Computer underground Digest Sun May 30 1993 Volume 5 : Issue 39 ISSN 1004-042X Editors: Ji

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Skeptic Tank!

Computer underground Digest Sun May 30 1993 Volume 5 : Issue 39 ISSN 1004-042X Editors: Jim Thomas and Gordon Meyer (TK0JUT2@NIU.BITNET) Archivist: Brendan Kehoe Shadow-Archivists: Dan Carosone / Paul Southworth Ralph Sims / Jyrki Kuoppala Ian Dickinson Copy Editor: Etaoin Shrdlu, Senrio CONTENTS, #5.39 (May 30 1993) File 1--The LOD Files - A CuD Critique File 2--Histories of BBSes (excerpts from the LOD files) File 3--LOD Project Summary and Contact Information File 4--An Interview with the LOD Cu-Digest is a weekly electronic journal/newsletter. Subscriptions are available at no cost electronically from The editors may be contacted by voice (815-753-6430), fax (815-753-6302) or U.S. mail at: Jim Thomas, Department of Sociology, NIU, DeKalb, IL 60115. Issues of CuD can also be found in the Usenet news group; on CompuServe in DL0 and DL4 of the IBMBBS SIG, DL1 of LAWSIG, and DL0 and DL12 of TELECOM; on GEnie in the PF*NPC RT libraries and in the VIRUS/SECURITY library; from America Online in the PC Telecom forum under "computing newsletters;" On Delphi in the General Discussion database of the Internet SIG; on the PC-EXEC BBS at (414) 789-4210; and on: Rune Stone BBS (IIRG WHQ) 203-832-8441 NUP:Conspiracy CuD is also available via Fidonet File Request from 1:11/70; unlisted nodes and points welcome. EUROPE: from the ComNet in Luxembourg BBS (++352) 466893; ANONYMOUS FTP SITES: UNITED STATES: ( in /pub/cud ( in /pub/CuD/cud in /pub/mirror/cud AUSTRALIA: ( in /pub/text/CuD. EUROPE: in pub/doc/cud. (Finland) in pub/cud (United Kingdom) Back issues also may be obtained through mailserver at: 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 for non-profit as long as the source is cited. Authors hold a presumptive copyright, and they 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 computer culture and communication. 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. Digest contributors assume all responsibility for ensuring that articles submitted do not violate copyright protections. ---------------------------------------------------------------------- Date: Sat, 29 May 93 14:07:13 EDT From: CuD Moderators Subject: File 1--The LOD Files - A CuD Critique The Legion of Doom (LOD), a group of "hackers" that formed in the mid-1980s, gained public attention in 1990 during the so-called "hacker crackdown." It seemed that every major computer "crime" was attributed to the group, and federal prosecutors seemed intent on linking suspects to it. As we reported in CuD 5.36, most claims were either totally without merit or grossly exaggerated. The LOD has again gained attention because a pretender, reportedly a 20 year-old Canadian, has claimed to be the new leader of the LOD and has actually begun soliciting articles for the "resurrected" LOD/H Technical Journal. Lest there be any confusion, there remains only one LOD, most of its original members are in periodic contact, they have long since become adults, and there is no relationship between the original LOD and any recent individuals or groups claiming the name. But who really cares?? CuD, for one cares. The original LOD remains a cultural icon of the 1980s in computer culture, and--for better or worse--it was the most influential and imitated group whose mystique continues into the mid-90s. This alone is hardly sufficient reason to worry about a label. The identity is important because the original members are becoming involved in projects that reflects their activities of a decade ago, and it becomes confusing when others scurry about trying to associate with that identity. If questions of identity arise, confusion over and doubts about the credibility of the projects arise. One current LOD project has impressed us. The original LOD members are compiling logs from a number of the premier "hacker underground BBSes" of the 1980s. We have obtained excerpts from the project, and we are impressed with the professionalism and comprehensiveness of the material. Working collectively under the name "LOD Communications," former members have scoured their archive for BBS logs from the mid-to-late 1980s. The logs include BBSes such as OSUNY, Twilight Zone, Forgotten Realm, Black Ice Private, Phoenix Project, Face to Face, Alliance, and Plover-NET, among others. Many were the primary boards of the era, and others typify secondary levels of the culture. Both singly and in the aggregate, the collection provides an unprecedented view into a culture that most of us only read about in "Cyberpunk" or "The Hacker Crackdown." We like the material for several reasons. First, as researchers, we find even the limited material we have seen to date as a rich source of data for anybody who wants to understand the culture of time. It is as if somebody had walked thought San Francisco's Haight-Ashbury district with a video-cam during the "Summer of Love" and then released the tapes years later. It's an anthropologists dream, a sociologists data trove, and a historian's archival orgasm. Even law enforcement and security personnel would find it helpful for demystifying many of the misconceptions of "hackers." For others, it's simply fun reading. Other than minor editing, such as obscuring sensitive phone numbers, and minor reformatting from an array of BBS systems into standard ASCII format, the logs from the BBSes that we have seen are unaltered. Rather than seeing a group of dangerous conspirators intent on wreaking havoc upon the nation, we see the workings of the minds of bright, curious kids as they exchange ideas, information, insults, and snippets of their personal lives. Many of the logs' posts are flattering, others are less so. To their credit, the lodcom editors have left it all intact to let the readers see and judge for themselves what occurred on the underground boards. We see the jealousies, anger, creativity, posturing, and--when examined over time--the development of young teenage hackers into increasingly articulate adults. We also see those who do not mature over the years. It's all there, for better or for worse. The logs also include lists of text files, message bases, and other insights into the structure of a "hacker" BBS. Those looking for evidence of hard-core conspiracies won't find it here. Instead, they'll find themselves walking into an amorphous culture of teenagers who are exploring their identity, testing their knowledge, and working out their passage from mid-adolescence into adult hood on the cyber frontier. Sometimes the explorations are silly, sometimes obviously illegal, and sometimes admirably mature. The meticulous formatting and selection of boards gives the reader a sense of actually logging on and participating in the culture. The CuD editors were on some of the boards from the 1980s and have, over the years, obtained logs from others. The LOD collection provides an authentic look into what went on, and reading them gave us a feeling of deja vous all over again. The logs are sufficiently entertaining and useful when each board is read individually. However, the power of the collection comes in reading them as chapters in a novel, as segments at different points in time that combine to give the individual posters and the boards a personality. We find ourselves wanting to know more about some of these people: How did they resolve their problems? Who was the alleged informant on a given board? Can we spot them from the posts? How did that poster resolve his problems? What happened to these people later? Each collection of files comes with a brief history of the board, dubbed the "BBS Pro-Phile", examples of which we have excerpted below. There are some additions and changes we'd like to see as the project continues--the goal is to collect a complete set of the primary boards of the period--but our suggestions in no way detract from the value of the project. First, it would help if the histories are longer. We would suggest that a standard set of questions be put to the former sysops, perhaps by an outsider, and that these questions be more critical and incisive rather than the current standard information. Second, we'd like to know more about the participants. Who were they? What happened to them? A bio-sketch of some of the more active participants would be helpful. Finally, a reflective contemporary commentary by participants would be interesting. How do the currently view their own acts? What would they differently? What did they learn from their experience? Addressing these and other issues would be a formidable project and would greatly expand the project. Perhaps there's another, equally ambitious project lurking within waiting to be developed--a comprehensive oral history of the computer culture of the 1980s. In the accompanying files, we offer snippets from BBS histories, a summary of the project, and an interview with some of the participants. We caution readers that the interview and the historical snippets may not be reproduced or distributed without the explicit permission of LOD Communications. ------------------------------ Date: Sat, 29 May 93 14:07:13 EDT From: CuD Moderators Subject: File 2--Histories of BBSes (excerpts from the LOD files) ((MODERATORS' NOTE: the LODCOM BBS logs include histories of the boards usually written by the sysops. Although not all are equally consistent or uniformly comprehensive, they nonetheless provide a helpful summary of the origins of the boards. Taken together, they are crucial to understanding the "hacker" culture of the 1980s. The following excerpts illustrate some of the material in the histories accompanying each file. NOTE: THE FOLLOWING MAY NOT BE REPRODUCED OR DISTRIBUTED WITHOUT THE EXPLICIT PERMISSION OF LODCOM ( +++++++++++++ *** {Broadway Show / The Radio Station BBS Pro-Phile} *** The Broadway Show BBS went online in 718 (New York City) in early to mid 1985 and was later renamed the Radio Station in February 1986. The sysop was Broadway Hacker of "Hack-A-Trip" fame. Hack-A-Trip is a bit off the subject of the BBS Pro-Phile, however it is an interesting story which has not been widely told. The purpose of Hack-A-Trip was to entice hackers from all over the U.S. to attend meetings sponsored by the legendary underground newsletter TAP. The meetings were held each Friday in Manhattan NY. Hack-A-Trip was successfully carried out close to a dozen times in the 1984/5 period (most were before the Broadway Show BBS went online). Hack-A-Trip was nothing more than a scheme to obtain free airplane tickets for daring hackers through credit card fraud which was perpetrated by Broadway himself. Although Broadway was not considered a good phreak nor hacker, he did have the BALLS to risk his freedom for other hackers who craved the free exchange of information typical of TAP meetings. Perhaps the 'free-est' exchange of information was when famed NY phreak Bioc Agent 003 attended the meetings--primarily when he loosened his tie, opened his briefcase and handed out neatly printed copies of his many phreaking and hacking primers to anyone who did not have multiple copies already. Attendee's of note (but not necessarily Hack-A-Trip participants) at TAP meetings during 1984-5 were TAP editor Cheshire Catalyst (of course), the ever secretive Number 6, Paul Muad'Dib, TUC, Lex Luthor, Bioc, King Blotto, and various others. Broadway worked as a Disk Jockey and therefore had an interest in Radio, thus, the name of the second incarnation of the Board. His BBS was primarily frequented by beginners however Broadway's many contacts from his Hack-A-Trip days pulled in a half dozen or so highly knowledgeable users who were kept busy setting facts straight, reading the deluge of 'fan' email, and helping educate the majority. The BBS was run on a Commodore computer with software that allowed users to immediately respond to 'primary messages' that allowed for a fairly coherent dialogue to go back and forth about whichever topic was the subject of the primary message. *** {Twilight Zone BBS Pro-Phile} *** Twilight Zone History: I put up the Twilight Zone in mid 1984, however little remains of posts from that time. The first version of the zone was running on a severely modded version of NETWORKS II, for the APPLE II+. The Zone ran on this fairly flimsy (prone to unexplained crashes) until mid 1984, at which point I switched to Telecat, which was a huge improvement. The main theme of the Zone was Discussion of Telephone and computer systems. The system ran off and on until early 1986. At this point in time due to me being busy with work/school the system was relocated to the home of the Safe-Cracker, and re-named "The Septic Tank". The story behind the naming comes from a sewage treatment system I happened across in a modem carrier scan in (203) that aptly identified itself as: "Northeastern Septic Services - Remote Backflush System (RBS)". This system allowed the user to apply several diagnostic and maintenance routines--one of which was to pump raw sewage all over the Northeastern Connecticut! I had so much fun with this system, I promptly stole their login screen and used it for our welcome message on the BBS, also as kind of a joke we renamed the BBS the "Septic Tank", in honor of this system. The BBS had a fairly knowledgeable user base, but was plagued with living in a poorly (SNET) maintained Step X Step switching system area, so some persons had a hard time connecting to the BBS and if they did connect the line noise could be unbearable at times. The Zone's only real claim to fame was it being the birthplace of the "Bell Shock Force!" which was kind of a "Reverse Group" if you will ;). The Septic Tank was taken down permanently in late 1986, and was never seen again. Sigh. Written March 18, 1993 By The Marauder (Sysop of Twilight Zone/Septic Tank) Legion of Doom! *************************************************************** *** {Plover-NET BBS Pro-Phile} *** Intro by Lodcom: Plover-NET (typically mis-denoted as Plovernet) was one of the most popular and therefore busiest Phreak Boards of all time. The system operator was Quasi Moto (whom was a member of the short lived yet famed Fargo-4A phreak group) and the remote sysop was Lex Luthor (whom later ran the LOD BBS and started the Legion of Doom hacking group). The story behind the start of the Fargo-4A phreak group is a message within the Message Base File. Details by Quasi Moto, system operator: I met Lex in person while we lived in Florida during the Fall of 1983 after corresponding via email on local phreak boards. I was due to move to Long Island, New York (516 Area Code) soon after and asked him about starting up a phreak BBS. He agreed to help and flew up during his Christmas break from school in late December 1983. We worked feverishly for a couple of days to learn the GBBS ][ Bulletin Board software which was to run on my Apple ][+ with a 300 baud Hayes micoSLOWdom {micromodem} and make modifications as necessary. The system accepted its first phone call from Lex in the first week of January 1984 and it became chronically busy soon after. The name Plover-NET came from a conversation I had with GBBS ][ Author Greg Schaefer. I was talking to him about the name of my future BBS and the topic of computer games came up. One of them, the 'Extended Adventure' game which was based on the 'Original Adventure' fantasy computer game was mentioned. This game was available on Compuserve and during game play the magic word PLOVER had to be used. For some reason that name had a nice ring to it and after bouncing a couple of alterations and additions to the word plover, the name Plover-NET was what I agreed upon. The idea behind PNET was to keep the BBS as simple as possible. It had a main phreak board only. Probably the most complicated thing about the board was the login. To be different, Lex suggested we simulate the TELENET packet switching network upon connecting to the BBS. Although Telenet was popular with hackers, some users were confused. As for sub-boards, there were none. There were no high security secret sections of the BBS, just a main phreaking and hacking discussion message base. It was interesting to recall how many users would send me feedback {email to the system operator} asking for access to the 'elite sections of the board'. The only part of the BBS that required additional security was the Phreak Philes section. Putting phreak philes online was an idea ripped off directly from the legendary OSUNY Phreak BBS. Putting G-Philes on hacker systems became universal afterwards but it was not a wide practice at the time. There were three ways to get access to the philes section: 1) Impress me in some way or be recommended by Lex. 2) Write an ORIGINAL file to be put in the section. 3) Send in $5.00 (which helped defer the cost of running the BBS) The Board initially ran on three apple disk drives. {143 K byte capacity} After a few months of operation, New York hacker Paul Muad'Dib appeared at a TAP meeting being held at "Eddies" in Greenwich Village with a RANA Elite III disk drive in hand. The RANA Elite III had a capacity of about 600 KB which put the total storage capacity of the BBS to just over one Megabyte, fairly large for a phreak board in those days. I gladly accepted the donation but did not ask how he obtained the disk drive. The RANA was later passed on to Lex which he used to house his extensive collection of phreak philes that were available to Legion of Doom BBS users. The location of the overworked RANA is currently unknown although Lex believes he sent it back to PMD in NY around 1986. It wasn't long before Plover-NET's phone number became so busy that users would ask me why I always took the phone of the hook! Some users were forced either have their modems dial for hours on end to get in, or try to log on at 4AM. After a few short months, the userlist grew to over 600. It became THE place to call, and typically the users called using LDX, a long distance phone company that was among the many that resulted from the divestiture of AT&T in 1984. The users abused this poor company so much to call PNET that LDX actually blocked all calls to the BBS phone number! This became rather standard practice in later years for all LD companies but was a surprise in mid-1984. The users of course had a myriad of other methods to call PNET though. The BBS software had a built in command that allowed me to 'Boot' users off the system. Should someone important whom had my VOICE phone number call me, I would type this control-key command and the unsuspecting user would receive an error message and be hung up upon. I would then wait for the 'important' user to call in and then send them a modem carrier so they could get online. A number of the more knowledgeable PNET users were invited by Lex onto his Board. Phreaks like Agrajag the Prolonged, Mark Tabas, Erik Bloodaxe, Bioc Agent 003, Karl Marx, and others were 'stolen' from my BBS ;) I guess after LOD went up they saved all their 'good stuff' for his board. Hmphh Another thing to mention is that Lex met 2600 Magazine editor, Emmanuel Goldstein on the Pirates Cove, another 516 pirate/phreak BBS. He invited EG onto Plover and it wasn't long before we became an 'official' 2600 bbs of sorts. When a user logged off the system, a plug for 2600 was displayed with their subscription prices and addresses. I still like to think that I/Plover-NET was instrumental in helping the fledgling underground newsletter become the fancy magazine it is today. How much influence we really did have is not known though. I took Plover-NET down near the end of the summer because my family moved back to Florida. I put the BBS back up for a couple of months but it seems a lot of old users either found other places to call and/or did not know the new number. Due to the lack of interest I took the board down once and for all which from what I recall was around the beginning of 1985 or so. Quasi Moto, Plover-NET Sysop Written in March of 1993 ------------------------------ Subject: File 3--LOD Project Summary and Contact Information From: lodcom@MINDVOX.PHANTOM.COM (LOD Communications) Date: Thu, 16 May 93 00:50:01 EDT ((MODERATORS NOTE: The following article provides more details on the LOD Communications' project, answers preliminary questions, and provides addresses for obtaining more information such as a set of sample messages from the collection. Note that the actual list of available message bases and the order form were deleted but may be requested by emailing The LOD Communications Underground H/P BBS Message Base Project: The Project: ------------ Throughout history, physical objects have been preserved for posterity for the benefit of the next generation of humans. Cyberspace, however, isn't very physical; data contained on floppy diskettes has a finite lifetime as does the technology to retrieve that data. The earliest underground hacker bulletin board systems operated at a time when TRS-80s, Commodore 64s, and Apple ][s were state-of-the-art. Today, it is difficult to find anyone who has one of these machines in operating condition, not to mention the brain cells left to recall how to operate them. :-( LOD Communications has created a historical library of the "dark" portion of Cyberspace. The project's goal is to acquire as much information as possible from underground Hack/Phreak (H/P) bulletin boards that were in operation during a decade long period, dating from the beginnings (in 1980/81 with 8BBS and MOM: Modem Over Manhattan) to the legendary OSUNY, Plover-NET, Legion of Doom!, Metal Shop, etc. up through the Phoenix Project circa 1989/90. Currently, messages from over 50 different BBSes have been retrieved, although very few message bases are 100% complete. However, not having a complete "set" does not diminish their value. Who Benefits From This Information?: ------------------------------------ - PARTICIPANTS who were on the various H/P BBSes may want to see their contribution to history or reminisce about the "golden era" of hacking; - ENTHUSIASTS who came into the "scene" after most of these boards were down may want to see what they missed; - COMPANIES who may want to see if their (or their competitors') phone systems, computers, or networks were compromised; - SECURITY PROFESSIONALS/LAW ENFORCEMENT who may want to see what techniques were used to subvert computer security systems; - SCHOOLS AND UNIVERSITIES (including their libraries) who may want to use the information for research in sociology or computer science as well as for educational purposes in courses such as Computer Law, Computer Ethics, and Computer Security; - AUTHORS/PRESS who may want to finally get the facts straight about "hackers;" and, - THE CURIOUS PUBLIC who may want to sneak a peek into the inner realm of the Computer Underground, especially those Restricted Access BBSes and their Private sub-boards where only a small handful of "the best" resided. Were the individuals involved in the Computer Underground out to start World War III, selling secrets to the Soviets, working with organized crime, conspiring to do evil, or just a bunch of bored teenagers with nothing better to do? How much did they know, and how did they find it out? Did they have the capability to shut down phone service of Area Code portions? Could they ruin someone's credit? Could they "move satellites in the heavens?" Could they monitor packet switching network conversations or YOUR conversations? The answers lie within the messages themselves. Why is LODCOM Charging Money For The Message Bases?: ---------------------------------------------------- As happens with most projects, the effort and monetary investment turned out to be substantially more than originally anticipated. With all of the high-tech equipment available today, people sometimes forget that in the early 1980s, 14.4K baud modems and 250 MB hard drives were just a fantasy for the home computer user. Most messages Lodcom has recovered were downloaded at 300 baud onto 143K disk drives, with each file usually no larger than 15K in size. One could not call a BBS and download the complete message base in 10 minutes and save it into one file. Literally hundreds of man-hours have been spent copying dusty Apple ][ disks, transferring them to IBM (or typing in hard copy versions when electronic versions were unavailable), organizing over one thousand individual files (thus far) according to what BBS the messages were originally posted on, and splicing the files together. Also, after consulting with the appropriate civil liberties organizations and our own legal counsel, a slight editing of the messages (restricted to long distance access codes, phone numbers, and computer passwords) had to be made to ensure that there is nothing illegal contained within the messages. Every effort was made to keep the messages in their pristine condition: 40 columns, ALL CAPS, spelling errors, offensive language, inaccuracies of various kinds, and ALL. Although a fairly comprehensive collection of the goings-on during a decade of public and private computer underground activity has been accomplished, there are more messages out there. It is our wish to continue to document the History of the Computer Underground. In order to do this, and in order to break even on what resources have already been expended (it is a LOT more than most people realize), a dollar value has been attached to each set of message bases. The dollar values were kept as low as possible and range from $1.00 to $8.00 for each H/P BBS Message Base Set. Without your understanding and support, this effort may not be able to sustain itself long enough to complete the project. A large portion of any profits will be recycled for two other projects in the works, whose aim is to provide additional historical background on the Computer Underground Community. That is, no one involved is quitting their day job :-) One additional note: For those who purchase the Metal Shop Private Message Base, 100% of the price ($4.00) will be donated to help pay for Craig Neidorf's (Knight Lightning) Legal Defense bills (due to his successful campaign to protect First Amendment rights for electronic publishing, i.e. the PHRACK/E911 case). How The Prices Were Determined: ------------------------------- Prices were determined based on the following considerations: - The number of years ago that the BBS operated (affected availability); - The total number of messages compiled (required more time to compile); - Its popularity and message content (anticipated demand); - Whether the BBS or portions thereof were deemed "elite" and, therefore, restricted access to a small number of users (affected availability); and, - An additional factor to account for overhead costs such as diskettes, diskette mailing containers, postage, time to fill orders, etc. What Each "Message Base File" Contains: --------------------------------------- - A two page general message explaining H/P BBS terminology and format. - The BBS Pro-Phile: A historical background and description of the BBS either written by the original system operator(s) or those who actually called the BBS when it was in operation (it took months to track the appropriate people down and get them to write these specifically for this project; lesser known BBSes may not contain a Pro-Phile); - Messages posted to the BBS (i.e. the Message Base); - Downloaded Userlists if available; and - Hacking tutorials a.k.a. "G-Philes" that were on-line if available. It is anticipated that most people who are interested in the message bases have never heard of a lot of the BBS names shown in the listing. If you have seen one set of messages, you have NOT seen them ALL. Each system had a unique personality, set of users, and each has something different to offer. If you decide to order the minimum, we recommend that you mix a high-priced base ($7.00 or above) with a couple of medium-priced bases ($4.00 to $6.00) and a few lower-priced bases ($1.00 to $3.00). This will provide you with a feel for what was happening over a broad range of years and message quality. Of course, nothing beats the full set (offered at a discount, see order form). Formats the Message Base Files are Available in: ------------------------------------------------ Due to the large size of the Message Base Files, they will be compressed using the format of your choice. Please note that Lodcom does NOT include the compression/uncompression program (PKZIP, PAK, etc.). ASCII (uncompressed) files will be provided for $2.00 extra to cover additional diskette and shipping costs. The files are available for: - IBM (5.25 or 3.5 inch) - AMIGA (3.5 inch) - APPLE MACINTOSH (3.5 inch) - PAPER versions can be ordered but cost triple (due to increased shipping costs, time to print order, and messages being in 40 column format and therefore wasting lots of those trees!). Paper versions take twice the time to deliver but are laser printed. Orders are expected to arrive at the requesters' physical mail box in 2-4 weeks upon receipt of the order. ((MODERATORS' NOTE: A substantial "Frequently Asked Questions" list has been omitted along with the list of available BBSes and the actual order form. They can be obtained from Hacking/Phreaking Tutorials a.k.a. "G-Philes": ---------------------------------------------- Along with the above H/P BBS Message Bases, LODCOM has collected many of the old "philes" that were written and disseminated over the years. A list of all of them would take up too much space here, however, we can tell you that the majority are NOT files that were originally written for electronic newsletters such as Phrack, PHUN, ATI, etc. (with the perhaps obvious exception of the LOD/H Technical Journal). Those files/newsletters are readily available from other sources. This hodgepodge of files includes files from Bioc Agent 003, Legion of Doom members, and many others that somehow fell out of widespread circulation. A Table of Contents of the collection is included but the tutorials are all grouped together in four large files of approximately 250K each. This collection will have additions with each update of this file. Additional information, including order forms and pricing, can be obtained from: or by writing: LOD Communications 603 W. 13th Suite 1A-278 Austin, Texas, USA - 78701 Voice Mail: (512) 448-5098 ------------------------------ Date: Thu, 20 May 93 17:55:38 -0500 From: erikb@TIC.COM(Chris Goggans) Subject: File 4--An Interview with the LOD ((NOTE: THE FOLLOWING MAY BE DISTRIBUTED BUT NOT PUBLISHED IN PRINT WITHOUT THE EXPLICIT PERMISSION OF LODCOM ( CuD: We've been hearing about a project that a few former LOD "members" --is "member" the right term?--have been working on over the last few months. What's up? EB: Essentially, a bunch of us old-timers realized that a significant portion of the history of the computer underground was being lost forever. Due to the virtual nature of data if it is not archived, it vanishes with no trace. We decided that it was time to dig through all our disks and papers to try to recover as much of this lost portion of "cyberspace," as it were, to allow people who haven't been online for 13 years like we have to see what it was like back then. CuD: Who all's involved in this? One question that some might have is: "Are you guys *really "Legion of Doom," or just some wannabies cashing in on the name? EB: Basically those involved are almost all the members of the LOD from its time of creation, and a few friends of the Legion. Yes, we really are the LOD. It's amazing that such a question would ever be raised to question our authenticity. But in light of recent events such as the "Maverick" person in New Jersey who was busying out 911 services in through PBXes, and the fake Lex Luthor running a bbs in 203 called Legion of Doom, and most recently the NEW LOD as announced by a never before heard of Lord Havoc in Canada, I suppose it is fair to ask us that. MARAUDER: I'm proud to have been in LOD, it took me a couple of years just to get admitted in 1986 and now these clowns are tainting the 'name'. I just think they are pitiful. CuD: Why'd you decide to get involved in this project at *this* time? EB: At this time? Well it's something a lot of us had talked about for a long time. It's just at this particular point in time that it happened to materialize. I guess we just all happened to get off our respective butts and make it happen at *this* point in time. LEX: Magnetic media does not have an infinite lifetime. We came to the realization that if someone didn't start preserving this portion of Cyberspace, the 'dark' portion if you will, it may never be recovered. For example, how many people do you know have the computers and disks they used in 1984? How many of these people, actually had the clarity of mind to buffer and save onto those disks the data that was on any bulletin board let alone the Hack/Phreak BBS's? Now ask what subset of this subset have disks that have data that is still retrievable? Our experience has been the answer is: not that many. So far through all our contacts, we have been able to find only ONE source for messages from the very first known Hacker BBS's (Circa 1979/80). And this person hadn't powered up his TRS-80 in over 6 years, didn't remember all the commands to make it work, and wasn't sure where all the files were. This is indicative of what many of the projects' contributors have had to deal with. CuD: The first question we might hear is, "Who cares?" Who's the intended audience, and of what value do you think the the project is for the, uh, "non-hackers" out there? EB: Who Cares? I personally don't care who cares. This project is being done as much for ourselves as for anyone else, so if noone expresses any interest, it's their loss. Who is the target audience? This presents a never before seen glimpse into the birth of the Computer Underground for journalists, researchers, security professionals, law enforcement, and would-be cyperpunkish Mondo-2000 & Wired readers. A lot of people think they know what goes on, and what did go on in our community, but unless they have some direct interaction with it they are doomed to remain clueless. Some of the message bases we have recovered have never been seen outside of the hacker community. CuD: OK, now, let's say that I'm an academic type, or somebody interesting in researching computer culture. How might this stuff help me? EB: This will give you the chance to see for yourself what went on. Nothing else will allow you that experience. People can talk and talk about what it was like, and how hackers trade information, how they think, how they interact, but this is the only way you can see for yourself without trying to track down some semblance of a real hacker bbs today. LEX: I can picture some Computer Ethics class doing a debate with these logs. Students yelling at each other as to whether hacker X did the right thing or some such, whether Company X deserved to get hacked, etc. CuD: It sounds like a lot of work is going into this project. Tell us something about how you went about putting the stuff together? What are some of the problems you faced? EB: Trying to track down our friends was a big problem. Not every hacker from 1980 is still hanging out screaming out his existence on the net like some people. (Ahem) The vast majority of our friends have gone on to have REAL LIVES with REAL JOBS. One doesn't think of the Legion of Doom as Master Degree candidates, Pilots, Software Engineers at big software companies (Think REAL BIG)...people think of LOD as those evil punk kids on the net. Finding them in the real world and getting them interested in this project was a task. LEX: The desired data was/is scattered everywhere. We have searched through more than a thousand diskettes on a number of different computer systems so far. A significant amount of messages could only be found on paper print-outs and therefore had to be typed-in verbatim. We actually had to hire a couple of people to help input messages. Hundreds of hours were spent transferring via modem or direct serial port connection from Apples, TRS-80s, Commodore-64s to IBM format. Over a thousand small files have been recovered so far. These files were organized according to which BBS the messages they contain were posted on. Figuring out what was posted where was quite a challenge. There are still many files we have no idea where they belong....but we are working on it. Once all the files were put in their appropriate sub-directories they had to be spliced together in chronological order. Since we have files from different sources, duplicate messages had to be fished out. This part was rather time consuming as those working on a certain BBS Message Base had to be rather familiar with hundreds of messages and recognize duplications. In addition, it took months and lots of phone calls (yes we do pay for our phone calls these days) to track down many of the Sysops (SYStem OPertorS) that ran these H/P Boards and asked them to write a "BBS Pro-Phile" specifically for the project. The BBS Pro-Phile provides various background information on the different Boards and interesting stories related to them. I enjoyed reading these the most. CuD: Privacy. How did you overcome the privacy problems? What are some of the social, as opposed to technical, problems you faced? EB: Well, the point of this project was to keep everything as real as the law would allow. We've all got enough problems individually so we don't need anyone coming down on us for distributing information containing codes, regardless of the fact that those codes have not worked since 1986. To compensate for this, and to disguise phone numbers (you'd be amazed how many carriers in this information still worked@!#) Marauder wrote a little basic program called SOASS (Save Our ASSes) that went through the text and replaced digits with "X" when needed. This way the messages retain their true flavor, and we don't get any hassles. MARAUDER: One of the biggest "social" problems we faced, was what do we do with the messages containing "confidential" information such as Credit Cards (rare), extender codes, system passwords and the like. Early in the project, we had decided that we would make every effort possible to leave the text in its original form, exactly as it had appeared to us as we peered at our respective Apples and Commodores years before. In doing this, we hope that today's readers will get a better "feel" for what the computer underground was like back then. What we finally decided to do, was to include these so called "touchy" messages intact, and simply render the offending portion invalid. By utilizing our eyes, and a text scanning program I wrote, we sifted through the entire collection of text, and slightly altered the actual codes themselves so as to render them useless, while leaving the visual/reality effect intact. We regret even making these minor alterations, however we believe it was unavoidable. CuD: How about the technical problems? Was this easy to do? EB: Problems? As embarrassing as it is, I forgot how to use my Atari 400. It's kind of a shocker to go from a workstation back down to an 8 bit machine with no operating system. Trying to transfer files from it to my PC proved incredibly frustrating. Does anyone even remember 300 baud? It's amazing to think that 300 baud was all we had and WE LIKED IT! And acoustic couplers back then were so poor that you couldn't play the radio less it interfere with the data and cause you to lose carrier. Watching the data transfer at 300 baud up to the PC from the 400 renewed my respect for the technology I've begun to take for granted. Even once the machines actually began to cooperate, I'm amazed that so many of our disks survived from the early 80's. Many of us lost thousands of files during government sponsored housekeeping episodes so the mere fact that we were able to find so much information and that the data on the disks had not suffered the ravages of the elements is astounding. CuD: I'd imagine that, now that you guys are a decade older, you cringe when you read some of the stuff you wrote when you were teenie-boppers. What's the most embarrassing aspect of making this all public? EB: Haha. I fully expect a huge amount of grief from everyone who knows me when they see what an annoying little punk I was. I had some seriously deranged ways of typing...weird spelling, 40 column uppercase even when I didn't have that limitation, and a classic case of bad attitude. LEX: How much I abused the dollar sign key: '$'! I am surprised it didn't break off of my Apple ][ keyboard. hehe CuD: Which of the boards from the "golden age of hacking" was the most influential? The most fun? The most sophisticated? EB: The most influential was Plovernet. That BBS was so popular it got banned by long distance companies. The high level of activity led a lot of people into a lot of different areas and the information traded was top notch for its time. The most fun was Farmers of Doom. Being run from a payphone gave it that total out and out free for all kind of feeling. Noone gave a damn what they said or did on that bbs, so you can imagine what chaos it was. The most sophisticated was probably Catch-22. You had to jump through all kinds of hoops just to get on. Once online, however, there was an amazing amount of high-level discussions going on. There was even a secret password known to every one of the small group of people who called that, when entered, deleted the users account from the system. That way if someone got busted and was forced to log in, they could type in the special password and not compromise the bbs. LEX: This is rather subjective but here goes anyways: The most influential: OSUNY -- The benchmark for all to aspire to thereafter. The most fun: Plovernet -- Literally a free for all with a ton of users. The best security: Catch-22 -- Better than many mainframes we hacked into ;) The most sophisticated (user-wise): Black Ice Private -- Top Notch Discussion. The most educational (to the newcomers anyways): Phreak Klass 2600 CuD: Sounds like they all were rather important in your lives back then, but which--if they existed today--stands the "test of time?" Which would, by today's standards, be considered (heh) eL33tE? EB: Well, Black Ice and Phoenix Project would both weather the test of time quite well. Phoenix Project always had good information without ever having anything illegal online and could therefore exist again today without any problems. Black Ice just had a lot of serious information and a lot of discussions on what to do next that led to a big jump in the learning curve. MARAUDER: Black Ice and Catch-22. CuD: How did you arrive at the pricing for this? What do people get for their bucks?? EB: The pricing for the bbses was based on the amount captured, the popularity of the bbs, and then drastically reduced from there. The main point of charging anyone at all is to recapture expenses. CuD: Now, here's a bit of a irony, I guess. Some folks might say: "Geez, these guys used to argue that information should be free, and now they want to charge us. Why shouldn't we follow their own philosophy and wait until we can just pull it off an ftp site or a BBS for free?" How would you respond to them? EB: We've gotten some flack from a few people. We know that it's impossible to keep people from spreading it around, but we hope that people will keep this to a minimum. It's not like we are charging hundreds upon hundreds of dollars for the information in an effort to fleece the masses. I hope people realize that this is not a project to get rich. This is a project to archive our collective pasts and asking a few bucks from people interested in sharing in it is hardly unreasonable. A lot of time and money has gone into this project. Trying to track down working components for these computers costs money. It's not like one can just run down to the Comp-USA and pick up disk drives for the Apple II. On top of that, the long distance bills keep piling up tracking down people from way back when. LEX: As you know, most FTP sites will not knowingly allow copyrighted material on their systems. As for a BBS, it is certainly something that cannot be easily policed. Note that we are not charging for the information itself, but rather for all the effort and costs (well over $1000 believe it or not), to get the information into a coherent and organized state. You might say we fought Entropy and won. Every physicist knows that you can't reverse entropy for nothing. Mother nature makes you pay, one way or another. Also, a significant amount of value has been added to the raw information. Value in the way of putting everything from one BBS into one or more large Files and value in the way of getting the SYSOPS to write new material. It should also be noted that there probably were a number of CUD readers who have followed former Phrack editor Knight Lightning's (Craig Neidorf) E911 trial and would have liked to donate to his legal defense fund. He still owes plenty. We are donating all money from sales of the Metal Shop Private BBS Message Base to the fund ie, we will send a check to his lawyer periodically. So this is a round about way for people reading this to help reduce the sting of his ordeal. CuD: Sounds like some of the original group is still in contact. Do you still keep connected to each other? EB: It's kind of funny. The Defunct-LOD is now more alive than ever. Almost the entire group is now back on the Internet talking to each other on a regular basis. Of course, nothing subversive is taking place, just old-friends swapping tales. :) LEX: With the relatively recent explosion in Internet popularity and accessibility, many ex-members of LOD and the Underground Community as a whole have been able to get connected again after all these years. After many people got connected the next question was: Where do we go? Well, fortunately ex-members Lord Digital (Patrick Kroupa) and Dead Lord (Bruce Fancher) started their business: Phantom Access Technologies, and put Mindvox online--a public BBS system with full Internet access. It wasn't too long before word spread to even the most "out of it" ex-hackers and Mindvox became THE place to congregate. The LOD as a hacking group is dead. The LOD as an EX-Hacking group is very much alive. CuD: Do you have any projects lined up for the future? EB: Oh, you know, the LOD line of CyberWear, the Techno Albums, the Virtual Reality Movie, etc.. Truthfully, expect some surprises in the near future. MARAUDER: We have a couple of projects in the works. We are working on some things in print media rather than electronic. CuD: OK. Thanks. Oh...a final question. In looking at yourselves now, and comparing what you see to the guys you were when you wrote these original messages, what are some of the changes ya'll have gone through? LEX: I no longer feel anyone is done a favor by 'testing their security', unless they specifically ask it to be done right EB? EB: My hair is a lot longer, my spelling has improved, and I have a real job. -----BEGIN PGP PUBLIC KEY BLOCK----- Version: 2.2 mQCNAiwEHN4AAAEEAMtDxWI2HYsAQO8QhDBYhHvmn3fzGpKFbimxl34XiQ5woU/K lqbD53ahfnB9ST22yxEvexXW0VGVVfSp9xiUl7d7RsTm7Uas3OaOOiSFIRCVvcG8 FnWARH0nmELBXYkXXjjvjm2BiCEkn45eFaZPX7KbCuIGVjCe3zltpJGBK2OvAAUR tCRMZXggTHV0aG9yIDxsZXhAbWluZHZveC5waGFudG9tLmNvbT4= =LOXY ----------------------------- End of Computer Underground Digest #5.39 ************************************


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