Computer underground Digest Wed July 14 1993 Volume 5 : Issue 52
Editors: Jim Thomas and Gordon Meyer (TK0JUT2@NIU.BITNET)
Archivist: Brendan Kehoe
Shadow-Archivists: Dan Carosone / Paul Southworth
Ralph Sims / Jyrki Kuoppala
Cpyp Editor: Etaoin Shrdlu, Senior
CONTENTS, #5.52 (July 14 1993)
File 1--Subjective opinion (Paul Ferguson Responds to #5.51)
File 2--Update on 2600 Case
File 3--BBSes Carrying CuDs
File 4--Re: CRYPT Newsletter
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Date: Tue, 13 Jul 93 20:05:52 EDT
From: fergp@SYTEX.COM(Paul Ferguson)
Subject: File 1--Subjective opinion (Paul Ferguson Responds to #5.51)
Mr. Thomas (and readers of CuD),
While my first instinct was to not post any response to your
scathing series of highly volatile articles (albeit, on a highly
volatile subject, Cud 5.51), I reconsidered after a colleague
reminded me that, unfortunately, silence on my part may be
misinterpreted as some form of admission of guilt. I do regret
that this instance has created such a stir, but I do not apologize
for the attention brought upon the AIS system which ultimately
resulted in the removal of commented virus disassemblies from
Without launching into a dissertation about the harm caused by
virus code (both compiled executables and reverse-engineered
disassemblies), I would like to make a couple of points which are
commonly taken for granted or disregarded altogether.
The debate will obviously continue on virus eXchange systems,
which name they have been given due to the availability of virus
disassemblies, creation tools and the likes. (All of which were
available on AIS.) I get the distinct impression that we have not
heard the last on this topic. Far from it, I'd wager.
On one hand, we have those who argue that virus exchange (Vx) BBSs
do not further the spread of viruses and efforts to curtail their
activities are akin to stifling freedom of expression and the flow
of information. On the other hand, we have those who argue that Vx
BBSs most certainly aid in the spread of computer viruses simply
because they allow live computer viruses, source code and
disassemblies to be freely exchanged as would youngsters trade
However, baseball cards do not inflict damage, but many times
viruses do exactly this, in the hands of an unwitting or
inexperienced computer user.
Let's examine, for a moment, some points on both sides of the
o Individuals in favor of Vx claim that they have seen no
evidence that virus exchange systems have contributed to
the spread of viruses.
o Proponents of virus exchanges claim that by making viruses
and disassemblies available to their users, they are providing
them with the tools necessary to understand how computer viruses
work. Similarly, once this information is understood, they also
claim that it contributes to the overall enhancement of the
computer security knowledge-base of their users.
o Many advocates of Vx systems claim that attempts at stemming the
flow of computer viruses is an idealism which should be protected
under freedom of expression and freedom of information concepts.
o Figures reflected in statistics compiled by virtually all
computer security and antivirus organizations, show a dramatic
increase in the number of computer viruses within the past three
years. Since Todor Todorov's Virus eXchange BBS in Bulgaria (which
was the first of its kind in the world), the number of "underground"
systems which mimic Todorov's system has risen. And so has the
number of viruses. Exponentially. Sara Gordon has documented quite
a bit concerning the impact of these systems; I'd recommend her
paper(s) on the subject which she has presented on several
o Viruses and disassemblies which are made available on these
systems are a potential danger. While live viruses present a more
immediate threat in the wrong hands, disassemblies can be
considered even more of a danger (in most cases) because of their
ability to be easily modified, recompiled and redistributed as
undetectable variants of existing viruses. These instances have
happened with increasing frequency and can be directly attributed
to Vx systems and virus creation groups such as Phalcon/Skism,
YAM, NuKe and ARCV.
o With the availability of virus creation "kits," such as the VCL,
PS-MPC and the G-squared, even "wannabe" virus writers with little
or no skill at all can make viruses and distribute them at their
o While it should be realized that this type of activity cannot be
stopped completely, we must acknowledge the fact that Virus
exchange systems _do_ contribute to the spread of viruses. Virus
exchanges _do_ contribute to the propagation of new and undetectable
viruses. Access to live viruses and disassemblies are not necessary
for gaining knowledge and understanding how they work. A basic
understanding of assembler language and some practical examples
(including Ralf Brown's compendium) would suffice.
Can there be a common ground on this issue? Probably not. The
computer virus arena is filled with complex and diversified idealisms
on the subject. I consider myself a proponent of freedom of
information, but I also believe there are limits to one's freedom.
In fact, I'm most fond of the adage,"The freedom to swing your fist
ends when it meets my face." In other words, one's right to a
particular freedom ends where it infringes on someone else's rights
for safety or privacy, in this instance. And the government should
certainly not allow systems which participate in these type of
questionable activities to function within their realm of
responsibility. Simply the appearance of government sponsorship
tends to lend some form of legitimacy to the activities in question.
Proponents of virus exchanges remain unconvinced that making live
viruses, source code and disassemblies available endangers end-users.
I'm convinced that not all instances do cause damage, but I'm also
convinced that many times, it has done exactly this.
In the case of the AIS BBS, it was operating under the auspices,
whether explicitly or implied, of a Federal Office, namely the US
Department of Treasury. The point in all of this is not necessarily
what AIS did, but rather, how it was done and the apparent moral
"high ground" of legitimacy it portrayed by being an apparatus of
a United States Government office, financed (in part) with taxpayer
I admit that I am dismayed that people do not see the problem here.
I certainly claim no "moral high ground" on the issue. I took what I
thought was the best venue of approach, which was to bring this topic
out of the shadows and into the forefront for discussion.
Unfortunately, the discussion was brief, the actions behind the
scenes were apparently swift and apparently, I've been portrayed as
some type of computer stool-pigeon who can't stand to see something
"successful" succeed. Actually, my part in this entire scenario is
actually very small, although rumor and innuendo would suggest
In an ideal world, we all share the freedom to express our concerns
and ideas in an open forum. Although I may not agree with what you may
say, I would give my life for your right to freedom of expression.
However, let's not confuse concepts of freedom of expression and
reckless computing (my opinion, implied).
After reading my thoughts on the matter, reasonable deduction is an
exercise left to the reader.
To briefly address some selected points made in Cud 5.51:
Jim Thomas writes (in File 1 -- Introduction to the AIS BBS
"Perhaps the anonymous accusers are correct: Some types of
information may pose a risk if abused. But, in an open democracy,
the potential for abuse has been neither a necessary nor a
sufficient justification to silence those with whom we disagree."
I am flattered that you suggest I actually have enough clout to
personally silence AIS, if that is the gist. I took the liberty
of making it public knowledge, while concurrently voicing _my_
opinion about its merits. This street goes both ways. Most of us
are painfully aware of the numerous virus underground systems
around the world, yet the attention is focused on a solitary
system run by an employee of the U.S. Treasury Department. Why is
that? I suggest that most who squeak the loudest in opposition
to my anonymous (hardly) posting are either a.) not familiar with
the amount of damage, in both manhours and dollars, caused by
computer viruses each year, b.) overly radical proponents of
information exchange who care not what damage may result in said
exchange, or c.) banging their drum just to bang their drum.
(Please note the use of the word "most" in the statement above.)
Jim Thomas again writes (in File 6 -- Media, Anti-virus
personnel, Ethics, and AIS) -
"Let's keep some facts straight. 'Mr. Smith (Kouch)' did *not*
'nail Clancy's coffin.' Paul Ferguson and his friends did with
anonymous inflammatory posts and with other posts that
irresponsibly suggest illegal and 'underground' activity."
I'll address this directly, since it is obviously your opinion,
not fact, as you seem to imply. In fact, I think you should have
used "opinionated" instead of "inflammatory," but that is your
prerogative. I find it odd that after so much "underground"
exposure as was afforded AIS in the months preceding my
"anonymous" post, not an eyebrow was raised. Perhaps Kouch's
publication is truly "underground" catering specifically to
hush-hush underground circles of computer vandals? I don't
think so. Perhaps Cud is truly an "underground" publication?
I think not. So where's the beef?
One "anonymous" post, strategically placed razed the house of
Mr. Thomas makes one excellent point, however, in the midst of
the remaining text -
"It's said that some people, angered at this affair, are planning
to retaliate against those judged responsible. This would be an
ethically bankrupt response."
At least we can agree on this point.
One final note, for what its worth. I did not post the forwarded
article to damage Clancy's reputation or to prove any particular
political point. Personally, I have nothing to gain by the
results. I do not foolishly sally forth and and do someone else's
bidding in hopes of gaining favor. I do not publish software
which would be directly or indirectly beneficial to myself,
especially anti-virus software (I have done extensive work in
assembly and have reversed-engineered viruses since their
appearance, however). I posted the article because I believe
it is a conflict of interest for any governmental agent to
openly make viruses and disassemblies available, regardless of
intent. If only one instance of damage resulted directly from the
virus-related material available from AIS, then that is one too
many and I would happily rest my case.
What happened to the hacker ethic? I seem to recall a "no damage
clause" which still echoes in my mind, especially with the advent
of this fiasco. "Damage?" "Damage," you say, "What Damage?" "AIS
only made it available -- they're not responsible for what is
done with it!"
Now that I think about about it again, I'm really "not sorry."
Paul Ferguson | "Confidence is the feeling you get
Network Integrator | just before you fully understand
Centreville, Virginia USA | the problem."
email@example.com | - Murphy's 7th Law of Computing
Quis Custodiet Ipsos Custodes?
Date: Tue, 13 Jul 1993 14:33:44 EST
From: David Sobel
Subject: File 2--Update on 2600 Case
UPDATE ON 2600 CASE
The Secret Service recently admitted that it possesses six previously
unacknowledged documents relating to the break-up of a 2600 meeting at
Pentagon City Mall last November. In conjunction with that admission,
the agency has filed an affidavit executed by the Special Agent in
Charge of its Washington field office. The affidavit, which is
re-printed below, provides the most detailed explanation yet of the
Secret Service's role in this affair.
The most important parts of the affidavit appear to be paragraphs
22-24, which state that "the Secret Service received information from
a business indicating that that business' PBX had been manipulated,"
and that the business provided the agency with "certain information
concerning the individual(s) who had entered the system." Based on
these statements, here is the best guess of what happened: 1) the
"victim business" had some reason to believe that the individual
involved had some relationship to 2600; 2) the business passed this
information on to the Secret Service; 3) the Secret Service knew that
people associated with 2600 met at the mall on a regular basis; and 4)
the Secret Service recruited the mall security personnel to identify
the individuals attending the monthly meetings.
The litigation of CPSR's FOIA case against the Secret Service is
proceeding, and new information will continue to be posted as it is
CPSR is a national organization of individuals concerned about the
impact of computer technology on society. The best way to support
CPSR's work is to become a member. For more information, write to
CPSR Legal Counsel
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
Computer Professionals )
for Social Responsibility, )
) Civil Action No. 93-0231
United States Secret Service, )
PUBLIC DECLARATION OF WILLIAM F. BURCH,
SPECIAL AGENT IN CHARGE,
UNITED STATES SECRET SERVICE, WASHINGTON FIELD OFFICE
I, William F. Burch hereby depose and say:
1. I am the Special Agent in Charge (SAIC) of the
United States Secret Service (hereinafter Secret Service),
Washington Field office having held this position since
January 24, 1993. I have been employed as a Special Agent of
the Secret Service since January 20, 1969.
2. I am providing this declaration in connection with the
above-captioned civil action arising under the Freedom of
Information Act (FOIA). The purpose of this declaration is to
address matters raised by the plaintiff in Plaintiff's Memorandum
in Opposition to Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgement and in
Support of Plaintiff's Cross-motion for Summary Judgement
(hereinafter Plaintiff's Memorandum).
3. This declaration is provided for the public record
and is somewhat limited, as the records which are at issue in this
case were compiled by the Secret Service in the course of a
criminal matter which is currently open and ongoing. I have,
however, also provided a separate and more detailed declaration
for in camera review by this Court.
4. In my position as the Special Agent in Charge of the
Washington Field Office, I am aware that plaintiff submitted to
the Secret Service a FOIA request for information in the
possession of the Secret Service which concerns "the breakup of
a meeting of individuals" associated with the "2600 Club" at the
"Pentagon City Mall in Arlington, Virginia on November 6, 1992."
5. In January of 1993, my office received a written request
from the Secret Service's Freedom of Information and Privacy Acts
(FOI/PA) Office asking that my office search its records to
determine if it maintained information concerning plaintiff's FOIA
6. Pursuant to this request my office realized that it was
maintaining records concerning an ongoing criminal matter and that
these records might contain information which was responsive to
plaintiff's FOIA request.
7. It was then directed that a copy of all records
concerning this criminal investigation be provided to Secret
8. In May of this year I was asked to provide an in camera
and a public declaration concerning the underlying criminal
investigation and the records concerning that investigation which
related to plaintiff's FOIA request.
9. In the original draft of these declarations I noted that
they referred only to certain newspaper articles and two specific
records. Through my discussions with the "case agent" assigned to
the underlying criminal matter, I was, however, personally aware
that my office maintained certain additional records which
appeared to concern plaintiff's FOIA request.
10. Upon further review I found that inadvertently copies
of certain records which were in the possession of my office and
which appeared to be responsive to plaintiff's FOIA request were
not in the possession of the Secret Service FOI/PA.
11. Copies of all records maintained by my office which
records concern plaintiff's FOIA request, and which records were
in the possession of my office at the time this office's original
search for material responsive to plaintiff's FOIA request,l
have now been provided to Secret Service headquarters.
1 The underlying criminal investigation has continued and,
therefore, additional records have been compiled by the Secret
Service in regard to that investigation.
12. Additionally, a record by record, page by page
comparison has been made of the information maintained in the
Washington Field Office, which information was in the possession
of the Secret Service at the time of my office's original search
for information responsive to plaintiff's FOIA request, with the
copies of the records which have now been provided to Secret
Service headquarters. This comparison showed that these two
groups of records are now identical.
13. The records which concern plaintiff's FOIA request,
with the exception of the newspaper articles, had been provided to
the Secret Service fron a confidential source and had been
compiled for law enforcement purposes.
14. The information contained in these records was compiled
in order to identify and to further investigate individual(s) who
are considered to be possible suspect(s) in a criminal
investigation being conducted by the Secret Service, which
investigation relates to a violation of Title 18 of the United
States Code, Section 1029, and/or 1030, "Fraud and related
activity in connection with access devices," and "Fraud and
related activity in connection with computers."
15. More specifically, the Secret Service has reason to
believe that the suspect(s) in this case had gained access to a
Public Branch Exchange (PBX) owned by a private company and
manipulated that PBX so as to enable the commission of several
tens of thousands of dollars of telephone toll fraud.
16. It is my understanding that at the request of my
office the records at issue in this case, with the exception of
the newspaper articles, were withheld from release due to the
ongoing nature of the enforcement proceeding, as to release the
information could constitute an invasion of the privacy of certain
individuals, as the records at issue had been provided to the
Secret Service by a confidential source, and as to release the
records would reveal the identity of confidential sources.
17. I have been advised that plaintiff is now claiming that
the Secret Service's action in withholding these records was
improper. In particular, I have been advised that plaintiff is
alleging that the records have been improperly withheld as the
Secret Service does not have the authority to conduct investiga-
tions in the area of computer crime, and, as the Secret Service is
not conducting a criminal investigation, but "'merely engaging in
a general monitoring of private individuals activities' .... or
conducting an inquiry 'for purposes of harassment'." Plaintiff's
Memorandum, page 5.
18. While I am not an expert in the proprieties of releasing
or withholding information under the FOIA, as the Special Agent in
Charge of the Secret Service's Washington Field office, I can
provide relevant information concerning the Secret Service's
investigative authority and the underlying criminal investigation
through which the records in question came into the possession of
the Secret Service.
19. The Secret Service is a criminal law enforcement agency
which operates under the provisions of Title 18 of the United
States Code, Section 3056. Under Section 3056, Subsection (b),
the Secret Service is specifically authorized to detect and arrest
any person who violates federal criminal laws relating to coins,
obligations, and securities of the United States and foreign
governments, electronic fund transfers, credit or debit card
fraud, false identification documents or devices, false
identification documents and devices, and certain laws relating to
financial institutions. Additionally, pursuant to Title 18 of
the United States Code, Sections 1029 and 1030, the Secret Service
is specifically charged with the authority to investigate offenses
concerning fraud and related activity in connection with computers
and/or access devices. See Title 18 U.S.C. 1030(d), Fraud and
related activity in connection with computers ("The United States
States Secret Service shall ... have the authority to investigate
offenses under this section."). Contrary to plaintiff's argument,
the Secret Service does, therefore, have clear statutory authority
to conduct criminal investigations relating to computer fraud.
20. With regard to plaintiff's allegation that the Secret
Service was "merely engaging in a general monitoring of private
individuals' activities" .... or conducting an inquiry "for
purposes of harassment," (Plaintiff's Memorandum, page 5), I
would state that there is absolutely no truth to plaintiff's
21. The records which are at issue in this case were
provided to the Secret Service by a confidential source and were
compiled by the Secret Service for law enforcement purposes --
the identification of possible suspect(s) in a criminal
investigation and the further investigation of the suspect(s).
22. In connection with its law enforcement
responsibilities, the Secret Service received information from a
business indicating that that business' PBX had been manipulated
and that as a result the business had been the victim of long
distance telephone toll fraud.
23. The victim business provided the Secret Service with
information which might lead to the individual(s) who had
manipulated the system or utilized the manipulated system to
steal telephone time.
24 The victim business had access to certain information
concerning the individual(s) who had entered the system, but could
not directly identify the individual(s) involved. It was,
through a follow-up investigation and an attempt to identify the
individual(s) who had committed this fraud, that the Secret
Service came into the possession of the information which is at
issue in this case.
25. The details of the law enforcement proceeding which
underlies this matter are set out in my in camera declaration.
I believe, however, that the generic facts as described above show
that the records which are at issue in this case were compiled by
the Secret Service for valid law enforcement purposes.
26. I am aware that plaintiff is arguing that the records at
issue have been improperly withheld as the records consist of
information which is already known to the subject(s) of the
investigation. To the knowledge of the Secret Service, however,
this is not correct. At this time the Secret Service has no
reason to believe that the suspect(s) in its investigation, or the
plaintiff in this case, are aware of the nature of the Secret
Service's investigation, who is under investigation by the
Secret Service, what information is in the possession of the
Secret Service, or who has provided information to the Secret
Service in regard to this matter.
27. I am also aware that the plaintiff argues that "the
shopping mall was clearly the source of the records being
withheld." Again contrary to plaintiff's argument, to date there
has been no public statement that the "Mall" is the source of the
information which is being withheld.
28. Additionally, the Secret Service recently contacted the
source to determine the position of the source in regard to this
matter. At this time, the source reiterated the source's original
position and understanding that the fact that it had provided
certain information to the Secret Service would not be revealed.
29. Further, the records at issue also contain information
concerning a second source of information which source has since
provided information to the Secret Service in regard to the
underlying criminal case.
30. Due to the nature of the investigative work conducted
by the Secret Service, this agency must protect from exposure the
sources which the Secret Service utilizes to gain information in
the course of its criminal investigations. In the course of its
investigative function the Secret Service routinely receives
information from various sources with the understanding that,
unless the source is needed to provide testimony or records
in a criminal trial, the fact of that source's cooperation will
not be revealed to the public. Further, information is often
provided by a source with the understanding that at the time of a
criminal trial a subpoena will be issued to protect the fact of
the earlier cooperation of the source. Therefore, if such
confidential sources are compromised by premature exposure, the
result could have a chilling effect on the law enforcement
function of the Secret Service in that, in the future, such
sources would be less cooperative with the Secret Service, and
federal law enforcement in general.
31. It is, then, reasonable and necessary that the Secret
service preserve its relationship with confidential sources by
protecting from release information which would expose the
cooperation of such sources with the Secret Service.
32. As I have attempted to describe above, the records which
are being withheld in this case are records which were compiled
by the Secret Service for law enforcement purposes. Further,
the release of the records could result in interference with an
open enforcement proceeding, an invasion of the personal privacy
of third parties, reveal information provided by a confidential
source and compromise the future cooperation of a confidential
source, by revealing the cooperation of those sources with the
Secret Service. My office has, therefore, requested that the
records involved in this matter continue to be withheld.
I declare under penalty of perjury that the foregoing is true
to the best of my knowledge and belief.
William F. Burch
Special Agent in Charge
Washington Field Office
Date: Wed, 7 July, 1993 21:43:12 CDT
From: CuD Moderators
Subject: File 3--BBSes Carrying CuDs
We receive a number of letters, faxes, phone calls, and psychic vibes
each week from non-net users asking how CuDs can be retrieved without
Internet access. We will periodically run BBS numbers where ya'll can
obtain CuDs. Canadian readers are especially interested in Montreal,
Toronto, and Vancouver boards, so we'd like to receive some numbers to
The CuD header lists a variety of world-wide outlets for CuD. We
encourage U.S. readers to call RIPCO (312-528-5020), The Works
(617-861-8976), or Rune Stone (203-832-8441).
Date--Tue, 6 Jul 93 21:19:42 CST
Subject--BBSes that carry CuD
Thanks for being there!
Here's a listing for you of another BBS that has CuD available.
BBS name: Pair O Dice
BBS numbers: 1.512.451.4610 @ 300 - 2400 baud
1.512.451.7117 @ 2400 - 14400 baud
BBS hours: 24 hours
BBS location: Austin, Texas, USA
Pod both subscribes to comp.society.cu.digest and also keeps current
and past issues online in it's gfile area as well as various other
ezines that deal with the computer underground, art and virtual
We specialize in original computer graphics and are also a dialup
site for the OTIS image collection. We have also just received
permission from the Smithsonian to stock images from their PHOTO1
Pair O Dice is an official Info Site for EFF-Austin and the
sysop is a long time member of the EFF.
We offer about 75 newsgroups, publicly subscribe to a few mailing
lists, have a good selection of online games and carry basic
support programs for the Amiga as well as important programs for
the Mac and MS-DOS users such as PD graphic viewers and convertors.
The system is run on an Amiga and uses the CNet bbs software and
Subject--CuD Carrying BBS
Date--Mon, 5 Jul 93 14:31:55 CDT
BBS Name: The MATRIX
BBS Phone: 205-323-2016 - 2400 bps only
205-323-6016 - V.32/V.32bis/HST only (no 2400)
205-458-3449 - V.32/V.32bis only (no 2400)
21 total incoming phone lines
CuDs from Volume 2 to current online. All issues of EFFector Online.
All issues of Quanta and InterText (ASCII only).
CuD and EFFector Online available for DL on first call. 15 hour
complimentary subscription given to all new callers, but takes 1-2
weeks for activation.
Home BBS for the American BBS Association (ABBSA)
Over 130,000 files available in addition to CuD and EFFector Online.
Most major PC based echonets as well as an Internet Email feed and
small assortment of UseNet newsgroups.
Located in Birmingham, Alabama.
Chuck Frieser's BBS, in Beverly, Mass, carries CuD online through
the ReadRoom Door (written by Michael Gibbs of The Infomat BBS).
Chuck's board number is (508) 927-6712.
Date: Mon, 12 Jul 93 09:04:36 EDT
From: morgan@ENGR.UKY.EDU(Wes Morgan)
Subject: File 4--Re: CRYPT Newsletter
>Date--Mon, 21 Jun 93 21:18:31 EDT
>From--Urnst Kouch <70743.1711@COMPUSERVE.COM>
>Subject--File 5--Fear and Loathing--On the Virus Code Trail at AIS
>((Urnst Kouch is editor of CRYPT NEWSLETTER. Additional details on the
>background of the incident and those involved can be found
>in CRYPT NEWSLETTER #16)).
I'd like to make a public apology to Urnst Kouch and the authors/editors
of CRYPT Newsletter.
After reading an interview with Urnst Kouch in a previous issue of CuD,
I made several comments about both him and CRYPT Newsletter. A kind
individual (who shall remain nameless) sent me a sample copy of CRYPT,
and I found that the excerpts printed in CuD were in no way represen-
tative of the editorial slant of the newsletter as a whole. In fact,
I found it both comprehensive and well-written in all respects; if
subscriptions are available via email, I'd greatly appreciate the ad-
dition of my address to the subscription list. (I don't cruise the
BBSs as much as I once did; a new daughter tends to cut down on one's
Again, I offer my apologies to Urnst and his associates. I may not
condone every position presented by individual articles, but my com-
ments about CRYPT were "way out of line." Please consider my earlier
comments retracted, and feel free to either delete my previous com-
ments in your archive files or append to them this apology/retraction.
End of Computer Underground Digest #5.52