Computer Underground Digest Volume 1, Issue #1.06 (April 27, 1990)

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**************************************************************************** >C O M P U T E R U N D E R G R O U N D< >D I G E S T< *** Volume 1, Issue #1.06 (April 27, 1990) ** **************************************************************************** MODERATORS: Jim Thomas / Gordon Meyer REPLY TO: TK0JUT2@NIU.bitnet COMPUTER UNDERGROUND DIGEST is an open forum dedicated to sharing information among computerists and to the presentation and debate of diverse views. -------------------------------------------------------------------- DISCLAIMER: The views represented herein do not necessarily represent the views of the moderators. Contributors assume all responsibility for assuring that articles submitted do not violate copyright protections. -------------------------------------------------------------------- In This Issue: File 1: Moderators' Corner (news and notes) File 2: Lists *CAN* Get You Listed! File 3: Legion of Doom (Austin / Chicago) Update (27 April) File 4: Review of THE CUCKOO'S EGG File 5: SMPT Hints -------------------------------------------------------------------- *************************************************************** *** Computer Underground Digest Issue #1.06 / File 1 of 5 *** *************************************************************** In this file: -- Call for Articles -- More Crackdowns? -- LoD Rumors -------------------------------------------------------------- ----------- Call for Articles ------------ It's the busy time of the term, but we're hoping people will send more articles on various topics. In this issue we review Clifford Stoll's THE CUCKOO'S EGG, and we'd like to get some pro or con responses on the book, as well as publish a few more articles on hit from various perspectives. In a previous issue of C-u-D, a typo slipped by: THERE ARE ONLY THREE issues of LoD Technical Journal. The fourth was in progress. Most of those files were destroyed, but if anybody received any advance drafts or has any of those files laying around, please send them. They would be a nifty addition to the archives, and we're hoping that issue is not lost forever. SO--send those articles in! ------------------- More Crackdowns? ------------------- The computer underground isn't the only target of enforcement or legislative crackdowns. The CHICAGO TRIBUNE (April 20) reports two more "crimes" that can result either in heavy penalties or in confiscation of possessions. In Illinois, a law is being considered that would make it a felony to give *ANY* minor a drink of alcohol. On the suface, this seems a reasonable law, but it also outlaws parents allowing their 20-year old offspring a sip of wine under their supervision in the privacy of their home or a sip of wine at private religious ceremony at home. The penalty is THREE YEARS IN PRISON AND A FINE OF UP TO $10,000! (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, April 20, p. II-1). In Wisconsin, "the governor signed a law authorizing authorities to seize and sell cars used in prostitution crimes, a measure aimed at increasing the pressure on customers" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, April 20, p. I-3). Laws originally used to fight drugs and racketeering are being expanded to criminalize and punish in ways not originally intended. We seem to be living in a time when special interest groups (and not so special interest groups) are attempting to criminalize all those behaviors to which they object and impose potentially cruel and unusual punishments, or at least extreme punishments. It's hard to be sympathetic toward a drug pusher, so when harsh laws were passed, few objected. But, now those laws are being expanded and the confiscation of personal property seems to be in vogue. Isn't it time to "JUST SAY NO!?" --------------- LoD Rumors --------------- Some of the most outlandish rumors have come to us about the LoD events. We have heard that some are in jail, some have been indicted for treason, that Mentor was awoken with a shotgun at his head...the list goes on. We have reprinted the events as they occured in previous issues, and will keep subscribers up to date. The sources for our information include participants on both sides of the case, and despite the predictable slants each side may have, the facts are consistent, so we consider the information accurate. So, c'mon--tell others to quit spreading rumors! =+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+ + END THIS FILE + +=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+===+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+= *************************************************************** *** Computer Underground Digest Issue #1.06 / File 2 of 5 *** *************************************************************** Date: Sun, 22 Apr 90 19:31:22 PDT From: "S.S.D.D." To: tk0jut2%niu.bitnet@uicvm.uic.edu Subject: RE: CuD #1.01 Regarding Marks' comments about being on a mailing list triggering harassing action, I have experience showing it happens. Back in about 1970, in my misspent youth, I subscribed to a little-known newsletter called "The Tel Line". This was a phreak magazine that was published in Southern Cal somewhere, and was a precursor to most of the P/hack digests that exist today. Included was the normal blue box/ loop line generalized phreaking stuff that was very active at the time. (BTW: 2600 magazine had a short article on this magazine back in 88 or so). ...anyway, I remember getting an issue in which the editorial talked about the publishers getting heat from Bell Tel, and being asked to turn over their subscription list to the "authorities". I never received another issue, but shortly after that, I (and my parents!!!) began receiving threatening phone calls and letters from Pac Bell, claiming I was involved in red box activity. Knowing what I know now, I should have told those "authorities" where to pack it, but at 14 or so, I was a bit nervous! Anyway at that time I had had no other contacts with the phreak world, and my experience was limited to dialing 100's of 800 numbers and dialing thru local exchanges looking for test numbers, ringbacks etc. This local experimentation was in the Mountain Bell region and had nothing to do with either red boxes or Pac Bell. Anyway, it was obvious that the phone cops had gotten hold of the mailing list. Since this happened back in the neolithic era (pre-PC's! And my parents only bought rotary service... sore fingers!!_) I'm sure that the state of the art of intelligence gathering by "the authorities" has advanced quite a bit, and I am sure that there are a few corporate security subscribers out there taking names. Hell if I care! Give 'em 1000's of names! Keep 'em busy! But be aware that "Big Brother" does indeed listen! /john =+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+ + END THIS FILE + +=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+===+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+= *************************************************************** *** Computer Underground Digest Issue #1.06 / File 3 of 5 *** *************************************************************** ** STOP HACKING! IT'S NOT WORTH THE TROUBLE. FIND ANOTHER HOBBY! **" (The Mentor) On March 1, the Secret Service and other law enforcement officers in Austin, Texas, raided the home of The Mentor and the offices of Steve Jackson Games searching for evidence related to computer hacking. As of this writing (April 25), there have been no indictments brought against any of the Austin group alleged by federal law enforcement officials to be participants in the Legion of Doom. According to one inside source, "we are just floating in limbo." Another close source indicated that none of the equipment confiscated from The Mentor or Erik Bloodaxe has been returned. Equipment confiscated from Steve Jackson games, producer of fantasy role-playing adventure games, has also not been returned. One source inside SJG indicated that a few files have been returned, but that they had lost all value or utility by the time there were returned. An accurate and balanced NEWSWEEK story ("The Hacker Dragnet," by John Schwartz, April 20, 1990: p. 50) indicated that: Jackson had to push back his deadlines for producing other games, cut back on his plans for new releases and lay off half of his staff. He puts the out-of-pocket losses at $25,000 and owes about $75,000 more. One of those who had over $5,000 worth of equipment removed indicated that he was losing over $1,000 a week in lost income by not being able to work at home. Also confiscated were the graduate papers of his wife (stored on the hard drive) and other files related to education. There are unconfirmed rumors that federal officials have indicated action will be taken within a month, but that this action could range from an indictment to the return of the equipment with an apology. At least two others in the Austin area had their equipment confiscated in raids. A week earlier, one person who was "just in the wrong place at the wrong time" lost over $30,000 worth of computer hardware, and another had his equipment confiscated. As for Knight Lightning's case in Chicago, A motion is pending in Federal Court.. The gov't has asked for a continuance. No developments are expected until mid to late May. If anything happens we'll let folks know, if rumours are floating around let us know so we can confirm/deny them. The docket number for the case is: 90-CR-0070 One of the counts in the federal charges filed by William Cook, Assistant United States Attorney William J. Cook contends that E911 material was stolen and published in PHRACK which could have been used to disrupt emergency services (see Schwartz's NEWSWEEK article and the indictment in Cu-D #1.00). We have read and re-read the E911 material published in PHRACK, and there is virtually nothing in it that reveals any sensitive information of any kind about the E911 or any other system. The published material is little more than definitions of terms, and is, by any reasonable standard, totally worthless as a "how to" document. We have been advised not to circulate the material for legal reasons, but if and when we are advised that it is legally permissible, we will re-print it so others can make an independent judgment. We recommend John Schwartz's NEWSWEEK article. He nicely identifies the danger of the current witch hunt for hackers, especially the LoD. As those familiar with the computer underground know, the LoD is hardly a monolithic fraternity of terrorists or "high tech street gangs," as Bill Cook once called hackers. They were a loose group of people on communication with one another largely for the purpose of sharing information. Contrary to media and law enforcement reports, our own independent evidence from LoD members or from alleged targets of their activities indicates that there was no organized group effort to terrorize, extort, or to engage in any of the felonious activities to which their critics allude. It is our professional judgment that the name has been symbolized for enforcement purposes, and those associated with that name are being targeted regardless of whether evidence exists of their wrong doing. We agree with sysop Al Evans (quoted in NEWSWEEK, April 30: p. 50): Given a choice between hackers and police crackdowns, {Al Evans} nows which he prefers: "The threat of somebody knocking on my door at 5:30 in the morning is the one that makes ME worry." =+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+ + END THIS FILE + +=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+===+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+= *************************************************************** *** Computer Underground Digest Issue #1.06 / File 4 of 5 *** *************************************************************** Review of: THE CUCKOO'S EGG: TRACKING A SPY THROUGH THE MAZE OF COMPUTER ESPIONAGE. by Clifford Stoll. New York: Doubleday; 326 pp. Reviewed by Jim Thomas, Northern Illinois University 23 April, 1990 Ah, shucks, Clifford Stoll is just a regular guy, like, ya know? He likes the Grateful Dead, eats bagels, tries to get out of work, doesn't like the FBI, cheers the monsters in GODZILLA VERSUS MONSTER ZERO, and, gee, wants his friends to think he's politically correct. His tennies even squish when they're wet. Just "good ol' Cliff," a self-styled former hippy with long hair who apparently doesn't know that Hippy died before he could possibly have been one. But, no matter. Cliff just wants to re-assure us that he's not such a bad guy. But, Clifford Stoll grew up. He says so. Chasing those nasty hackers via modem and a slew of computers made him see the error of his ways. Those nasty perpetrators (he prefers "varmint," "eggsucker," "skunk," "louse," "bastard," and he's oh, so clever in translating bureaucratic-speak into Cliffspeak (p. 256-257)) made him see the error of his ways. THE CUCKOO'S EGG is a book of ironies: An amoral moralist produces a diatribe against hackers that is perhaps the best hacking primer for novices around. Although taking swipes against law enforcement agents at every opportunity, Stoll nonetheless assumes the role of Joseph K. in acquiescing to those he seems to loath. In protecting the public by tracking down an alleged spy, he subverts the public trust by distorting his topic and inexcusably glossing over the complexity of issues. He is a scientist by profession while ignoring the factual precision of his craft in his writing. For all the posturing and moralizing, Stoll produced a compelling mystery of sorts. A hacker has broken into the University of California/Berkeley's system, and only a minor error gave him away. Stoll notices the error and alerts his superiors who begrudgingly allow him to track down the culprit. Any computer undergrounder can identify with and appreciate Stoll's obsession and patience in attempting to trace the hacker through a maze of international gateways and computer systems. But, Stoll apparently misses the obvious affinity he has with those he condemns. He simply dismisses hackers as "monsters" and displays virtually no recognition of the similarities between his own activity and those of the computer underground. This is what makes Stoll's work so dangerous: His work is an unreflective exercise in self-promotion, a tome that divides the sacred world of technocrats from the profane activities of those who would challenge it; Stoll stigmatizes without understanding. Stoll's work is irresponsible because his image of the world reminds us of a simpler time, one where everything sprang from either the forces of light or of darkness. Hackers are bad: They trash things, are immature, should be punished, and threaten the foundations of hi-tech civilization as we know it. Stoll, on the other hand, is good: He hates hackers, single handedly saved civilization from the modem-macho demons, and fought the good fight as any true he-man would. God help the hacker when Clifford Stoll gets angry: "It was him against me now. For real" (p. 106). Stoll's disdain for hackers' alleged violations of privacy hardly stood in the way of his own activities, but, for a good obsession, one that's "for real," what can a few violations of his own hurt? God forbid that hackers monitor others' communications. Stoll, however, suffered only the briefest of qualms when he himself monitors them. But, his "sweetheart Martha," a law student, absolved him of any ethical violations: "'Look,' she mumbled, burning the roof of her mouth on the vulcanized mozzarella. 'You're not the government, so you don't need a search warrant. THE WORST IT WOULD BE IS AN INVASION OF PRIVACY {emphasis added}. And people dialing up a computer PROBABLY HAVE NO RIGHT TO INSIST THAT THE SYSTEM'S OWNER NOT LOOK OVER THEIR SHOULDER {emphasis added}. So I don't see why you can't.' So with a clear conscience, I started building a monitoring system" (p. 20). Why be bothered that he neither is the owner of the system nor, according to his continual complaining, possesses the authorization to monitor from his superiors. He has been self-absolved and can proceed with a clear conscience, and proceed he does--with a vengeance. Stoll "borrows," without authorization, "thirty or forty monitors" by "liberating personal computers from secretaries' desks." No big deal. "THERE'D BE HELL TO PAY ON MONDAY, BUT IT'S EASIER TO GIVE AN APOLOGY THAN GET PERMISSION" (p. 22, emphasis added). How does Stoll's excitement for learning about phone traces (p. 30) differ from the typical hacker's? How do his own efforts in phone traces differ from a phreak's? Like any good p/hacker, he enlists allies to feed him information, and then uses that information. The difference is that Stoll is on a mission. For Real. And what are a few indiscretions to a man on a mission? "I worried about how the hacker might abuse our network connections over the weekend. Rather than camping out in the computer room, I pulled the plugs to all the networks. To cover my tracks, I posted a greeting for every user logging in: 'Due to building construction, all networks are down until Monday.' It wold surely isolate the hacker from the Milnet. By counting complaints, I could take a census of how many people relied on this network. Quite a few, it turned out. Enough to get me into trouble." Complaints led to a request for Stoll to look into the "problem." "It took five minutes to patch the network through. The boss thought I'd done magic. I kept my mouth shut" (p. 88). Stoll's depiction of hackers as emerging from the slime of some primordial ethical muck for engaging in behaviors that he himself relishes is bothersome. It is this immoralism that makes the work so dangerous. Stoll has found a way to play the hacking game without suffering the risks to which hackers are subject. Some might call this cowardly. To assure that the reader understands the difference between "white deviance" and "black deviance," he goes to great pains to establish considerable distance between himself and those he criticizes in a ploy similar to historical witch hunts. Witch hunts begin when the targets are labelled as "other," as something quite different from normal people. In Stoll's view, hackers, like witches, are creatures not quite like the rest of us, and his repetitious use of such pejorative terms as "rats," "monsters," "vandals," and "bastard" transforms the hacker into something less than human. This transformation contributes to the hysteria of the media, legislators, and law enforcement agents who use such observations to justify the purge of the sacred temples from this techno-menace. After all, says Stoll, hackers aren't just bright kids: "They're technically skilled but ethically bankrupt programmers without any respect for others' work--or privacy. They're not destroying one or two programs. They're trying to wreck the cooperation that builds our networks" (p. 159). Stoll would never wreck "a wonderful playground for everybody else by putting razor blades in the sand," and analogy he uses to describe hackers in a recent NEWSWEEK article ("The Hacker Dragnet, NEWSWEEK, April 30, 1990: p. 50). Or, if he did, he would just apologize on Monday morning! In a classic example of a degradation ritual, Stoll--through assertion and hyperbole rather than reasoned argument--has redefined the moral status of hackers into something menacing. The imagery he presents is not of normal people engaging in occasionally questionable activities, but of a demonic force intent on destroying the fabric of computer networks. His logic implies a pathological syllogism: a) Cancer is a disease and must be eradicated b) Hackers are a cancer of the techno-body c) THERFORE: Hackers must be eradicated. Such unchallenged logic has led to the flurry of anti-computer abuse laws, confiscation of equipment, a chilling effect on speech on BBSs, media fright stories, and to a public perception of hackers that seems--judging from existing data--quite unjustified. Stoll's lack of reflection on the SOCIAL MEANING and significance of the computer underground and his identification of ALL hacking activity with those of the dramatic and quite rare example of an alleged spy both distorts the nature of all computer underground activity and grossly over-estimates its danger. I call this dangerous because it is demagoguery of the worst sort: Under the guise of a story-telling narrative, it creates an imagery of a target population for control, but allows little room for debating the assertions and values that justify scapegoating on the other. Consider just a few of many examples. First, Stoll claims that hackers are a menace because they "trash" programs. True, some hackers may trash programs, just as some drivers use automobiles in bank robberies. But, Stoll ignores a primary tenet of the hacker ethic, which is "though shalt not trash!" The image presented in THE CUCKOO'S EGG ignores this, which obscures the respect that hackers generally have for the work of others. Second, Stoll believes hackers are a danger to computerized information processing: Information in databases? They've {hackers} no qualms, if they can figure out how to get it. Suppose it's a list of AIDS patients? Or your last year's income tax return? Or my credit history? (p 287). Even if hackers are able to obtain such information, they are scarcely the threat that Stoll claims. Hackers are not interested in credit histories, but in mastering computer technology. Yes, some individuals may illegally obtain such information, but these are not the breed of hackers about whom Stoll writes. Further, the danger of misuse of personal information hardly comes from hackers, but from those who claim authorized access to it and use it for profit. Third, Stoll compares hacking into computers with house invasion. Such a comparison is dramatic but unconvincing. Even if we were to concede the impropriety of accessing a university or corporate computer, which most hackers target, this is hardly the same as forcibly entering one's home. A better analogy might be to compare hacking with the person across the street who focuses binoculars through the bedroom window of a copulating couple, or, at worst, an independent entrepreneur who sets up an unauthorized lemonade stand on the corner of a private yard. But, even if I were to concede that hacking is akin to forcible entry, which I do not, should it be criminalized? In England, trespass is a civil, not a criminal, wrong, and it is up to the party to bring civil charges. Unfortunately, computer technology is changing faster than the law is able to keep up with it, and rather than seek new ways to deal with new problems, Stoll's logic implies the simple continuation of the "law-'n-order" mentality. Finally, Stoll believes that hackers destroy the community of computerists, and "if that trust is broken, the community will vanish forever" (p. 288). Dramatic? Yes. True? No. This threat to some imaginary commonweal would seem a critical indictment if accurate, but most computer users do not share a sense of community, or, if they do, some convincing data would be helpful. Stoll's presumed empiricist bent when analyzing problems in his own field of astronomy does not seen to carry over to his social commentary. But, perhaps men on a mission need not worry about facts. In fact, being unencumbered by data, Stoll the scientist seems particularly unrestrained in his comments. social theorists. Stoll's work is disingenuous for several reasons. At the intellectual level, it provides a persuasive, but simplistic, moral imagery of the nature of right and wrong, and provides what--to a lay reader--would seem a compelling justification for more statutes and severe penalties against the computer underground. This is troublesome for two reasons. First, it leads to a mentality of social control by law enforcement during a social phase when some would argue we are already over-controlled. Second, it invokes a punishment model that assumes we can stamp out behaviors to which we object if only we apprehend and convict a sufficient number of violators. We already have existing laws sufficient to prosecute those who destroy private property, trespass, defraud, spy, or engage in many of those activities by which Stoll stigmatizes hackers. We do not need more. In addition, there is little evidence that punishment will in the long run reduce any given offense, and the research of Gordon Meyer and I suggests that criminalization may, in fact, contribute to the growth of the computer underground. The computer underground is a complex group comprised of many different activities. One need not approve of these activities to recognize that, in some ways, they constitute a resistance to the strains produced by an increasingly centralized and inaccessible technology. Although I hesitate to carry the analogy too far, participants in the computer underground can at least in part be understood as a form of social resistance to the rapid domination of technological knowledge production and the new forms of control and social arrangements that it creates. Whether one agrees with this this specific judgment or not, it is quite obvious that the computer underground is a phenomenon far more complicated and rich than described in THE CUCKOO'S EGG. I have found that, when writing about hackers, there is always the inane question: "Do you approve of hacking? Why do you defend them?" This, it seems, strikes at the heart of the problem with Stoll's book: It is, at root, a self-serving and ideological diatribe that condemns but provides no understanding. To provide a balanced account of the computer underground in 1990 is akin to what Stoll might have experienced if he studied astronomy in seventeenth century Italy: Some issues are so beclouded by public hysteria whipped up by obscurantists with a stake in promoting ignorance that any account counter to the National Party Line is heretical. Perhaps this is why Stoll took the easy path consistent with the dominant law enforcement and media view. Or, perhaps Stoll really believes his new-found maturity has transformed him from a pseudo-hippy into a model citizen: Omigod! Listening to myself talk like this, I realize that I've become a grown up (sob!)--a person who REALLY HAS A STAKE {original emphasis}. My graduate student mentality of earlier days let me think of the world as just a research project: to be studied, data extracted, patterns noted. Suddenly there are conclusions to be drawn; conclusions that carry moral weight. I guess I've come of age. (p 322). One suspects that, had Stoll lived in the time of Galileo, he would have told that troublesome astronomer to quit acting like a child and grow up. The acknowledgments in the book list Stoll's e-mail address as: CLIFF@cfa.harvard.edu =+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+ + END THIS FILE + +=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+===+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+= *************************************************************** *** Computer Underground Digest Issue #1.06 / File 5 of 5 *** *************************************************************** Computer and system literacy improves our ability to send and receive information across systems and to identity and resolve problems on our own systems when they occur. We encourage people to submit "tricks and traps" that others might find useful in their jobs or in simply becoming more functionally adept on their system. The following description of SMPT was submitted by The Parrot. -------------------------------------------------------------------- Date: Thu, 26 Apr 90 00:43:25 -0400 From: (anonymity requested) To: TK0JUT2%NIU.BITNET@UICVM.uic.edu Subject: SMPT -------------------------------------------------------------------------- A quick SMPT tutorial. SMPT or simple mail transfer protocol is the method used by most internet hosts to handle the transfer of mail across the internet. It is a wonderfully simple system that handles everything in the easiest method possible. All commands and text are transfered as text, so SMPT is easy to debug. The SMPT port, which is listed in the services file in the etc directory, can be connected to using known protocols such as tcp/ip. For debugging purposes, it can be connected to using telnet. (eg. telnet host #of_smtp_port) The commands are all text, and are listed, on request, by the SMTP server on the remote machine. The main ones are: {comments are in curly braces} Mail From: sender@host.net.domain.area {regular internet address} RCPT To: recipient@host.net.domain.area Data {to start typing text} {body of message here... for format see RFC #822} {from the RFC INDEX... } {822 Crocker, D. Standard for the format of ARPA Internet text messages. { 1982 August 13; 47 p. (Format: TXT=109200 bytes) (Obsoletes RFC 733; { or look at an old mail message} {finish message with a period} quit {to quit from connection} Send mail is not intended as a user interface and should not be used as one. One of the many mailers available (Elm, bin mail, mm, etc.) all offer an easy interface between the user and SMTP. Later. The Parrot 00 ) =+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+ + END THIS FILE + +=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+===+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=

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