use. The sym-
   bols, and the realities, of Californian freak power surround the
   Grateful Dead like knotted macrame.
      The Grateful Dead and their thousands of Deadhead devotees
   are radical Bohemians. This much is widely understood. Exactly
   what this implies in the 1990s is rather more problematic.
      The Grateful Dead are among the world's most popular and
   wealthy entertainers: number twenty, according to Forbes maga-
   zine, right between M.C. Hammer and Sean Connery. In 1990,
   this jeans-clad group of purported raffish outcasts earned $17
   million. They have been earning sums much along this line for
   quite some time now.
      And while the Dead are not investment bankers or three-piece-
   suit tax specialists-they are, in point of fact, hippie musicians-
   this money has not been squandered in senseless Bohemian
    THE CIVIL LIBERTARIANS           000000000000000000000000000   235

    excess. The Dead have been quietly active for many years, fund-
    ing various worthy activities in their extensive and widespread
    cultural community.
       The Grateful Dead are not conventional players in the Ameri-
    can power establishment. They nevertheless are something of a
    force to be reckoned with. They have a lot of money and a lot of
    friends in many places, both likely and unlikely.
       The Dead may be known for back-to-the-earth environmental-
    ist rhetoric, but this hardly makes them antitechnological Lud-
    dites. On the contrary, like most rock musicians, the Grateful
    Dead have spent their entire adult lives in the company of com-
    plex electronic equipment. They have funds to burn on any so-
    phisticated tool and toy that might happen to catch their fancy.
    And their fancy is quite extensive.
       The Deadhead community boasts any number of recording
    engineers, lighting experts, rock video mavens, electronic techni-
    cians of all descriptions. And the drift goes both ways. Steve
    Wozniak, Apple's co-founder, used to throw rock festivals. Silicon
    Valley rocks out.
        These are the 1990s, not the 1960s. Today, for a surprising
     number of people all over America, the supposed dividing line
    between Bohemian and technician simply no longer exists. People
     of this sort may have a set of windchimes and a dog with a
     knotted kerchief 'round its neck, but they're also quite likely to
     own a multimegabyte Macintosh running MIDI synthesizer soft-
     ware and trippy fractal simulations. These days, even Timothy
     Leary himself, prophet of LSD, does virtual-reality computer-
     graphics demos in his lecture tours.
        John Perry Barlow is not a member of the Grateful Dead. He is,
     however, a ranking Deadhead.
        Barlow describes himself as a "techno-crank." A vague term
     such as "social activist" might not be far from the mark either.
     But Barlow might be better described as a "poet"-if one keeps
     in mind Percy Shelley's archaic definition of poets as "unacknowl-
     edged legislators of the world."
        Barlow once made a stab at acknowledged legislator status. In


    236   oooooOOQO.O • • • • • • • • OQO • • OQO   THE HACKER CRACKDOWN

    1987, he narrowly missed the Republican nomination for a seat in
    the Wyoming State Senate. Barlow is a Wyoming native, the
    third-generation scion of a well-to-do cattle-ranching family. He
    is in his early forties, married and the father of three daughters.
       Barlow is not much troubled by other people's narrow notions
    of consistency. In the late 1980s, this Republican rock lyricist
    cattle rancher sold his ranch and became a computer telecommu-
    nications devotee.
       The free-spirited Barlow made this transition with ease. He
    genuinely enjoyed computers. With a beep of his modem, he
    leapt from small-town Pinedale, Wyoming, into electronic con-
    tact with a large and lively crowd of bright, inventive, technologi-
    cal sophisticates from all over the world. Barlow found the social
    milieu of computing attractive: its fast-lane pace, its blue-sky
    rhetoric, its open-endedness. Barlow began dabbling in computer
    journalism, with marked success, as he was a quick study, and
    both shrewd and eloquent. He frequently traveled to San Fran-
    cisco to network with Deadhead friends. There Barlow made
    extensive contacts throughout the Californian computer commu-
    nity, including friendships among the wilder spirits at Apple.
                                           In May 1990, Barlow re-
H   e had to explain the                ceived a visit from a local
nature of computer crime                            Wyoming agent of the FBI.
                                                    The NuPrometheus case had
to a head-scratching local                          reached Wyoming.
FBI man who specialized                Barlow was troubled to find
                      .              himself under investigation in
m cattle rustlmg.                    an area of his interests once
                                     quite free of federal attention.
  He had to struggle to explain the very nature of computer crime
  to a head-scratching local FBI man who specialized in cattle rus-
  tling. Barlow, chatting helpfully and demonstrating the wonders
  of his modem to the puzzled fed, was alarmed to find all hackers
  generally under FBI suspicion as an evil influence in the elec-
  tronic community. The FBI, in pursuit of a hacker called

    NuPrometheus, was tracing attendees of a suspect group called
    the Hackers Conference.
       The Hackers Conference, which had been started in 1984, was
    a yearly Californian meeting of digital pioneers and enthusiasts.
    The hackers of the Hackers Conference had little if anything to
    do with the hackers of the digital underground. On the contrary,
    the hackers of this conference were mostly well-to-do Californian
    high-tech CEOs, consultants, journalists, and entrepreneurs.
    (This group of hackers were the exact sort of "hackers" most
    likely to react with militant fury at any criminal degradation of
    the term.)
       Barlow, though he was not arrested or accused of a crime, and
    though his computer had certainly not gone out the door, was
    very troubled by this anomaly. He carried the word to the Well.
       Like the Hackers Conference, "the Well" was an emanation of
    the Point Foundation. Point Foundation, the inspiration of a
    wealthy Californian 1960s radical named Stewart Brand, was to
    be a major launchpad of the civil libertarian effort.
       Point Foundation's cultural efforts, like those of their fellow
    Bay Area Californians the Grateful Dead, were multifaceted and
    multitudinous. Rigid ideological consistency had never been a
    strong suit of the Whole Earth Catalog. This Point publication
    had enjoyed a strong vogue during the late 1960s and early 1970s,
    when it offered hundreds of practical (and not so practical) tips
    on communitarian living, environmentalism, and getting back to
    the land. The Whole Earth Catalog, and its sequels, sold two and
    a half million copies and won a National Book Award.
       With the slow collapse of American radical dissent, the Whole
    Earth Catalog had slipped to a more modest corner of the cul-
    tural radar; but in its magazine incarnation, CoEvolution Quar-
    terly, the Point Foundation continued to offer a magpie potpourri
    of "access to tools and ideas."
       CoEvolution Quarterly, which started in 1974, was never a
    widely popular magazine. Despite periodic outbreaks of millen-
     narian fervor, CoEvolution Quarterly failed to revolutionize West-

238   000000000000000000000000000   THE HACKER CRACKDOWN

ern civilization and replace leaden centuries of history with bright
new California paradigms. Instead, this propaganda arm of Point
Foundation cakewalked a fine line between impressive brilliance
and New Age flakiness. CoEvolution Quarterly carried no advertis-
ing, cost a lot, and came out on cheap newsprint with modest
black-and-white graphics. It was poorly distributed, and spread
mostly by subscription and word of mouth.
   It could not seem to grow beyond 30,000 subscribers. And yet
-it never seemed to shrink much either. Year in, year out, de-
cade in, decade out, some strange demographic minority accreted
to support the magazine. The enthusiastic readership did not
seem to have much in the way of coherent "politics" or "ideals."
It was sometimes hard to understand what held them together (if
the often bitter debate in the letter columns could be described
as "t oget h erness ") .
   But if the magazine did not flourish, it was resilient; it got by.
Then, in 1984, the birth-year of the Macintosh computer,
CoEvolution Quarterly suddenly hit the rapids. Point Foundation
had discovered the computer revolution. Out came the Whole
Earth Software Catalog of 1984, arousing head-scratching doubts
among the tie-dyed faithful and rabid enthusiasm among the
nascent cyberpunk milieu, present company included. Point
Foundation started its yearly Hackers Conference and began to
take an extensive interest in the strange new possibilities of digi-
tal counterculture. CoEvolution Quarterly folded its teepee, re-
placed by Whole Earth Software Review and eventually by Whole
Earth Review (the magazine's present incarnation, currently un-
der the editorship of virtual-reality maven Howard Rheingold).
   The year 1985 saw the birth of the "WELL"-the "Whole
Earth 'Lectronic Link." The Well was Point Foundation's bulletin
board system.
   As boards went, the Well was an anomaly from the beginning,
and remained one. It was local to San Francisco. It was huge, with
multiple phone lines and enormous files of commentary. Its com-
plex UNIX-based software might be most charitably described as
"user-opaque." It was run on a mainframe out of the rambling
THE CIVIL LIBERTARIANS           ooooOOOOOOOllllllRQllllOllllllllllllll1l   239

offices of a nonprofit cultural foundation in Sausalito. And it was
crammed with fans of the Grateful Dead.
   Though the Well was peopled by chattering hipsters of the Bay
Area counterculture, it was by no means a "digital underground"
board. Teenagers were fairly scarce; most Well users (known as
"Wellbeings") were thirty- and forty-something Baby Boomers.
They tended to work in the information industry: hardware, soft-
ware, telecommunications, media, entertainment. Librarians,
academics, and journalists were especially common on the Well,
attracted by Point Foundation's open-handed distribution of
"tools and ideas."
   There were no anarchy files on the Well, scarcely a dropped
hint about access codes or credit card theft. No one used handles.
Vicious "flame-wars" were held to a comparatively civilized rum-
ble. Debates were sometimes sharp, but no Wellbeing ever
claimed that a rival had disconnected his phone, trashed his
house, or posted his credit card numbers.
   The Well grew slowly as the 1980s advanced. It charged a mod-
est sum for access and storage, and lost money for years-but not
enough to hamper the Point Foundation, which was nonprofit
anyway. By 1990, the Well had about five thousand users. These
users wandered about a gigantic cyberspace smorgasbord of
"Conferences," each conference consisting of a welter of "top-
ics," each topic containing dozens, sometimes hundreds of com-
ments, in a tumbling, multiperson debate that could last for
months or years on end.
    In 1991, the Well's list of conferences looked like this:


      WELL "Screenzine"               Digest             (g z i n a )

  Best of the WELL-vintage material                             (g best)

         Index listing of new topics in all
             conferences (g n au t op s )
240   oooooooqooooooooooooooooooo   THE HACKER CRACKDOWN

                       Business Education
Apple Li-        (g alug)           Agriculture   (g agrU
Brainstorm-      (g brain)          Classifieds   (g c l a )
Computer         (g c j )           Consultants   (g consul t )
Comsumers        (g cons)           Design        (g design)
Desktop Pub-     (g desk)           Disability    (g disability)
Education        (g e d )           Energy        (g energy91)
Entrepre-        (g entre)          Homeowners    (g home)
Indexing         (g indexing)       Investments   (g invest)
Kids91           (g kids)           Legal         (glegal)
One Person       (g one)            Periodical/   (g per)
  Business                            newslet-
Telecomm Law     (g tc I)           The Future    (g f u t )
Translators      (g trans)          Travel        (g t r a )
Work             (g work)

         Electronic Frontier Foundation (g eff)
           Computers, Freedom & Privacy (g c f p )
Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility          (g cp s r )

               Social Political Humanities
Aging            (g gray)           AIDS          (g aids)
Amnesty In-      (9 alllnesty)      Archives      (g arc)
Berkeley         (g b e r k )       Buddhist      (9 wonderland)
Christian        (9 cross)          Couples       (g couples)
Current          (g c ur r )        Dreams        (g dream)
Drugs            (9 dr u )          East Coast    (g east)
Emotional        (g private)        Erotica       (g eros)
Environment      (g anv )           Firearms      (g firearms)
First Amend-     (g first)          Fringes of    (g fringes)
  ment                                Reason
Gay              (9 gay)            Gay (Pri-     (g gaypriv)
      THE CIVIL LIBERTARIANS            oOOOOOOOROOOOOOOooooooooooo      241

    Geography       (g geo)              German            (g   german)
    Gul f War       (g gulf)             Hawaii            (g   aloha)
    Health          (g heal)             History           (g   hi st )
    Holistic        (gholi)              Interview         (g   inter)
    Italian         (g i t a l )         Jewish            (g   jew)
    Liberty         (g liberty)          Mind              (g   mind)
    Miscellane-     (g mise)             Men on the        (g   mow)
      ous                                  WELL**
    Network In-     (g origin)           Nonprofits        (g non)
    North Bay       (g   north)          Northwest         (g nu )
    Pad fic Rim     (g   pacrim)         Parenting         (g par)
    Peace           (g   pea)            Peninsula         (g pen)
    Poetry          (g   poetry)         Philosophy        (gphi)
    Politics        (g   pol)            Psychology        (g p s y )
    Psychother-     (g   therapy)        Recovery##        (g recovery)
    San Fran-       (g san fran )        Scams             (g scam)
    Sexuality       (g sex)              Singles           (g singles)
    Southern        (g south)            Spanish           (g spanish)
    Spiritual-      (g spirit)           Tibet             (g tibet)
    Transporta-     (g transport)        True Confes-      (g t r u )
      tion                                 sions
    Unclear         (g unclear)          WELL              (g www)
    Whole Earth     (g we)               Women on the      (g wow)
    Words           (g words)            Writers           (gwri)

    **** Private Conference - mail wooly for entry
    *** Private conference - mail sonia for entry
    ** Private conference - mail flash for entry
    * Private conference - mail reva for entry
    # Private Conference -          mail hudu for entry
    ## Private Conference          - mail dhawk for entry

                   Arts Recreation Entertainment
    ArtCom Elec-    (g a c e n )         Audio-            (g   au d )
      tronic                               Video-
      Net                                  philia
    Bicycles        (g bike)             Bay Area To-      (g bat)
    Boating         (g wet)              Books             (g books)


   242   9 0 0 p o o o o o o o o o o g OQOOOQODOQQQ   THE HACKER CRACKDOWN

   CD's                   (g c d )                    Comics          (g   comics)
   Cooking                (g cook)                    Flying          (g   flying)
   Fun                    (g fun)                     Games           (g   games)
   Gardening              (g gard)                    Kids            (g   kids)
   Nightowls*             (gowl)                      Jokes           (g   jokes)
   MIDI                   (g midi>                    Movies          (g   movies)
   Motorcy-               (g ride)                    Motoring        (g   car)
   Music                  (g mus )                    On Stage        (g onstage)
   Pets                   (g pets)                    Radio           (g r a d )
   Restaurant             (g rest)                    Science Fic-    (g sf)
   Sports                 (g s p o )                  Star Trek       (g trek)
   Television             (g tv)                      Theater         (g theater)
   Weird                  (g weird)                   Zines/Fact-     (g f 5)

   * Open from midnight to bam
   ** Updated daily

                                        Grateful Dead
   Grateful               (g gd)                       Deadplan*      (g dp )
   Deadlit                (g deadlit)                  Feedback       (g feedback)
   GD Hour                (g q dh )                    Tapes          (g tapes)
   Tickets                (g t i x )                   Tours          (g tours)

   * Private conference - mail                        tnf for entry

   AI/Forth/              (g realtime)                 Amiga          (g an i q a )
   Apple                  (g app )                     Computer       (g cb o ok )
   Art&                   (g gra)                      Hacking        (ghack)
   HyperCard              (g   hype)                   IBM PC         (g   ibm)
   LANs                   (g   Ian)                    Laptop         (g   lap)
   Macintosh              (g   mac)                    Mactech        (g   mactech)
   Microtimes             (g   microx)                 Muchomedia     (g   much o )
   NeXt                   (g   next)                   OS/2           (g   os2)
   Printers               (g   print)                  Program-       (g   net)

~-----            ------~~-----                   -----
  THE CIVIL LIBERTARIANS            OOOROOOOooooooooooo,oooo,oo        243

Siggraph         (g siggraph)        Software De-      (g s d c )
Software/        (software)          Software          (g sse)
  Program-                             Support
Unix             (g unix)            Windows           (g windows)
Word Pro-        (g word)

                 Technical Communications
Bioinfo          (g   bi ci nf o)    Info              (g boing)
Media            (g media)           NAPLPS            (g n ap l p s )
Netweaver        (g netweaver)       Networld          (g networld)
Packet Radio     (g packet)          Photography       (g p h o )
Radio            (g   r ed )         Science           (g science)
Technical        (g tee)             Telecommu-        (g t   aI a )
  Writers                              nications
Usenet           (g usenet)          Video             (g v   i d)
Virtual Re-      (g   vr )

                             The WELL Itself
Deeper           (g   deeper)        Entry             (g an t )
General          (g   gentech)       Help              (g help)
Hosts            (g   hosts)         Policy            (g policy)
System News      (g   news)          Test              (g test)

     The list itself is dazzling, bringing to the untutored eye a diz-
  zying impression of a bizarre milieu of mountain-climbing Hawai-
  ian holistic photographers trading true-life confessions with
  bisexual word-processing Tibetans.
     But this confusion is more apparent than real. Each of these
  conferences was a little cyberspace world in itself, comprising
  dozens and perhaps hundreds of subtopics. Each conference com-
  monly was frequented by a fairly small, fairly like-minded com-
  munity of perhaps a few dozen people. It was humanly impossible
  to encompass the entire Well (especially because access to the
  Well's mainframe computer was billed by the hour). Most long-
  time users contented themselves with a few favorite topical
     244   ooooooOQooooooooooooooooooo   THE HACKER CRACKDOWN

     neighborhoods, with the occasional foray elsewhere for a taste of
     exotica. But especially important news items, and hot topical de-
     bates, could catch the attention of the entire Well community.
        Like any community, the Well had its celebrities, and John
     Perry Barlow, the silver-tongued and silver-modemed lyricist of
     the Grateful Dead, ranked prominently among them. It was here
     on the Well that Barlow posted his true-life tale of computer-
     crime encounter with the FBI.
        The story, as might be expected, created a great stir. The Well
     was already primed for hacker controversy. In December 1989,
     Harper's magazine had hosted a debate on the Well about the
     ethics of illicit computer intrusion. While over forty various com-
     puter mavens took part, Barlow proved a star in the debate. So
     did "Acid Phreak" and "Phiber Optik," a pair of young New York
     hacker-phreaks whose skills at telco switching-station intrusion
     were matched only by their apparently limitless hunger for fame.
     The advent of these two boldly swaggering outlaws in the pre-
     cincts of the Well created a sensation akin to that of Black Pan-
     thers at a cocktail party for the radically chic.
        Phiber Optik in particular was to seize the day in 1990. A
     devotee of the 2600 circle and stalwart of the New York hackers'
     group "Masters of Deception," Phiber Optik was a splendid ex-
     emplar of the computer intruder as committed dissident. The
     eighteen-year-old Optik, a high school dropout and part-time
     computer repairman, was young, smart, and ruthlessly obsessive,
     a sharp-dressing, sharp-talking digital dude who was utterly and
     airily contemptuous of anyone's rules but his own. By late 1991,
     Phiber Optik had appeared in Harper's, Esquire, The New York
     Times, in countless public debates and conventions, even on a
     television show hosted by Geraldo Rivera.
        Treated with gingerly respect by Barlow and other Well
     mavens, Phiber Optik swiftly became a Well celebrity. Strangely,
     despite his thorny attitude and utter singlemindedness, Phiber
     Optik seemed to arouse strong protective instincts in most of the
     people who met him. He was great copy for journalists, always


fearlessly ready to swagger and, better yet, actually to demonstrate
some off-the-wall digital stunt. He was a born media darling.
    Even cops seemed to recognize that there was something pecu-
liarly unworldly and uncriminal about this particular trouble-
maker. He was so bold, so flagrant, so young, and so obviously
doomed that even those who strongly disapproved of his actions
grew anxious for his welfare and began to flutter about him as if
he were an endangered seal pup.
    In January 24, 1990 (nine days after the Martin Luther King
Day Crash), Phiber Optik, Acid Phreak, and a third NYC scofflaw
named "Scorpion" were raided by the Secret Service and the New
York State Police. Their computers went out the door, along with
the usual blizzard of papers, notebooks, compact disks, answering
machines, Sony Walkmans, and the like. Both Acid Phreak and
Phiber Optik were accused of having caused the crash.
   The mills of justice ground slowly. Phiber had lost his machin-
ery in the raid, but no charges were filed against him for over a
year. His predicament was extensively publicized on the Well,
where it caused much resentment for police tactics. It's one thing
to merely hear about a hacker raided or busted; it's another to see
the police attacking someone you've come to know personally,
and who has explained his motives at length. Through the
Harper's debate on the Well, it had become clear to the Wellbe-
ings that Phiber Optik was not in fact going to "hurt anything."
In their own salad days, many Wellbeings had tasted tear-gas in
pitched street battles with police. They were inclined to indul-
gence for acts of civil disobedience.
    Wellbeings were also startled to learn of the draconian thor-
oughness of a typical hacker search-and-seizure. It took no great
stretch of imagination for them to envision themselves suffering
much the same treatment.
    As early as January 1990, sentiment on the Well had already
begun to sour, and people had begun to grumble that "hackers"
were getting a raw deal from the ham-handed powers-that-be.
The resultant issue of Harper's magazine posed the question as to
246   0000000 OROOO 000 0 00 0 0 0 00 RO 0 0   THE HACKER CRACKDOWN

whether computer intrusion was a "crime" at all. As Barlow put it
later: "I've begun to wonder if we wouldn't also regard spelunkers
as desperate criminals if AT&T owned all the caves."
   In February 1991, more than a year after the raid on his home,
Phiber Optik was finally arrested and was charged with first-
degree Computer Tampering and Computer Trespass, New York
state offenses. He was also charged with a theft-of-service misde-
meanor, involving a complex free-call scam to a 900 number.
Phiber Optik pled guilty to the misdemeanor charge and was
sentenced to thirty-five hours of community service.
   This passing harassment from the unfathomable world of
straight people seemed to bother Optik little if at all. Deprived of
his computer by the January search-and-seizure, he simply
bought himself a portable computer so the cops could no longer
monitor the phone where he lived with his mom, and he went
right on with his depredations, sometimes on live radio or in front
of television cameras.
   The crackdown raid may have done little to dissuade Phiber
Optik, but its galling effect on the Wellbeings was profound. As
 1990 rolled on, the slings and arrows mounted: the Knight Light-
ning raid, the Steve Jackson raid, the nation-spanning Operation
Sundevil. The rhetoric of law enforcement made it clear that
there was, in fact, a concerted crackdown on hackers in progress.
   The hackers of the Hackers Conference, the Wellbeings, and
their ilk did not really mind the occasional public misapprehen-
sion of "hacking"; if anything, this membrane of differentiation
from straight society made the "computer community" feel dif-
ferent, smarter, better. They had never before been confronted,
however, by a concerted vilification campaign.
    Barlow's central role in the counterstruggle was one of the
major anomalies of 1990. Journalists investigating the controversy
often stumbled over the truth about Barlow, but they commonly
dusted themselves off and hurried on as if nothing had happened.
It was as if it were too much to believe that a 1960s freak from the
Grateful Dead had taken on a federal law enforcement operation
head-to-head and actually seemed to be winning!

                                     ..   _ .....- - - - - - - - - -

        Barlow had no easily detectable power base for a political
    struggle of this kind. He had no formal legal or technical creden-
    tials. Barlow was, however, a computer networker of truly stellar
    brilliance. He had a poet's gift of concise, colorful phrasing. He
    also had a journalist's shrewdness, an off-the-wall, self-deprecat-
    ing wit, and a phenomenal wealth of simple personal charm.
       The kind of influence Barlow possessed is fairly common cur-
    rency in literary, artistic, or musical circles. A gifted critic can
    wield great artistic influence simply through defining the temper
    of the times, by coining the catchphrases and the terms of debate
    that become the common currency of the period. (And as it hap-
    pened, Barlow was a part-time art critic, with a special fondness
    for the Western art of Frederic Remington.)
        Barlow was the first com-        .-C---..::::....------------
    mentator to adopt novelist                 yberspace demanded           a
    William Gibson's striking sci-        new set of metaphors
    ence-fictional term "cyber-                                        '
    space" as a synonym for the           rules, and behaviors.
    present-day nexus of computer
    and telecommunications networks. Barlow was insistent that
    cyberspace should be regarded as a qualitatively new world, a
    "frontier." According to Barlow, the world of electronic commu-
    nications, now made visible through the computer screen, could
    no longer be usefully regarded as just a tangle of high-tech wiring.
    Instead, it had become a place, cyberspace, which demanded a
    new set of metaphors, a new set of rules and behaviors. The term,
    as Barlow employed it, struck a useful chord, and this concept of
    cyberspace was picked up by Time, Scientific American, computer
    police, hackers, and even constitutional scholars. "Cyberspace"
    now seems likely to become a permanent fixture of the language.
       Barlow was very striking in person: a tall, craggy-faced, bearded,
    deep-voiced Wyomingan in a dashing Western ensemble of jeans,
    jacket, cowboy boots, a knotted throat kerchief, and an ever-
    present Grateful Dead cloisonne lapel pin.
       Armed with a modem, however, Barlow was truly in his ele-
    ment. Formal hierarchies were not Barlow's strong suit; he rarely

                248   000000000000000000000000000   THE HACKER CRACKDOWN

                missed a chance to belittle the "large organizations and their
                drones," with their uptight, institutional mindset. Barlow was
                very much of the free-spirit persuasion, deeply unimpressed by
                brass hats and jacks-in-office. But when it came to the digital
                grapevine, Barlow was a cyberspace ad-hocrat par excellence.
                   There was not a mighty army of Barlows. There was only one
                Barlow, and he was a fairly anomolous individual. However, the
                situation only seemed to require a single Barlow. In fact, after
                1990, many people must have concluded that a single Barlow was
                far more than they'd ever bargained for.
                   Barlow's querulous miniessay about his encounter with the FBI
                struck a strong chord on the Well. A number of other free spirits
                on the fringes of Apple Computing had come under suspicion,
                and they liked it not one whit better than he did.
                   One of these was Mitchell Kapor, the co-inventor of the
                spreadsheet program "Lotus 1-2-3" and the founder of Lotus
                Development Corporation. Kapor had written off the passing in-
                dignity of being fingerprinted down at his own local Boston FBI
                headquarters, but Barlow's essay made the full national scope of
                the FBI's dragnet clear to him. The issue now had Kapor's full
                attention. As the Secret Service swung into antihacker operation
                nationwide in 1990, Kapor watched every move with deep skepti-
                cism and growing alarm.
                   As it happened, Kapor had already met Barlow, who had inter-
                viewed him for a California computer journal. Like most people
                who met Barlow, Kapor had been very taken with him. Now
                Kapor took it upon himself to drop in on Barlow for a heart-to-
                heart talk about the situation.
                   Kapor was a regular on the Well. Kapor had been a devotee of
                the Whole Earth Catalog since the beginning, and treasured a
                complete run of the magazine. And Kapor not only had a mo-
                dem, but a private jet. In pursuit of the scattered high-tech
                investments of Kapor Enterprises Inc., his personal, multimillion-
                dollar holding company, Kapor commonly crossed state lines with
                about as much thought as one might give to faxing a letter.
                   The Kapor-Barlow council of June 1990, in Pinedale, Wyo-

------   ---   ------

ming, was the start of the Electronic Frontier Foundation. Barlow
swiftly wrote a manifesto, "Crime and Puzzlement," which an-
nounced his and Kapor's intention to form a political organiza-
tion to "raise and disburse funds for education, lobbying, and
litigation in the areas relating to digital speech and the extension
of the Constitution into Cyberspace."
    Furthermore, proclaimed the manifesto, the foundation would
"fund, conduct, and support legal efforts to demonstrate that
the Secret Service has exercised prior restraint on publications,
limited free speech, conducted improper seizure of equipment
and data, used undue force, and generally conducted itself in a
fashion which is arbitrary, oppressive, and unconstitutional."
    "Crime and Puzzlement" was distributed far and wide through
computer networking channels and also printed in the Whole
Earth Review. The sudden declaration of a coherent, politicized
counterstrike from the ranks of hackerdom electrified the
community. Steve Wozniak (perhaps a bit stung by the Nu-
Prometheus scandal) swiftly offered to match any funds Kapor
offered the foundation.
    John Gilmore, one of the pioneers of Sun Microsysterns, im-
mediately offered his own extensive financial and personal sup-
port. Gilmore, an ardent libertarian, was to prove an eloquent
advocate of electronic privacy issues, especially freedom from
governmental and corporate computer-assisted surveillance of
private citizens.
    A second meeting in San Francisco rounded up further allies:
Stewart Brand of the Point Foundation, virtual-reality pioneers
Jaron Lanier and Chuck Blanchard, network entrepreneur and
venture capitalist Nat Goldhaber. At this dinner meeting, the
activists settled on a formal title: the Electronic Frontier Founda-
tion, Incorporated. Kapor became its president. A new EFF Con-
ference was opened on the Point Foundation's Well, and the Well
was declared "the home of the Electronic Frontier Foundation."
    Press coverage was immediate and intense. Like their nine-
teenth-century spiritual ancestor, Alexander Graham Bell, the
high-tech computer entrepreneurs of the 1970s and 1980s-peo-

ple such as Wozniak, Jobs, Kapor, Gates, and Texas billionaire H.
Ross Perot, who had raised themselves by their bootstraps to
dominate a glittering new industry-had always made very good
   But while the Wellbeings rejoiced, the press in general seemed
nonplussed by the self-declared "civilizers of cyberspace." EFF's
insistence that the war against "hackers" involved grave constitu-
tional civil liberties issues seemed somewhat farfetched, espe-
cially because none of EFF's organizers were lawyers or
established politicians. The business press in particular found it
easier to seize on the apparent core of the story-that high-tech
entrepreneur Mitchell Kapor had established a "defense fund for
hackers." Was EFF a genuinely important political development,
or merely a clique of wealthy eccentrics, dabbling in matters bet-
ter left to the proper authorities? The jury was still out.
   But the stage was now set for open confrontation. And the first
and the most critical battle was the hacker show trial of Knight

   It has been my practice throughout this book to refer to hack-
ers only by their "handles." There is little to gain by giving the
real names of these people, many of whom are juveniles, many of
whom have never been convicted of any crime, and many of
whom had unsuspecting parents who have since suffered enough.
   But the trial of Knight Lightning on July 24-27, 1990, made
this particular hacker a nationally known public figure. It can do
no particular harm to him or his family if I repeat the long-
established fact that his name is Craig Neidorf (pronounced
   Neidorf's jury trial took place in the United States District
Court, Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division, with the
Honorable Nicholas 1. Bua presiding. The United States of Amer-
ica was the plaintiff, the defendant Mr. Neidorf. The defendant's
attorney was Sheldon T. Zenner of the Chicago firm of Katten,
Muchin and Zavis.
   The prosecution was led by the stalwarts of the Chicago Com-

puter Fraud and Abuse Task Force: William J. Cook, Colleen D.
Coughlin, and David A. Glockner, all assistant United States at-
torneys. The Secret Service case agent was Timothy M. Foley.
   It will be recalled that Neidorf was the co-editor of an under-
ground hacker "magazine" called Phrack. As mentioned, Phrack
was an entirely electronic publication, distributed through bulle-
tin boards and over electronic networks. It was an amateur publi-
cation given away for free. Neidorf had never made any money for
his work in Phrack. Neither had his unindicted co-editor, Taran
King, or any of the numerous Ph rack contributors.
   The Chicago Computer Fraud and Abuse Task Force, however,
had decided to prosecute Neidorf as a fraudster. To formally ad-
mit that Phrack was a "magazine" and Neidorf a "publisher" was
to open a prosecutorial Pandora's Box of First Amendment issues.
To do this was to play into the hands of Zenner and his EFF
advisors, which now included a phalanx of prominent New York
civil rights lawyers as well as the formidable legal staff of Katten,
Muchin and Zavis. Instead, the prosecution relied heavily on the
issue of computer fraud and abuse, wire fraud and interstate
transportation of stolen property. Section 1029 of Title 18, the
section from which the Secret Service drew its most direct juris-
diction over computer crime.
   Neidorf's alleged crimes centered around the E911 Document.
He was accused of having entered into a fraudulent scheme with
the Prophet, who, it will be recalled, was the Atlanta LoD mem-
ber who had illicitly copied the E911 Document from the Bell-
South AIMSX system.
   Prophet himself was also a co-defendant in the Neidorf case,
part and parcel of the alleged "fraud scheme" to "steal" Bell-
South's E911 Document (and to pass the document across state
lines, which helped establish the Neidorf trial as a federal case).
Prophet, in the spirit of full cooperation, had agreed to testify
against Neidorf.
   In fact, all three of the Atlanta crew stood ready to testify
against Neidorf. Their own federal prosecutors in Atlanta had
charged the Atlanta Three with: (a) conspiracy, (b) computer

fraud, (c) wire fraud, (d) access device fraud, and (e) interstate
transportation of stolen property (Title 18, Sections 371, 1030,
1343, 1029, and 2314).
   Faced with this blizzard of trouble, Prophet and Leftist had
ducked any public trial and had pled guilty to reduced charges-
one conspiracy count apiece. Urvile had pled guilty to that odd
bit of Section 1029 which makes it illegal to possess "fifteen or
more" illegal access devices (in his case, computer passwords).
And their sentences were scheduled for September 14, 1990-
well after the Neidorf trial. As witnesses, they presumably could
be relied upon to behave.
   Neidorf, however, was pleading innocent. Most everyone else
caught up in the crackdown had "cooperated fully" and pled
guilty in hope of reduced sentences. (Steve Jackson was a notable
exception, of course, and had strongly protested his innocence
from the very beginning. But Steve Jackson could not get a day in
court-Steve Jackson had never been charged with any crime in
the first place.)
   Neidorf had been urged to plead guilty. But Neidorf was a
political science major and was disinclined to go to jail for
"fraud" when he had not made any money, had not broken into
any computer, and had been publishing a magazine that he con-
sidered protected under the First Amendment. Neidorf's trial was
the only legal action of the entire crackdown that actually in-
volved bringing the issues at hand out for a public test in front of
a jury of American citizens.
   Neidorf too had cooperated with investigators. He had volun-
tarily handed over much of the evidence that had led to his own
indictment. He had already admitted in writing that he knew that
the £911 Document had been stolen before he had "published"
it in Phrack-or, from the prosecution's point of view, illegally
transported stolen property by wire in something purporting to be
a "publication."
   But even if the "publication" of the £911 Document was not
held to be a crime, that wouldn't let Neidorf off the hook.
Neidorf had still received the £911 Document when Prophet had


transferred it to him from Rich Andrews' [olnet node. On that
occasion, it certainly hadn't been "published"-it was hacker
booty, pure and simple, transported across state lines.
   The Chicago Task Force led a Chicago grand jury to indict
Neidorf on a set of charges that could have put him in jail for
thirty years. When some of these charges were challenged suc-
cessfully before Neidorf actually went to trial, the task force re-
arranged his indictment so that he faced a possible jail term of
over sixty years! As a first offender, it was very unlikely that
Neidorf would in fact receive a sentence so drastic; but the Chi-
cago Task Force clearly intended to see him put in prison and his
conspiratorial "magazine" put permanently out of commission.
This was a federal case, and Neidorf was charged with the fraudu-
lent theft of property worth almost $80,000.
   William Cook was a strong believer in high-profile prosecu-
tions with symbolic overtones. He often published articles on his
work in the security trade press, arguing that "a clear message had
to be sent to the public at large and the computer community in
particular that unauthorized attacks on computers and the theft
of computerized information would not be tolerated by the
   The issues were complex, the prosecution's tactics somewhat
unorthodox, but the Chicago Task Force had proved sure-footed
to date. Shadowhawk had been bagged on the wing in 1989 by
the task force, and sentenced to nine months in prison, and a
$10,000 fine. The Shadowhawk case involved charges under Sec-
tion 1030, the "federal interest computer" section.
   Shadowhawk had not in fact been a devotee of "federal-inter-
est" computers per se. On the contrary, Shadowhawk, who owned
an AT&T home computer, seemed to cherish a special aggression
toward AT&T. He had bragged on the underground boards
Phreak Klass 2600 and Dr. Ripco of his skills at raiding AT&T and
of his intention to crash AT&T's national phone system.
Shadowhawk's brags were noticed by Henry Kluepfel of Bellcore
Security, scourge of the outlaw boards, whose relations with the
Chicago Task Force were long and intimate.
     254   ooooooooooooooopoooOOOOOOOII   THE HACKER CRACKDOWN

        The task force successfully established that Section 1030 ap-
     plied to the teenage Shadowhawk, despite the objections of his
     defense attorney. Shadowhawk had entered a computer "owned"
     by U.S. Missile Command and merely "managed" by AT&T. He
     had also entered an AT&T computer located at Robbins Air
     Force Base in Georgia. Attacking AT&T was of "federal interest"
     whether Shadowhawk had intended it or not.
        The task force also convinced the court that a piece of AT&T
     software that Shadowhawk had illicitly copied from Bell Labs, the
     "Artificial Intelligence C5 Expert System," was worth a cool $1
     million. Shadowhawk's attorney had argued that his client had
     not sold the program and had made no profit from the illicit
     copying. And in point of fact, the C5 Expert System was experi-
     mental software and had no established market value because it
     had never been on the market in the first place. AT&T's own
     assessment of a "$1 million" figure for its own intangible property
     was accepted without challenge by the court, however. And
     the court concurred with the government prosecutors that
     Shadowhawk showed clear "intent to defraud" whether he'd got-
     ten any money or not. Shadowhawk went to jail.
        The task force's other best-known triumph had been the con-
     viction and jailing of "Kyrie." Kyrie, a true denizen of the digital
     criminal underground, was a thirty-six-year-old Canadian woman,
     convicted and jailed for telecommunications fraud in Canada.
     After her release from prison, she had fled the wrath of Canada
     Bell and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and eventually set-
     tled, very unwisely, in Chicago.
        Kyrie, who also called herself "Long Distance Information,"
     specialized in voice-mail abuse. She assembled large numbers of
     hot long-distance codes, then read them aloud into a series of
     corporate voice-mail systems. Kyrie and her friends were elec-
     tronic squatters in corporate voice-mail systems.using them
     much as if they were pirate bulletin boards, then moving on when
     their vocal chatter clogged the system and the owners necessarily
     wised up. Kyrie's camp followers were a loose tribe of some 150

THE CIVIL LIBERTARIANS         000000000000000000000000000   255

phone phreaks, who followed her trail of piracy from machine to
machine, ardently begging for her services and expertise.
   Kyrie's disciples passed her stolen credit card numbers in ex-
change for her stolen "long-distance information." Some of Ky-
rie's clients paid her off in cash, by scamming credit card cash
advances from Western Union.
    Kyrie traveled incessantly,
mostly through airline tickets        Kyrie's camp followers
and hotel rooms that she scam-
                                      were a loose tribe of some
med through stolen credit
cards. Tiring of this, she found      150 phone phreaks.
refuge with a fellow female
phone phreak in Chicago. Kyrie's hostess, like a surprising num-
ber of phone phreaks, was blind. She was also physically disabled.
Kyrie allegedly made the best of her new situation by applying
for, and receiving, state welfare funds under a false identity as a
qualified caretaker for the handicapped.
    (Sadly, Kyrie's two children by an earlier marriage had also
vanished underground with her; these preteen digital refugees
had no legal American identity and had never spent a day in
    Kyrie was addicted to technical mastery and enthralled by her
own cleverness and the ardent worship of her teenage followers.
This foolishly led her to phone up Gail Thackeray in Arizona, to
boast, brag, strut, and offer to play informant. Thackeray, how-
ever, had already learned far more than enough about Kyrie,
whom she roundly despised as an adult criminal corrupting mi-
nors, a "female Fagin." Thackeray passed her tapes of Kyrie's
boasts to the Secret Service.
    Kyrie was raided and arrested in Chicago in May 1989. She
confessed at great length and pled guilty.
    In August 1990, Cook and his task force colleague Colleen
Coughlin sent Kyrie to jail for twenty-seven months, for com-
puter and telecommunications fraud. This was a markedly severe
sentence by the usual wrist-slapping standards of hacker busts.
256 •••••• ooo.gO.OOg •• ORR ••• O..   THE HACKER CRACKDOWN

Seven of Kyrie's foremost teenage disciples were also indicted and
convicted. The Kyrie "high-tech street gang," as Cook described
it, had been crushed. Cook and his colleagues had been the first
ever to put someone in prison for voice-mail abuse. Their pio-
neering efforts had won them attention and kudos.
    In his article on Kyrie, Cook drove the message home to the
readers of Security Management magazine, a trade journal for cor-
porate security professionals. The case, Cook said, and Kyrie's
stiff sentence, "reflect a new reality for hackers and computer
crime victims in the '90s. . . . Individuals and corporations who
report computer and telecommunications crimes can now expect
that their cooperation with federal law enforcement will result in
meaningful punishment. Companies and the public at large must
report computer-enhanced crimes if they want prosecutors and
the courts to protect their rights to the tangible and intangible
property developed and stored on computers."
    Cook had made it his business to construct this "new reality
for hackers." He'd also made it his business to police corporate
property rights to the intangible.
    Had the Electronic Frontier Foundation been a hacker defense
fund, as that term was generally understood, it presumably would
have stood up for Kyrie. Her 1990 sentence did indeed send a
"message" that federal heat was coming down on hackers. But
Kyrie found no defenders at EFF, or anywhere else, for that mat-
ter. EFF was not a bailout fund for electronic crooks.
    The Neidorf case paralleled the Shadowhawk case in certain
ways. The victim once again was allowed to set the value of the
"stolen" property. Once again Kluepfel was both investigator and
technical advisor. Once again no money had changed hands, but
the "intent to defraud" was central.
    The prosecution's case showed signs of weakness early on. The
task force had originally hoped to prove Neidorf the center of a
nationwide Legion of Doom criminal conspiracy. The Phrack edi-
tors threw physical get-togethers every summer, which attracted
hackers from across the country-generally two dozen or so of the

magazine's favorite contributors and readers. (Such conventions
were common in the hacker community; 2600 Magazine, for in-
stance, held public meetings of hackers in New York every
month.) LoD heavy dudes were always a strong presence at these
Phrack-sponsored "SummerCons."
   In July 1988, an Arizona hacker named "Dictator" attended
SummerCon in Neidorf's home town of St. Louis. Dictator was
one of Gail Thackeray's underground informants; Dictator's un-
derground board in Phoenix was a sting operation for the Secret
Service. Dictator brought an undercover crew of Secret Service
agents to SummerCon. The agents bored spyholes through the
wall of his hotel room in St. Louis and videotaped the frolicking
hackers through a one-way mirror. As it happened, however,
nothing illegal had occurred on videotape, other than the guz-
zling of beer by a couple of minors. SummerCons were social
events, not sinister cabals. The tapes showed fifteen hours of
raucous laughter, pizza-gobbling, in jokes, and back-slapping.
   Neidorf's lawyer, Sheldon Zenner, saw the Secret Service tapes
before the trial. Zenner was shocked by the complete harmless-
ness of this meeting, which Cook had earlier characterized as a
sinister interstate conspiracy to commit fraud. Zenner wanted to
show the SummerCon tapes to the jury. It took protracted
maneuverings by the task force to keep the tapes from the jury as
   The E91l Document was also proving a weak reed. It had
originally been valued at $79,449. Unlike Shadowhawk's arcane
Artificial Intelligence booty, the E911 Document was not soft-
ware-it was written in English. Computer-knowledgeable people
found this value-for a twelve-page bureaucratic document-
frankly incredible. In his "Crime and Puzzlement" manifesto for
EFF, Barlow commented: "We will probably never know how this
figure was reached or by whom, though I like to imagine an ap-
praisal team consisting of Franz Kafka, Joseph Heller, and
Thomas Pynchon."
   As it happened, Barlow was unduly pessimistic. The EFF did,

in fact, eventually discover exactly how this figure was reached,
and by whom-but only in 1991, long after the Neidorf trial was
   Kimberly Megahee, a Southern Bell security manager, had ar-
rived at the document's value by simply adding up the "costs
associated with the production" of the E911 Document. Those
"costs" were as follows:

1. A technical writer had been hired to research and write the
   E911 Document: 200 hours of work, at $35 an hour, cost
   $7,000. A project manager had overseen the technical writer:
   200 hours, at $31 an hour, made $6,200.

2. A week of typing had cost $721 dollars. A week of formatting
   had cost $721. A week of graphics formatting had cost $742.

3. Two days of editing cost $367.

4. A box of order labels cost $5.

5. Preparing a purchase order for the Document, including typ-
   ing and the obtaining of an authorizing signature from within
   the BellSouth bureaucracy, cost $129.

6. Printing cost $313. Mailing the Document to fifty people took
   fifty hours by a clerk, and cost $858.

7. Placing the Document in an index took two clerks an hour
   each, totaling $43.

   Bureaucratic overhead alone, therefore, was alleged to have
cost a whopping $17,099. According to Ms. Megahee, the typing
of a twelve-page document had taken a full week. Writing it had
taken five weeks, including an overseer who apparently did noth-
ing else but watch the author for five weeks. Editing twelve pages
had taken two days. Printing and mailing an electronic document
(which was already available on the Southern Bell Data Network

                                           ~~----         ~~~~~~-
THE   CIVIL LIBERTARIANS          000000000000000001111111111000011   259

to any telco employee who needed it) had cost over a thousand
   But this was just the beginning. There were also the hardware
expenses. Eight hundred fifty dollars for a VT220 computer moni-
tor. Thirty-one thousand dollars for a sophisticated VAXstation II
computer. Six thousand dollars for a computer printer. Twenty-
two thousand dollars for a copy of "Interleaf" software. Two thou-
sand five hundred dollars for VMS software. All this to create the
twelve-page Document.
   Plus 10 percent of the cost of the software and the hardware,
for maintenance. (Actually, the 10 percent maintenance costs,
though mentioned, had been left off the final $79,449 total, ap-
parently through a merciful oversight.)
   Ms. Mcgahee's letter had been mailed directly to William
Cook himself, at the office of the Chicago federal attorneys. The
United States Government accepted these telco figures without
   As incredulity mounted, the value of the E911 Document was
officially revised downward. This time, Robert Kibler of BellSouth
Security estimated the value of the twelve pages as a mere
$24,639.05-based, purportedly, on "R&D costs." But this spe-
cific estimate, right down to the nickel, did not move the skeptics
at all; in fact, it provoked open scorn and a torrent of sarcasm.
   The financial issues concerning theft of proprietary informa-
tion have always been peculiar. It could be argued that BellSouth
had not "lost" its E911 Document at all in the first place and
therefore had not suffered any monetary damage from this
"theft." And Sheldon Zenner did in fact argue this at Neidorf's
trial-that Prophet's raid had not been "theft" but was better
understood as illicit copying.
   The money, however, was not central to anyone's true pur-
 poses in this trial. It was not Cook's strategy to convince the jury
that the E911 Document was a major act of theft and should be
 punished for that reason alone. His strategy was to argue that the
E911 Document was dangerous. It was his intention to establish
that the E911 Document was "a road-map" to the Enhanced 911

System. Neidorf had deliberately and recklessly distributed a dan-
gerous weapon. Neidorf and Prophet did not care (or perhaps
even gloated at the sinister idea) that the E9ll Document could
be used by hackers to disrupt 911 service, "a life line for every
person certainly in the Southern Bell region of the United States,
and indeed, in many communities throughout the United
States," in Cook's own words. Neidorf had put people's lives in
   In pretrial maneuverings, Cook had established that the E9ll
Document was too hot to appear in the public proceedings of the
Neidorf trial. The jury itself would not be allowed to ever see this
Document, lest it slip into the official court records and thus into
the hands of the general public and, thus, somehow, to malicious
hackers who might lethally abuse it.
   Hiding the E9ll Document from the jury may have been a
clever legal maneuver, but it had a severe flaw. There were, in
point of fact, hundreds, perhaps thousands, of people already in
possession of the Document, just as Phrack had published it. Its
true nature was already obvious to a wide section of the interested
public (all of whom, by the way, were, at least theoretically, party
to a gigantic wire-fraud conspiracy). Most everyone in the elec-
tronic community who had a modem and any interest in the
Neidorf case already had a copy of the Document. It had already
been available in Phrack for over a year.
   People, even quite normal people without any particular pruri-
ent interest in forbidden knowledge, did not shut their eyes in
terror at the thought of beholding a "dangerous" document from
a telephone company. On the contrary, they tended to trust their
own judgment and simply read the document for themselves.
And they were not impressed.
   One such person was John Nagle. Nagle was a forty-one-year-
old professional programmer with a master's degree in computer
science from Stanford. He had worked for Ford Aerospace, where
he had invented a computer-networking technique known as the
"Nagle Algorithm," and for the prominent Californian computer-
graphics firm Autodesk, where he was a major stockholder.
THE CIVIL LIBERTARIANS           •••••••••        261

   Nagle was also a prominent figure on the Well, much respected
for his technical knowledgeability.
   Nagle had followed the civil-liberties debate closely, for he was
an ardent telecommunicator. He was no particular friend of com-
puter intruders, but he believed electronic publishing had a great
deal to offer society at large, and attempts to restrain its growth,
or to censor free electronic expression, strongly roused his ire.
   The Neidorf case and the E911 Document were both being
discussed in detail on the Internet, in an electronic publication
called Telecom Digest. Nagle, a longtime Internet maven, was a
regular reader of Telecom Digest. Nagle had never seen a copy of
Phrack, but the implications of the case disturbed him.
   While in a Stanford bookstore hunting books on robotics, Na-
gle happened across a book called The Intelligent Network.
Thumbing through it at random, Nagle came across an entire
chapter meticulously detailing the workings of E911 police emer-
gency systems. This extensive text was being sold openly, and yet
in Illinois a young man was in danger of going to prison for
publishing a thin six-page document about 911 service.
   Nagle made an ironic comment to this effect in Telecom Di-
gest. From there, Nagle was put in touch with Mitch Kapor, and
then with Neidorf's lawyers.
   Sheldon Zenner was delighted to find a computer telecommu-
nications expert willing to speak up for Neidorf, one who was not
a wacky teenage "hacker." Nagle was fluent, mature, and respect-
able; he'd once had a federal security clearance.
   Nagle was asked to fly to Illinois to join the defense team.
   Having joined the defense as an expert witness, Nagle read the
entire E911 Document for himself. He made his own judgment
about its potential for menace.
   The time has now come for you, the reader, to have a look at
the edited E911 Document yourself. This six-page piece of work
was the pretext for a federal prosecution that could have sent an
electronic publisher to prison for thirty, or even sixty, years. It
was the pretext for the search and seizure of Steve Jackson
Games, a legitimate publisher of printed books. It was also the

                                    --~----           --------_ .•..__~-~------

formal pretext for the search and seizure of the Mentor's bulletin
board, Phoenix Project, and for the raid on the home of Erik
Bloodaxe. It also had much to do with the seizure of Richard
Andrews' Jolnet node and the shutdown of Charles Boykin's
AT&T node. The E911 Document was the single most important
piece of evidence in the Hacker Crackdown. There can be no real
and legitimate substitute for the Document itself.

                              Phrack Inc.

                   Volume Two, Issue 24, File 5 of 13

                      Control Office Administration
                      Of Enhanced 911 Services For
               Special Services And Major Account Centers

                          By The Eavesdropper
                              March, 1988

  Description of Service
  The control office for Emergency 911 service is assigned in accor-
  dance with the existing standard guidelines to one of the following

      o   Special Services Center (SSC)
      o   Major Accounts Center (MAC)
      o   Serving Test Center (STC)
      o   Toll Control Center (TCC)

  The SSC/MAC designation is used in this document interchange-
  ably for any of these four centers. The Special Services Centers
  (SSCs) or Major Account Centers (MACs) have been designated
  as the trouble reporting contact for all E911 customer (PSAP)
  reported troubles. Subscribers who have trouble on an E911 call

     will continue to contact local repair service (CRSAB) who will
     refer the trouble to the SSC/MAC, when appropriate.

      Due to the critical nature of E9ll service, the control and timely
      repair of troubles is demanded. As the primary E911 customer
      contact, the SSC/MAC is in the unique position to monitor the
      status of the trouble and insure its resolution.

      System Overview

      The number 911 is intended as a nationwide universal telephone
      number which provides the public with direct access to a Public
      Safety Answering Point (PSAP). A PSAP is also referred to as an
      Emergency Service Bureau (ESB). A PSAP is an agency or facility
      which is authorized by a municipality to receive and respond to
      police, fire and/or ambulance services. One or more attendants are
      located at the PSAP facilities to receive and handle calls of an
      emergency nature in accordance with the local municipal require-

      An important advantage of E9ll emergency service is improved
      (reduced) response times for emergency services. Also close coor-
      dination among agencies providing various emergency services is a
      valuable capability provided by E9ll service.

      lA ESS is used as the tandem office for the E911 network to route
      all 911 calls to the correct (primary) PSAP designated to serve the
      calling station. The E9ll feature was developed primarily to pro-
      vide routing to the correct PSAP for all 911 calls. Selective routing
      allows a 911 call originated from a particular station located in a
      particular district, zone, or town, to be routed to the primary
      PSAP designated to serve that customer station regardless of wire
      center boundaries. Thus, selective routing eliminates the problem
      of wire center boundaries not coinciding with district or other
      political boundaries.

      The services available with the E911 feature include:

      Forced Disconnect      Default Routing
      Alternative Routing    Night Service

t                                   ---------
264   oooooooooogoooooooooooooooo      THE HACKER CRACKDOWN

  Selective Routing      Automatic Number Identification (ANI)
  Selective Transfer     Automatic Location Identification (ALI)

  Preservice/Installation Guidelines

  When a contract for an E911 system has been signed, it is the
  responsibility of Network Marketing to establish an implementa-
  tion/cutover committee which should include a representative
  from the SSC/MAC. Duties of the E911 Implementation Team
  include coordination of all phases of the E911 system deployment
  and the formation of an on-going E911 maintenance subcommit-

  Marketing is responsible for providing the following customer spe-
  cific information to the SSC/MAC prior to the start of call
  through testing:

      o   All PSAP's (name, address, local contact)
      o   All PSAP circuit ID's
      o   1004 911 service request including PSAP details on each
          PSAP (l004 Section K, L, M)
      o   Network configuration
      o   Any vendor information (name, telephone number, eqUip-

  The SSC/MAC needs to know if the equipment and sets at the
  PSAP are maintained by the BOCs, an independent company, or
  an outside vendor, or any combination. This information is then
  entered on the PSAP profile sheets and reviewed quarterly for
  changes, additions and deletions.

  Marketing will secure the Major Account Number (MAN) and
  provide this number to Corporate Communications so that the
  initial issue of the service orders carry the MAN and can be
  tracked by the SSC/MAC via CORONET. PSAP circuits are offi-
  cial services by definition.

  All service orders required for the installation of the E911 system
  should include the MAN assigned to the city/county which has
  purchased the system.

 In accordance with the basic SSC/MAC strategy for provisioning,
 the SSC/MAC will be Overall Control Office (OCO) for all Node
 to PSAP circuits (official services) and any other services for this
 customer. Training must be scheduled for all SSC/MAC involved
 personnel during the pre-service stage of the project.

 The E911 Implementation Team will form the on-going mainte-
 nance subcommittee prior to the initial implementation of the
 E911 system. This subcommittee will establish post implementa-
 tion quality assurance procedures to ensure that the E911 system
 continues to provide quality service to the customer. Customer/
 Company training, trouble reporting interfaces for the customer,
 telephone company and any involved independent telephone
 companies needs to be addressed and implemented prior to E911
 cutover. These functions can be best addressed by the formation
 of a subcommittee of the E911 Implementation Team to set up
 guidelines for and to secure service commitments of interfacing
 organizations. A SSC/MAC supervisor should chair this subcom-
 mittee and include the following organizations:

 1) Switching Control Center
   - E911 translations
   - Trunking
   - End office and Tandem office hardware/software
 2) Recent Change Memory Administration Center
   - Daily RC update activity for TN/ESN translations
   - Processes validity errors and rejects
 3) Line and Number Administration
   - Verification of TN/ESN translations
 4) Special Service Center/Major Account Center
   - Single point of contact for all PSAP and Node to host troubles
   - Logs, tracks & statusing of all trouble reports
   - Trouble referral, follow up, and escalation
   - Customer notification of status and restoration
   - Analyzation of "chronic" troubles
   - Testing, installation and maintenance of E911 circuits
 5) Installation and Maintenance (SSIM/I&M)
   - Repair and maintenance of PSAP equipment and Telco owned

266   000000000 ••• 0 • • • • 0.0 •• 00000   THE HACKER CRACKDOWN

  6) Minicomputer Maintenance Operations Center
     - E911 circuit maintenance (where applicable)
  7) Area Maintenance Engineer
     - Technical assistance on voice (CO-PSAP) network related
       E911 troubles

  Maintenance Guidelines

  The CCNC will test the Node circuit from the 202T at the Host
  site to the 202T at the Node site. Since Host to Node (CCNC to
  MMOC) circuits are official company services, the CCNC will
  refer all Node circuit troubles to the SSC/MAC. The SSC/MAC is
  responsible for the testing and follow up to restoration of these
  circuit troubles.

  Although Node to PSAP circuit are official services, the MMOC
  will refer PSAP circuit troubles to the appropriate SSC/MAC. The
  SSC/MAC is responsible for testing and follow up to restoration of
  PSAP circuit troubles.

  The SSC/MAC will also receive reports from CRSAB/IMC(s) on
  subscriber 911 troubles when they are not line troubles. The SSC/
  MAC is responsible for testing and restoration of these troubles.

  Maintenance responsibilities are as follows:

  SCC*             Voice Network (ANI to PSAP)
                   *SCC responsible for tandem switch
  SSIM/I&M         PSAP Equipment (Modems, CIU's, sets)
  Vendor           PSAP Equipment (when CPE)
  SSC/MAC          PSAP to Node circuits, and tandem to PSAP voice
  MMOC             Node site (Modems, cables, etc)

  Note: All above work groups are required to resolve troubles by interfacing
  with appropriate work groups for resolution.

  The Switching Control Center (SCC) is responsible for E911/
  IAESS translations in tandem central offices. These translations
  route E911 calls, selective transfer, default routing, speed calling,

                              --------                - - - _ _ 00 _ _-         _
THE CIVIL LIBERTARIANS              000000°00000000000000000000       267

 etc., for each PSAP. The SCC is also responsible for troubleshoot-
 ing on the voice network (call originating to end office tandem
 equipment) .

  For example, ANI failures in the originating offices would be a
  responsibility of the SCc.

 Recent Change Memory Administration Center (RCMAC) per-
 forms the daily tandem translation updates (recent change) for
 routing of individual telephone numbers.

  Recent changes are generated from service order activity (new ser-
  vice, address changes, etc.) and compiled into a daily file by the
  E911 Center (ALI/OMS E911 Computer).

  SSIM/I&M is responsible for the installation and repair of PSAP
  equipment. PSAP equipment includes ANI Controller, ALI Con-
  troller, data sets, cables, sets, and other peripheral equipment that
  is not vendor owned. SSIM/I&M is responsible for establishing
  maintenance test kits, complete with spare parts for PSAP mainte-
  nance. This includes test gear, data sets, and ANI/ALI Controller

  Special Services Center (SSC) or Major Account Center (MAC)
  serves as the trouble reporting contact for all (PSAP) troubles
  reported by customer. The SSC/MAC refers troubles to proper
  organizations for handling and tracks status of troubles, escalating
  when necessary. The SSC/MAC will close out troubles with cus-
  tomer. The SSC/MAC will analyze all troubles and tracks
  "chronic" PSAP troubles.

  Corporate Communications Network Center (CCNC) will test
  and refer troubles on all node to host circuits. All E911 circuits are
  classified as official company property.

 The Minicomputer Maintenance Operations Center (MMOC)
 maintains the E911 (ALI/OMS) computer hardware at the Host
 site. This MMOC is also responsible for monitoring the system
 and reporting certain PSAP and system problems to the local
 MMOC's, SCC's or SSC/MAC's. The MMOC personnel also op-
 erate software programs that maintain the TN data base under the
 direction of the E9I I Center. The maintenance of the NODE
268   000000000000000000.00000000   THE HACKER CRACKDOWN

  computer (the interface between the PSAP and the ALI/DMS
  computer) is a function of the MMOC at the NODE site. The
  MMOC's at the NODE sites may also be involved in the testing
  of NODE to Host circuits. The MMOC will also assist on Host to
  PSAP and data network related troubles not resolved through
  standard trouble clearing procedures.

  Installation And Maintenance Center (IMC) is responsible for re-
  ferral of E911 subscriber troubles that are not subscriber line prob-
  lems. E9ll Center-Performs the role of System Administration
  and is responsible for overall operation of the E911 computer soft-
  ware. The E911 Center does A-Z trouble analysis and provides
  statistical information on the performance of the system.

  This analysis includes processing PSAP inquiries (trouble reports)
  and referral of network troubles. The E9ll Center also performs
  daily processing of tandem recent change and provides informa-
  tion to the RCMAC for tandem input. The E911 Center is re-
  sponsible for daily processing of the ALI/OMS computer data base
  and provides error files, etc. to the Customer Services department
  for investigation and correction. The E91l Center participates in
  all system implementations and on-going maintenance effort and
  assists in the development of procedures, training and education
  of information to all groups.

  Any group receiving a 911 trouble from the SSC/MAC should
  close out the trouble with the SSC/MAC or provide a status if the
  trouble has been referred to another group. This will allow the
  SSC/MAC to provide a status back to the customer or escalate as

  Any group receiving a trouble from the Host site (MMOC or
  CCNC) should close the trouble back to that group.

  The MMOC should notify the appropriate SSC/MAC when the
  Host, Node, or all Node circuits are down so that the SSC/MAC
  can reply to customer reports that may be called in by the PSAPs.
  This will eliminate duplicate reporting of troubles.

  On complete outages the MMOC will follow escalation proce-
  dures for a Node after two (2) hours and for a PSAP after four (4)
THE CIVIL LIBERTARIANS               ••• R • • ooORRORR.R •• OORRROROR   269

  hours. Additionally the MMOC will notify the appropriate SSC/
  MAC when the Host, Node, or all Node circuits are down.

  The PSAP will call the SSC/MAC to report E911 troubles. The
  person reporting the E911 trouble may not have a circuit 1.0. and
  will therefore report the PSAP name and address. Many PSAP
  troubles are not circuit specific. In those instances where the caller
  cannot provide a circuit 1.0., the SSC/MAC will be required to
  determine the circuit 1.0. using the PSAP profile. Under no cir-
  cumstances will the SSC/MAC Center refuse to take the trouble.
  The E911 trouble should be handled as quickly as possible, with
  the SSC/MAC providing as much assistance as possible while tak-
  ing the trouble report from the caller.

  The SSC/MAC will screen/test the trouble to determine the ap-
  propriate handoff organization based on the following criteria:

  PSAP equipment problem: SSIM/I&M
  Circuit problem: SSC/MAC
  Voice network problem: SCC (report trunk group number)
  Problem affecting multiple PSAPs (No ALI report from all PSAPs):
    Contact the MMOC to check for NODE or Host computer
    problems before further testing.

The SSC/MAC will track the status of reported troubles and escalate as
appropriate. The SSC/MAC will close out customer/company reports
with the initiating contact. Groups with specific maintenance responsi-
bilities, defined above, will investigate "chronic" troubles upon request
from the SSC/MAC and the ongoing maintenance subcommittee.

All "out of service" E911 troubles are priority one type reports. One link
down to a PSAP is considered a priority one trouble and should be
handled as if the PSAP was isolated.

The PSAP will report troubles with the ANI controller, ALI controller or
set equipment to the SSC/MAC.

NO ANI: Where the PSAP reports NO ANI (digital display screen is
blank) ask if this condition exists on all screens and on all calls. It is
important to differentiate between blank screens and screens displaying
911-00XX, or all zeroes.

                                                           ------- ._--
          270   oooooooooooooooooooooogoooo   THE HACKER CRACKDOWN

         When the PSAP reports all screens on all calls, ask if there is any voice
         contact with callers. If there is no voice contact the trouble should be
         referred to the SCC immediately since 911 calls are not getting through
         which may require alternate routing of calls to another PSAP.

         When the PSAP reports this condition on all screens but not all calls
         and has voice contact with callers, the report should be referred to
         SSIM/I&M for dispatch. The SSC/MAC should verify with the SCC
         that ANI is pulsing before dispatching SSIM.

          When the PSAP reports this condition on one screen for all calls (others
          work fine) the trouble should be referred to SSIM/I&M for dispatch,
          because the trouble is isolated to one piece of equipment at the cus-
          tomer premise.

          An ANI failure (i.e. all zeroes) indicates that the ANI has not been
          received by the PSAP from the tandem office or was lost by the PSAP
          ANI controller. The PSAP may receive "02" alarms which can be caused
          by the ANI controller logging more than three all zero failures on the
          same trunk. The PSAP has been instructed to report this condition to
          the SSC/MAC since it could indicate an equipment trouble at the PSAP
          which might be affecting all subscribers calling into the PSAP. When all
          zeroes are being received on all calls or "02" alarms continue, a tester
          should analyze the condition to determine the appropriate action to be
          taken. The tester must perform cooperative testing with the SCC when
          there appears to be a problem on the Tandem-PSAP trunks before re-
          questing dispatch.

          When an occasional all zero condition is reported, the SSC/MAC
          should dispatch SSIM/I&M to routine equipment on a "chronic"

          The PSAPs are instructed to report incidental ANI failures to the BOC
          on a PSAP inquiry trouble ticket (paper) that is sent to the Customer
          Services E911 group and forwarded to E911 center when required. This
          usually involves only a particular telephone number and is not a condi-
          tion that would require a report to the SSC/MAC. Multiple ANI failures
          which are from the same end office (XX denotes end office), indicate a
          hard trouble condition may exist in the end office or end office tandem
          trunks. The PSAP will report this type of condition to the SSC/MAC
          and the SSC/MAC should refer the report to the SCC responsible for

------   '--~~ - - - - - - - - - - -
THE CIVIL LIBERTARIANS                  •••••••• 0.0 •• 0 •• 0 • • • 00.0.20   271

the tandem office. NOTE: XX is the ESCO (Emergency Service Num-
ber) associated with the incoming 911 trunks into the tandem. It is
important that the C/MAC tell the SCC what is displayed at the PSAP
(i.e. 911-0011) which indicates to the SCC which end office is in trou-

Note: It is essential that the PSAP fill out inquiry form on every ANI failure.

The PSAP will report a trouble any time an address is not received on an
address display (screen blank) E9l1 call. (If a record is not in the 911
data base or an ANI failure is encountered, the screen will provide a
display noticing such condition.) The SSC/MAC should verify with the
PSAP whether the NO ALI condition is on one screen or all screens.

When the condition is on one screen (other screens receive ALI infor-
mation) the SSC/MAC will request SSIM/I&M to dispatch.

If no screens are receiving ALI information, there is usually a circuit
trouble between the PSAP and the Host computer. The SSC/MAC
should test the trouble and refer for restoral.

Note: If the SSC/MAC receives calls from multiple PSAP's, all of which are
receiving NO ALI, there is a problem with the Node or Node to Host circuits or
the Host computer itself. Before referring the trouble the SSC/MAC should call
the MMOC to inquire if the Node or Host is in trouble.

Alarm conditions on the ANI controller digital display at the PSAP are
to be reported by the PSAP's. These alarms can indicate various trouble
conditions so the SSC/MAC should ask the PSAP if any portion of the
E911 system is not functioning properly.

The SSC/MAC should verify with the PSAP attendant that the equip-
ment's primary function is answering E911 calls. If it is, the SSC/MAC
should request a dispatch SSIM/I&M. If the equipment is not primarily
used for E911, then the SSC/MAC should advise PSAP to contact their
CPE vendor.

Note: These troubles can be quite confusing when the PSAP has vendor equip-
ment mixed in with equipment that the BOC maintains. The Marketing repre-
sentative should provide the SSC/MAC information concerning any unusual or
exception items where the PSAP should contact their vendor. This information
should be included in the PSAP profile sheets.
272   ooooooooooooooopooooooooooo     THE HACKER CRACKDOWN

ANI or ALI controller down: When the host computer sees the PSAP
equipment down and it does not come back up, the MMOC will report
the trouble to the SSC/MAC; the equipment is down at the PSAP, a
dispatch will be required.

PSAP link (circuit) down: The MMOC will provide the SSC/MAC with
the circuit 10 that the Host computer indicates in trouble. Although
each PSAP has two circuits, when either circuit is down the condition
must be treated as an emergency since failure of the second circuit will
cause the PSAP to be isolated.

Any problems that the MMOC identifies from the Node location to the
Host computer will be handled directly with the appropriate MMOC(s)/

Note: The customer will call only when a problem is apparent to the PSAP.
When only one circuit is down to the PSAP, the customer may not be aware
there is a trouble, even though there is one link down, notification should
appear on the PSAP screen. Troubles called into the SSC/MAC from the
MMOC or other company employee should not be closed out by calling the
PSAP since it may result in the customer responding that they do not have a
trouble. These reports can only be closed out by receiving information that
the trouble was fixed and by checking with the company employee that reported
the trouble. The MMOC personnel will be able to verify that the trouble has
cleared by reviewing a printout from the host.

When the CRSAB receives a subscriber complaint (i.e., cannot dial 911)
the RSA should obtain as much information as possible while the cus-
tomer is on the line.

For example, what happened when the subscriber dialed 911? The re-
port is automatically directed to the IMC for subscriber line testing.
When no line trouble is found, the IMC will refer the trouble condition
to the SSC/MAC. The SSC/MAC will contact Customer Services E911
Group and verify that the subscriber should be able to call 911 and
obtain the ESN. The SSC/MAC will verify the ESN via 2SCCS. When
both verifications match, the SSC/MAC will refer the report to the SCC
responsible for the 911 tandem office for investigation and resolution.
The MAC is responsible for tracking the trouble and informing the IMC
when it is resolved.

For more information, please refer to E911 Glossary of Terms.
                         End of Phrack File

The reader is forgiven if he or she was entirely unable to read this
document. John Perry Barlow had a great deal of fun at its ex-
pense, in "Crime and Puzzlement." "Bureaucrat-ese of surpassing
opacity. . . . To read the whole thing straight through without
entering coma requires either a machine or a human who has too
much practice thinking like one. Anyone who can understand it
fully and fluidly had altered his consciousness beyond the ability
to ever again read Blake, Whitman, or Tolstoy . . . . The docu-
ment contains little of interest to anyone who is not a student of
advanced organizational sclerosis."
   With the Document itself to hand, however, exactly as it was
published in Phrack, you may be able to verify a few statements
of fact about its nature. First, there is no software, no computer
code, in the Document. It is not computer-programming lan-
guage like UNIX or C++, it is English; all the sentences have
nouns and verbs and punctuation. It does not explain how to
break into the E911 system. It does not suggest ways to destroy or
damage the E911 system.
   There are no access codes in the Document. There are no
computer passwords. It does not explain how to steal long-
distance service. It does not explain how to break in to telco
switching stations. There is nothing in it about using a personal
computer or a modem for any purpose at all, good or bad.
   Close study will reveal that this Document is not about ma-
chinery. The E911 Document is about administration. It de-
scribes how one creates and administers certain units of telco
bureaucracy: Special Service Centers and Major Account Centers
 (SSCIMAC). It describes how these centers should distribute re-
sponsibility for the E911 service, to other units of telco bureau-
cracy, in a chain of command, a formal hierarchy. It describes
who answers customer complaints, who screens calls, who reports
equipment failures, who answers those reports, who handles
           274   000000000000000000000000000   THE HACKER CRACKDO\,yN

           maintenance, who chairs subcommittees, who gives orders, who
           follows orders, who tells whom what to do. The Document is not
           a "roadrnap" to computers. The Document is a roadmap to
             As an aid to breaking into computer systems, the Document is
           useless. As an aid to harassing and deceiving telco people, how-
         ever, the Document might prove handy (especially with its glos-
         sary, which I have not included). An intense and protracted study
         of this Document and its glossary, combined with many other
         such documents, might teach one to speak like a telco employee.
         And telco people live by speech-they live by phone communica-
         tion. If you can mimic their language over the phone, you can
         "social-engineer" them. If you can con telco people, you can
         wreak havoc among them. You can force them no longer to trust
         one another; you can break the telephonic ties that bind their
         community; you can make them paranoid. And people will fight
         harder to defend their community than they will fight to defend
         their individual selves.
                                               This was the genuine, gut-
      If you can can telco                  level threat posed by Phrack
                                            magazine. The real struggle
      people, you can wreak
                                            was over the control of telco
      havoc among them.                     language, the control of telco
                                            knowledge. It was a struggle to
         defend the social "membrane of differentiation" that forms the
         walls of the telco community's ivory tower-the special jargon
         that allows telco professionals to recognize one another and to
         exclude charlatans, thieves, and upstarts. And the prosecution
         brought out this fact. It repeatedly made reference to the threat
         posed to telco professionals by hackers using "social engi-
            However, Craig Neidorf was not on trial for learning to speak
         like a professional telecommunications expert. Craig Neidorf was
         on trial for wire fraud and transportation of stolen property. He
         was on trial for stealing a document that was purportedly highly
         sensitive and purportedly worth tens of thousands of dollars.

-----_.------                                                      --------

   John Nagle read the E911 Document. He drew his own conclu-
sions. And he presented Zenner and his defense team with an
overflowing box of similar material, drawn mostly from Stanford
University's engineering libraries. During the trial, the defense
team-Zenner, half-a-dozen other attorneys, Nagle, Neidorf, and
computer-security expert Dorothy Denning, all pored over the
E911 Document line-by-line.
   On the afternoon of July 25, 1990, Zenner began to cross-
examine a woman named Billie Williams, a service manager for
Southern Bell in Atlanta. Ms. Williams had been responsible for
the E911 Document. (She was not its author-its original "au-
thor" was a Southern Bell staff manager named Richard Helms.
However, ML Helms should not bear the entire blame; many
te1co staff people and maintenance personnel had amended
the Document. It had not been so much "written" by a single
author as built by committee out of concrete blocks of
   Ms. Williams had been called as a witness for the prosecution
and had gamely tried to explain the basic technical structure of
the E911 system, aided by charts.
   Now it was Zenner's turn. He first established that the "propri-
etary stamp" that BellSouth had used on the E911 Document
was stamped on every single document that BellSouth wrote-
thousands of documents. "We do not publish anything other
than for our own company," Ms. Williams explained. "Any com-
pany document of this nature is considered proprietary." Nobody
was in charge of singling out special high-security publications for
special high-security protection. They were all special, no matter
how trivial, no matter what their subject matter-the stamp was
put on as soon as any document was written, and the stamp was
never removed.
    Zenner now asked whether the charts she had been using to
explain the mechanics of E911 system were "proprietary" too.
Were they public information, these charts, all about PSAPs,
ALIs, nodes, local end switches? Could he take the charts out in
      276   00000000 QOOO   po   0 0 0 QOO DODO DOD   THE HACKER CRACKDOWN

      the street and show them to anybody, "without violating some
      proprietary notion that BellSouth has?"
         Ms. Williams showed some confusion, but finally agreed that
      the charts were, in fact, public.
         "But isn't this what you said was basically what appeared in
         Ms. Williams denied this.
         Zenner now pointed out that the E911 Document as pub-
      lished in Phrack was only half the size of the original E911 Doc-
      ument (as Prophet had purloined it). Half of it had been deleted
      -edited by Neidorf.
         Ms. Williams countered that "Most of the information that is
      in the text file is redundant."
         Zenner continued to probe. Exactly what bits of knowledge in
      the Document were, in fact, unknown to the public? Locations of
      E911 computers? Phone numbers for te1co personnel? Ongoing
      maintenance subcommittees? Hadn't Neidorf removed much of
         Then he pounced. "Are you familiar with Bellcore Technical
      Reference Document TR-TSY-000350?" It was, Zenner ex-
      plained, officially titled "E911 Public Safety Answering Point In-
      terface Between 1-lAESS Switch and Customer Premises
      Equipment." It contained highly detailed and specific technical
      information about the E911 System. It was published by Bellcore
      and publicly available for about $20.
         He showed the witness a Bellcore catalog that listed thousands
      of documents from Bellcore and from all the Baby Bells, Bell-
      South included. The catalog, Zenner pointed out, was free. Any-
      one with a credit card could call the Bellcore toll-free 800 number
      and simply order any of these documents, which would be
      shipped to any customer without question. Including, for in-
      stance, "BellSouth E911 Service Interfaces to Customer Premises
      Equipment at a Public Safety Answering Point."
         Zenner gave the witness a copy of "BellSouth E911 Service
      Interfaces," which cost, as he pointed out, $13, straight from the
      catalog. "Look at it carefully," he urged Ms. Williams, "and tell


me if it doesn't contain about twice as much detailed informa-
tion about the E911 system of BellSouth than appeared anywhere
in Phrack."
   "You want me to . . ." Ms. Williams trailed off. "1 don't un-
   "Take a careful look," Zenner persisted. "Take a look at that
document, and tell me when you're done looking at it if, indeed,
it doesn't contain much more detailed information about the
E911 system than appeared in Phrack."
   "Phrack wasn't taken from this," Ms Williams said.
   "Excuse me?" said Zenner.
   "Phrack wasn't taken from this."
   "1 can't hear you," Zenner said.
   "Phrack was not taken from this document. 1 don't understand
your question to me."
   "1 guess you don't," Zenner said.
   At this point, the prosecu-      ,-----------------
tion's case had been gutshot.      The       value of the
Ms. Williams was distressed.
                                      Document had been blown
Her confusion was quite genu-
ine. Phrack had not been taken        to smithereens.
from any publicly available
Bellcore document. Phrack's E911 Document had been stolen
from her own company's computers, from her own company's
text files, which her own colleagues had written, and revised, with
much labor.
   But the "value" of the Document had been blown to smither-
eens. It wasn't worth eighty grand. According to Bellcore it was
worth thirteen bucks. And the looming menace that it supposedly
posed had been reduced in instants to a scarecrow. Bellcore itself
was selling material far more detailed and "dangerous," to any-
body with a credit card and a phone.
   Actually, Bellcore was not giving this information to just any-
body. They gave it to anybody who asked, but not many did ask.
Not many people knew that Bellcore had a free catalog and an
800 number. John Nagle knew, but certainly the average teenage
278   00000000000000000'0"000000   THE HACKER CRACKDOWN

phreak didn't know. "Tuc," a friend of Neidorf's and sometime
Phrack contributor, knew, and Tuc had been very helpful to the
defense, behind the scenes. But the Legion of Doom didn't know
-otherwise, they would never have wasted so much time raiding
dumpsters. Cook didn't know. Foley didn't know. Kluepfel didn't
know. The right hand of Bellcore knew not what the left hand
was doing. The right hand was battering hackers without mercy,
while the left hand was distributing Bellcore's intellectual prop-
erty to anybody who was interested in telephone technical trivia
-apparently, a pathetic few.
   The digital underground was so amateurish and poorly orga-
nized that it had never discovered this heap of unguarded riches.
The ivory tower of the telcos was so wrapped up in the fog of its
own technical obscurity that it had left all the windows open and
flung open the doors. No one had even noticed.
   Zenner sank another nail in the coffin. He produced a printed
issue of Telephone Engineer 6 Management, a prominent industry
journal that comes out twice a month and costs $27 a year. This
particular issue of TE6M, called "Update on 911," featured a
galaxy of technical details on 911 service and a glossary far more
extensive than Phrack's.
   The trial rumbled on, somehow, through its own momentum.
Tim Foley testified about his interrogations of Neidorf. Neidorf's
written admission that he had known the E911 Document was
pilfered was officially read into the court record.
   An interesting side issue came up: Terminus had once passed
Neidorf a piece of UNIX AT&T software, a log-in sequence, that
had been cunningly altered so that it could trap passwords. The
UNIX software itself was illegally copied AT&T property, and the
alterations Terminus had made to it had transformed it into a
device for facilitating computer break-ins. Terminus himself
would eventually plead guilty to theft of this piece of software,
and the Chicago group would send Terminus to prison for it. But
it was of dubious relevance in the Neidorf case. Neidorf hadn't
written the program. He wasn't accused of ever having used it.

  And Neidorf wasn't being charged with software theft or owning a
  password trapper.
     On the next day, Zenner took the offensive. The civillibertari-
  ans now had their own arcane, untried legal weaponry to launch
  into action-the Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986
  (ECPA), 18 U.S. Code, Section 2701 et seq. Section 2701 makes
  it a crime intentionally to access without authorization a facility
  in which an electronic communication service is provided-it
  is, at heart, an antibugging and antitapping law, intended to
  carry the traditional protections of telephones into other
  electronic channels of communication. While providing penalties
  for amateur snoops, however, Section 2703 of the ECPA also
  lays some formal difficulties on the bugging and tapping activities
  of police.
     The Secret Service, in the person of Tim Foley, had served
  Richard Andrews with a federal grand jury subpoena, in their
  pursuit of Prophet, the E911 Document, and the Terminus soft-
  ware ring. But according to the Electronic Communications Pri-
  vacy Act, a "provider of remote computing service" was legally
  entitled to "prior notice" from the government if a subpoena was
  used. Richard Andrews and his basement UNIX node, [olnet, had
  not received any "prior notice." Tim Foley had purportedly vio-
  lated the ECPA and committed an electronic crime! Zenner now
  sought the judge's permission to cross-examine Foley on the topic
  of Foley's own electronic misdeeds.
     Cook argued that Richard Andrews' Jolnet was a privately
  owned bulletin board, and not within the purview of ECPA.
  Judge Bua granted the motion of the government to prevent
  cross-examination on that point, and Zenner's offensive fizzled.
  This, however, was the first direct assault on the legality of the
  actions of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Task Force itself-the
  first suggestion that the Task Force itself had broken the law and
  might, perhaps, be called to account.
      Zenner, in any case, did not really need the ECPA. Instead, he
  grilled Foley on the glaring contradictions in the supposed value

~---                      --_._._-_.-----
280   000000000000000000000000000   THE HACKER CRACKDOWN

of the E911 Document. He also brought up the embarrassing fact
that the supposedly red-hot E911 Document had been sitting
around for months, in [olnet, with Kluepfel's knowledge, while
Kluepfel had done nothing about it.
   In the afternoon, Prophet was brought in to testify for the
prosecution. (Prophet, it will be recalled, had also been indicted
in the case as partner in a fraud scheme with Neidorf.) In Atlanta,
Prophet had already pled guilty to one charge of conspiracy, one
charge of wire fraud, and one charge of interstate transportation
of stolen property. The wire fraud charge and the stolen property
charge were both directly based on the E911 Document.
   The twenty-year-old Prophet proved a sorry customer, answer-
ing questions politely but in a barely audible mumble, his voice
trailing off at the ends of sentences. He was constantly urged to
speak up.
   Cook, examining Prophet, forced him to admit that he had
once had a "drug problem," abusing amphetamines, marijuana,
cocaine, and LSD. This may have established to the jury that
hackers are, or can be, seedy lowlife characters, but it also may
have damaged Prophet's credibility somewhat. Zenner later sug-
gested that drugs might have damaged Prophet's memory. The
interesting fact also surfaced that Prophet had never physically
met Craig Neidorf. He didn't even know Neidorf's last name-at
least, not until the trial.
   Prophet confirmed the basic facts of his hacker career. He was
a member of the Legion of Doom. He had abused codes, he had
broken into switching stations and rerouted calls, he had hung
out on pirate bulletin boards. He had raided the BellSouth
AIMSX computer, copied the E911 Document, stored it on
[olnet, mailed it to Neidorf. He and Neidorf had edited it, and
Neidorf had known where it came from.
   Zenner, however, had Prophet confirm that Neidorf was not a
member of the Legion of Doom and had not urged Prophet to
break into BellSouth computers. Neidorf had never urged Prophet
to defraud anyone or to steal anything. Prophet also admitted
that he had never known Neidorf to break in to any computer.
THE CIVIL LIBERTARIANS            000000000000000000000000000   281

Prophet said that no one in the Legion of Doom considered Craig
Neidorf a hacker at all. Neidorf was not a UNIX maven and sim-
ply lacked the necessary skill and ability to break into computers.
Neidorf just published a magazine.
   On Friday, July 27, 1990, the case against Neidorf collapsed.
Cook moved to dismiss the indictment, citing "information cur-
rently available to us that was not available to us at the inception
of the trial." Judge Bua praised the prosecution for this action,
which he described as "very responsible," then dismissed a juror
and declared a mistrial.
   Neidorf was a free man. His defense, however, had cost himself
and his family dearly. Months of his life had been consumed in
anguish; he had seen his closest friends shun him as a federal
criminal. He owed his lawyers over $100,000, despite a generous
payment to the defense by Mitch Kapor.
   Neidorf was not found innocent. The trial was simply dropped.
Nevertheless, on September 9, 1991, Judge Bua granted Neidorf's
motion for the "expungement and sealing" of his indictment
record. The U.S. Secret Service was ordered to delete and destroy
all fingerprints, photographs, and other records of arrest or pro-
cessing relating to Neidorf's indictment, including their paper
documents and their computer records.
   Craig Neidorf went back to school, blazingly determined to
become a lawyer. Having seen the justice system at work, he lost
much of his enthusiasm for merely technical power. At this writ-
ing, he is working in Washington as a salaried researcher for the
Electronic Frontier Foundation.

   The outcome of the Neidorf trial changed the Electronic Fron-
tier Foundation from voices in the wilderness to the media dar-
lings of the new frontier.
   Legally speaking, the Neidorf case was not a sweeping triumph
for anyone concerned. No constitutional principles had been es-
tablished. The issues of "freedom of the press" for electronic
publishers remained in legal limbo. There were public misconcep-
tions about the case. Many people thought Neidorf had been

   found innocent and relieved of all his legal debts by Kapor. The
   truth was that the government had simply dropped the case, and
   Neidorf's family had gone deeply into hock to support him.
      But the Neidorf case did provide a single, devastating, public
   soundbite: The feds said it was worth eighty grand, and it was only
   worth thirteen bucks.
      This is the Neidorf case's single most memorable element. No
   serious report of the case missed this particular element. Even
   cops could not read this without a wince and a shake of the head.
   It left the public credibility of the crackdown agents in tatters.
      The crackdown, in fact, continued, however. Those two
   charges against Prophet, which had been based on the E911 Doc-
   ument, were quietly forgotten at his sentencing-even though
   Prophet had already pled guilty to them. Georgia federal prosecu-
   tors strongly argued for jail time for the Atlanta Three, insisting
   on "the need to send a message to the community," "the mes-
   sage that hackers around the country need to hear."
                                          There was a great deal in
The    Atlanta Three were              their sentencing memorandum
                                       about the awful things that
sent to prison.
                                       various other hackers had done
   (though the Atlanta Three themselves had not, in fact, actually
   committed these crimes). There was also much speculation about
   the awful things that the Atlanta Three might have done and were
   capable of doing (even though they had not, in fact, actually done
   them). The prosecution's argument carried the day. The Atlanta
   Three were sent to prison: Urvile and Leftist both got fourteen
   months each, while Prophet (a second offender) got twenty-one
      The Atlanta Three were also assessed staggering fines as "resti-
   tution": $233,000 each. BellSouth claimed that the defendants
   had "stolen" "approximately $233,880 worth" of "proprietary
   computer access information"-specifically, $233,880 worth of
   computer passwords and connect addresses. BellSouth's astonish-
   ing claim of the extreme value of its own computer passwords
   and addresses was accepted at face value by the Georgia court.

Furthermore (as if to emphasize its theoretical nature), this enor-
mous sum was not divvied up among the Atlanta Three, but each
of them had to pay all of it.
   A striking aspect of the sentence was that the Atlanta Three
were specifically forbidden to use computers, except for work or
under supervision. Depriving hackers of home computers and
modems makes some sense if one considers hackers as "computer
addicts," but EFF, filing an amicus brief in the case, protested
that this punishment was unconstitutional-it deprived the At-
lanta Three of their rights of free association and free expression
through electronic media.
   Terminus, the "ultimate hacker," was finally sent to prison for
a year through the dogged efforts of the Chicago Task Force. His
crime, to which he pled guilty, was the transfer of the UNIX
password trapper, which was officially valued by AT&T at
$77,000, a figure that aroused intense skepticism among those
familiar with UNIX "login.c" programs.
   The jailing of Terminus and the Atlanta Legionnaires of
Doom, however, did not cause the EFF any sense of embarrass-
ment or defeat. On the contrary, the civil libertarians were rapidly
gathering strength.
   An early and potent supporter was Senator Patrick Leahy,
Democrat from Vermont who had been a Senate sponsor of the
Electronic Communications Privacy Act. Even before the Neidorf
trial, Leahy had spoken out in defense of hacker power and free-
dom of the keyboard: "We cannot unduly inhibit the inquisitive
13-year-old who, if left to experiment today, may tomorrow de-
velop the telecommunications or computer technology to lead
the United States into the 21st century. He represents our future
and our best hope to remain a technologically competitive na-
    It was a handsome statement, rendered perhaps rather more
effective by the fact that the crackdown raiders did not have any
senators speaking out for them. On the contrary, their highly se-
cretive actions and tactics, all "sealed search warrants" here and
"confidential ongoing investigations" there, might have won
284 •••••••• oog •• OROR•••••••••   Q   THE HACKER CRACKDOWN

them a burst of glamorous publicity at first, but were crippling
them in the ongoing propaganda war. Gail Thackeray was re-
duced to unsupported bluster: "Some of these people who are
loudest on the bandwagon may just slink into the background,"
she predicted in Newsweek-meaning when all the facts came out
and the cops were vindicated.
   But all the facts did not come out. Those facts that did were
not very flattering. And the cops were not vindicated. And Gail
Thackeray lost her job. By the end of 1991, William Cook had
also left public employment.
   The year 1990 had belonged to the crackdown, but by 1991 its
agents were in severe disarray and the libertarians were on a roll.
People were flocking to the cause.
   A particularly interesting ally had been Mike Godwin of Aus-
tin, Texas. Godwin was an individual almost as difficult to de-
scribe as Barlow; he had been editor of the student newspaper of
the University of Texas, and a computer salesman, and a
programmer, and in 1990 was back in law school, looking for a law
   Godwin was also a bulletin board maven. He was very well-
known in the Austin board community under his handle "Johnny
Mnemonic," which he adopted from a cyberpunk science-fiction
story by William Gibson. Godwin was an ardent cyberpunk
science-fiction fan. As a fellow Austinite of similar age and similar
interests, I myself had known Godwin socially for many years.
When William Gibson and I had been writing our collaborative
SF novel, The Difference Engine, Godwin had been our technical
advisor in our effort to link our Apple word processors from Aus-
tin to Vancouver. Gibson and I were so pleased by his generous
expert help that we named a character in the novel "Michael
Godwin" in his honor.
   The handle "Mnemonic" suited Godwin very well. His erudi-
tion and his mastery of trivia were impressive to the point of
stupor; his ardent curiosity seemed insatiable, and his desire to
debate and argue seemed the central drive of his life. Godwin had
even started his own Austin debating society, wryly known as the
          THE    CIVIL LIBERTARIANS        OOORRROllOOOOooQRogooOllllllllOR   285

          "Dull Men's Club." In person, Godwin could be overwhelming: a
          flypaper-brained polymath who could not seem to let any idea go.
          On bulletin boards, however, Godwin's closely reasoned, highly
          grammatical, erudite posts suited the medium well, and he be-
          came a local board celebrity.
             Mike Godwin was the man most responsible for the public
          national exposure of the Steve Jackson case. The Izenberg seizure
          in Austin had received no press coverage at all. The March 1 raids
          on Mentor, Bloodaxe, and Steve Jackson Games had received a
          brief front-page splash in the Austin American-Statesman, but it
          was confused and ill informed: the warrants were sealed, and the
          Secret Service wasn't talking. Steve Jackson seemed doomed to
          obscurity. Jackson had not been arrested; he was not charged with
          any crime; he was not on trial. He had lost some computers in an
          ongoing investigation-so what? Jackson tried hard to attract at-
          tention to the true extent of his plight, but he was drawing a
          blank; no one in a position to help him seemed able to get a
          mental grip on the issues.
             Godwin, however, was uniquely, almost magically, qualified to
          carry Jackson's case to the outside world. Godwin was a board
          enthusiast, a science-fiction fan, a former journalist, a computer
          salesman, a lawyer-to-be, and an Austinite. Through a coinci-
          dence yet more amazing, in his last year of law school Godwin
          had specialized in federal prosecutions and criminal procedure.
          Acting entirely on his own, Godwin made up a press packet that
          summarized the issues and provided useful contacts for reporters.
          Godwin's behind-the-scenes effort (which he carried out mostly
          to prove a point in a local board debate) broke the story again in
          the Austin American-Statesman and then in Newsweek.
             Life was never the same for Mike Godwin after that. As he
          joined the growing civil liberties debate on the Internet, it was
          obvious to all parties involved that here was one guy who, in the
          midst of complete murk and confusion, genuinely understood ev-
          erything he was talking about. The disparate elements of God-
          win's dilettantish existence suddenly fell together as neatly as the
          facets of a Rubik's Cube.

.   _ _. _ - - - - - - - -   ------   -~--     -------- ---------

   When the time came to hire a full-time EFF staff attorney,
Godwin was the obvious choice. He took the Texas bar exam, left
Austin, moved to Cambridge, became a full-time, professional
computer civil libertarian, and was soon touring the nation on
behalf of EFF, delivering well-received addresses on the issues to
crowds as disparate as academics, industrialists, science-fiction
fans, and federal cops.
   Michael Godwin is currently the chief legal counsel of the
Electronic Frontier Foundation in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

   Another early and influential participant in the controversy
was Dorothy Denning. Dr. Denning was unique among investiga-
tors of the computer underground in that she did not enter the
debate with any set of politicized motives. She was a professional
cryptographer and computer security expert whose primary inter-
est in hackers was scholarly. She had a B.A. and M.A. in mathe-
matics and a Ph.D. in computer science from Purdue. She had
worked for SRI International, the California think tank that was
also the home of computer-security maven Donn Parker, and had
authored an influential text called Cryptography and Data Secu-
rity. In 1990, Dr. Denning was working for Digital Equipment
Corporation in their Systems Research Center. Her husband, Pe-
ter Denning, was also a computer security expert, working for
NASA's Research Institute for Advanced Computer Science. He
had edited the well-received Computers Under Attack: Intruders,
Worms and Viruses.
   Denning took it upon herself to contact the digital under-
ground, more or less with an anthropological interest. There she
discovered that these computer-intruding hackers, who had been
characterized as unethical, irresponsible, and a serious danger to
society, did in fact have their own subculture and their own rules.
They were not particularly well-considered rules, but they were, in
fact, rules. Basically, they didn't take money and they didn't break
   Her dispassionate reports on her researches did a great deal to
influence serious-minded computer professionals-the sort of
THE CIVIL LIBERTARIANS          000000000000000000000000000   287

people who merely rolled their eyes at the cyberspace rhapsodies
of a John Perry Barlow.
   For young hackers of the digital underground, meeting Doro-
thy Denning was a genuinely mind-boggling experience. Here was
this neatly coiffed, conservatively dressed, dainty little personage,
who reminded most hackers of their moms or their aunts. And
yet she was an IBM systems programmer with profound expertise
in computer architectures and high-security information flow,
who had personal friends in the FBI and the National Security
   Dorothy Denning was a
shining example of the Amer-           Here she was, gently
ican     mathematical     intelli-
                                       questioning hairy-eyed
gentsia, a genuinely brilliant
person from the central ranks          phone phreaks over the
of the computer-science elite.         deeper ethical implications
And here she was, gently ques-
tioning twenty-year-old hairy-         of their behavior.
eyed phone phreaks over the
deeper ethical implications of their behavior.
   Confronted by this genuinely nice lady, most hackers sat up
very straight and did their best to keep the anarchy-file stuff
down to a faint whiff of brimstone. Nevertheless, the hackers were
in fact prepared to seriously discuss serious issues with Dorothy
Denning. They were willing to speak the unspeakable and defend
the indefensible, to blurt out their convictions that information
cannot be owned, that the databases of governments and large
corporations were a threat to the rights and privacy of individuals.
   Denning's articles made it clear to many that "hacking" was
not simple vandalism by some evil clique of psychotics. "Hack-
ing" was not an aberrant menace that could be charmed away by
ignoring it, or swept out of existence by jailing a few ringleaders.
Instead, "hacking" was symptomatic of a growing, primal struggle
over knowledge and power in the age of information.
   Denning pointed out that the attitude of hackers were at least
partially shared by forward-looking management theorists in the

business community: people like Peter Drucker and Tom Peters.
Peter Drucker, in his book The New Realities, had stated that
"control of information by the government is no longer possible.
Indeed, information is now transnational. Like money, it has no
'fatherland.' "
   And management maven Tom Peters had chided large corpora-
tions for uptight, proprietary attitudes in his best-seller, Thriving
on Chaos: "Information hoarding, especially by politically moti-
vated, power-seeking staffs, had been commonplace throughout
American industry, service and manufacturing alike. It will be an
impossible millstone aroung the neck of tomorrow's organiza-
   Dorothy Denning had shattered the social membrane of the
digital underground. She attended the Neidorf trial, where she
was prepared to testify for the defense as an expert witness. She
was a behind-the-scenes organizer of two of the most important
national meetings of the computer civil libertarians. Though not
a zealot of any description, she brought disparate elements of the
electronic community into a surprising and fruitful collusion.
   Dorothy Denning is currently the chair of the computer sci-
ence department at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.

    There were many stellar figures in the civil libertarian commu-
nity. There's no question, however, that its single most influential
figure was Mitchell D. Kapor, Other people might have formal
titles or governmental positions, have more experience with crime
or with the law, or with the arcanities of computer security or
constitutional theory. But by 1991 Kapor had transcended any
such narrow role. Kapor had become "Mitch."
    Mitch had become the central civil-libertarian ad-hocrat.
Mitch had stood up first, he had spoken out loudly, directly,
vigorously, and angrily, he had put his own reputation, and his
very considerable personal fortune, on the line. By mid-1991
Kapor was the best-known advocate of his cause and was known
personally by almost every single human being in America with
THE CIVIL LIBERTARIANS           ooooooooooooooooOOQoooooooo    289

any direct influence on the question of civil liberties in cyber-
space. Mitch had built bridges, crossed voids, changed paradigms,
forged metaphors, made phone calls, and swapped business cards
to such spectacular effect that it had become impossible for any-
one to take any action in the "hacker question" without wonder-
ing what Mitch might think-and say-and tell his friends.
   The EFF had simply networked the situation into an entirely
new status quo. And in fact this had been EFF's deliberate strat-
egy from the beginning. Both Barlow and Kapor loathed bureau-
cracies and had deliberately chosen to work almost entirely
through the electronic spiderweb of "valuable personal contacts."
   After a year of EFF, both Barlow and Kapor had every reason
to look back with satisfaction. EFF had established its own In-
ternet node, "," with a well-stocked electronic archive of
documents on electronic civil rights, privacy issues, and academic
freedom. EFF was also publishing EFFector, a quarterly printed
journal, as well as EFFector Online, an electronic newsletter with
over 1,200 subscribers. And EFF was thriving on the Well.
   EFF had a national headquarters in Cambridge and a full-time
staff. It had become a membership organization and was at-
tracting grass-roots support. It had also attracted the support of
some thirty civil rights lawyers, ready and eager to do pro bono
work in defense of the Constitution in Cyberspace.
   EFF had lobbied successfully in Washington and in Massachu-
setts to change state and federal legislation on computer
networking. Kapor in particular had become a veteran expert wit-
ness, and had joined the Computer Science and Telecommunica-
tions Board of the National Academy of Science and Engineering.
   EFF had sponsored meetings such as "Computers, Freedom
and Privacy" and the CPSR Roundtable. It had carried out a press
offensive that, in the words of EFFector, "has affected the climate
of opinion about computer networking and begun to reverse the
slide into 'hacker hysteria' that was beginning to grip the nation."
   It had helped Craig Neidorf avoid prison.
   And, last but certainly not least, the Electronic Frontier Foun-
290   000000000000000000000000000   THE HACKER CRACKDOWN

dation had filed a federal lawsuit in the name of Steve Jackson,
Steve Jackson Games Inc., and three users of the Illuminati bulle-
tin board system. The defendants were, and are, the United
States Secret Service, William Cook, Tim Foley, Barbara Golden,
and Henry Kluepfel.
   The case, which is in pretrial procedures in an Austin federal
court as of this writing, is a civil action for damages to redress
alleged violations of the First and Fourth amendments to the
United States Constitution, as well as the Privacy Protection Act
of 1980 (42 USC 2000aa et seq.) and the Electronic Communica-
tions Privacy Act (18 USC 2510 et seq. and 2701 et seq.).
   EFF had established that it had credibility. It had also estab-
lished that it had teeth.
   In September of 1991 I traveled to Massachusetts to speak
personally with Mitch Kapor. It was my final interview for this

   The city of Boston has always been one of the major intellec-
tual centers of the American republic. It is a very old city by
American standards, a place of skyscrapers overshadowing seven-
teenth-century graveyards, where the high-tech start-up compa-
nies of Route 128 coexist with the hand-wrought preindustrial
grace of "Old Ironsides," the USS Constitution.
   The Battle of Bunker Hill, one of the first and bitterest armed
clashes of the American Revolution, was fought in Boston's envi-
rons. Today there is a monumental spire on Bunker Hill, visible
throughout much of the city. The willingness of the republican
revolutionaries to take up arms and fire on their oppressors has
left a cultural legacy that two full centuries have not effaced.
Bunker Hill is still a potent center of American political symbol-
ism, and the Spirit of '76 is still a potent image for those who
seek to mold public opinion.
   Of course, not everyone who wraps himself in the flag is neces-
sarily a patriot. When I visited the spire in September 1991, it
bore a huge, badly erased, spray-can grafitto around its bottom

reading BRITS OUT-IRA PROVOS. Inside this hallowed edifice was a
glass-cased diorama of thousands of tiny toy soldiers, rebels and
redcoats, fighting and dying over the green hill, the riverside
marshes, the rebel trenchworks. Plaques indicated the movement
of troops, the shiftings of strategy. The Bunker Hill Monument is
occupied at its very center by the toy soldiers of a military war-
game simulation.
   The Boston metroplex is a place of great universities, promi-
nent among them the Massachusetts Institute of Technology,
where the term "computer hacker" was first coined. The Hacker
Crackdown of 1990 might be interpreted as a political struggle
among American cities: traditional strongholds of longhair intel-
lectualliberalism, such as Boston, San Francisco, and Austin, ver-
sus the bare-knuckle industrial pragmatism of Chicago and
Phoenix (with Atlanta and New York wrapped in internal strug-
gle) .
   The headquarters of the Electronic Frontier Foundation is on
155 Second Street in Cambridge, a Bostonian suburb north of the
River Charles. Second Street has weedy sidewalks of dented, sag-
ging brick and elderly cracked asphalt; large signs warn NO PARKING
DURING DECLARED SNOW EMERGENCY. This is an old area of modest
manufacturing industries; the EFF is catercorner from the
Greene Rubber Company. EFF's building is two stories of red
brick; its large wooden windows feature gracefully arched tops
and stone sills.
   The glass window beside the Second Street entrance bears
three sheets of neatly laser-printed paper, taped against the glass.
   "ON Technology" is Kapor's software company, which cur-
rently specializes in "groupware" for the Apple Macintosh com-
puter. Groupware is intended to promote efficient social
interaction among office workers linked by computers. ON Tech-
nology's most successful software products to date are "Meeting
Maker" and "Instant Update."
   "KEf' is Kapor Enterprises Inc., Kapor's personal holding
292   oooooooooogoooooooooooooooo   THE HACKER CRACKDOWN

company, the commercial entity that formally controls his
extensive investments in other hardware and software
   "EFF" is a political action group-of a special sort.
   Inside, someone's bike has been chained to the handrails of a
modest flight of stairs. A wall of modish glass brick separates this
anteroom from the offices. Beyond the brick, there's an alarm
system mounted on the wall, a sleek, complex little number that
resembles a cross between a thermostat and a CD player. Piled
against the wall are box after box of the September 1991 special
issue of Scientific American, "How to Work, Play, and Thrive in
Cyberspace," with extensive coverage of electronic networking
techniques and political issues, including an article by Kapor
himself. These boxes are addressed to Gerard Van der Leun,
EFF's director of communications, who will shortly mail those
magazines to every member of the EFF.
   The joint headquarters of EFF, KEI, and ON Technology,
which Kapor currently rents, is a modestly bustling place. It's very
much the same physical size as Steve Jackson's gaming company.
It's certainly a far cry from the gigantic gray steel-sided railway
shipping barn, on the Monsignor O'Brien Highway, that is owned
by Lotus Development Corporation.
    Lotus is, of course, the software giant that Mitchell Kapor
founded in the late 1970s. The software program Kapor co-
authored, Lotus 1-2-3, is still that company's most profitable
product. Lotus 1-2-3 also bears a singular distinction in the digi-
tal underground: it's probably the most pirated piece of applica-
tion software in world history.
    Kapor greets me cordially in his own office, down a hall. Kapor,
whose name is pronounced KAY-por, is in his early forties, mar-
ried and the father of two. He has a round face, high forehead,
straight nose, a slightly tousled mop of black hair peppered with
gray. His large brown eyes are wide-set, reflective, one might al-
most say soulful. He disdains ties, and commonly wears Hawaiian
shirts and tropical prints, not so much garish as simply cheerful
and just that little bit anomalous .

          ~-~--     ---------

   There is just the whiff of hacker brimstone about Mitch Kapor.
He may not have the hard-riding, hell-for-leather, guitar-strum-
ming charisma of his Wyoming colleague John Perry Barlow, but
there's something about the guy that still stops one short. He has
the air of the Eastern city dude in the bowler hat, the dreamy,
Longfellow-quoting poker shark who only happens to know the
exact mathematical odds against drawing to an inside straight.
Even among his computer-community colleagues, who are hardly
known for mental sluggishness, Kapor strikes one forcefully as a
very intelligent man. He speaks rapidly, with vigorous gestures,
his Boston accent sometimes slipping to the sharp nasal tang of
his youth in Long Island.
   Kapor, whose Kapor Family
Foundation does much of his             It would take exactly
philanthropic work, is a strong
                                        157,184 of these
supporter of Boston's Com-
puter Museum. Kapor's inter-            primordial toasters to hold
est in the history of his               the first part of this book.
industry has brought him some
remarkable curios, such as the "byte" just outside his office door.
This byte-eight digital bits-has been salvaged from the wreck
of an electronic computer of the pre-transistor age. It's a standing
gunmetal rack about the size of a small toaster-oven: with eight
slots of hand-soldered breadboarding featuring thumb-size vac-
uum tubes. If it fell off a table it could easily break your foot, but
it was state-of-the-art computation in the 1940s. (It would take
exactly 157,184 of these primordial toasters to hold the first part
of this book.)
    There's also a coiling, multicolored, scaly dragon that some
inspired techno-punk artist has cobbled up entirely out of transis-
tors, capacitors, and brightly plastic-coated wiring.
    Inside the office, Kapor excuses himself briefly to do a little
mouse-whizzing housekeeping on his personal Macintosh IIfx. If
its giant screen were an open window, an agile person could climb
 through it without much trouble at all. There's a coffee cup at
Kapor's elbow, a memento of his recent trip to Eastern Europe,

294   00000000 ROO 00 0 ORO 00 0 00 00 0 0 0   THE HACKER CRACKDOWN

which has a black-and-white stenciled photo and the legend CAPI-
TALIST FOOLS TOUR. It's Kapor, Barlow, and two California venture-
capitalist luminaries of their acquaintance, four windblown, grin-
ning Baby Boomer dudes in leather jackets, boots, denim, travel
bags, standing on airport tarmac somewhere behind the formerly
Iron Curtain. They look as if they're having the absolute time of
their lives.
   Kapor is in a reminiscent mood. We talk a bit about his youth
-high school days as a "math nerd," Saturdays attending Co-
lumbia University's high school science honors program, where
he had his first experience programming computers. IBM 1620s,
in 1965 and 1966. "I was very interested," says Kapor, "and then I
went off to college and got distracted by drugs, sex, and rock and
roll, like anybody with half a brain would have then!" After col-
lege he was a progressive-rock OJ in Hartford, Connecticut, for a
couple of years.
   I ask him if he ever misses his rock and roll days-if he ever
wished he could go back to radio work.
   He shakes his head flatly. "I stopped thinking about going back
to be a OJ the day after Altamont."
   Kapor moved to Boston in 1974 and got a job programming
mainframes in COBOL. He hated it. He quit and became a
teacher of transcendental meditation. (It was Kapor's long flirta-
tion with Eastern mysticism that gave the world "Lotus.")
   In 1976 Kapor went to Switzerland, where the TM movement
had rented a gigantic Victorian hotel in St.-Moritz. It was an all-
male group-l20 of them-determined upon Enlightenment or
Bust. Kapor had given the transcendant his best shot. He was
becoming disenchanted by "the nuttiness in the organization."
"They were teaching people to levitate," he says, staring at the
floor. His voice drops an octave, becomes flat. "They don't levi-
  Kapor chose Bust. He went back to the States and acquired a
degree in counseling psychology. He worked awhile in a hospital,
couldn't stand that either. "My rep was," he says "a very bright

kid with a lot of potential who hasn't found himself. Almost
thirty. Sort of lost."
   Kapor was unemployed when he bought his first personal com-
puter-an Apple II. He sold his stereo to raise cash and drove to
New Hampshire to avoid the sales tax.
   "The day after I purchased it," Kapor tells me, "I was hanging
out in a computer store and I saw another guy, a man in his
forties, well-dressed guy, and eavesdropped on his conversation
with the salesman. He didn't know anything about computers. I'd
had a year programming. And I could program in BASIC. I'd
taught myself. So I went up to him, and I actually sold myself to
him as a consultant." He pauses. "I don't know where I got the
nerve to do this. It was uncharacteristic. I just said, 'I think I can
help you, I've been listening, this is what you need to do and I
think I can do it for you.' And he took me on! He was my first
client! I became a computer consultant the first day after I
bought the Apple II."
   Kapor had found his true vocation. He attracted more clients
for his consultant service and started an Apple users' group.
   A friend of Kapor's, Eric Rosenfeld, a graduate student at MIT,
had a problem. He was doing a thesis on an arcane form of finan-
cial statistics but could not wedge himself into the crowded
queue for time on MIT's mainframes. (One might note at this
point that if Mr. Rosenfeld had dishonestly broken into the MIT
mainframes, Kapor himself might have never invented Lotus
1-2-3 and the PC business might have been set back for yearsl)
Eric Rosenfeld did have an Apple II, however, and he thought it
might be possible to scale the problem down. Kapor, as a favor,
wrote a program for him in BASIC that did the job.
   It then occurred to the two of them, out of the blue, that it
might be possible to sell this program. They marketed it them-
selves, in plastic baggies, for about a hundred bucks a pop, mail
order. "This was a total cottage industry by a marginal consul-
tant," Kapor says proudly. "That's how I got started, honest to
          296   ooooooooooooooooogoooo.o.o.   THE HACKER CRACKDOWN

             Rosenfeld, who later became a very prominent figure on Wall
          Street, urged Kapor to go to MIT's business school for an MBA.
          Kapor did seven months there, but never got his MBA. He picked
          up some useful tools-mainly a firm grasp of the principles of
          accounting-and, in his own words, "learned to talk MBA." Then
          he dropped out and went to Silicon Valley.
             The inventors of VisiCalc, the Apple computer's premier busi-
          ness program, had shown an interest in Mitch Kapor. Kapor
          worked diligently for them for six months, got tired of California,
          went back to Boston where they had better bookstores. The Visi-
          Calc group had made the critical error of bringing in "profes-
          sional management." "That drove them into the ground," Kapor
             "Yeah, you don't hear a lot about VisiCalc these days," I muse.
             Kapor looks surprised. "Well, Lotus . . . we bought it."
             "Oh. You bought it?"
             "Sort of like the Bell System buying Western Union?"
             Kapor grins. "Yep! Yep! Yeah, exactly!"
             Mitch Kapor was not in full command of the destiny of himself
          or his industry. The hottest software commodities of the early
          1980s were computer games-the Atari seemed destined to enter
          every teenage home in America. Kapor got into business software
          simply because he didn't have any particular feeling for computer
          games. But he was supremely fast on his feet, open to new ideas
          and inclined to trust his instincts. And his instincts were good.
          He chose good people to deal with-gifted programmer Jonathan
          Sachs (the co-author of Lotus 1-2-3), financial wizard Eric Rosen-
          feld, canny Wall Street analyst, and venture capitalist Ben Rosen.
          Kapor was the founder and CEO of Lotus, one of the most spec-
          tacularly successful business ventures of the later twentieth cen-
             He is now an extremely wealthy man. I ask him if he actually
          knows how much money he has.
             "Yeah," he says. "Within a percent or two."
             How much does he actually have, then?

- - - - - - - - - - ----- - - - - - -
THE CIVIL LIBERTARIANS             oOOllOooooooooooooooooogoooo   297

    He shakes his head. "A lot. A lot. Not something I talk about.
Issues of money and class are things that cut pretty close to the
    I don't pry. It's beside the point. One might presume, impo-
litely, that Kapor has at least forty million-that's what he got
the year he left Lotus. People who ought to know claim Kapor has
about 150 million, give or take a market swing in his stock hold-
ings. If Kapor had stuck with Lotus, as his colleague friend and
rival Bill Gates has stuck with his own software start-up,
Microsoft, then Kapor would likely have much the same fortune
Gates has-somewhere in the neighborhood of three billion, give
or take a few hundred million. Mitch Kapor has all the money he
wants. Money has lost whatever charm it ever held for him-
probably not much in the first place. When Lotus became too
uptight, too bureaucratic, too far from the true sources of his own
satisfaction, Kapor walked. He simply severed all connections
with the company and went out the door. It stunned everyone-
except those who knew him best.
    Kapor has not had to strain his resources to wreak a thorough
transformation in cyberspace politics. In its first year, EFF's bud-
get was about a quarter of a million dollars. Kapor is running EFF
out of his pocket change.
    Kapor takes pains to tell me that he does not consider himself
a civil libertarian per se. He has spent quite some time with true-
blue civil libertarians lately, and there's a political-correctness to
them that bugs him. They seem to him to spend entirely too
much time in legal nitpicking and not enough vigorously exercis-
ing civil rights in the everyday real world.
    Kapor is an entrepreneur. Like all hackers, he prefers his in-
volvements direct, personal, and hands-on. "The fact that EFF
has a node on the Internet is a great thing. We're a publisher.
We're a distributor of information." Among the items the
Internet node carries is back issues of Phrack. They had an inter-
nal debate about that in EFF and finally decided to take the
plunge. They might carry other digital underground publications
-but if they do, he says, "we'll certainly carry Donn Parker, and
298   oooooooooogooooooooooooOllll1l   THE HACKER CRACKDOWN

anything Gail Thackeray wants to put up. We'll turn it into a
public library, that has the whole spectrum of use. Evolve in the
direction of people making up their own minds." He grins. "We'll
try to label all the editorials."
   Kapor is determined to tackle the technicalities of the Internet
in the service of the public interest. "The problem with being a
node on the net today is that you've got to have a captive techni-
cal specialist. We have Chris Davis around, for the care and feed-
ing of the balky beast. We couldn't do it ourselves!"
   He pauses. "So one direction in which technology has to evolve
is much more standardized units, that a nontechnical person can
feel comfortable with. It's the same shift as from minicomputers
to PCs. I can see a future in which any person can have a node on
the net. Any person can be a publisher. It's better than the media
we now have. It's possible. We're working actively."
   Kapor is in his element now, Auent, thoroughly in command in
his material. "You go tell a hardware Internet hacker that every-
one should have a node on the net," he says, "and the first thing
they're going to say is 'IP doesn't scale!' " ("IP" is the interface
protocol for the Internet. As it currently exists, the IP software is
simply not capable of indefinite expansion; it will run out of
usable addresses, it will saturate.) "The answer," Kapor says, "is:
Evolve the protocol! Get the smart people together and figure out
what to do. Do we add ID? Do we add new protocol? Don't just
say, we can't do it."
   Getting smart people together to figure out what to do is a skill
at which Kapor clearly excels. I counter that people on the In-
ternet rather enjoy their elite technical status and don't seem
particularly anxious to democratize the net.
   Kapor agrees, with a show of scorn. "I tell them that this is the
 snobbery of the people on the Mayflower looking down their
 noses at the people who came over on the second boat! Just be-
cause they got here a year, or five years, or ten years before every-
body else, that doesn't give them ownership of cyberspace! By
 what right?"

    I remark that the telcos are an electronic network too, and they
seem to guard their specialized knowledge pretty closely.
    Kapor ripostes that the telcos and the Internet are entirely
different animals. "The Internet is an open system, everything is
published, everything gets argued about, basically by anybody
who can get in. Mostly, it's exclusive and elitist just because it's
so difficult. Let's make it easier to use."
    On the other hand, he allows with a swift change of emphasis,
the so-called elitists do have a point as well. "Before people start
coming in who are new, who want to make suggestions, and criti-
cize the net as 'all screwed up' . . . they should at least take the
time to understand the culture on its own terms. It has its own
history-show some respect for it. I'm a conservative, to that
    The Internet is Kapor's para-
digm for the future of telecom-
munications.     The Internet is
                                   The         Internet is Kapor's
                                        paradigm for the future of
decentralized, nonhierarchical,
almost anarchic. There are no           telecommunications.
bosses, no chain of command,
no secret data. If each node obeys the general interface standards,
there's simply no need for any central network authority.
    Wouldn't that spell the doom of AT&T as an institution? I ask.
    That prospect doesn't faze Kapor for a moment. "Their big
advantage, that they have now, is that they have all of the wiring.
But two things are happening. Anyone with right-of-way is put-
ting down fiber-Southern Pacific Railroad, people like that-
there's enormous 'dark fiber' laid in." ("Dark fiber" is fiber-optic
cable, whose enormous capacity so exceeds the demands of cur-
rent usage that much of the fiber still has no light signals on it-
it's still "dark," awaiting future use.)
    "The other thing that's happening is the local-loop stuff is
going to go wireless. Everyone from Bellcore to the cable TV
companies to AT&T wants to put in these things called 'personal
communication systems.' So you could have local competition-
300   ooooooopoooooooooooooopoooo   THE HACKER CRACKDOWN

you could have multiplicity of people, a bunch of neighborhoods,
sticking stuff up on poles. And a bunch of other people laying in
dark fiber. So what happens to the telephone companies? There's
enormous pressure on them from both sides.
    "The more I look at this, the more I believe that in a postin-
dustrial, digital world, the idea of regulated monopolies is bad.
People will look back on it and say that in the nineteenth and
twentieth centuries the idea of public utilities was an okay com-
promise. You needed one set of wires in the ground. It was too
economically inefficient otherwise. And that meant one entity
running it. But now, with pieces being wireless-the connections
are going to be via high-level interfaces, not via wires. I mean,
ultimately there are going to be wires-but the wires are just a
commodity. Fiber, wireless. You no longer need a utility."
   Water utilities? Gas utilities?
   Of course we still need those, he agrees. "But when what
you're moving is information, instead of physical substances, then
you can play by a different set of rules. We're evolving those rules
now! Hopefully you can have a much more decentralized system,
and one in which there's more competition in the marketplace.
    "The role of government will be to make sure that nobody
cheats. The proverbial 'level playing field.' A policy that prevents
monopolization. It should result in better service, lower prices,
more choices, and local empowerment." He smiles. "I'm very big
on local empowerment."
   Kapor is a man with a vision. It's a novel vision that he and his
allies are working out in considerable detail and with great energy.
Dark, cynical, morbid cyberpunk that I am, I cannot avoid con-
sidering some of the darker implications of "decentralized,
nonhierarchical, locally empowered" networking.
   I remark that some pundits have suggested that electronic
networking-faxes, phones, small-scale photocopiers-played a
strong role in dissolving the power of centralized communism
and causing the collapse of the Warsaw Pact.
    Socialism is totally discredited, says Kapor, fresh back from the
THE CIVIL LIBERTARIANS            oOO •• OORODpO.RRRORO........   301

Eastern Bloc. The idea that faxes did it, all by themselves, is
rather wishful thinking.
   Has it occurred to him that electronic networking might cor-
rode America's industrial and political infrastructure to the point
where the whole thing becomes untenable, unworkable-and the
old order just collapses headlong, as in Eastern Europe?
   "No," Kapor says flatly. "I think that's extraordinarily unlikely.
In part, because ten or fifteen years ago, I had similar hopes about
personal computers-which utterly failed to materialize." He
grins wryly, then his eyes narrow. "I'm very opposed to techno-
utopias. Every time I see one, I either run away or try to kill it."
   It dawns on me then that Mitch Kapor is not trying to make
the world safe for democracy. He certainly is not trying to make it
safe for anarchists or utopians-least of all for computer intruders
or electronic rip-off artists. What he really hopes to do is make
the world safe for future Mitch Kapors. This world of decentral-
ized, small-scale nodes, with instant global access for the best and
brightest, would be a perfect milieu for the shoestring attic capi-
talism that made Mitch Kapor what he is today.
   Kapor is a very bright man. He has a rare combination of vi-
sionary intensity with a strong practical streak. The board of the
EFF-John Barlow, Jerry Berman, formerly of the ACLU, Stewart
Brand, John Gilmore, Steve Wozniak, and Esther Dyson, the doy-
enne of East-West computer entrepreneurism-share his gift, his
vision, and his formidable networking talents. They are people of
the 1960s, winnowed out by its turbulence and rewarded with
wealth and influence. They are some of the best and the brightest
that the electronic community has to offer. But can they do it, in
the real world? Or are they only dreaming? They are so few. And
there is so much against them.
   I leave Kapor and his networking employees struggling cheer-
fully with the promising intricacies of their newly installed Mac-
intosh System 7 software. The next day is Saturday. EFF is
closed. I pay a few visits to points of interest downtown.
   One of them is the birthplace of the telephone.
-----~-   ----------------------------

      302 •• OR • • • • • • • • • • • RR.R.R.R •• R.   THE HACKER CRACKDOWN

         It's marked by a bronze plaque in a plinth of black-and-white
      speckled granite. It sits in the plaza of the John F. Kennedy Fed-
      eral Building, the very place where Kapor was once fingerprinted
      by the FBI.
         The plaque has a bas-relief picture of Bell's original telephone.
      "BIRTHPLACE OF THE TELEPHONE," it reads. "Here, on
      June 2, 1875, Alexander Graham Bell and Thomas A. Watson first
      transmitted sound over wires.
         "This successful experiment was completed in a fifth floor gar-
      ret at what was then 109 Court Street and marked the beginning
      of worldwide telephone service."
         109 Court Street is long gone. Within sight of Bell's plaque,
      across a street, is one of the central offices of NYNEX, the local
      Bell RBOC, on 6 Bowdoin Square.
         I cross the street and circle the telco building, slowly, hands in
      my jacket pockets. It's a bright, windy, New England autumn day.
      The central office is a handsome 1940s-era megalith in late Art
      Deco, eight stories high.
         Parked outside the back is a power-generation truck. The gen-
      erator strikes me as rather anomalous. Don't they already have
      their own generators in this eight-story monster? Then the suspi-
      cion strikes me that NYNEX must have heard of the September
       17 AT&T power outage that crashed New York City. Belt-and-
      suspenders, this generator. Very telco.
         Over the glass doors of the front entrance is a handsome
      bronze bas relief of Art Deco vines, sunflowers, and birds, en-
      twining the Bell logo and the legend NEW ENGLAND TELE-
      PHONE AND TELEGRAPH COMPANY-an entity that no
      longer officially exists.
         The doors are locked securely. I peer through the shadowed
      glass. Inside is an official poster reading:
             New England Telephone a NYNEX Company
             All persons while on New England Telephone Company prem-
          ises are required to visibly wear their identification cards (C.C.P.
          Section 2, Page 1).

i         Visitors, vendors, contractors, and all others are required to visi-
       bly wear a daily pass.
         Thank you.
         Kevin C. Stanton.
         Building Security Coordinator.

    Outside, around the corner, is a pull-down ribbed metal security
    door, a locked delivery entrance. Some passing stranger has
    grafitti-tagged this door, with a single word in red spray-painted


     My book on the Hacker Crackdown is almost over now. I have
     deliberately saved the best for last.
         In February 1991, I attended the CPSR Public Policy Round-
     table, in Washington, D.G CPSR, Computer Professionals for
     Social Responsibility, was a sister organization of EFF, or perhaps
     its aunt, being older and perhaps somewhat wiser in the ways of
     the world of politics.
         Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility began in
     1981 in Palo Alto, as an informal discussion group of Californian
     computer scientists and technicians, united by nothing more
     than an electronic mailing list. This typical high-tech ad-hocracy
     received the dignity of its own acronym in 1982 and was formally
     incorporated in 1983.
         CPSR lobbied government and public alike with an educa-
     tional outreach effort, sternly warning against any foolish and
     unthinking trust in complex computer systems. CPSR insisted
     that mere computers should never be considered a magic panacea
     for humanity's social, ethical, or political problems. Members
     were especially troubled about the stability, safety, and depend-
     ability of military computer systems, and very especially troubled
     by those systems controlling nuclear arsenals. CPSR was best
     known for its persistent and well-publicized attacks on the scien-
     tific credibility of the Strategic Defense Initiative ("Star Wars").
         In 1990, CPSR was the nation's veteran cyber-political activist

                       - - - -   -------

group, with more than two thousand members in twenty-one lo-
cal chapters across the U.S. It was especially active in Boston,
Silicon Valley, and Washington, D.C., where its Washington of-
fice sponsored the Public Policy Roundtable.
   The Roundtable, however, had been funded by EFF, which
had passed CPSR an extensive grant for operations. This was the
first large-scale, official meeting of what was to become the elec-
tronic civil libertarian community.
    Sixty people attended, myself included-in this instance, not
so much as a journalist as a cyberpunk author. Many of the lumi-
naries of the field took part: Kapor and Godwin as a matter of
course. Richard Civille and Marc Rotenberg of CPSR. Jerry
Berman of the ACLU. John Quarterman, author of The Matrix.
Steven Levy, author of Hackers. George Perry and Sandy Weiss of
Prodigy Services, there to network about the civil liberties trou-
bles their young commercial network was experiencing. Dr. Doro-
thy Denning. Cliff Figallo, manager of the Well. Steve Jackson
was there, having finally found his ideal target audience, and so
was Craig Neidorf, Knight Lightning himself. Katie Hafner, sci-
ence journalist and co-author of Cyberpunks, Outlaws and Hack-
ers on the Computer Frontier. Dave Farber, ARPAnet pioneer and
fabled Internet guru. Janlori Goldman of the ACLU's Project on
Privacy and Technology. John Nagle of Autodesk and the Well.
Don Goldberg of the House Judiciary Committee. Tom
Guidoboni, the defense attorney in the Internet worm case.
Lance Hoffman, computer-science professor at the George Wash-
ington University. Eli Noam of Columbia. And a host of others
no less distinguished.
    Senator Patrick Leahy delivered the keynote address, express-
ing his determination to keep ahead of the curve on the issue of
electronic free speech. The address was well received, and the
sense of excitement was palpable. Every panel discussion was in-
teresting-some were entirely compelling. People networked with
an almost frantic interest.
    I myself had a most interesting and cordial lunch discussion

with Noel and Jeanne Gayler; Admiral Gayler is a former director
of the National Security Agency. As this was the first known en-
counter between an actual no-kidding cyberpunk and a chief
executive of America's largest and best-financed electronic espio-
nage apparat, there was naturally a bit of eyebrow-raising on both
   Unfortunately, our discussion was off the record. In fact, all
the discussions at the CPSR were officially off the record, the
idea being to do some serious networking in an atmosphere of
complete frankness rather than to stage a media circus.
   In any case, CPSR Roundtable, though interesting and in-
tensely valuable, was as nothing compared to the truly mind-
boggling event that transpired a mere month later: March 25 to
28, 1991, in San Francisco.

   "Computers, Freedom and Privacy." Four hundred people
from every conceivable corner of America's electronic commu-
nity. As a science-fiction writer, I have been to some weird gigs
in my day, but this thing is truly beyond the pale. Even
"Cyberthon," Point Foundation's "Woodstock of Cyberspace"
where Bay Area psychedelia collided headlong with the emergent
world of computerized virtual reality, was like a Kiwanis Club gig
compared to this astonishing do.
   The "electronic community" had reached an apogee. Almost
every principal in this book is in attendance. Civil libertarians.
Computer cops. The Digital Underground. Even a few discreet
telco people. Color-coded dots for lapel tags are distributed. Free
expression issues. Law enforcement. Computer security. Privacy.
Journalists. Lawyers. Educators. Librarians. Programmers. Stylish
punk-black dots for the hackers and phone phreaks. Almost every-
one here seems to wear eight or nine dots, to have six or seven
professional hats.
   It is a community. Something like Lebanon perhaps, but a
digital nation. People who had feuded all year in the national
press, people who entertained the deepest suspicions of one an-
    306   000000000000000000000000000       THE HACKER CRACKDOWN

   other's motives and ethics, are now in each others' laps. "Com-
   puters, Freedom and Privacy" had every reason in the world to
   turn ugly, and yet except for small eruptions of puzzling nonsense
   from the convention's token lunatic, a surprising bonhomie
   reigned. CFP was like a wedding party in which two lovers, unsta-
   ble bride and charlatan groom, tie the knot in a clearly disastrous
                                           It is clear to both families-
The Hacker Crackdown 18 even to neighbors and random
                                        guests-that this is not a work-
ending in marriage.
                                        able relationship, and yet the
   young couple's desperate attraction can brook no further delay.
   They simply cannot help themselves. Crockery will fly, shrieks
   from their newlywed home will wake the city block, divorce waits
   in the wings like a vulture over the Kalahari, and yet this is a
   wedding, and there is going to be a child from it. Tragedies end in
   death; comedies in marriage. The Hacker Crackdown is ending in
   marriage. And there will be a child.
      From the beginning, anomalies reign. John Perry Barlow, cyber-
   space ranger, is here. His color photo in The New York Times
   Magazine, Barlow scowling in a grim Wyoming snowscape, with
   long black coat, dark hat, a Macintosh SE30 propped on a fence-
   post and an awesome frontier rifle tucked under one arm, will be
   the single most striking visual image of the Hacker Crackdown.
   And he is CFP's guest of honor-along with Gail Thackeray of
   the FCIC! What on earth do they expect these guests to do with
   each other? Waltz?
      Barlow delivers the first address. Uncharacteristically, he is
   hoarse-the sheer volume of roadwork has worn him down. He
   speaks briefly, congenially, in a plea for conciliation, and takes his
   leave to a storm of applause.
      Then Gail Thackeray takes the stage. She's visibly nervous.
   She's been on the Well a lot lately. Reading those Barlow posts.
   Following Barlow is a challenge to anyone. In honor of the famous
   lyricist for the Grateful Dead, she announces reedily, she is going
   to read-a poem. A poem she has composed herself.

                                -   -----   ---------
THE CIVIL LIBERTARIANS           oOOlloooooogooooooQOOQOooooo   307

   It's an awful poem, doggerel in the rollicking meter of Robert
W. Service's The Cremation of Sam McGee, but it is in fact, a
poem. It's the Ballad of the Electronic Frontier! A poem about the
Hacker Crackdown and the sheer unlikelihood of CFP. It's full of
in-jokes. The score or so cops in the audience, who are sitting
together in a nervous claque, are absolutely cracking up. Gail's
poem is the funniest goddamn thing they've ever heard. The
hackers and civil libs, who had this woman figured for Ilsa She-
Wolf of the SS, are staring with their jaws hanging loose. Never in
the wildest reaches of their imagination had they figured Gail
Thackeray was capable of such a totally off-the-wall move. You
can see them punching their mental CONTROL-RESET but-
tons. Jesus! This woman's a hacker weirdo! She's just like us! God,
this changes everything!
   Al Bayse, computer technician for the FBI, had been the only
cop at the CPSR Roundtable, dragged there with his arm bent by
Dorothy Denning. He had been guarded and tight-lipped at the
roundtable; a "lion thrown to the Christians."
   At CFP, backed by a claque of cops, Bayse suddenly waxes
eloquent and even droll, describing the FBI's "NCIC 2000," a
gigantic digital catalog of criminal records, as if he has suddenly
become some weird hybrid of George Orwell and George Gobel.
Tentatively he makes an arcane joke about statistical analysis. At
least a third of the crowd laughs aloud.
   "They didn't laugh at that at my last speech," Bayse observes.
He had been addressing cops-straight cops, not computer peo-
ple. It had been a worthy meeting, useful, one supposes, but
nothing like this. There has never been anything like this. With-
out any prodding, without any preparation, people in the audi-
ence simply begin to ask questions. Longhairs, freaky people,
mathematicians. Bayse is answering, politely, frankly, fully, like a
man walking on air. The ballroom's atmosphere crackles with
surreality. A female lawyer behind me breaks into a sweat and a
hot waft of surprisingly potent and musky perfume flows off her
pulse points.
    People are giddy with laughter. People are interested, Iasci-

nated, their eyes so wide and dark that they seem eroticized.
Unlikely daisy chains form in the halls, around the bar, on the
escalators: cops with hackers, civil rights with FBI, Secret Service
with phone phreaks.
   Gail Thackeray is at her crispest in a white wool sweater with a
tiny Secret Service logo. "I found Phiber Optik at the pay phones,
and when he saw my sweater, he turned into a pillar of salt!" she
   Phiber discusses his case at much length with his arresting
officer, Don Delaney of the New York State Police. After an
hour's chat, the two of them look ready to begin singing "Auld
Lang Syne." Phiber finally finds the courage to get his worst com-
plaint off his chest. It isn't so much the arrest. It was the charge.
Pirating service off 900 numbers. I'm a programmer, Phiber in-
sists. This lame charge is going to hurt my reputation. It would
have been cool to be busted for something happening, like Sec-
tion 1030 computer intrusion. Maybe some kind of crime that's
scarcely been invented yet. Not lousy phone fraud. Phooey.
   Delaney seems regretful. He had a mountain of possible crimi-
nal charges against Phiber Optik. The kid's gonna plead guilty
anyway. He's a first timer, they always plead. Coulda charged the
kid with most anything and gotten the same result in the end.
Delaney seems genuinely sorry not to have gratified Phiber in this
harmless fashion. Too late now. Phiber's pled already. All water
under the bridge. Whaddya gonna do?
   Delaney's got a good grasp on the hacker mentality. He held a
press conference after he busted a bunch of Masters of Deception
kids. Some journo had asked him: "Would you describe these
people as geniuses?" Delaney's deadpan answer, perfect: "No, I
would describe these people as defendants." Delaney busts a kid
for hacking codes with repeated random dialing. Tells the press
that NYNEX can track this stuff in no time flat nowadays, and a
kid has to be stupid to do something so easy to catch. Dead on
again: Hackers don't mind being thought of as Genghis Khan by
the straights, but if there's anything that really gets 'em where
they live, it's being called dumb.

   Won't be as much fun for Phiber next time around. As a sec-
ond offender he's gonna see prison. Hackers break the law.
They're not geniuses either. They're gonna be defendants. And
yet, Delaney muses over a drink in the hotel bar, he has found it
impossible to treat them as common criminals. Delaney knows
criminals. These kids, by comparison, are clueless-there is just
no crook vibe off of them, they don't smell right, they're just not
   Delaney has seen a lot of action. He did Vietnam. He's been
shot at, he has shot people. He's a homicide cop from New York.
He has the appearance of a man who has not only seen the shit
hit the fan but has seen it splattered across whole city blocks and
left to ferment for years. This guy has been around.
   He listens to Steve Jackson        'T'
tell his story. The dreamy game        1 he iron jaws of prison
strategist has been dealt a bad       clanged shut without him
hand. He has played it for all                        .               .
he is worth. Under his nerdish        and now Neulor] looks lzke
SF-fan exterior is a core of iron.    a larval congressman.
Friends of his say Steve Jackson
believes in the rules, believes in fair play. He will never compro-
mise his principles, never give up. "Steve," Delaney says to Steve
Jackson, "they had some balls, whoever busted you. You're all
right!" Jackson, stunned, falls silent and actually blushes with
   Neidorf has grown up a lot in the past year. The kid is a quick
study, you gotta give him that. Dressed by his mom, the fashion
manager for a national clothing chain, Missouri college techie-
frat Craig Neidorf outdappers everyone at this gig but the toniest
East Coast lawyers. The iron jaws of prison clanged shut without
him and now law school beckons for Neidorf. He looks like a
larval congressman.
   Not a "hacker," our Mr. Neidorf. He's not interested in com-
puter science. Why should he be? He's not interested in writing
C code the rest of his life, and besides, he's seen where the chips
fall. To the world of computer science he and Phrack were just a
310   IlROIlOOOOOOOoooooooooooooooo   THE HACKER CRACKDOWN

cunosity. But to the world of law. . . . The kid has learned
where the bodies are buried. He carries his notebook of press
clippings wherever he goes.
   Phiber Optik makes fun of Neidorf for a midwestern geek, for
believing that "Acid Phreak" does acid and listens to acid rock.
Hell no. Acid's never done acid! Acid's into acid house music.
Jesus. The very idea of doing LSD. Our parents did LSD, ya
   Thackeray suddenly turns upon Craig Neidorf the full light-
house glare of her attention and begins a determined half-hour
attempt to win the boy over. The Joan of Arc of Computer Crime
is giving career advice to Knight Lightning! "Your experience
would be very valuable-a real asset," she tells him with unmis-
takable sixty-thousand-watt sincerity. Neidorf is fascinated. He
listens with unfeigned attention. He's nodding and saying yes
ma'am. Yes, Craig, you too can forget all about money and enter
the glamorous and horribly underpaid world of PROSECUTING
COMPUTER CRIME! You can put your former friends in prison
-ooops. . . .
   You cannot go on dueling at modem's length indefinitely. You
cannot beat one another senseless with rolled-up press clippings.
Sooner or later you have to come directly to grips. And yet the
very act of assembling here has changed the entire situation dras-
tically. John Quarterman, author of The Matrix, explains the In-
ternet at his symposium. It is the largest news network in the
world, it is growing by leaps and bounds, and yet you cannot
measure Internet because you cannot stop it in place. It cannot
stop, because there is no one anywhere in the world with the
authority to stop Internet. It changes, yes, it grows, it embeds
itself across the postindustrial, postmodern world, and it gener-
ates community wherever it touches, and it is doing this all by
    Phiber is different. A very fin-de-siecle kid, Phiber Optik. Bar-
low says he looks like an Edwardian dandy. He does rather.
Shaven neck, the sides of his skull cropped hip-hop close, unruly
tangle of black hair on top that looks pomaded, he stays up till

four A.M. and misses all the sessions, then hangs out in pay phone
booths with his acoustic coupler gutsily CRACKING SYSTEMS
FORCEMENT DUDES IN THE U.S., or at least pretending
to . . . . Unlike "Frank Drake." Drake, who wrote to Dorothy
Denning out of nowhere, and asked for an interview for his
cheapo cyberpunk fanzine, and then started grilling her on her
ethics. She was squirmin' too. . . . Drake, scarecrow-tall with his
floppy blond mohawk, rotting tennis shoes and black leather
jacket lettered ILLUMINATI in red, gives off an unmistakable air of
the Bohemian literatus. Drake is the kind of guy who reads British
industrial design magazines and appreciates William Gibson be-
cause the quality of his prose is so tasty. Drake could never touch
a phone or a keyboard again, and he'd still have the nose ring and
the blurry photocopied fanzines and the sampled industrial mu-
sic. He's a radical punk with a desktop-publishing rig and an
Internet address. Standing next to Drake, the diminutive Phiber
looks like he's been physically coagulated out of phone lines. Born
to phreak.
    Dorothy Denning approaches Phiber suddenly. The two of
 them are about the same height and body build. Denning's blue
eyes flash behind the round window-frames of her glasses. "Why
did you say I was 'quaint'?" she asks Phiber, quaintly.
    It's a perfect description but Phiber is nonplussed. "Well, I uh,
you know. . . ."
    "I also think you're quaint, Dorothy," I say, novelist to the
 rescue, the journo gift of gab. . . . She is neat and dapper and
 yet there's an arcane quality to her, something like a Pilgrim
 Maiden behind leaded glass; if she were six inches high Dorothy
 Denning would look great inside a china cabinet. The
 Cryptographeress . . . Cryptographrix . . . whatever . . .
 Weirdly, Peter Denning looks just like his wife, you could pick
 this gentleman out of a thousand guys as the soulmate of Doro-
 thy Denning. Wearing tailored slacks, a spotless fuzzy varsity
 sweater, and a neatly knotted academician's tie . . . . This fine-
 boned, exquisitely polite, utterly civilized, and hyperintelligent

                      --   ---~--------
312   0000000000 00 00 0 0 0.00.00 •• 00   THE HACKER CRACKDOWN

couple seem to have emerged from some cleaner and finer paral-
lel universe, where humanity exists to do the Brain Teasers col-
umn in Scientific American. Why does this Nice Lady hang out
with these unsavory characters?
    Because the time has come for it, that's why. Because she's the
best there is at what she does.
    Donn Parker is here, the Great Bald Eagle of Computer
Crime. . . . With his bald dome, great height, and enormous
Lincoln-like hands, the great visionary pioneer of the field plows
through the lesser mortals like an icebreaker. His eyes are fixed on
the future with the rigidity of a bronze statue. Eventually, he tells
his audience, all business crime will be computer crime, because
businesses will do everything through computers. "Computer
crime" as a category will vanish.
    In the meantime, passing fads will flourish and fail and evapo-
rate . . . . Parker's commanding, resonant voice is sphinxlike,
everything is viewed from some eldritch valley of deep historical
abstraction. Yes, they've come and they've gone, these passing
flaps in the world of digital computation. . . . The radio-fre-
quency emanation scandal . . . KGB and MI5 and CIA do it
every day, it's easy, but nobody else ever has. The salami-slice
fraud, mostly mythical. . . . "Crimoids," he calls them. Com-
puter viruses are the current crimoid champ, a lot less dangerous
than most people let on, but the novelty is fading and there's a
crimoid vacuum at the moment, the press is visibly hungering for
something more outrageous. The Great Man shares with us a
few speculations on the coming crimoids. Desktop forgery!
Wow . . . . Computers stolen just for the sake of the informa-
tion within them-data-napping! Happened in Britain awhile
ago, could be the coming thing. . . . Phantom nodes in the In-
    Parker handles his overhead projector sheets with an ecclesias-
 tical air. He wears a gray double-breasted suit, a light-blue shirt,
and a very quiet tie of understated maroon-and-blue paisley.
Aphorisms emerge from him with slow, leaden emphasis. There is
 no such thing as an adequately secure computer when one faces a

sufficiently powerful adversary. . . . Deterrence is the most so-
cially useful aspect of security. . . . People are the primary weak-
ness in all information systems. . . . The entire baseline of
computer security must be shifted upward. . . . Don't ever vio-
late your security by publicly describing your security measures.
    People in the audience are beginning to squirm, and yet there
is something about the elemental purity of this guy's philosophy
that compels uneasy respect. Parker sounds like the only sane guy
left in the lifeboat, sometimes. The guy who can prove rigorously,
from deep moral principles, that Harvey there, the one with the
broken leg and the checkered past, is the one who has to be,
err . . . that is, Mr. Harvey is best placed to make the necessary
sacrifice for the security and indeed the very survival of the rest of
this lifeboat's crew. . . . Computer security, Parker informs us
mournfully, is a nasty topic, and we wish we didn't have to have
it. The security expert, armed with method and logic, must think
-imagine-everything that the adversary might do before the
adversary might actually do it. It is as if the criminal's dark brain
were an extensive subprogram within the shining cranium of
 Donn Parker. He is a Holmes whose Moriarty does not quite yet
exist and so must be perfectly simulated.
    CFP is a stellar gathering, with the giddiness of a wedding. It is
a happy time, a happy ending. They know their world is changing
 forever tonight, and they're proud to have been there to see it
 happen, to talk, to think, to help.
    And yet as night falls, a certain elegiac quality manifests itself,
 as the crowd gathers beneath the chandeliers with their wine-
 glasses and dessert plates. Something is ending here, gone for-
 ever, and it takes awhile to pinpoint it.
    It is the End of the Amateurs.

       A                                 Air Force OSI (Office of Special
                                              Investigations), 202
                                         "AI Bell," 47
       "Acid Phreak,' 244, 245           Allen, Robert, 21-22, 41
       Activist Times Incorporated, 89   All Points (board), 89
       Adams, Ansel, 187,221             ALTOS Chat (board), 102-3
       Administration, The, 94           American Bell Telephone, 9
       AIMSX ("Advanced                  American Civil Liberties Union,
           Information Management             232
           System"), 100, 116-17,        Ameritech RBOC, 98
           128, 129,251,280              Andrews, Richard, 117, 124-25,

..--         - - -   ------- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
            316                 ooooooogOQOOpoopogooooooooo                 INDEX

                 127, 128, 131, 141, 142,           STARLAN source code, 141
                 253, 262, 279                      3B2 system, 125, 126, 136
            ANI (Automatic Number                   and UNIX, 119-27, 134-35,
                 Identification), 185                  141,278,283
            Ansley, Robert ("Pluto"), 89          AT&T Communications, 19
            Apple Computer, Inc., 50, 232-        AT&T Industries, 19
                 36, 248                          AT6T Technical Journal, 17, 92
            Arizona Organized Crime and           Attctc ("killer"), 125-26, 136,
                 Racketeering Unit, 110,               141-42
                 165, 174, 179, 193               Austin American-Statesman, 285
            "Artificial Intelligence C5           AzScam case, 179, 195
                 Expert System," 254
            Asians, 185
            Asimov, Isaac, 150
            Atlanta Three, 106, 107, 109-         B
                 133, 148, 154,251-52,
                 282-83                           Babbitt, Bruce, 186-87
            Atlantis (board), 93                  Baby Bells. See RBOCs.
            AT&T (American Telephone              Ballad of the Electronic Frontier,
                 and Telegraph), 9-10, 13-             307
                 14, 17,20,24,138,185,            Barbay, Dr., 12
                 246, 253, 254, 262, 299.         Barlow, John Perry, 234, 235-37,
                 See also Bellcore; Bell Labs;         244, 246-249, 257, 273,
                 Bell system.                          284, 287, 289, 293, 294,
              Corporate Information                    301,306,310
                 Security, 127, 128, 141,         Bayse, AI, 307
                 142                              BBS (bulletin board systems), 6,
              Crash of Jan. 15, 1990, 1-3,             68-73, 154-56
                 16,21-22,25,35, 39,65-           Bell, Alexander Graham, 4-6, 7,
                 66, 105, 131                          8-9, 13, 17,25,60,249,
              Crash of July 1, 1991,39-40               302
              Crash of Sept. 17, 1991, 40-        Bell, Melville, 4
                 41,302                           Bell Atlantic, 39
              Customer Technology Center,         Bellcore (Bell Communications
                 125-26                                Research), 19,24,75,93,
              Electronic Switching Systems,            97,98, 118, 123, 127, 128,
                 32-41                                  131, 138, 276-78, 299

.----   -   _.   -
INDEX                 OOOPORoooooOOgOOOROQOOROQOO               317

  Security, 253                     c
Bell Labs (AT&T), 17, 19,21-
     22, 38, 115, 118, 127,254
BellSouth, 24, 33,113,115-17,       Caller-ID services, 213
     125, 128, 129, 131, 133,       Canada Bell, 254
     251,258,259,275-77,282         Capone, AI, 109
  AIMSX computer, 280               "Carrier Culprit" (CC), 76
  Intrusion Task Force, 99, 110     Car Wars (game), 144, 145
  RBOC, 97-100                      "Cash Cow" stage, 7
Bell System (Ma Bell), 10, 12-      Catch-22 (board), 93
     21, 24, 27-32, 47, 95, 120,    CB radio, 183
     127,296                        "Chanda Leir," 129
Berman, Jerry, 301, 304             Chaos Computer Club
BITNET (network), 15, 88, 102,           (Germany), 102-3, 184,
     124, 128, 130                       201
Black Ice (board), 103, 110, 114    Chicago Computer Fraud and
Blanchard, Chuck, 249                    Abuse Task Force, 107-9,
"Bloodaxe, Erik," 133, 138-39,           118,131,133-35,140-41,
     262, 285                            148, 153, 154, 174, 177,
Blottoland (board), 93                   192,212,250-51,253,278,
"Blue Archer," 91                        283
Booth, John Wilkes, 172             Chief Executive Officers, 75
Boykin, Charles, 125-28, 131,       Christensen, Ward, 68
     141,142,262                    CIA, 75, 98, 113, 144, 172,312
Brand, Steward, 237, 249, 301       Civille, Richard, 304
Bremer, Arthur, 172                 "Civil Liberties Implications of
Brockway, William E. ("Col.              Computer Searches and
     Spencer"), 175, 176                 Seizures," 213
Brockway Gang, 175                  C language, 35
Bua, Nicholas J., 250, 279, 281     "Clever Hobbyist hypothesis,"
Bullet-N-Board, 89                       215
Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and      Coast-To-Coast, 75-76
     Firearms, 81, 222              Coast Guard, 225
                                     CoEvolution Quarterly, 237-38
                                     "Colloquy, the," 195,203,
                                     Color QuickDraw source code,
       318                 OOOOQOOOQoaOOOOOQOOODOOOQOQ                INDEX

       Communication Workers of              Coutorie, Larry, 135
          America, 122                       Cremation of Sam McGee, The
       CumpuAdd, 134                              (Service), 307
       "Compu-Phreak," 91                    Crime Bytes (board), 89
       CompuServe (network), 6, 15,          "Crime and Puzzlement"
             72                                   (Barlow), 249, 257, 273
       Computer Fraud and Abuse Act          Crimestoppers (board), 89
           of 1986, 3, 109                   "Crimson Death," 130
       Computer Fraud and Abuse              Cuckoo', Egg, The (Stoll), 101,
           Task Force, 279                        102-3
       Computer Professionals for            Cult of the Dead Cow files, 89
           Social Responsibility             Customs Service, 225
           (CPSR), 232, 240                  "Cyberpunk Bust," 150
         Public Policy Roundtable,           "Cyberthon," 305
           289, 303-5, 307
       "Computers, Freedom and
           Privacy"(CFP) conference,
           196,240,305-13                    D
       Computer Underground Digest,
       "Condor, the," 86, 98                 Dalton, Jerry, 120, 127, 128,
       Congress, 20, 109, 165-70                  131, 141-42
       Connery, Sean, 234                    Daniels, Deborah, 105, 107
       "Conscience of a Hacker, The,"        DASnet (network), 124
           85-86                             DATTA (District Attorneys'
       Constitution, 213, 249, 289,               Technology Theft
           290. See also First                    Association), 204
           Amendment; Fourth                 Davis, Chris, 298
           Amendment.                        Deadheads, 234-36
       "Control-C." 96-97, 109               Death ("the Dog") stage, 15
       Cook, William J., 108-9, 130,         DeConcini, Dennis, 178
           131, 137, 138,251,253,            deForest "audion," 10
           255-57, 259, 260, 278-81,         Delaney, Don, 308-9
           284, 290                          Dell, 134
        Cool, James, 111                     Delphi (network), 72
       COSMOS ("Central System for           Denning, Dr. Dorothy, 275,
           Mainframe Operations"),                286-88,304,307,311-12
           91                                Denning, Peter, 286, 311
       Coughlin, Colleen D., 251, 255        Department of Justice, 44, 108

r---~·--   ----~.-_   .-
        INDEX                 OOQRpOOpOOaopoQQOOOOPODOORO               319

        Department of Labor, 192                 257,281,283,286,289-92,
        "Dictator," 257                          297,301,303,304
        Die Hard II (film), 40              EFFector, 289
        Difference Engine, The              EFFector Online, 289
             (Sterling/Gibson), 284         8BBS board, 86-87
        "Digital Logic," 88, 93             "Electra," 158
        Digital Logic Data Service, 87-     "Electron," 103
             88                             Elephant node, 134-36
        Donaldson, Stephen, 114             E9ll Document, 27, 116-17,
        "Drake, Frank," 311                      125, 127-35, 138, 140-42,
        Draper, Robert, 212                      148,251,252-53,257-61,
        "Dr. Crash," 60                          273-80,282
        "Dr. Ripco" (board), 88, 157-         edited text of, 262-73
             58, 253                        EPIC (El Paso Intelligence
        Drucker, Peter, 288                      Center), 225, 226
        Drug Enforcement                    Esquire, 244
             Administration (DEAl, 98,      "Evelyn," 197-201
        DSC Communications Corp.,
        Dungeons & Dragons (game),           F
        Dyson, Esther, 301
                                             Farber, Dave, 304
                                             Farmers of Doom, (FoD), 76,
        E                                    Farmers of Doom Board, The,
                                             FASA Corp., 147
        EasyNet (network), 124               FBI (Federal Bureau of
        "Eavesdropper, The," 129, 130,            Investigation), 45-46, 67,
            262                                   165, 169-72, 191-92, 194,
        ECPA (Electronic                          196,203,220,233-34,
            Communications Privacy                236-37, 244, 248, 302
            Act of 1986), 3, 279, 283,         "NCIC 2000," 307
            290                              FCIC (Federal Computer
        EFF (Electronic Frontier                  Investigations Committee),
            Foundation, Inc.), 193,               191-98,201,203-6,209,
            211-13,240,249-51,256,                212,213,219

      320                o OR   ROOO   g 0000   ROO 00 000 Q 0 R 00 OR           INDEX

      Federal Communications                             G
           Commission (FCC), 20
      Federal Express, 183
      Feds R Us, 75                                      Games Workshop, 145
      "FidoNet" (network of boards),                     Garfield James, 173
           71, 124                                       "Gary Seven," 91
      Figallo, Cliff, 304                                Gates, Bill, 250, 297
      First Amendment, 65, 155,214,                      Gayler, Jeanne, 305
           215,251,252,290                               Gayler, Noel, 305
      First Circle, The (Solzhenitsyn),                  Geneson, Dave, 202
            11-12                                        GEnie (network), 6, 15,72
      Fitzpatrick, Carlton, 203, 219,                    Gibson, William, 247, 284, 311
            220-27                                       Gilmore, John, 249, 301
      FLETC (Federal Law                                 Ginsberg, Allen, 77
            Enforcement Training                         Glockner, David A., 251
            Center), 194,218-20,222-                     Godwin, Michael ("Johnny
            23                                                Mnemonic"), 211-16, 284-
         Driver & Marine Division,                            86, 304
            222                                          Goldberg, Don, 304
         Financial Fraud Institute,                      Golden, Barbara, 131, 132, 157,
            219,225                                           290
      Foley Timothy M., 105, 108,                        Golden Vaporware, first stage of
            120, 131, 132, 135, 136-37,                       technology, 4
            148, 157,251,278,279,                        Goldhaber, Nat, 249
            290                                          Goldman, [anlori, 304
      Fortune magazine, 41                               "Goldstein, Emmanuel," 63-68,
      "414 Gang," 87                                          87,95
      "414 Private," 87                                  Goofy Prototype (Rising Star)
      Fourth Amendment, 290                                   stage, 4-5, 208
      Franklin, Benjamin, 60                             Grateful Dead, 234-35, 237,
      Freedom of Information Act,                             239, 242, 244, 246, 247,
            154                                               306
      Free World II (board), 88                          Greene, Harold, 20, 184
      Fromme, Squeaky, 172                               Grizzard, Lewis, 219
      "Fry Guy," 102-9, 118, 130                         Cuidoboni, Tom, 304
      "Futurians, The," 150-51                           "GURPS" ("Generic Universal
                                                              Role Playing System"),
                                                              112-13, 143, 145-48

INDEX                 OOOQOOOgOOROgOOOOOOOOORODOO                 321

GURPS Conan, 145                    I
GURPS Cyberpunk, 146-48
GURPS High-Tech, 113
GURPS Horseclans, 145               IACIS (International
GURPS Riverworld, 145                     Association of Computer
GURPS Special Ops, 113, 145               Investigation Specialists),
GURPS Witch World, 145                    201
                                    IBM, 60, 91,111,126,134,135
                                    IBM Syndicate, 75
                                    Illinois State Police, 108
H                                   Illuminati (board), 138, 140,
                                          141, 143-45, 150,290
                                    Indiana Bell, 104
Hackers (Levy), 53                   Infallible Government
Hackers Conference, 237, 238,              Counterfeit Detector
     246                                  (Heath), 174
Hafner, Katie, 304                   Ingraham, Donald, 204
Hahn, George, 151                    Intelligent Network, The, 261
Hammer, M.e., 234                    Internet (network), 101, 103,
Harpers magazine, 244, 245-46             115, 124, 136, 186,213,
Havel, Vaclav, 65                         261,285,298-99, 310,
Heath, Laban, 174                         312
Heller, Joseph, 257                    Worm, 88-89, 138-39,206
Hell Phrozen Over (board), 93        "Intimidator, The," 211
Helms, Richard, 275                  IRS (Internal Revenue Service),
Hitchhikers, the, 75                      191-92, 196
Hoffman, Abbie ("Barry               Izenberg, Robert, 134-37, 285
     Freed"), 45-47, 65
Hoffman, Lance, 304
Holtzen, Tim, 44                     J
Houston Chronicle, 177
"How to Build a Signal Box,"
    66-67                            Jackson, Steve, 143-45, 147-51,
HTCIA (High Tech Computer                 177,212,246,252,285,
   Investigators Association),            290, 292, 304, 309. See also
    204                                   Steve Jackson Games, Inc.
                                     "Jaeger," 102-3
                                     JANET (network), 15, 124
         322                ooqoOOOgOQROROQROORODoooogo               INDEX

         Jay Cooke and Co., 175               "Kyrie" ("Long Distance
         Jefferson, Thomas, 60                    Information"), 254-56
         Jenkins, Garry M., 44, 48, 161-
         "JICC" (Joint Intelligence
              Control Council), 225, 226
         Jobs, Steven, 50,60,233,250
         [olnet machine, 117, 124-125,
               128, 131,253,262,279,
              280                             LAN ("Local Area Network"),
         JUNET (network), 124                     206-7
         "Justice League of America," 91      Lanier, [aron, 249
                                              Leahy, Patrick, 283, 304
                                              Leary, Timothy, 235
                                              LEETAC (Law Enforcement
                                                   Electronic Technology
         K                                        Assistance Committee),
                                              "Leftist," 97, 104, 106, IIO-12,
         Kafka, Franz, 257                         II5, 116, 252, 282
         Kapor, Mitchell D., 211-13,          Legion of Doom (LoD), 87, 88,
              216, 248-50, 261, 281, 282,         96-99, II2, II4-15, II8-
              288-301, 304                         19,123, 128, 130-31, 136-
         Keating, Charles, 178                     38, 143-44, 147, 154, 157,
         "KEI" (Kapor Enterprises Inc.),           168, 186, 193,256-57,278,
              248, 291-92                          280-81,283
         "Kerrang Khan," 9 I                    and E911 Document, 125,
         KGB, 100, 101, 103, 144,312               133-35
         Kibler, Robert, 259                    operations of, 102-10
         Kluepfel, Henry M., 127, 128,          reputation of, 90-94
              131, 137-39,253,256,278,        Legion of Doom Board, The, 93
              280, 290                        Legion of Doom/Hackers (LoD/
         Knight, Damon, 150                        H),91
         "Knight Lightning," 88, I 10,        Legion of Doom Technical
              II9, 128-32, 148, 154, 168,         Journal, 89, 92
              246, 250, 304, 310. See also    Legion of Hackers, 91
             Neidorf, Craig.                  "Leisure Suit Larry," 121
         "Knightmare," 110                    Levy, Steven, 53, 304
         Knights of Shadow, The, 91           Lewis, Jack, 120, 123

INDEX                OOOOOOOOOOOOOQOOOOOOOOOOOOO               323

"Lex Luthor," 87, 88,90,91,        MCI, 20, 22, 24, 41
     119                           Mecham, Evan, 178
"Lifting Ma Bell's Veil of         Medellin Cartel, 43, 59, 166,
     Secrecy" (article), 130           226
Lincoln, Abraham, 166, 172         Megahee, Kimberly, 258, 259
LoD Tech Journal, 94               MegaNet (board), 119
Lopez brothers, 225-26             "Mentor, The," 85,91,93,97,
Lotus Development Corp., 292,          133-34, 137-39, 143-44,
     296, 297                          147, 262, 285
Lotus 1-2-3 program, 292, 295,     Metal Communications, 94
     296                           Metal Shop (board), 88, 93
Lunatic Labs, 88                   Metal Shop Brewery (board), 88
                                   Metal Shop Private (board), 88
                                   MetroNet (board), 119
M                                  Michigan Bell, 96-97, 98
                                   Microsoft, 297
                                   Mid-American, 24
Ma Bell. See Bell system.          MIT (Massachusetts Institute
McCain, John, 178                      of Technology), 60-61, 181,
McCulloch, Hugh, 172, 175              185,291,295
Macintosh model, 126,232-33,       Morgan, J.P., financial cartel, 9
    235,238                        Morris, Robert, 88-89, 107,
McKinley, William, 173                 138-39
MacLeod, Ken, 89                   Motorola, 134
Macworld, 17                       "Mr. Upsetter," 66
Madonna, 96
Mafia, 59
"Major Havoc," 88
"Marauder, the," 91                 N
Martin Luther King Day Crash,
     138, 178, 245                  Nagle, John, 260-61, 275, 277,
"Master of Impact," 91                  304
Masters of Deception, 244, 308      NASA, 201-2
Matrix, The (Quarterman), 124,      NASA Elite, 75
     310                            National Geographic, 9
Maxfield, John, 110                 National Security Agency, 98
MCC,134                             NATO Association, 75
  324               ooopooogoOOOOOQROOOOOOPODOO                 INDEX

  Neidorf, Craig, 250-53, 256-57,          153-54, 156-63, 165, 175,
      259-61, 274-76, 278-83,              176, 183, 186,207,246
      288, 289, 304, 309-10. See      Orwell, George, 64, 307
      also "Knight Lightning."          influence of, 190
  Neon Knights, 88                    OSS (Office of Strategic
  Neon Knights North, South,               Services),75
      East, and West (boards),        OSUNY (board), 93
      88                              Oswald, Lee Harvey, 172
  Netsys (board), 119, 120, 123,
       124, 135, 136
  New England Telephone &
      Telegraph Co., 302-3
  Newlin, Reed, 131
  New Realities, The (Drucker),
      288                             Pacific Bell (PacBell), 24, 39, 50,
  Newsweek, 284, 285                       98
  New York State Police, 154,245,     Palm Beach County Probation
       308                                 Dept., 98
  New York Times, The, 39, 101,       Parker, Donn, 180, 220, 286,
       186, 244                            297,312-13
  New York Times Magazine, The,       Pasquale, Dan, 89
      306                             PBX phone systems, 52
  911 System, 101-2, 115, 125,        PC Week, 17
        127                           PeaceNet (network), 124
  1984 (Orwell), 64                   "Pengo," 102
  Noam, Eli, 304                      Perot, H. Ross, 250
  "Nom," 103                          Perry, George, 304
  NSFnet (network), 15                Peters, Tom, 288
  "NuPrometheus League," 232-         "Phiber Optik," 244-46, 308-9,
      33,236-37,249                        310-11
  NYNEX, 24, 98, 302, 308             "Phoenix," 103, 186
                                      Phoenix Project, 93, 97, 133-34,
                                           137-38, 144, 186,262
                                      Phone Company, The, 89
   o                                  PhoneLine Phantoms, 75, 76
                                      Phortune 500, 75
                                      Phrack magazine, 51, 88-90, 94,
  "ON Technology," 291, 292                109, 110, 118-19, 124,
  Operation Sundevil, 43-44, 88,           128-34, 138, 140, 143, 148,

    INDEX                 QORDDOOoooooogogOOOQQODODOD               325

         168, 193,225,251,252,          Q
         260, 261, 273, 274, 276-78,
         297, 309-10
      and E911 Document, 262-73         Quarterman, John S., 124, 304,
      hacker groups compiled by,            310
         73-75                          "Quasi Moto," 87, 91
      quoted, 60-61, 85-86
      "Summercons," 256-57
    Phreak Klass 2600, 138,253
    "Phucked Agent 04," 91               R
    P/HUN magazine, 89
    Pirate, 89
    Pirate-80 (P-80) board, 87, 119      Railroad Retirement Board
    Plovernet (board), 87, 91, 93,            Inspector General, 220
          119                            Ramparts magazine, 50-51, 68
    Pohl, Frederik, 150                  RBOCs (Regional Bell
    Point Foundation, 237-39, 249,            Operating Companies)
          305                                 (Baby Bells), 19-21,24,33,
    "PredatOr," 47                            97-100, 127, 131, 185,276
    Privacy Protection Act of 1980,      Reagan administration, 19
          290                            Remington, Frederic, 247
    Private Sector (board), 93           ReMOB (Remote Observation),
    Prodigy (network), 6, 15,72               99-100
    Prodigy Services, 304                Rheingold, Howard, 238
    "Prophet" ("Robert Johnson"),        Rivera, Geraldo, 244
          97, 104, 106, 110, 112,        Rosen, Ben, 296
          115-18,125,128,129,131,        Rosenfeld, Eric, 295, 296
          132, 168,251,252,259,          Rotenberg, Marc, 304
          276,279,280-81,                Rubin, Jerry, 45
          282                            Rucker, Rudy, 146
    Pupin and Campbell "coil," 10
    Pynchon, Thomas, 257


                                         SABRE, 75
                                         Sachs, Jonathan, 296
                                         Sandquist, "Sandy," 137

326                QOQRooogOQOOOOOPOOOQROOODOO                INDEX

"Scan Man," 87                       "Shadowhawk," 130, 131, 138,
Science, 9                                 253-54, 256, 257
Scientific American, 247, 292,       Shadowland (board), 119
     312                             Shadowrun (game), 147
"Scorpion," 245                      ShadowSpawn Elite (board),
"Scud" virus, 185                          87
Secret Service (USSS), 44, 48,       Shelley, Percy, 235
     75, 100, 101, 104-5, 108-       Sherwood Forest boards, 87,
     12, 114, 118, 120, 122, 123,          119
     130-32, 137-42, 144, 147-       "Silver Spy," 91, 93
     51, 167-70, 177, 194, 196,      SMOF-BBS (board), 150
     203,205,208-10,215,217,         Soliz, AI, 135
     218, 225, 245, 248, 249,        Solzhenitsyn, Alexander, 11-12,
     251,255,257,279,281,                  67
     285, 290                        Southern Bell, 99, 153,260,275
  and counterfeiting, 166-67,        Southern Bell Data Network,
     173-76                                115-16, 258-59
  Fraud Division, 191-92             Southwestern Bell, 24, 131
  and Operation Sundevil, 44,        Sprint (co.), 20, 24,197,198,
     88, 154, 156-62, 165, 175,            212
     186                             Sprint TeleNet system, 102
  and President, protection of,      Stalin, Joseph, 11-12
     165-66,171-73                   Stanton, Kevin C., 303
  Protective Research Section,       Star Wars (film), 21
      172                            Steal This Book (Hoffman), 46
  Special Agents, 166                Sterling, Bruce, 149
  Uniformed Division, 166            Steve Jackson Carnes, Inc.
Sec. 1029, of Title 18, 167-69,            (SJC), 112-13, 138-46,
     251,252                               149, 151,261,285,290.
Sec. 1030, of Title 18, 169-70,            See also Jackson, Steve.
     253-54, 308                     Stoll, Clifford, 100-10 1, 102-3,
Sec. 2701, of ECPA, 279                    186
Sec. 2703, of ECPA, 279              Stowaways, 75
Security Management magazine,        Sundevil. See Operation
     256                                   Sundevil.
Sematech, 134                        Superman (fictional character),
Senate, 3, 109                            90,91
Service, Robert W., 307              "Susan Thunder," 86
Seuss, Randy, 68                     Syndicate Reports, 89
INDEX                  OoooDoogaooOODQROooogODDOOD               327

T                                    2600: The Hacker Quarterly, 63-
                                         68, 95, 257
                                     Tymnet (network), 102
Talsorian's Cyberpunk, 146-47
TAP (Technical Assistance
     Program), 47, 63, 225
"Taran King," 88, 119, 128,
Tarriffville Rail Disaster, 8, 16
"Techno-Revolution, The," 60-
     61                               Underground Tunnel (board),
Telecom Digest, 261                       89
Te1efon Hirmond6, 6                   UNIX, 115, 117-27, 130, 131,
Telenet (network), 102                    134-38, 141, 278, 283
Telephone Engineer 6                  "Unknown User," 130
     Management (TE&M), 17,           "Urvile" ("Necron 99"), 97,
     278                                  102,103, 104, 106, 112-16,
Telephony, 17                              143,252,282
Tennessee Valley Authority            USENET (network), 15
     Police, 220                      U S West, 24, 98, 213
"Terminus" ("Terminal                 UTU (United Technical
     Technician"), 118-24, 127,            Underground), 76
      134-36, 141, 148,278,279,       UUCP network, 123-24, 126,
      283                                  136, 137
Thackeray, Gail, 44,110, 176-
      87, 195-96,202,205,212,
Thriving on Chaos (Peters), 288
 "Tina," 98, 101, 102, 103
 "Tom Edison," 47
 "Tony the Trashman," 157             Vail, Theodore, 10-11, 13, 19,
 Treasury Police Force, 166                 25
 Tribunal of Knowledge, 91            Van der Leun, Gerald, 292
 TSR Inc., 145                        "VaxCat," 130
 "Tuc," 86, 278                       "Videosmith, The," 91
 TuSwF (United SoftWareZ              Vietnam War, 45-47
      Force), 76                      VisiCalc (program), 296
 Twist, Steve, 179                    VNET (network), 124
328               OODOOOOOOQOORQQRQODOQODOOOQ                INDEX

w                                   Whole Earth Software Review,
                                    Williams, Billie, 275-77
"waal" (account), 116               Wood, William P., 174-76, 218
War Games (film), 87                Wozniak, Steve, 50,60,233,
"Wasp," 97                               235,249,250,301
Watson, Thomas A, 5, 302
Weiss, Sandy, 304
Well, The ("Whole Earth
    'Lectronic Link"), 237,         y
    238, 244, 245, 248, 249,
    261, 289
  conferences on, 239-43            Yippies, 45-47, 63
"Wellbeings," 239, 245, 246,        "Youth International Party," 45
    250                             Youth International Party Line,
Western Electric, 19                     47
Western Union, 6, 10, 60, 103-
    4, 106, 255, 296
"White Hat" (program), 225-
    26                              z
White House Police, 166
Whole Earth Catalog, 237, 248
Whole Earth Review, 238, 249        Zenner, Sheldon T., 250, 251,
Whole Earth Software Catalog,           257,259,261,275-77,
    238                                 278-80

                  ABOUT THE AUTHOR

BRUCE STERLING, author and journalist, was born in 1954. He is the
author of four science fiction novels: Involution Ocean (1977),
The Artificial Kid (1980), Schismatrix (1985), and Islands in the
Net (1988). His short stories have appeared in the collections
Crystal Express (1990) and Globalhead (1992), and in the
Japanese collection Semi no Jo-o (1989). He edited the anthol-
ogy Mirrorshades, the definitive document of the cyberpunk
movement, and co-authored the novel The Difference Engine
(1990) with William Gibson. He writes a critical column for
Science Fiction Eye and a popular-science column for The
Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction.
  His journalistic work has also appeared in The New York Times,
Newsday, Omni, Details, Whole Earth Review, Mondo 2000, and
other equally unlikely venues. He lives in Austin, Texas, with his
wife and daughter.