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%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%% % REVENGE OF THE HACKERS % %%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%% % By: Richard Sandza % %%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%% % Typed by % % --==**>>THE REFLEX<<**==-- % % [Member: Omnipotent, Inc.] % %%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%% % % % This is the follow-up to the % % article 'Night of the Hackers'. % % It caused a lot of havok for the % % author. This originally % % appeared in NEWSWEEK. % % % %%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%% 'Conference!' someone yelled as I put the phone to my ear. Then came amind-piercing 'beep,' and suddenly my kitchen seemed full of hyperactive 15-year-olds. 'You the guy that wrote the article in NEWSWEEK?' someone shoutedfrom the depths of static, chatter and giggles. 'We're gonna disconnect yourphone,' one shrieked. 'We're going to blow up your house,' called another. Ihung up. Some irate readers write letters to the editor. A few call their lawyers.Hackers, however, use the computer and telephone, and for more than simplecomment. Within days, computer 'bulletin boards' around the country were litup with attacks on NEWSWEEK'S 'Montana Wildhack' (a name I took from a KurtVonnegut character), questioning everything from my manhood to my prose style.'Until we get real good revenge ,' said one message from the Unknown Warrior,'I would like to suggest that everyone with an auto-dial modem call MontanaButthack then hang up when he answers.' Since then the hackers of America havecalled my home at least 200 times. My harshest critics communicate onDragonfire, a Gainesville, Texas, bulletin board where I'm on tele-trial, avideo-game lynching in which a computer user with a grievance dials the boardand presses charges against an offending party. Other hackers - including thedefedant - post concurences or rebuttals. Despite the mealtime interruptions,all of this was at most a minor nuisance; some was amusing, even fun. Fraud: The fun stopped with a call from a man who identified himself onlyas Joe. 'I'm calling to warn you,' he said. When I barked back, hesaid, 'Wait, I'm on your side. Someone has broken into TRW and obtained a listof all your credit-card numbers, your home address, social security number andwife's name and is posting it on bulletin boards around the country.' He namedthe charge cards in my wallet. Credit-card numbers are a very hot commodity among hackers. To get onefrom a computer system and post it is the equivilant of making the team. Afterhearing from Joe I visited the local office of the TRW credit bureau and got acopy of my credit record. Sure enough, it showed a Nov. 13 inquiry by theLenox (Mass.) Savings Bank, an institution with no reason whatever to ask aboutme. Cleary some hacker had used Lenox's password to the TRW computers to getto my files (the bank had since changed its password). It wasn't long before I found out what was being done with my credit-cardnumbers, thanks to another friendly hacker who tipped me to Pirate-80, abulletin board in Charleston, W. Va., where I found this: 'I'm sure you haveheard about Richard Standza [sic] or Montana Wildhack. He's the guy who wrotethe obscene story about phreaking in NewsWeek [sic]. Well, my friend did acredit card check on TRW...try this number, it's a VISA...Please nail this guybad...Captain Quieg [sic].' Captain Quieg may himself be nailed. He has violated the Credit CardFraud Act of 1984, signed by President Reagan on Oct. 12. The law provides a$10,000 fine and up to a 15-year prison term for 'trafficking' in illegallyobtained credit-card account numbers. His 'friend' has commited a felonyviolation of the California computer-crime law. TRW Spokeswoman Delia Fernandzsaid that TRW would 'be more than happy to prosecute' both of them. TRW has good reason for concern. Its computers contain the credithistories of 120 million people. Last year TRW sold 50 million credit reportsto agencies seeking information on their customers. But these highlyconfidential personal records are so poorly guarded that computerized teenagerscan ransack the files and depart undetected. TRW passwords -- unlike manyothers -- often print out when entered by TRW's customers. Hackers then lookfor discarded printouts. A good source: The trash of banks and automobiledealerships, which routinely do credit checks. 'Everybody hacks TRW,' saysCleveland hacker King Blotto, whose bulletin board has a security system thePentagon would envy, 'It's the easiest.' For her part, Fernandez insists thatTRW 'does everything it can do to keep the system secure.' In my case, however, that was not enough. My credit limits would hardlysupport many big-time fraud, but victimization takes many forms. Anotherhacker said it was likely mechandise would be ordered in my name and shipped tome -- just to harass me. 'I used to use [credit-card numbers] against someoneI didn't like,' the hacker said. 'I'd call Sear's and have a dozen toiletsshipped to his house.' Meanwhile, back on Dragonfire, my teletrial was going strong. Thecharges, as pressed by the Unknown Warrior, include 'endangering all phreaksand hacks.' The judge in this case is a hacker with the apt name of AxeMurderer. Possible sentences range from 'life exile from the entire planet' to'kill the dude.' King Blotto has taken up my defense, using hacker power tomake his first pleading: he dialed up Dragonfire, broke into its operatingsystem and 'crashed' the bulletin


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