%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%% % NIGHT OF THE HACKERS % %%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%% % By: Richard Sandza % %%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%% % Typed by: % % --==**>>THE REFLEX<<**==-- % % [Member: Omnipotent, Inc.] % %%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%% % This original article appeared in % % the November 12,1984 issue of % % NEWSWEEK. The result of the % % article was the piss-offment of % % the many hackers of America. He % % wrote a follow-up article called: % % 'REVENGE OF THE HACKERS', which % % can be found in this library too. % % It just shows you not to screw % % with these guys! % %%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%% As you are surveying a dark and misty swamp you come across what appearsto be a small cave. You light a torch and enter. You have walked severalhundred feet when stumble into a bright blue portal... With a sudden burst oflight and a loud explosion you are swept into... DRAGONFIRE... PRESS ANY KEY IFYOU DARE. You have programmed your personal computer to dial into Dragonfire, acomputer bulletin board in Gainesville, Texas. But before you get anyinformation, Dragonfire demands your name, home city and phone number. So, fortonights tour of the electronic wilderness you become Montana Wildhack (acharacter in Kurt Vonnegut's book 'Slaughterhouse Five') of San Francisco. Dragonfire, Sherwood Forrest(sic), Forbidden Zone, Blottoland, Plovernet,The Vault, Shadowland, PHBI and scores of other computer bulletin boards arehang-outs of a new generation of vandals. These precocious teen-agers usetheir electronic skills with to play hide-and-seek with computer and securityforces. Many computer bulletin boards are perfectly legitimate: They resemblethe electronic versions of the familiar cork boards in supermarkets and schoolcorridors, listing services and providing information someone out there isbound to find useful. But this is a walk on the wild side, a trip into theworld of underground bulletin boards dedicated to encouraging -- and making --mischief. The numbers for these boards are as closely guarded as a psychiatrist'shome telephone number. Some numbers are posted on underground boards; othersare exchanged over the telephone. A friendly hacker provided Dragonfire'snumber. Hook up and see a broad choice of topics offered. For Phone Phreaks-- who delight in stealing service from AT&T and other phone networks --Phreakenstein's Lair is a potpourri of phone numbers, access codes andtechnical information. For computer hackers -- who dial into other people'scomputers -- Ranger's Lodge is chock full of phone numbers and passwords forgovernment, university and corporate computers. Moving through Dragonfire's offerings, you can only marvel at howconversant these teen-agers are with the technical esoterica of today'selectronic age. Obviously they have spent a great deal of time studyingcomputers, though their grammar and spelling indicate they haven't been asdiligent in other subjects. You are constantly reminded of how young theyare... "Well it's that time of year again. School is back in session so let's getthose high school computer phone numbers rolling in. Time to get straight A's,have perfect attendance(except when you've been up all night hacking schoolpasswords), and messing up your worst teacher's paycheck." Forbidden Zone, in Detroit, is offering ammunition for hacker civil war --tips on crashing the most popular bulletin-board software. There are alsoplans for building black, red and blue boxes to mimic operator tones and getfree phone service. And here are the details for 'the safest and best way tomake and use nitroglycerin,' compliments of Doctor Hex, who says he got it'from my chemistry teacher.' Flip through the 'pages.' You have to wonder if this information isaccurate. Can this really be the phone number and password for Taco Bell'scomputer? Do these kids really have the dial-up numbers for dozens ofuniversity computers? The temptation is too much. You sign off and haveyour computer dial the number for the Yale computer. Bingo -- the words YaleUniversity appear on your screen. You hang up in sweat. You are now a Hacker. Punch in another number and your modem zips off the touch tones. Here isthe tedious side of all this. Bulletin boards are popular. No vacancy atBates Motel (named for Anthony Perkin's creepy motel in the movie 'Psycho');the line is busy. So are 221 B. Baker Street, PHBI, Shadowland and The Vault.Ceaser's Palace rings and connects. This is a different breed of board.Ceaser's Palace is a combination Phreak board and computer store in Miami.This is the place to learn ways to mess up a department store's antishopliftingsystem, or make free calls on telephone with locks the dial. Pure capitalismaccompanies such anarchy. Ceaser's Palace is offering good deals on diskdrives, software, computers and all sorts of hardware. Orders are placedthrough electronic mail messages. 'Tele-Trial': Bored by Ceaser's Palace, you enter the number forBlottoland, the board operated by one of the nation's most notorious computerphreaks -- King Blotto. This one has been busy all night, but it is now prettylate in Cleveland. The phone rings and you connect. To get past the blankscreen, type the seconday password 'S-L-I-M-E.' King Blotto obliges, listinghis rules: He must have your real name, phone number, address, occupation andintrests. He will call and disclose the primary password, 'if you belong onthis board.' If admitted, do not reveal the phone number or secondarypassword, lest you face 'tele-trial,' the King warns as he dismisses you byhanging up. You expected heavy security, but this teen-ager's security is, as theysay, awesome. Computers at the Defense Department and hundreds of businesseslet you know when you reached them. Here you need a password just to find outwhat system answered the phone. Then King Blotto asks questions -- and hangsup. Professional computer-security experts could learn something from thiskid. He knows that ever since the 414 computer hackers were arrested in August1982, law-enforcement officers have searching for leads on computer bulletinboards. 'Do you have any ties or connections with any law enforcement agency orany any agency which would inform such a law-enforcement agency of thisbulletin board?' Such is the welcoming message from Plovernet, a Florida board known forits great hack/phreak files. There amid a string of valid VISA and Mastercardnumbers are dozens of computer phone numbers and passwords. Here you alsolearn what Blotto means by tele-trial. 'As some of you may or may not know, asession of conference court was held and the Wizard was found guilty ofmiscellaneous charges, and sentenced to four months without bulleting boards.'If Wizard calls, system operators like King Blotto disconnect him. Paging through the bulletin boards is a test of your patience. Each boardhas different commands. Few are easy to follow, leaving you to hunt and peckyour way around. So far you haven't has the nerve to hit 'C,' which summonsthe system operator for a live, computer-to-computer conversation. The time, however, has come for you to ask a few questions of the 'sysop.'You dial a computer in Boston. It answers and you begin working your waythrough the menus. You scan a handful of dial-up numbers including one forArpanet, the Defense Department's research computer. Bravely tap C and inseconds the screen blanks and your cursor dances across the screen. Hello... What kind of computer do you have? Contact. The sysop is here. You exchange amenities and get 'talking.'How much hacking does he do? Not much, too busy. Is he afraid of beingbusted, having his computer confiscated like the Los Angeles man facingcriminal charges because his computer bulletin board system contained a stolentelephone-credit-card number? 'Hmmmmm... No,' he replies. Finally he asks thedreaded question: 'How old are you?' 'How old are YOU,' you reply, stalling.'15,' he types. Once you confess and he knows you're old enough to be hisfather, the conversation gets very serious. You fear each new question; heprobably thinks you're a cop. But all he wants to know is your choice forpresident. The chat continues, until he asks, 'What time is it there?' Justpast midnight, you reply. Expletive. 'It's 3:08 here,' Sysop types. 'I mustbe going to sleep. I've got school tomorrow.