Computer underground Digest Wed Jan 20, 1993 Volume 5 : Issue 05 ISSN 1004-042X Editors: J
Computer underground Digest Wed Jan 20, 1993 Volume 5 : Issue 05
Editors: Jim Thomas and Gordon Meyer (TK0JUT2@NIU.BITNET)
Archivist: Brendan Kehoe
Shadow-Archivists: Dan Carosone / Paul Southworth
Ralph Sims / Jyrki Kuoppala
Coyp Editor: Etaion Shrdlu, Junior
CONTENTS, #5.05 (Jan 20, 1993)
File 1--Balancing Computer Crime Statutes and Freedom
File 2--Encryption issues
File 3--Response to Mark Carter in CuD #5.02 and #5.03
File 4--Released GSA Docs Slam FBI Wiretap Proposal
File 5--Attempted Mindvox Break-in
File 6--Keyboarding Explosive Data for Homemade Bombs
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Date: 22 Dec 92 15:31:52 EST
From: Ken Citarella <70700.3504@COMPUSERVE.COM>
Subject: File 1--Balancing Computer Crime Statutes and Freedom
Computer Crime, Computer Security and Human Values
- The Prosecutor's Perspective -
Kenneth C. Citarella
Assistant District Attorney, Westchester County
I am a prosecutor. I specialize in white collar crime, and
more particularly in computer crime and telecommunication fraud.
My professional interest regarding computer crime, computer
security, and the human values involved with them comes from that
perspective. I study motive, intent, criminal demographics,
software security and other topics to help me identify,
investigate, and prosecute a criminal.
A crime is an act prohibited by law. Criminal statutes define
acts deemed so inimical to the public that they warrant the
application of the police power of the state. Computer crimes only
exist because the legislature has determined that computers and
what they contain are important enough, like your house, money and
life, that certain acts directed against them merit the application
of that power.
A curious distinction arises with regard to computers,
however. Your house can be burglarized even if you leave the door
open. If you drop your money on the street, a finder who keeps it
may still be a thief. The foolish trust you place in an investment
swindler does not absolve him of guilt for his larceny. Yet much
of the discussion on what constitutes computer crime, and even the
computer crime statutes of many states, place a responsibility on
the computer owner to secure the system. Indeed, in New York
State, unless an unauthorized user is clearly put on notice that he
is not wanted in the system, the penetrated system falls outside
the protection of several of the computer crime statutes. The
intrusion, no matter how unwanted by the system owner, has actually
been legitimized by the legislature. Since I participated in the
writing of the New York computer crime statutes, I can attest to
the desire of legislative counsel to force the computer owner to
declare his system off limits. So the societal debate over how
much protection to afford computers has very practical consequences
in the criminal arena.
Commentators frequently address with much anguish whether
computer intruders are truly to be blamed for breaking into a
computer system. They treat such people as a new phenomenon for
whom new rules must be established. ("Hacking" and "hackers" are
terms that have become so romanticized and distorted from their
original context, that I refuse to use them; they simply do not
describe the behavior which is of interest.) I suggest, to the
contrary, that examining the victim impact of computer intrusions
provides a more meaningful analysis.
Consider some examples of the facts typically presented to
law enforcement. A computer intruder penetrates the system of a
telecommunications carrier and accesses valid customer access
codes. She distributes these codes to a bulletin board host who
posts them for the use of his readership. Within 48 hours, the
numbers are being used throughout the United States. The carrier
experiences $50,000.00 in fraudulent calls before the next billing
cycle alerts the customers to the misuse of their numbers. Or,
they could be credit card numbers taken from a bank and used for
hundreds of thousands of dollars of larcenous purchases. Or, it
could be experimental software stolen from a developer who now
Stories like these have something in common with all criminal
activity, computer based or not. The criminal obtains that which
is not his, violating one of the lessons we all should have learned
in childhood. The computer intruder ignores that lesson and
substitutes a separate moral imperative: I can, therefore, I may;
or, might makes right. The arguments about exposing system
weaknesses, or encouraging the development of youthful computer
experts, amount to little more than endorsing these behavioral
norms. These norms, of course, we reject in all other aspects of
society. The majority may not suppress the minority just because
they have the numbers to do so. The mob cannot operate a
protection racket just because it has the muscle to do so. The
healthy young man may not remove an infirm one from a train seat
just because he can. Instead, we have laws against discrimination,
police to fight organized crime, and seats reserved for the
I suspect that part of our reluctance to classify many
computer intrusions as crimes arises from a reluctance to recognize
that some of our bright youths are engaging in behavior which in a
non-computer environment we would unhesitatingly punish as
criminal. The fact they are almost uniformly the white, middle
class, and articulate offspring of white middle class parents makes
us less ready to see them as criminals. Although there are
questions to be resolved about computer crime, we are sadly
mistaken to focus on what may be different about computer crime, to
the exclusion of what it has in common with all other criminal
conduct. Refer back to the simple scenarios outlined above. The
computer intruder may have all the attributes some commentators
find so endearing: curiosity, skill, determination, etc. The
victims have only financial losses, an enormous diversion of
resources to identify and resolve the misdeeds, and a lasting sense
of having been violated. They are just like the victims of any
Of course, there are computer intruders who take nothing from
a penetrated system. They break security, peruse a system, perhaps
leaving a mystery for the sysop to puzzle over. Would any computer
intruder be as pleased to have a physical intruder enter his or her
house, and rearrange their belongings as he toured the residence?
The distinctions on the intruders' part are basically physical
ones: location, movement, physical contact, manner of penetration,
for example. The victims' perspectives are more similar: privacy
and security violated, unrest regarding future intrusions, and a
feeling of outrage. Just as a person can assume the law protects
his physical possession of a computer, whether he secures it or
not, why can he not assume the same for its contents?
What after all is the intent of the intruder in each
situation? To be where he should not be and alter the property
that is there without the approval of its owner. Each case
disregards approved behavior and flaunts the power to do so.
Of course, computer intrusions have many levels of
seriousness, just as other crimes do. A simple trespass onto
property is not a burglary; an unauthorized access is not software
vandalism. The consequences must fit the act. Prosecutors and
police must exercise the same discretion and common sense with
computer intruders they do regarding conventional criminals. No
reasonable law enforcement official contends that every computer
intrusion must be punished as a criminal act. Youth officers and
family courts commonly address the same behavior in juveniles that
other agencies address in adults. Sometimes a youth is warned, or
his parents are advised about his behavior, and that is the best
response. But to insist that some computer intrusions are to be
legitimized, assumes that law enforcement lacks the common sense
and discretion to sort out prosecutable incidents from those best
handled less formally. If we choose not to trust the discretion
and experience in our law enforcement authorities regarding
computer crime, then how can we trust these same people to decide
what drug trafficker to deal with to get someone worse, or to
decide which child has been abused and which was properly
disciplined. The point is that law enforcement makes far more
critical decisions outside of the context of computer crime than
within. The people involved are trained and have the experience to
make those decisions. Yet much of the debate over computer crime
assumes just the opposite.
In my personal experience, prosecutorial discretion has worked
just as well in computer crimes as it has regarding other criminal
behavior. Some complaints result in a prosecution; some are
investigated and no charges filed; some are not even entertained.
Lastly, I should point out that frequently computer intruders
are also involved in a variety of other crimes. Typically, credit
card fraud and software piracy are in their repertoire. And, let
us not forget that the telecommunication charges for all their long
distance calls are being borne by the carrier or the corporate PBX
they have compromised. With telecommunication fraud exceeding a
billion dollars a year, the societal cost of tolerating these
intruders is too large to be blindly accepted.
If the challenge of penetrating a system you do not belong on
is an essential way of developing computer skills, as some people
contend, then let computer curricula include such tests on systems
specifically designed for that. Surgeons develop their skills on
cadavers, not the unsuspecting. Pilots use simulators. Why should
computer specialists practice on someone else's property at someone
There are privacy and Fourth Amendment issues involved in
computer crime. But they are the same issues involved in any other
criminal investigation. The public debate is needed and cases must
go to court as has always been the case with constitutional aspects
of criminal law. Whenever law enforcement follows criminal
activity into a new arena, problems arise. It is as true with
computer crime as it was with rape and child abuse cases. The
answers lie in understanding the common forest of all criminal
behavior not in staring at the trees of computer crime.
(Adapted from a paper presented at the National Conference on
Computing and Values, Southern Connecticut State University, August
Date: Sun, 13 Dec 92 22:38 EST
From: "Michael E. Marotta"
Subject: File 2--Encryption issues
ENCRYPTION ISSUES FOR THE NET COMMUNITY
by Michael E. Marotta, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
Your use of privacy tools for telecom is defined by three issues.
(1) The Government wants to read all messages.
(2) Some networks prohibit encrypted messages.
(3) The weakest feature of a crytosystem is transporting the key.
These issues are broad. For example, the "government" is more than
Bill Clinton. Employers, spouses, parents and neighbors often display
severe cases of "Govern Mentality." Also, networks include
four-station LANs and the Internet itself. Needing to send encoded
messages to the person at the next desk is unusual.
(1) In 1976, the Department of Commerce issued requests for the Data
Encryption Standard and Data Encryption Algorithm and the original
entry from IBM was too hard for the NSA to crack. So, the current
64-bit system was adopted. Now the FBI wants telephone companies to
make digital signals tappable.
When the USA entered World War I, Woodrow Wilson (a liberal, a
Democrat and former president of Princeton) ordered the seizure of all
radio transmitters and receivers. Back in 1991, then-senator Albert
Gore and the Bush White House worked to create the legislation
enabling the National Research & Education Network. This
multi-gigabyte superhighway will eventually link thousands of
universities and hundreds of lesser networks. Starting in 1992, cable
TV operators are liable for the content of "wayne's world"
public-access programming. Prodigy and FidoNet are well-known for
their heavy handed rules.
Overall, if you want to send a secure message, you have to think
through all of the ramifications of your actions.
(2) Fidonet policy forbids encryption and allows the review of mail to
ensure that the system is not being used for "illegal" purposes.
FidoNet policies identify English as the "official" language and
FidoNet moderators often forbid ANY message not in English.
FidoNet policy severely defines "private netmail" pointing out
(reasonably enough) that you never know who a message is passed to as
it is routed.
These restrictions are not limited to FidoNet. Universities,
corporations, and government agencies have similar rules and there is
no single standard.
(3) The art of hiding a message is called "steganography." Back in
1978, I suggested using rock cassettes for TRS-80 data and ever since,
the FBI seizes music when they arrest hackers. Sooner or later,
though, you have to transmit the key. Ideally, you send the key in a
different manner than the message. This is not perfect.
Public keys eliminate the need for transporting the key. The RSA
Crytosystem is the best known public key cipher. It is not known to
be compromisable. (By contrast, the DES is known to have weaknesses.)
RSA was developed by Drs. Ronald Rivest, Adi Shamir and Lenard Adleman
when they were at MIT. Today, RSA Data Security, Inc., is at 100
Marine Parkway, Redwood City, CA 94066. The company has developed
several commercial products for Apple Macintosh and other systems.
This last development opens the door to widespread data security. As
Apple and others deliver encryption with their operating systems, no
rules or laws or policies can prevent the use of these tools.
In fact, there is a form of data encypherment that is widely
accepted -- even on Fidonet: compression. ARC, ZIP, PAK, LZH, SQZ,
you name it, there are many ways to shrink a file and all them turn
plaintext into gobbledegook. If you want to build your own
encypherment -- I mean, compression -- algorithm, a quick literature
search on Limpel-Ziv, Huffman, and Nyquist will point you in the right
direction. There are books on the subject, also. Be aware that as a
CIPHER, a compressor can be analyzed and deciphered.
My favorite method for sending secrets is the "Richelieu Grid."
You send a plaintext message and within this, by agreement, a running
set of letters creates a secret message. Edgar Allen Poe's
"Valentine" to St. Joan is a simple example.
The question is, "From whom are you keeping your secrets?" The
NSA? Forget it, unless you are the KGB. From your Mom? A=Z, B=Y,
C=X will work just fine!
* I am the author of THE CODE BOOK sold by Loompanics, P. O. Box 1197,
Port Townsend, WA 98368. Their catalog costs $5. *
Date: Wed, 20 Jan 1993 02:34:41 -0500 (EST)
From: Kenneth Werneburg
Subject: File 3--Response to Mark Carter in CuD #5.02 and #5.03
Derek A. Borgford (s9546284@Sandcastle.cosc.BrockU.CA)
Frederick J. Vanderzwaag (Fvanderz@Spartan.ac.BrockU.CA)
Kenneth Werneburg (Johnston@Spartan.ac.BrockU.CA)
RE: CuD #5.02 "Any one Who Owns a Scanner is a Hacker, or..."
RE: CuD #5.03 File 9--Canadian Media and BBSes
With all due respect to Mark Carter and his two submissions to CuD, we
fail to see what new light he has shed on the articles that were
published in the St. Catharines Standard. Although his article pointed
out that the Standard's depiction of the BBS community in the Niagara
Region was less than accurate, his pre-occupation with FidoNet boards
in the area would seem to have clouded his judgement somewhat. His
submission would indicate that FidoNet boards in the area are regarded
as a higher class of BBS, and his comments concerning non-FidoNet
BBSes indicate his own negative prejudice towards these independent
boards. After reading Mark Carter's comments, we have found his
remarks to be lacking in substance.
We are also familiar with, and active in, the Niagara region BBS
community; and currently run a local BBS called the Steam Tunnels BBS
(FidoNet 1:247/133). Also, Kenneth Werneburg was the sysop of
Alleycat's Emporium 'o' Toads BBS, as well as co-sysop of numerous
boards in the Niagara area.
We agree that the St. Catharines Standard's article was replete with
misquotes, misinformation and misrepresentations, which would indicate
their lack of understanding of the local BBS community as a whole. It
seemed to indicate that the authors had their own agenda which focused
on the dark side of BBSing, and failed to highlight any of the
positive aspects, which boards in general offer to the community. What
we fail to see is how Mark Carter's commentary on the subject has
elucidated the topic, adding any response to the Standard's inadequate
coverage which bordered on sensationalism.
The primary focus of the article entitled "Limits Set On Access to
Computer Porn: But Explicit Images, Stories Still Available" (by Paul
Forsyth and Andrew Lundy, Standard Staff) centred on two interviews.
One with Kenneth Werneburg, and the other with the co-sysop of a
popular BBS in the Niagara region, called Interzone.
Mark Carter cited Interzone as "hardly a good example of local
boards," and yet it has a wide user list which would denote it as the
second most popular board in the region. Ads posted around the region
about Interzone boast 600 callers per week on three nodes, without the
benefit of being connected to any of the local echomail networks.
According to Mark Carter, Interzone's non-affiliation with FidoNet
would indicate "that the message areas it has are basically filled
with obscenities...," however, as users to this board will attest,
frequent use of obscenities are not as prevalent he suggests.
Moderators of the local FidoNet echoes have imposed restrictions on
language used; because of the wide distribution throughout the region,
and public nature of such echoes as the Niagara Chatter Echo. Some of
the sysops in the area had expressed concern over younger users being
exposed to offensive language in these public echoes and subsequently
it was agreed that use of profanity would be limited to inference by
substitution of asterixes, in place of certain letters. Interzone,
because of the privacy maintained by not joining FidoNet, does not
have the same constraints placed on it. Instead, both the sysop and
co-sysop encourage a relaxed atmosphere which tends towards a homey,
"Interzone family" feel. Most of the users enjoy a camaraderie in the
message base which is primarily based on light hearted discussions, on
a broad range of topics.
Another inconsistency in Mark Carter's remarks, pertains to
Interzone's alleged "commercial interests". According to Mark Carter
"it (Interzone) is sponsored by a commercial interest, which pays the
phone bills," however, we have found this to be inaccurate. Of the
three nodes which comprise Interzone, only one of these nodes is
sponsored by commercial interests, through a local CD store. Mark
Carter is illustrating an uninformed viewpoint, which is factually
His treatment of Alleycat's Emporium 'o' Toads also suffers from the
same "factual inaccuracies and narrow-minded presentation" which
typify Mark Carter's statements. He refers with condescension to a
board which he himself knows of only through second hand information.
Alleycat's Emporium 'o' Toads had a message base far outstripping any
of the FidoNet boards that he so covets. The second article in the St.
Catharines Standard was spawned from a letter to the editor, written
by the co-sysop of this BBS.
We fail to understand Mark Carter's implicated hierarchal delineation
regarding the relative worth of BBSes in the Niagara region. He
exemplifies an attitude which ranks FidoNet boards as superior, while
denigrating all non-FidoNet BBSes. We would find that Mark Carter's
comments regarding boards that are not affiliated with FidoNet
represent a "narrow-minded" prejudice on his own behalf; due in part
to his own pre-occupation and involvement in FidoNet. His articles
maintain an attitude which is not indicative of the general BBSing
community. Most of Mark Carter's comments would indicate that he has
missed the point of the articles, and has obviously trivialized them.
Contrary to his comments, FidoNet boards were also cited in the
articles, although they remained un-named. One must question Mark
Carter's motivation for writing these remarks, as it seems that his
role in FidoNet is more weighty to him than any genuine concern over
The primary issue dealt with by the Standard, is that of pornography
and its accessability by minors. Although the Standard demonstrates
that there is willingness on behalf of the regional sysops to place
restrictions on the distribution of adult material, they couch this in
a sensationalist criticism of local BBSes. Contrary to what Forsyth
and Lundy maintain, sysops had been imposing restrictions long before
these articles were written. Their articles would indicate that it was
solely through their intervention that there were "limits set on
access to computer porn." However, most of the sysops in the area
have exercised common sense when granting access to users on their
boards. In fact, not all boards in the area even carry adult material.
Obviously the problem is not as severe as the Standard has portrayed.
Had they seriously researched the boards in the area they would have
found that pornography is not a primary feature.
Although there is currently no legislation in Canada governing the
distribution of pornographic material through this electronic medium,
the writers in the Standard would indicate that there is a need for
legal intervention. They seem to feel that most BBSes are best
typified as distribution sites, where minors have access to
pornographic material. Clearly, however, this is not the case. In
comparison with other media, the amount of pornography distributed
through bulletin boards is relatively minor. Any youth is capable of
accessing this material through means far more readily available to
In the main, when one logs on to a board in the Niagara region, one
would find little difference between that and any other board in North
America. Although adult files remain some of the most popular items
transferred over the boards, this is not to say that this is all they
have to offer. It is not fair to say that focusing on two boards in
the region is a fair indication of what is available. It must be
clarified, however, that the existence and popularity of this type of
material is a reflection of a tendency in the userbase which indicates
a genuine demand for these items. This is not to say that these
materials are accessible to the general user without some
In response to the second article in the St. Catharines Standard, some
of the local sysops banded together in an organization named S.O.A.P.
(System Operators Against Pornography) which provides parents the
certitude that their child can call their board without being exposed
to pornographic material, or any obscenities, either in the message
base or file areas. Many of these boards had not carried any of these
materials previously, for example, the originator of the organization,
Clayton Matattal of InfoTech. Other sysops who have joined SOAP,
formerly carried pornographic materials, which have since been removed
from their BBSes, and they claim to not offer these files to their
users. This has not been without controversy in the local echoes, as
this has been seen by some to be a show of blatant hypocrisy. Some of
the controversy has centred around a dispute between boards which are
affiliated with SOAP and those who are not, and the self-righteous
attitudes displayed by some of the former. This was not the intended
purpose of this organization, but was in response to various boards
joining SOAP, whose names had previously been synonymous with adult
According to recent messages in the Niagara FidoNet Chatter echo, the
St. Catharines Standard has plans to publish another feature article
on bulletin boards on January 23, 1993 in an attempt to highlight
their positive aspects. It remains to be seen whether this will
reflect a more accurate portrayal of BBSes in our community, seeing
that it is due to be edited by the same Paul Forsyth and Andrew Lundy
who wrote the original two articles. If past articles are any
indication of what they intend to write in this future publication,
then it is sure to be based on a "narrow-minded," sensationalist
portrayal, featuring only a few boards in the region.
Date: Fri, 15 Jan 1993 23:22:47 -0500
From: Dave Banisar
Subject: File 4--Released GSA Docs Slam FBI Wiretap Proposal
"GSA Memos Reveal that FBI Wiretap Plan was
Opposed by Government's Top Telecomm Purchaser"
The New York Times reported today on a document obtained by CPSR
through the Freedom of Information Act. ("FBI's Proposal on Wiretaps
Draws Criticism from G.S.A.," New York Times, January 15, 1993, p.
The document, an internal memo prepared by the General Services
Administration, describes many problems with the FBI's wiretap plan
and also shows that the GSA strongly opposed the sweeping proposal.
The GSA is the largest purchaser of telecommunications equipment in
the federal government.
The FBI wiretap proposal, first announced in March of 1992, would
have required telephone manufacturers to design all communications
equipment to facilitate wire surveillance. The proposal was defeated
last year. The FBI has said that it plans to reintroduce a similar
proposal this year.
The documents were released to Computer Professionals for Social
Responsibility, a public interest organization, after CPSR submitted
Freedom of Information Act requests about the FBI's wiretap plan to
several federal agencies last year.
The documents obtained by CPSR reveal that the GSA, which is
responsible for equipment procurement for the Federal government,
strongly opposed two different versions of the wiretap plan developed
by the FBI. According to the GSA, the FBI proposal would complicate
interoperability, increase cost, and diminish privacy and network
security. The GSA also stated that the proposal could "adversely
_affect national security._"
In the second memo, the GSA concluded that it would be a mistake to
give the Attorney General sole authority to waive provisions of the
The GSA's objections to the proposal were overruled by the Office of
Management and Budget, a branch of the White House which oversees
administrative agencies for the President. However, none of GSA's
objections were disclosed to the public or made available to policy
makers in Washington.
Secrecy surrounds this proposal. Critical sections of a report on
the FBI wiretap plan prepared by the General Accounting Office were
earlier withhold after the FBI designated these sections "National
Security Information." These sections included analysis by GAO on
alternatives to the FBI's wiretap plan. CPSR is also pursuing a FOIA
lawsuit to obtain the FBI's internal documents concerning the wiretap
The GSA memos, the GAO report and others that CPSR is now seeking
indicate that there are many important documents within the government
which have still not been disclosed to the public.
Marc Rotenberg CPSR Washington office email@example.com
Note: Underscores indicate underlining in the original text. Dashes
that go across pages indicate page breaks.
[Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility is a non-profit,
public interest membership organization. For membership information
about CPSR, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 415/322-3778. For
information on CPSR's FOIA work, contact David Sobel at 202/544-9240
Control No. X92050405
Due Date: 5/5/92
Brenda Robinson (S)
After KMR consultations, we still _"cannot support"_ Draft Bill. No.
118 as substantially revised by Justice after its purported full
consideration of other agencies' "substantive concerns."
Aside from the third paragraph of our 3/13/92 attachment response for
the original draft bill, which was adopted as GSA's position (copy
attached), Justice has failed to fully address other major GSA
concerns (i.e., technological changes and associated costs).
Further, by merely eliminating the FCC and any discussion of cost
issues in the revision, we can not agree as contended by Justice that
it now " ... takes care of kinds of problems raised by FCC and others
Finally, the revision gives Justice sole unilateral exclusive
authority to enforce and except or waive the provisions of any
resultant Iaw in Federal District Courts. Our other concerns are also
shown in the current attachment for the revised draft bill.
Once again OMB has not allowed sufficient time for a more through
review, a comprehensive internal staffing, or a formal response.
Wm. R. Loy KMR 5/5/92
(O/F) - 9C1h (2) (a) - File (#4A)
REVISED JUSTICE DRAFT BILL
The proposed legislation could have a widespread impact on the
government's ability to acquire _new_ telecommunications equipment and
provide electronic communications services.
_Existing_ Federal government telecommunications resources will be
affected by the proposed new technology techniques and equipment. An
incompatibility and interoperability of existing Federal government
telecommunications system, and resources would result due to the new
technological changes proposed.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has been removed from the
legislation, but the Justice implementation may require modifications
to the "Communications Act of 1934," and other FCC policies and
regulations to remove inconsistencies. This could also cause an
unknown effect on the wire and electronic communications systems
operations, services, equipment, and regulations within the Federal
government. Further, to change a major portion of the United States
telecommunications infrastructure (the public switched network within
eighteen months and others within three years) seems very optimistic,
no matter how trivial or minimal the proposed modifications are to
In the proposed legislation the Attorney General has sole _unilateral
exclusive_ authority to enforce, grant exceptions or waive the
provisions of any resultant law and enforce it in Federal District
Courts. The Attorney General would, as appropriate, only "consult"
with the FCC, Department of Commerce, or Small Business
Administration. The Attorney General has exclusive authority in
Section 2 of the legislation; it appears the Attorney General has
taken over several FCC functions and placed the FCC in a mere
The proposed legislation would apply to all forms of wire and
electronic communications to include computer data bases, facsimile,
imagery etc., as well as voice transmissions.
The proposed legislation would assist eavesdropping by law
enforcement, but it would also apply to users who acquire the
technology capability and make it easier for criminals, terrorists,
foreign intelligence (spies) and computer hackers to electronically
penetrate the public network and pry into areas previously not open to
snooping. This situation of easier access due to new technology
changes could therefore affect _national security_.
The proposed legislation does not address standards and specifications
for telecommunications equipment nor security considerations. These
issues must be addressed as they effect both the government and
private industry. There are also civil liberty implications and the
public's constitutional rights to privacy which are not mentioned.
it must be noted that equipment already exists that can be used to
wiretap the digital communications lines and support court- authorized
wiretaps, criminal investigations and probes of voice communications.
The total number of interception applications authorized within the
United States (Federal and State) has been averaging under nine
hundred per year. There is concern that the proposed changes are not
cost effective and worth the effort to revamp all the existing and new
The proposed bill would have to have the FCC or another agency approve
or reject new telephone equipment mainly on the basis of whether the
FBI has the capability to wiretap it. The federal- approval process is
normally lengthy and the United States may not be able to keep pace
with foreign industries to develop new technology and install secure
communications. As a matter of interest, the proposed restrictive new
technology could impede the United States' ability to compete in
digital telephony and participate in the international trade arena.
Finally, there will be unknown associated costs to implement the
proposed new technological procedures and equipment. These costs
would be borne by the Federal government, consumers, and all other
communications ratepayers to finance the effort. Both the Federal
government and private industry communications regular phone service,
data transmissions, satellite and microwave transmissions, and
encrypted communications could be effected at increased costs.
Documents disclosed to Computer Professionals for Social
Responsibility (CPSR), under the Freedom of Information Act
Date: Mon, 18 Jan 93 13:55:17 EST
From: mcmullen@MINDVOX.PHANTOM.COM(John F. McMullen)
Subject: File 5--Attempted Mindvox Break-in
The following appeared on Newsbytes, a copyrighted commercial service,
on January 18, 1993. It is republished here with the express consent
of the authors:
Phantom Access Foils Cracking Attempt 01/18/93 NEW YORK, NEW YORK,
U.S.A.,1993 JAN 18 (NB) -- An attempt to illegally break into, or
"crack" the "Mindvox" conferencing stem contained in Phantom Access, a
flat-rate New York-based online service recently featured in various
news publications, was detected and rebuffed.
Bruce Fancher, co-owner of Phantom Access, told Newsbytes, "There was
no real damage and we have notified all of our users about the attempt
in the hope that they will be even more conscious of security. The
nature of this attempt points out one of the things that users of any
on-line system must be aware of in order to protect her/his privacy."
The attempt came to the attention of the owners of the system, Fancher
and Patrick Kroupa, when subscribers reported receiving the following
"It has been brought to my attention that your account has been
'hacked' by an outside source. The charges added were quite
significant which is how the error was caught. Please
temporarily change your password to 'DPH7' so that we can judge
the severity of the intrusion. I will notify you when the
problems has been taken care of. Thank you for your help in
this matter. -System Administrator"
The system owners immediately sent a message to all subscribers
declaring the message to be fraudulent. In addition to pointing out
the textual errors in the message -- for example, Mindvox is a "flat
rate" system and charges are not accumulated -- the owners admonished
users to both safeguard their passwords and insure that they are not
easy to decipher.
Fancher told Newsbytes that the review of Mindvox in a recent issue of
Mondo 2000, its mention in an issue of Forbes, and his speaking
engagements on behalf of the system have led to more rapid growth than
had been anticipated. He said, "We are moving to larger space on
February 1st and will be upgrading our equipment from a single Next
system to multiple Suns. We will also increase the number of dial-in
ports and greatly increase the speed of our Internet connection. We
are very grateful for the user response to date."
(Barbara E. McMullen & John F. McMullen/Press Contact: Bruce Fancher,
Phantom Access, email@example.com (e-mail), 212-254-3226,
Date: Thu, 14 Jan 93 18:13:13 EST
From: sc03281@LLWNET.LINKNET.COM(Cheshire HS)
Subject: File 6--Keyboarding Explosive Data for Homemade Bombs
Sunday, January 10, 1993
Hartford Courant (Connecticut Newspaper)
KEYBOARDING EXPLOSIVE DATA FOR HOMEMADE BOMBS
Bomb Recipes Just a Keystroke Away
By Tracy Gordon Fox, Courant Staff Writer
They use names like Wizard and Warrior and they talk via computer
networks. They are usually high school kids, but their keyboard
conversations are not about girls or homework: They trade recipes for
Teenagers learning how to manufacture bombs through home or school
computers have contributed to the nearly 50% increase in the number of
homemade explosives discovered last year by state police, authorities
"It's been a hellish year," said Sgt. Kenneth Startz of the state
police emergency services division, based at the Colchester barracks.
"Our technicians worked on 52 of them: a real bomb on an average of
one per week. This is a marked increase from other years."
In addition to the misguided computer hackers, local experts attribute
the state's vast increase in improvised explosive devices to growing
urban and suburban violence and bad economic times.
"The number one reason for someone leaving a bomb is vandalism, and
the next is revenge," Startz said. "There have been significant
layoffs and companies going out of business and they make targets for
Recently, state police and federal authorities confiscated 3 pipe
bombs that were destined for members of the street gang, the Almighty
Latin King Nation, in Meriden, Startz said.
"This is a weapon of intimidation," he said, holding a foot-long,
2-inch-wide bomb made from household piping. "Pipe bombs will send
out shrapnel just like a hand grenade will."
And while bombs may be associated most often with terrorists, "the
vast majority of bombings are done by the guy next door," said Det.
Thomas M. Goodrow, who heads Hartford Police Department's bomb squad.
The state police emergency services unit handles bomb calls in nearly
every town in the state, except in the Hartford area, which is handled
by Hartford's unit.
Making bombs is not a new phenomenon, but the computer age has brought
the recipes for the explosives to the fingertips of anyone with a
little computer knowledge and a modem.
University of Connecticut police say they do not know if computers
were the source for a series of soda-bottle bombs that exploded
outside a dormitory last February.
Police have dubbed these explosives "MacGyver bombs" because they were
apparently made popular in the television detective show, "MacGyver."
Two-liter soda bottles are stuffed with volatile chemicals that cause
pressure to build until the plastic bursts. The bombs explode either
from internal pressure or on impact.
"There were a number of students involved in making the soda bottle
bombs. They knew what ingredients to mix," said Capt. Fred Silliman.
"They were throwing them out the dorm windows and they made a very
large boom, a loud explosion."
No one was injured, but Silliman said UConn police took the pranks
very seriously, calling in the state police bomb squad "to render a
number of these safe for us."
Several pipe bombs were discovered in a school in southeastern
Connecticut, Startz said, and police found several more at the home of
the student who made them.
"Our increase, in part, seems to be kids experimenting with
explosives," Startz said.
As one of the first police officers in the area to discover that
computers were being used by teenagers to find bomb-making recipes,
Goodrow has a stereotype of these computer hackers.
Typically, they are loners, who are socially dysfunctional, excel in
mathematics and science, and are "over motivated in one area," he
In a West Hartford case four years ago, the teenager had made a bomb
factory in his basement, and had booby-trapped the door and his work
"This shows the ability kids have," Goodrow said. Goodrow said he was
at first amazed when teenage suspects showed him the information they
could get by hooking on to computer bulletin boards.
Incidents in which bombs actually exploded increased by 133% in 1992,
according to state police statistics. Bomb technicians responded to 14
post-blast investigations last year, compared with only 6 in 1991,
Hartford has also seen an increase in explosive and incendiary
devices, Goodrow said. Their technicians responded to 85 incidents in
1992, compared with 73 in the prior year.
The trend has been seen around the country. The 958 bombing incidents
reported nationally to the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and
Firearms was the highest in 15 years, ATF authorities said.
End of Computer Underground Digest #5.05
E-Mail Fredric L. Rice / The Skeptic Tank