Computer Underground Digest Volume 3, Issue #3.15 (May 2, 1991)

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Skeptic Tank!

**************************************************************************** >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 3, Issue #3.15 (May 2, 1991) ** **************************************************************************** MODERATORS: Jim Thomas / Gordon Meyer (TK0JUT2@NIU.bitnet) ARCHIVISTS: Bob Krause / Alex Smith / Bob Kusumoto GAELIC GURU: Brendan Kehoe +++++ +++++ +++++ +++++ +++++ CONTENTS THIS ISSUE: File 1: Moderators Corner File 2: CU in the News File 3: EFF/SJG Sue Secret Service, Bill Cook, Tim Foley, et. al. +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ USENET readers can currently receive CuD as Back issues are also available on Compuserve (in: DL0 of the IBMBBS sig), PC-EXEC BBS (414-789-4210), and at 1:100/345 for those on FIDOnet. Anonymous ftp sites: (1) (; (2); (3) ( E-mail server: COMPUTER UNDERGROUND DIGEST is an open forum dedicated to sharing information among computerists and to the presentation and debate of diverse views. CuD material may be reprinted as long as the source is cited. Some authors, however, do copyright their material, and those authors should be contacted for reprint permission. It is assumed that non-personal mail to the moderators may be reprinted unless otherwise specified. Readers are encouraged to submit reasoned articles relating to the Computer Underground. Articles are preferred to short responses. Please avoid quoting previous posts unless absolutely necessary. ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ 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. ******************************************************************** >> END OF THIS FILE << *************************************************************************** ------------------------------ From: Moderators Subject: Moderators' Corner Date: May 2, 1991 ******************************************************************** *** CuD #3.15: File 1 of 3: Moderators Corner *** ******************************************************************** The "CU in the News" stories have piled up, so this issue is devoted to clearing some of the longer files that were bumped from previous issues. Just in case you missed the following news blurbs: ++++++++++++++++++++++ CONGRATS TO NEWSBYTES +++++++++++++++++++++++ NEWSBYTES, an invaluable source of computer-related information, was awarded the "Best On-Line Publication" by the Computer Press Association. Newsbytes publishes approximately 30 technology-related stories daily on GEnie, and is also carried on America OnLine, NewsNet, Dialog and foreign wire services. It is supported by 18 reporters in bureaus world-wide, and reaches an audience of 4.5 million. +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ +++++++++++++++++++ Anti-Encryption Bill +++++++++++++++++++ {Snuck into the language of a federal anti-terrorism Bill was the following small section. If passed, the Bill would require those who write encryption programs to leave in a "backdoor" that would allow decryption for "law enforcement" purposes. This would defeat the purpose of encryption. Apparently the FBI was pushing for passage of this section. Information and up-dated discusssions can be found on The Well in Sausalitoito (Calif) and in RISKS Digest. Thanks to Mike Riddle for his contribution}. 102ND CONGRESS; 1ST SESSION IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES AS INTRODUCED IN THE SENATE S. 266 1991 S. 266 SYNOPSIS: A BILL To prevent and punish domestic and international terrorist acts, and for other purposes. DATE OF INTRODUCTION: JANUARY 24, 1991 DATE OF VERSION: JANUARY 24, 1991 -- VERSION: 1 SPONSOR(S): Mr. BIDEN (for himself and Mr. DECONCINI). . . . {About 450 lines of death penalty and anti-terrorism discussion omitted} Subtitle B-Electronic Communications SEC. 2201. COOPERATION OF TELECOMMUNICATIONS PROVIDERS WITH LAW ENFORCEMENT. It is the sense of Congress that providers of electronic communications services and manufacturers of electronic communications service equipment shall ensure that communications systems permit the government to obtain the plain text contents of voice, data, and other communications when appropriately authorized by law. {A substantial lobbying effort may be needed to block this, which many see as a potential threat to privacy rights}. ******************************************************************** >> END OF THIS FILE << *************************************************************************** ------------------------------ From: Various Subject: The CU in the News Date: May 1, 1991 ******************************************************************** *** CuD #3.15: File 2 of 3: The CU in the News *** ******************************************************************** From: the moderators' <72307.1502@COMPUSERVE.COM> Subject: BBS estimates Date: 19 Apr 91 02:54:22 EDT One of the dilemmas facing researchers covering the Net is estimating how many small BBSs exist at any given time. Thankfully there is no national registration of systems, but still it is useful to have some idea of the type of impact BBS regulation (either by decree or de facto) could have. I recently found some more estimates of the number of BBSs and modems in this country. +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ Source: "Modem Mania: More Households Go Online Every Day" Dennis B. Collins California Computer News April 1991 p26 Get your scissors. Here come some statistics you'll want to save. I've been doing a lot of research lately regarding computer bulletin board systems (BBSs). Prodigy's research and development department said that 30 percent of American homes have some sort of PC. Of these homes, 20 percent have a modem. This means that six percent of all homes have the capability to obtain computer data via phone line! The Information Age is now in its infancy - it is here and it is real. It is also growing at a rate of 400 percent a year. CompuServe and Prodigy both claim 750,000 paying customers. Prodigy stresses that their figures reflect modems at home only. They have no count of businesses. Local system operators tell me a significant number of calls originate from offices - their "guesstimate" is that office use may increase the figures by another 20 percent. (...) The question keeps coming up: How many BBSs are there? Nobody knows. In Sacramento, the best guess is about 200. Worldwide, the number is quickly growing. About two years ago I obtained a list of BBS members of FidoNet. At the time there were about 6,000 member systems. The January 1991 Node lists over 11,000 BBSs worldwide! It is important to note that there are several large networks, of which FidoNet is only one. U.S. Robotics claims to have a list of 12,000 BBSs that use their modems in this country alone. [if this estimate is based on their sales of HST modems to sysops, it is open to debate. - Moderators'] It is clear that millions of individuals are using PC telecommunications and the numbers are getting larger. ------------------------------ From: The moderators' <72307.1502@COMPUSERVE.COM> Subject: Pirate or Bootlegger? Date: 18 Apr 91 01:12:07 EDT In the past we have complained about the software industrys' lack of differentiation between software piracy and the sale of bootleg copies of commercial products. However a recent article in "Lan Times" reflected a new care in correctly identifying two distinct segments of the software copyright problem. We reprint the first few paragraphs here as an illustration of how clarifying each area (piracy vs bootlegging) can aid in understanding a complex problem. We hope that other journalists, and even the SPA, adopt this more precise language in future treatments of the topic. ++++++++++++++++++++ Source: "Software Piracy Now Costs Industry Billions: But software authentication devices can protect your investment from thieves" Charles P. Koontz Previews LAN TIMES March 18, 1991 pp75-76 About a zillion years ago when I first read _Swiss Family Robinson_, I always wondered why the Robinson family was so fearful of Malaysian pirates. After all, I was accustomed to the proper civilized pirates in all the Errol Flynn movies. But it turns out the Malaysian variety were much worse. The same is true of the pirates that prey on the modern software industry. In the software industry, the civilized pirates are the ones who copy an occasionally program from a friend without paying for it.. Most of us at lest know someone who's done it. I've heard of places where none of the software in an office is legal. Civilized pirates are still thieves and they break the law, but they have a better attitude. They should look into shareware as an alternative source. It's almost as cheap and often every bit as good. In the software industry, the crook who makes a living by making and selling copied software is the modern equivalent of a Malaysian pirate. The fact that a lot of them are located in the orient where piracy may not be illegal helps the analogy. It seems however that the practice is spreading to more local climates. The process is fairly simple and requires only a small investment to get started. At the simplest level, all the pirate needs is a copy of a popular program, a PC, and a place to duplicate the distribution diskettes. More sophisticated pirates have factories employing dozens of workers running high-speed disk duplicators and copy machines so they can include the manual in their shrink-wrapped counterfeit package. Some even copy the silk screening on the manual covers. They then find a legitimate outlet for the software. The customer only finds out that the company is bogus when he calls for technical support, if the real manufacturer tracks serial numbers. Software piracy has become a part of the cost of doing business for major software manufacturers. The Software Publishers Association (SPA) estimates that piracy costs the software industry between 1.5 and 2 billion dollars annually in the USA alone. Worldwide estimates range from 4 to 5 billion dollars. The legitimate domestic software market accounts for only 3 billion dollars annually. The SPA estimates that for every copy of legal software package, there is at least one illegal copy. If you think this is an exaggeration, just consider all the illegal copies you know about. [rest of article discusses hardware anti-piracy devices] ------------------------------ From: dogface!bei@CS.UTEXAS.EDU(Bob Izenberg) Subject: Dutch Hackers article and reaction Date: Mon, 22 Apr 91 05:14:53 CDT FROM THE SUNDAY, APRIL 21ST NEW YORK TIMES Dutch break into U.S. computers from 'hacker haven' By John Markoff New York Times Service Beyond the reach of American law, a group of Dutch computer intruders has been openly defying United States military, space and intelligence authorities for almost six months. Recently the intruders broke into a U.S. military computer while being filmed by a Dutch television crew. The intruders, working over local telephone lines that enable them to tap American computer networks at almost no cost, have not done serious damage and haven't penetrated the most secure government computer systems, federal investigators say. The group, however, has entered a wide range of computer systems with unclassified information, including those at the Kennedy Space Center, the Pentagon's Pacific Fleet Command, the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and Stanford University. U.S. government officials said they had been tracking the interlopers, but no arrests have been made because there are no legal restrictions in the Netherlands on unauthorized computer access. "This has been a terrible problem," said Gail Thackeray, a former Arizona assistant attorney general who has prosecuted computer crimes. "Until recently there have been few countries that have computer crime laws. These countries are acting as hacker havens." American law-enforcement officials said they believed there were three or four members of the Dutch group, but would not release any names. A Dutch television news report in February showed a member of the group at the University of Utrecht reading information off a computer screen showing what he said was missile test information taken from a U.S. military computer. His back was to the camera, and he was not identified. Because there are no computer crime laws in the Netherlands, American investigators said the Dutch group boasts that it can enter computers via international data networks with impunity. One computer expert who has watched the electronic recordings made of the group's activities said the intruders do not demonstrate any particularly unusual computer skills, but instead appear to have access to documents that contain recipes for breaking computer security on many U.S. systems. These documents have been widely circulated on underground systems. The computer expert said he had seen several recordings of the break-in sessions and that one of the members of the group used an account named "Adrian" to break into computers at the Kennedy Space Center and the Pentagon's commander in chief of the Pacific. (end of Markoff's article) The view of the United States as the world's policeman sure dies hard, doesn't it? Maybe it frosts a certain ex-public servant's behind, but these people *are* living within the laws of their own country. They're not expatriate citizens that fled to the Netherlands for freedom like some boatload of digital pilgrims. What business of ours could their laws possibly be? If you're going to stop clandestine access by foreign citizens, stop it at our border (electronic or physical.) I believe that it's a little premature to take the SunDevil Traveling Minstrel Show on the road, seeing as it hasn't exactly wowed 'em in Peoria. That's where sentiments like Our Gail's lead, to us taking this two-bit carny out to fleece the unsuspecting. I'm sure that a few DEA retreads could be dusted off and sent abroad. Their mission: To show those countries without former assistant attorneys general of their own the path to true government control of computer resources. I even think that I can guess who the first Secret Service agent to be volunteered out of the States will be... You don't have to know much about the relationship between the DEA, Customs and Mexican law enforcement to know that we may export our laws, but rarely our protections. I don't believe that the aforementioned do-gooders arriving on Dutch soil, pockets stuffed with example search and seizure warrants, will have so much as a copy of the ECPA or the EFF charter on them. It's not their job to teach another country what freedoms it should have. Only which prohibitions. I strongly regret, by the way, that no U.S. law enforcement official saw fit to tell Mr. Markoff whether this was a loosely-organized group of hackers or a tightly knit group of hackers. Maybe they're a tightly knit group of hackers in the process of unraveling into a loosely organized group of hackers. I certainly hope somebody tells the Dutch to keep their conspiracy labels straight. There's no reason that they can't learn from our mistakes, after all. An astute friend of mine has mentioned that 'graphs 9 and 10 of Mr. Markoff's article are another riff on the "Evils of Phrack" traditional. We wouldn't have all these untrained Dutchmen breaking in and reading our unclassified material if that Neidorf guy... no, wait, we dropped that case... well, that Emmanuel Goldstein... no, he's not on the list... well, that Steve Jackson guy... no, we were confused when we raided him... well, Riggs, Darden and Grant... yeah, we did kinda take the word of a perjuring witness to get jurisdiction... well, that Len Rose, we treated him like the wrecking ball aimed at the pillars of society that he is, and if we hadn't got him, there'd be even more Dutchmen roaming through our computers than there are now. If common sense rules, the good Netherlands officials will put the hypothetical visiting cybercops right back on the plane. The snake oil that they're selling is for domestic consumption only. And who knows, maybe you and I won't buy any, either. ------------------------------ From: "Michael E. Marotta" Subject: News from Michigan Date: Sun, 28 Apr 91 16:26 EST GRID News. ISSN 1054-9315. vol 2 nu 11x&12x CUD SpecEd 04/28/91 World GRID Association, P. O. Box 15061, Lansing, MI 48901 USA ---------------------------------------------------------------- (1) Libertarian Party Candidate Says Yes! to Hackers According to LP presidential hopeful, Andre Marrou, 35% of the dues-paying members of his party are computer programmers. Despite the fact that Marrou had never heard of Craig Neidorf or Operation Sundevil, he had strong opinions on the issues. "A computer is a printing press. You can churn out stuff on the printer." He did not move away from the paradigms print gave him but at least he was at a loss to understand how anyone could not see something so obvious, that a computer is a printing press. Then he defended a special kind of hacking. "If you mean hacking to get into government computers to get the information, there is nothing wrong with that. There is too much secrecy in government. There is a principle that the information belongs to the people. 99% of the classified material is not really important. With hackers most of the stuff they want to get into should be public in the first place. Anything the government owns belongs to all of us. Like in real estate you can get information from the county and I'd extend that rule of thumb. It would be a good thing if they could get into the IRS data files." In line with mainstream libertarian thought, both Andre Marrou his campaign manager, Jim Lewis (also a former LP veep candidate), said that they support the idea of government-granted patents. Marrou said he had never heard of patents being granted for software but knew that software can be copyrighted. Andre Marrou graduated from MIT. (2) Telecom Bills Move Forward, Meet Opposition "Competition and innovation will be stifled and consumers will pay more for telephone service if the Legislature approves the telecommunication legislation now before Senate and House committees," said 15 lobbyists speaking through the Marketing Resource Group. Representatives from the AARP, AT&T, MCI, Michigan Cable Television Association, and the Michigan Association of Realtors all agreed that it would be wrong to let the local exchange carriers sell cable television, long distance and information services and manufacture equipment. The AARP has opposed this legislation because they do not see a limit on the cost of phone service. According to the bill BASIC phone rates would be frozen forever at their November 1990 level. However, there is no limit on charges for "enhanced services." There is also no DEFINITION of "enhanced service" but most people involved in the bill have cited call forwarding, call waiting, fax and computer. Other provisions of the proposed law would regulate all "information providers." Further, those who provide information from computers via the telephone would receive their service "at cost." This provision takes on new colors in light of a Wall Street Journal story from Jan. 9, 1991, issued along with press release materials from Marketing Resources. That story outlines how NYNEX inflated its cost figures selling itself services far in excess of the market rate. Interestingly enough, increased competition is one of the goals cited by the bill's key sponsor, Senate Mat Dunaskiss. ------------------------------ From: Anonymous Subject: San Luis Obispo (Calif.) "Busts" are a Bust? Date: 25 Apr 91 01:45:19 PDT (I found the following articles on PC-Exec BBS in Milwaukee. I haven't seen it discussed, so here it is for Cu News-- A.) AMATEUR HACKERS TRIPPED UP By Danna Dykstra Coy This article appeared in the Telegram-Tribune Newspaper, San Luis Obispo, CA. March 23, 1991. Permission to electronically reproduce this article was given by the newspaper's senior editor. ***** San Luis Obispo police have cracked a case of computer hacking. Now they've got to work out the bugs. Officers were still interviewing suspects late Friday linked to a rare case of computer tampering that involved at least four people, two of them computer science majors from Cal Poly. The hackers were obvious amateurs, according to police. They were caught unknowingly tapping into the computer system in the office of two local dermatologists. The only information they would have obtained, had they cracked the system's entry code, was patient billing records. Police declined to name names because the investigation is on-going. They don't expect any arrests, though technically, they say a crime has been committed. Police believe the tampering was all in fun, though at the expense of the skin doctors who spent money and time fixing glitches caused by the electronic intrusion. "Maybe it was a game for the suspects, but you have to look at the bigger picture," said the officer assigned to the case, Gary Nemeth. "The fact they were knowingly attempting to access a computer system without permission is a crime." Because the case is rare in this county, police are learning as they go along. "We will definitely file complaints with the District Attorney's Office," said Nemeth. "They can decide whether we've got enough of a case to go to trial." Earlier this month San Luis dermatologists James Longabaugh and Jeffrey Herten told police they suspected somebody was trying to access the computer in the office they share at 15 Santa Rosa St. The system, which contains patient records and billing information, continually shut down. The doctors were unable to access their patients' records, said Nemeth, and paid a computer technician at least $1,500 to re-program their modem. The modem is a device that allows computers to communicate through telephone lines. It can only be accessed when an operator "dials" its designated number by punching the numbers on a computer keyboard. The "calling" computer then asks the operator to punch in a password to enter the system. If the operator fails to type in the correct password, the system may ask the caller to try again or simply hang up. Because the doctors' modem has a built-in security system, several failed attempts causes the system to shut down completely. The technician who suspected the problems were more than mechanical, advised the doctors to call the police. "We ordered a telephone tap on the line, which showed in one day alone 200 calls were made to that number," said Nemeth. "It was obvious someone was making a game of trying to crack the code to enter the system." The tap showed four residences that placed more than three calls a day to the doctors' computer number. Three of the callers were from San Luis Obispo and one was from Santa Margarita. From there police went to work. "A lot of times I think police just tell somebody in a situation like that to get a new phone number," said Nemeth, "and their problem is resolved. But these doctors were really worried. They were afraid someone really wanted to know what they had in their files. They wondered if it was happening to them, maybe it was happening to others. I was intrigued." Nemeth, whose training is in police work and not computer crimes, was soon breaking new ground for the department. "Here we had the addresses, but no proper search warrant. We didn't know what to name in a search warrant for a computer tampering case." A security investigator for Pacific Bell gave Nemeth the information he needed: disks, computer equipment, stereos and telephones, anything that could be used in a computer crime. Search warrants were served at the San Luis Obispo houses Thursday and Friday. Residents at the Santa Margarita house have yet to be served. But police are certain they've already cracked the case. At all three residences that were searched police found a disk that incorrectly gave the doctors' phone number as the key to a program called "Cygnus XI". "It was a fluke," said Nemeth. "These people didn't know each other, and yet they all had this same program". Apparently when the suspects failed to gain access, they made a game of trying to crack the password, he said. "They didn't know whose computer was hooked up to the phone number the program gave them," said Nemeth. "So they tried to find out." Police confiscated hundreds of disks containing illegally obtained copies of software at a residence where two Cal Poly students lived, which will be turned over to a federal law enforcement agency, said Nemeth. Police Chief Jim Gardner said he doesn't expect this type of case to be the department's last, given modern technology. "What got to be a little strange is when I heard my officers talk in briefings this week. It was like I need more information for the database'." "To think 20 years ago when cops sat around and talked all you heard about was 211' cases and dope dealers." (End) ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ COMPUTER CASE TAKES A TWIST By Danna Dykstra Coy This article appeared in the Telegram-Tribune Newspaper, San Luis Obispo, CA. March 29, 1991. Permission to electronically reproduce this article was given by the newspaper's senior editor. ***** A suspected computer hacker says San Luis Obispo police overreacted when they broke into his house and confiscated thousands of dollars of equipment. "I feel violated and I'm angry" said 34-year-old engineer Ron Hopson. All of Hopson's computer equipment was seized last week by police who believed he may have illegally tried to "hack" his way into an office computer belonging to two San Luis Obispo dermatologists. Police also confiscated equipment belonging to three others. "If police had known more about what they were doing, I don't think it would have gone this far," Hopson said. "They've treated me like a criminal, and I was never aware I was doing anything wrong. It's like a nightmare." Hopson, who has not been arrested in the case, was at work last week when a neighbor called to tell him there were three patrol cars and two detective cars at his house. Police broke into the locked front door of his residence, said Officer Gary Nemeth, and broke down a locked door to his study where he keeps his computer. "They took my stuff, they rummaged through my house, and all the time I was trying to figure out what I did, what this was about. I didn't have any idea." A police phone tap showed three calls were made from Hopson's residence this month to a computer at an office shared by doctors James Longabaugh and Jeffrey Herten. The doctors told police they suspected somebody was trying to access the computer in their office at 15 Santa Rosa St. Their system, which contains patient records and billing information, kept shutting down. The doctors were unable to access their patients' records, said Nemeth. They had to pay a computer technician at least $1,500 to re-program their modem, a device that allows computers to communicate through telephone lines. Hopson said there is an easy explanation for the foul-up. He said he was trying to log-on to a public bulletin board that incorrectly gave the doctors number as the key to a system called "Cygnus XI". Cygnus XI enabled people to send electronic messages to one another, but the Cygnus XI system was apparently outdated. The person who started it up moved from the San Luis Obispo area last year, and the phone company gave the dermatologists his former number, according to Officer Nemeth. Hopson said he learned about Cygnus XI through a local computer club, the SLO-BYTES User Group. "Any of the group's 250 members could have been trying to tap into the same system", said Robert Ward, SLO-BYTES club secretary and computer technician at Cal Poly. In addition, he suspects members gave the phone number to fellow computer buffs and could have been passed around the world through the computer Bulletin-Board system. "I myself might have tried to access it three or four times if I was a new user," he said. "I'd say if somebody tried 50 times, fine, they should be checked out, but not just for trying a couple of times." Police said some 200 calls were made to the doctors modem during the 10 days the phone was tapped. "They say, therefore, its obvious somebody is trying to make a game of trying to crack the computer code", said Hopson. "The only thing obvious to me is a lot of people have that published number. Nobody's trying to crack a code to gain illegal access to a system. I only tried it three times and gave up, figuring the phone was no longer in service." Hopson said he tried to explain the situation to the police. "But they took me to an interrogation room and said I was lying. They treated me like a big-time criminal, and now they won't give me back my stuff." Hopson admitted he owned several illegally obtained copies of software confiscated by police. "But so does everybody," he said, "and the police have ever right to keep them, but I want the rest of my stuff." Nemeth, whose training is in police work and not computer crimes, said this is the first such case for the department and he learning as he goes along. He said the matter has been turned over to the District Attorney's Office, which will decide whether to bring charges against Hopson and one other suspect. The seized belongings could be sold to pay restitution to the doctors who paid to re-program their system. Nemeth said the police are waiting for a printout to show how many times the suspects tried to gain access to the doctors' modem. "You can try to gain access as many times as you want on one phone call. The fact a suspect only called three times doesn't mean he only tried to gain access three times." Nemeth said he is aware of the bulletin board theory. "The problem is we believe somebody out there intentionally got into the doctors' system and shut it down so nobody could gain access, based on evidence from the doctors' computer technician," said Nemeth. "I don't think we have that person, because the guy would need a very sophisticated system to shut somebody else's system down." At the same time, he said, Hopson and the other suspects should have known to give up after the first failed attempt. "The laws are funny. You don't have to prove malicious intent when you're talking about computer tampering. The first attempt you might say was an honest mistake. More than once, you have to wonder." Police this week filled reports with the District Attorney's Office regarding their investigation of Hopson and another San Luis Obispo man suspected of computer tampering. Police are waiting for Stephen Brown, a deputy district attorney, to decide whether there is enough evidence against the two to take court action. If so, Nemeth said he will file reports involving two other suspects, both computer science majors from Cal Poly. All computers, telephones, computer instruction manuals, and program disks were seized from three houses in police searches last week. Hundreds of disks containing about $5,000 worth of illegally obtained software were also taken from the suspects' residences. Police and the District Attorney's Office are not naming the suspects because the case is still under investigation. However, police confirmed Hopson was one of the suspects in the case after he called the Telegram-Tribune to give his side of the story. ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ HACKERS' OFF HOOK, PROPERTY RETURNED By Danna Dykstra Coy This article appeared in the Telegram-Tribune Newspaper, San Luis Obispo, CA. April 12, 1991. Permission to electronically reproduce this article was given by the newspaper's senior editor. ***** Two San Luis Obispo men suspected of computer tampering will not be charged with any crime. They will get back the computer equipment that was seized from their homes, according to Stephen Brown, a deputy district attorney who handled the case. "It appears to have been a case of inadvertent access to a modem with no criminal intent," said Brown. San Luis Obispo police were waiting on Brown's response to decide whether to pursue an investigation that started last month. They said they would drop the matter if Brown didn't file a case. The officer heading the case, Gary Nemeth, admitted police were learning as they went along because they rarely deal with computer crimes. Brown said he doesn't believe police overreacted in their investigation. "They had a legitimate concern." In early March two dermatologists called police when the computer system containing patient billing records in their San Luis Obispo office kept shutting down. They paid a computer technician about $1,500 to re-program their modem, a device that allows computers to communicate through the telephone lines. The technician told the doctors it appeared someone was trying to tap into their system. The computer's security system caused the shutdown after several attempts to gain access failed. Police ordered a 10-day phone tap on the modem's line and, after obtaining search warrants, searched four residences where calls were made to the skin doctors' modem at least three times. One suspect, Ron Hopson, said last week his calls were legitimate and claimed police overreacted when they seized his computer, telephone, and computer manuals. Hopson could not reached Thursday for comment. Brown's investigation revealed Hopson, like the other suspects, was trying to log-on to a computerized "bulletin-board" that incorrectly gave the doctors' number as the key to a system called "Cygnus XI". Cygnus XI enabled computer users to electronically send messages to one another. Brown said while this may not be the county's first computer crime, it was the first time the District Attorney's Office authorized search warrants in a case of suspected computer fraud using telephone lines. Police will not be returning several illegally obtained copies of software also seized during the raids, he said. +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ A Case for Mistaken Identity... Who's Privacy was Really Invaded? By Jim Bigelow According to the San Luis Obispo County (California) Telegram-Tribune, dated Saturday, March 23, 1991, the San Luis Obispo Police raided the homes of two Cal Poly students and two other residents including one in Santa Margarita for alleged computer crimes, "hacking." The suspects had, through their computer modems, unknowingly tried to access a computer owned by a group of local dermatologists. That same number had previously belonged to a popular local bulletin board, Cygnus XI. The police were alerted by the dermatologists and their computer technician who was afraid someone was trying to access their patient records. The police put a phone tap on the computer line for 10 days which showed over 200 calls placed to that number in one 24 hour period. Armed with a search warrant, police went to the house of the first suspect who later said he only called that number 3 times in a 24 hour period (I wonder who made the other 197 calls?). Unfortunately he was not home... this cost him two broken doors as the police had to enter the house some way. All computer equipment, disks and computer related equipment was "seized" and taken to police headquarters. Follow-up articles reveal that the individual had not committed local crimes, that no charges would be filed and that the computers . would be returned. Disks which were determined to contain illegally copied commercial software were to be turned over to Federal authorities. Like most personal home computer users I have interviewed, I didn't think much . of this matter at first, but I am now becoming alarmed. I am a 64 year old senior citizen, perhaps a paranoid senior. I think most seniors are a bit paranoid. I am a strong supporter of law enforcement, an ex-peace officer, a retired parole agent, and as a senior I want law enforcement protection. . In this situation, according to the Tribune report, the police "had legitimate concern." But, apparently they didn't know what they were doing as the officer in charge stated "We are learning as we go." Accessing a modem is not easy. I, with five years of computer experience, find ? it difficult and frustrating to set up a computer and keep it operating, to understand a manual well enough to get the software to operate, to set the switches and jumpers on a modem, and then contact a BBS, and in the midst of their endless questions, coupled with my excitability and fumbling, answer them and get on line. I have many times tried to connect to BBS's only to be disconnected because I typed my name or code incorrectly. I have dialed wrong numbers and gotten a private phone. I do not want to be considered an enemy of law enforcement merely because I own a computer. I do not like to be called a "hacker," and especially because I contacted a BBS 3 times. The word, "hacker" originally applied to a computer user, now has become a dirty word. It implies criminality, a spy, double agents, espionage, stealing government secrets, stealing business codes, etc. Certainly, not that of a law abiding and law supporting, voting senior citizen, who has found a new hobby, a toy and a tool to occupy his mind. Computers are educational and can and do assist in providing community functions. I hope that the name "personal computer user" doesn't become a dirty word. The "hacker" problem seems to be viewed by law enforcement as one in which "we learn as we go." This is an extremely costly method as we blunder into a completely new era, that of computerization. It causes conflicts between citizens and law enforcement. It is costly to citizens in that it causes great distress to us, to find ourselves possible enemies of the law, the loss of our computers and equipment, telephones and reputation by being publicly called hackers and criminals. It causes more problems when we attempt to regain our reputation and losses by suing the very agencies we have been so diligently supporting, for false arrest, confiscation of our most coveted possession and uninvited and forced entrance into our homes, causing great emotional disturbances (and older people are easily upset). I have a legal question I would like answered. Who is obligated in this incident: the owners and operators of Cygnus XI for failure to make a public announcement of the discontinuance of their services? or the phone company for issuing the number to a private corporation with a modem? the police for not knowing what they are doing? the computer user? It is not a problem of being more cautious, ethical, moral, law)abiding. It is a matter of citizen rights. The "hacker" problem now applies not only to code breakers, secret and document stealers, but to me, even in my first attempts to connect with a BBS. Had I tried to contact Cygnus XI my attempts would have put me under suspicion of the police and made me liable for arrest, confiscation of my computer, equipment, disks, and subsequent prosecution. I am more than a little bewildered. And, am I becoming a paranoid senior citizen, not only because of criminals, but of the police also? Am I running a clandestine operation by merely owning a computer and a modem, or am I a solid senior citizen, which may well imply that I don't own "one of those computers?" Frankly, I don't know. Even though my computer is returned, and I am not arrested or prosecuted, I wonder what condition it now is in after all the rough handling. (Police who break down doors do not seem to be overly gentle, and computers and their hard disk drives are very fragile instruments). Just who and how many have scrutinized my computer? its contents? and why? my personal home business transactions? and perhaps I supplement my income with the aid of my computer (I am a writer)? my daily journal? my most private and innermost thoughts? my letters? my daily activities? (This is exactly why personal computers and their programs were designed, for personal use. My personal computer is an extension of my self, my mind, and my personal affairs.) Can the police confiscate all my software claiming it is stolen, merely because they don't find the originals? (I, at the suggestion of the software companies, make backup copies of the original disks, and then place the originals elsewhere for safekeeping.) Do I need to keep all receipts to "prove" to the police that I am innocent of holding bootleg software? Is there a new twist in the laws that applies to personal computer users? Also any encoding of my documents or safeguarding them with a password, such as my daily journal, my diary, I have read in other cases, is viewed by law enforcement as an attempt to evade prosecution and virtually incriminates me. ("If it wasn't criminal why did the "suspect" encode it?") This recent incident arouses complex emotions for me. What will the future bring for the home and personal computer user? I do not care to fear the police. I do not want to have to register my computer with the government. Will it come to that in our country? I do not want to have to maintain an impeccable record of all of my computer usages and activities, imports and exports, or to be connected to a state police monitoring facility, that at all times monitors my computer usage. The year "1984" is behind us. Let's keep it that way. This matter is a most serious problem and demands the attention of all citizens. As for myself, I wasn't the one involved, but I find it disturbing enough to cause me to learn of it and do something about it. ******************************************************************** >> END OF THIS FILE << *************************************************************************** ------------------------------ From: EFF ( Subject: EFF/SJG Sue Bill Cook, Tim Foley, Secret Service, et. al. Date: 1 May, 1991 ******************************************************************** *** CuD #3.15: File 3 of 3: EFF/SJG SUE COOK, FOLEY ET. AL. *** ******************************************************************** {The following came in just minutes before we began sending out this issue of CuD. We reduced the original to just a few lines. The full text can be obtained from EFF ( or from the CuD archives}. Excerpted From: EFFector Online #1.04 (May 1, 1991) The following press release was Faxcast to over 1,500 media organizations and interested parties this afternoon: EXTENDING THE CONSTITUTION TO AMERICAN CYBERSPACE: TO ESTABLISH CONSTITUTIONAL PROTECTION FOR ELECTRONIC MEDIA AND TO OBTAIN REDRESS FOR AN UNLAWFUL SEARCH, SEIZURE, AND PRIOR RESTRAINT ON PUBLICATION, STEVE JACKSON GAMES AND THE ELECTRONIC FRONTIER FOUNDATION TODAY FILED A CIVIL SUIT AGAINST THE UNITED STATES SECRET SERVICE AND OTHERS. On March 1, 1990, the United States Secret Service nearly destroyed Steve Jackson Games (SJG), an award-winning publishing business in Austin, Texas. In an early morning raid with an unlawful and unconstitutional warrant, agents of the Secret Service conducted a search of the SJG office. When they left they took a manuscript being prepared for publication, private electronic mail, and several computers, including the hardware and software of the SJG Computer Bulletin Board System. Yet Jackson and his business were not only innocent of any crime, but never suspects in the first place. The raid had been staged on the unfounded suspicion that somewhere in Jackson's office there "might be" a document compromising the security of the 911 telephone system. In the months that followed, Jackson saw the business he had built up over many years dragged to the edge of bankruptcy. SJG was a successful and prestigious publisher of books and other materials used in adventure role-playing games. Jackson also operated a computer bulletin board system (BBS) to communicate with his customers and writers and obtain feedback and suggestions on new gaming ideas. The bulletin board was also the repository of private electronic mail belonging to several of its users. This private mail was seized in the raid. Despite repeated requests for the return of his manuscripts and equipment, the Secret Service has refused to comply fully. Today, more than a year after that raid, The Electronic Frontier Foundation, acting with SJG owner Steve Jackson, has filed a precedent setting civil suit against the United States Secret Service, Secret Service Agents Timothy Foley and Barbara Golden, Assistant United States Attorney William Cook, and Henry Kluepfel. "This is the most important case brought to date," said EFF general counsel Mike Godwin, "to vindicate the Constitutional rights of the users of computer-based communications technology. It will establish the Constitutional dimension of electronic expression. It also will be one of the first cases that invokes the Electronic Communications and Privacy Act as a shield and not as a sword -- an act that guarantees users of this digital medium the same privacy protections enjoyed by those who use the telephone and the U.S. Mail." (remainder of text deleted) ******************************************************************** ------------------------------ **END OF CuD #3.15** ********************************************************************


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