The Hacker Video

by Emmanuel Goldstein

Over the summer, military computer systems in the United States were accessed by Dutch hackers.  One of the episodes was captured on videotape by 2600, portions of which were shown on a recent nationwide television show.  Most of it, however, has never been seen.  We are releasing this videotape to the public so that more people will witness just how shamefully easy it is to get access to military computers.

The intrusion took place in late-July, 1991.  The purpose of this demonstration was to show just how easy it really was.  Great care was taken to ensure that no damage or alteration of data occurred on this particular system.  No military secrets were taken and no files were saved to a disk by the hackers.  What is frightening is that nobody knows who else has access to this information or what their motivations might be.  This is a warning that cannot be taken lightly.

Why We Are Exposing This

The hackers responsible for this are not interested in military secrets.  But they do recognize the importance and value of the information that is stored on such computers.  The fact of the matter is that if these gaping security holes are not openly exposed, they will never get fixed.  Ironically, the bug that was used in this particular case is a fairly old one that has been fixed on most systems.  Why it still existed on a military system is beyond us.  But we do know that this is only one system and only one bug.

Corporate computer systems also continue to operate with security holes.  As hackers, we are concerned with the lack of safeguards that are being placed upon sensitive data.  In addition to military data, much information about individual people continues to be sloppily managed.  Our credit ratings, telephone records, banking information, and computerized files of all sorts are open to scrutiny for anyone who can gain access.

We should stress that the vast majority of unauthorized access does not involve computer hackers.  Since we have no ulterior motives, other than the quest for knowledge, we openly reveal whatever we find out.  Unfortunately, this often results in our being blamed for the problem itself - confusing the messenger with the message.  In reality, there are countless instances of employees invading the privacy of individuals by accessing credit files or billing information that they have no business seeing.  Since this information is so easy for them to get a hold of, there is virtually no way of their being detected.  And, even if they were detected, they aren't really breaking any laws.

Add to this the increasing fragility of our modern technology as computers become dependent upon other computers and it becomes evident that serious problems, even catastrophes, lie ahead.  The actions of computer hackers are, at worst, an annoyance to some rather powerful people.  Were we not to expose the flaws in the system, they would still be there and they would most definitely be abused.