Computer underground Digest Sun Dec 18, 1994 Volume 6 : Issue 106 ISSN 1004-042X Editors:
Computer underground Digest Sun Dec 18, 1994 Volume 6 : Issue 106
Editors: Jim Thomas and Gordon Meyer (TK0JUT2@NIU.BITNET)
Archivist: Brendan Kehoe
Retiring Shadow Archivist: Stanton McCandlish
Shadow-Archivists: Dan Carosone / Paul Southworth
Ralph Sims / Jyrki Kuoppala
Copy Reader: Laslo Toth
CONTENTS, #6.106 (Sun, Dec 18, 1994)
File 1--In Re CuD 6.103--AA BBS - Thomases are going to jail
File 2--'puter Biz Woes
File 3--"Terror on the Internet" (excerpt)
File 4--Canadian Pol (Mike Harris) Roasted for Net-related Stunt
File 5--EFF Office (and BBS) moving!
File 6--Electronic Submission: Ranter & Spiegel Interview (satire)
File 7--Cu Digest Header Info (unchanged since 25 Nov 1994)
CuD ADMINISTRATIVE, EDITORIAL, AND SUBSCRIPTION INFORMATION APPEARS IN
THE CONCLUDING FILE AT THE END OF EACH ISSUE.
Date: Fri, 09 Dec 1994 12:52:28 -0600
From: Jason Zions
Subject: File 1--In Re CuD 6.103--AA BBS - Thomases are going to jail
The best response is to isolate Tennessee like the censoring cancer that it
is. As a BBS operator, refuse to authorize access from anyone calling from
their area codes or presenting a mailing address in Tenn. Cut them out
of the web as it exists.
Internet access (i.e. ftp archives) is a thornier problem; based on IP
address it's impossible to tell the geographic locus of a peer in a
TCP connection. Then again, the legal waters are extremely murky here;
no Internet service provider has yet been found to be a common
carrier, so an obscenity action would likely be first directed at the
service provider. Also, I suspect a court of appeals would be
sympathetic to the fact that an internet archive provider cannot take
*any* steps to ascertain the "community standards" that apply in the
place the user connects from since that information is simply
unavailable. The truly paranoid would map an incoming IP address back
to a domain name and check it against a list of domains known to be in
Tennessee and refuse the connection if it appeared in the list.
You might want to read "Cyberspace and the Law", a new book by
attorneys Ed Cavazos and Gavino Morin; it's published by MIT press,
ISBN 0-262-53123-2. It covers obscenity in some detail, includes the
relevant federal laws, and talks about some of the things you should
look out for. I met Ed at the "Sysops and Legal Liability" conference
in Austin Texas last Saturday; he impresses me as someone who actually
understands and keeps up with this stuff.
Date: Sat, 17 Dec 1994 13:47:41 -0800
From: dbatterson@ATTMAIL.COM(David Batterson)
Subject: File 2--'puter Biz Woes
Downsizing, Gen-Xing and Greed are Hurting the Computer Industry
Copyright 1994 by David Batterson
CEOs and members of the boards of major computer firms (hardware,
software, peripherals and online services) point proudly how they have
streamlined operations, cut costs by laying off staff and/or hiring new
people at lower salaries (such as in public relations/marketing), and
greatly increased corporate profits in the process.
Great job, right? Well, not necessarily. This insatiable quest to
get the maximum amount of productivity along with the minimum expenditure
for staffing/training can result in BIG problems. Meanwhile, the gigantic
greed of the 90s exceeds that of Ivan Boesky, Michael Milkin, etc. of
the now infamous 80s. "Greed is good" is still the slogan of today.
ITEM - Intel's Problem
Intel's debacle over the seemingly minor Pentium chip flaw is a
prime example of where a company can be penny wise, and pound foolish. By
not only refusing to immediately fix the problem with the Pentium but to
attempt a cover-up of the problem, Intel saw its stock price take a slide
South, and its quality-control credibility eroded.
Intel CEO Andrew Grove was quoted as saying that the company had a
"PR problem" on its hands. No kidding, dude. I guess that's why he gets
paid the big bucks: he can state the obvious--after the fact.
While CEOs love to bask in the glory of success, when there's a problem
situation, they immediately look for someone to point the blame at. Guess
what, Mr. Grove? As CEO, you are not only ultimately responsible for the
quality of your product, but also for your company's public relations policy.
If there is a problem at Intel, it is with Andy Grove. As Harry Truman
used to love to say: "the buck stops here."
Of course, it's also a popular ploy to blame the messenger. ["If those
@)_&*()$ computer & business writers/TV commentators would just play nice."]
After all, Intel spends millions advertising with those publications and
Well, those same media people helped propel the Pentium to the top of
the CPU charts. You loved us then, Andy. Why the change of heart? Lost
too much value in your stock holdings lately? Worried that you may soon
be out of the top job at Intel? You probably will.
ITEM - Annoying Research Via Phone
A major computer industry market research firm in Oregon [you can
figure out which one] refuses to catch up with the changing world of
communication. Since they have ALWAYS done it that way, they continue to
conduct most of their market surveys by phone.
So what's wrong with that? What's wrong is that MOST industry pros
simply do NOT want to be bothered with phone surveys; in fact, many firms
have a strict policy that says their employees cannot participate. And
why should they? It's a win-lose situation.
Such market research firms get big bucks from their clients, while
those who do agree to participate usually get nothing for their efforts
except a "thank you." Top engineers, programmers, executives, etc. are
paid high salaries, and cannot spend their time providing free input for
surveys that do not benefit them at all. Thousands of people get annoyed
at continuing calls from these market research leeches, but it doesn't stop
the barrage of phone abuse.
While many computer industry people ask the market research firms to
instead fax, mail or e-mail the survey, few of them will do so. Occasionally
some will do a survey on disk, which is mailed back after completion of the
survey. That's a step in the right direction.
But an e-mailed (or online) survey would be the best way to go. PRODIGY
already has online opinion polls, with instant results available for viewing,
so it could be done easily enough. Online market research is unintrusive, is
digital in nature [no inputing by data collectors is required], and surveys
can be done according to the respondent's time schedule, NOT the market
research firm's. This major market research firm has its head stuck in the
sand, as do many other ones.
ITEM - Poor Product PR
A major printer manufacturer has a PR contact who is lax about
returning calls from computer writers. Too busy to return a call from a
person who will give the company FREE publicity in a magazine or newspaper?
That's unprofessional and simply inexcusable behavior.
The company retains a very professional PR firm that is--of course-
powerless to make the company more responsive. The company PR person finally
calls back (after complaints to the PR firm) and promises a review unit.
The review unit not only doesn't ship, but the PR person doesn't even
make an effort to notify the computer reviewer that the printer is
unavailable. [He has to find out the bad news by calling the shipping dept.]
Perhaps the company saved $$$ by hiring this person on the cheap. Was
it a wise expenditure of money?--absolutely not! Excellent PR people (like
quality lawyers, doctors, accounts and journalists) do not come cheap--nor
should they. The company probably spends more on executive frills each year
than they spend on this PR/marketing person. Dumb policy.
ITEM - Younger Isn't Better
Companies throughout the computer industry have downsized, and somehow
think that hiring "Gen-X" individuals is a better way to go. Employees 40
and over are being relegated to the elephant boneyard, when they are just
starting to reach their prime years of productivity and success.
Yes, but the twentysomething crowd works much cheaper, they say. First
of all, many older Americans WILL work for those same lowered salaries, as
good jobs are still elusive for many in spite of the recession being over
(yeah, right). Older workers tend to be more loyal, have a better work
ethic, have fewer absences, and can learn new skills generally just as well
as younger workers. [This 51-year-old, bright (unemployed) writer is more
computer-literate than the vast majority of Americans.]
While the GOP yearns to return to the days of (failed) Reaganomics,
the computer merchants of greed better take a hard look at the rampant age
discrimination going on at thousands of companies across the U.S. This is a
reprehensible business practice, and hopefully a multi-billion-dollar class
action suit by a powerful group like AARP will make corporate American sit up
and take notice. Age discrimination in American must stop now!
ITEM - Microsoft Plays Hardball
Microsoft (and its greedmonger Bill Gates) feels they have to not only
dominate the worldwide software industry, but also multimedia, online
banking, and who knows what next. Perhaps the US. Justice Dept. will stop
Microsoft's acquisition of Intuit [it should if Janet Reno has any integrity
left], but I will be surprised if it does so. Unfortunately, the new Right
is on a roll these days, and they somehow have the impression that Gates is a
benevolent prince (rather than a King Midas).
The recent revelation about a bug in the Windows 3.1 Calculator module
is no surprise. Windows has been buggy from its first incarnation, as has
been most of Microsoft's software over the years. [Remember MS-DOS 5.0?]
Microsoft simply doesn't care. Their philosophy is to get their products
out the door "as is" and rake in the dough. Any problems can be fixed later.
Increasing revenue at a torrid pace is the prime motivation at MS, not
overall customer satisfaction. That's great for profits; but it's NOT great
for the computer industry as a whole.
ITEM - Flawed Industry Leaders
Hayes was the high flyer in modem production. Remember, all modems came
to be known as "Hayes-compatible." Now the company has declared bankruptcy
(Chapter 11) due to cash flow problems and inability to fill their orders.
Like so many who become rich and famous in this crazy computer biz, Dennis
Hayes got a little too big for his britches, and thought he could do no
Likewise with Phillipe Kahn, CEO of Borland. Kahn overpaid to acquire
competitor Ashton-Tate, and has never recovered. He thought he could match
Lotus, but it was not to be. He's another person done in by an inflated
ego, surrounding himself with "yes" people, too much money and corporate
arrogance. Yes, Monsieur Kahn, you CAN be wrong. Surprise, surprise.
John Sculley appeared on TV, predicting Apple's Newton would be a smash.
Sculley obviously knew it was a dog that should not should have gone to
market, but he chose to put one over on the American public. They didn't buy
the pitch this time, and Sculley was forced out.
1995 Computer Industry Plans
The 'puter biz CEOs might start thinking about how they are going to
change their ways in '95 and beyond. Considering short-term profits ONLY is
not the best way to go. Getting rid of age 40+ workers is not a good plan.
A company policy of selling buggy software just sucks. Promoting
unqualified, unprofessional administrative people to key marketing and public
relations positions is downright stupid, and not cost-effective.
Hiring customer service/tech support people at "chump change" wages is
not a useful business practice either. If you want to get and keep good
customers, pay these employees better, train them and treat them well. Let
them share in the fruits of success, empower them with decision-making and
(most of all) LISTEN to their ideas. Some of the best ideas in companies
flow up from the bottom, not vice versa.
The writer contributes freelance articles to WIRED, CONNECT, Portland
Computer Bits, Bay Area Reporter (S.F) and other publications.
Comments are welcome via: email@example.com. These are the
opinions of this person only, and I'm proud to put my real name on
them. If you don't like what I say, too bad. I feel I have succeeded
if I touch a nerve. ;-)
Date: Thu, 8 Dec 1994 07:41:52 -0500 (EST)
Subject: File 3--"Terror on the Internet" (excerpt)
The lead of a story in this week's TIME. Available on America Online today
and www.timeinc.com tomorrow. Also at a newsstand near you.
TERROR ON THE INTERNET
A pair of electronic mail bombings underscores the fragility of the
world's largest computer network
BY PHILIP ELMER-DEWITT
Thanksgiving weekend was quiet in the Long Island, New York, home of
Michelle Slatalla and Josh Quittner. Too quiet. The phone didn't ring all
weekend -- which is unusual for a pair of working journalists. Nor did
they hear the familiar beep of electronic mail arriving from the Internet,
although Quittner tried several times to log on. It wasn't until their
tenant complained about a strange message on their answering machine that
the couple investigated and discovered all was not well in their
"We'd been hacked," says Quittner, who writes about computers -- and
hackers -- for the newspaper Newsday, and will start writing for TIME in
January. Not only had someone jammed his Internet mailbox with thousands
of unwanted pieces of E-mail, finally shutting down his Internet access
altogether, but the couple's telephone had been reprogrammed to forward
incoming calls to an out-of-state number, where friends and relatives
heard a recorded greeting laced with obscenities. "What's really
strange," says Quittner, "is that nobody who phoned -- including my
editor and my mother -- thought anything of it. They just left their
messages and hung up."
It gets stranger. In order to send Quittner that mail bomb -- the
electronic equivalent of dumping a truckload of garbage on a neighbor's
front lawn -- someone, operating by remote control, had broken into
computers at IBM, Sprint and a small Internet service provider called the
Pipeline, seized command of the machines at the supervisory -- or "root"
-- level, and installed a program that fired off E-mail messages every few
seconds. Adding intrigue to insult, the message turned out to be a
manifesto that railed against "capitalist pig" corporations and accused
those companies of turning the Internet into an "overflowing cesspool of
greed." It was signed by something called the Internet Liberation Front,
and it ended like this: "Just a friendly warning corporate America; we
have already stolen your proprietary source code. We have already pillaged
your million dollar research data. And if you would like to avoid
financial ruin, get the ((expletive deleted)) out of Dodge. Happy
Thanksgiving Day turkeys."
Date: Thu, 15 Dec 1994 16:59:18 -0500
From: eye@INTERLOG.COM(eye WEEKLY)
Subject: File 4--Canadian Pol (Mike Harris) Roasted for Net-related Stunt
((MODERATORS' NOTE: Due to end-of-year space constraints, we deleted
the actual posts in question, but they are available from eyeW's
gopher site. In fact. All eyeW's are available there, and we encourage
readers to check them out. We're aware of no other E-periodical like
it. It's a highly impressive collection of North American art news,
Net-commentary, and tidbits of international interest)).
The following is of interest in that it involves both the use of
anonymous mailers and the fact that governments are coming online in a
more personal sense. For non-Canadians, I remind you that Ontario has
an economy equivalent in size to California (i.e., big).
As the ruling powers merge with the net.community, there are bound to
be lots of incidents like the following. I think we were lucky in
this instance that some rather net.savvy individuals advise Ontario's
premier. It won't be the same everywhere.
(The actual spoof posts mentioned herein are included after the article
eye WEEKLY December 15 1994
Toronto's arts newspaper .....free every Thursday
MIKE HARRIS: ROASTED ALIVE
Clueless PC leader mercilessly flamed for net-related political stunt
On Dec 8, PC [the "Progressive Conservatives" an Ontario opposition
party] leader Mike Harris stood in the Legislature and introduced a
copy of a post to the newsgroup ont.general -- a public forum where
anything of general interest to Ontarians is discussed.
The post in question was signed "Bob Rae." [Bob Rae is the premier of
Ontario.] It talked about the sexual orientation of [attorney general]
Marion Boyd, the [sex killer] Karla Homolka case, and a few other
things. Harris wasn't claiming Rae actually wrote it, he was
suggesting it was proof of a serious "security violation" in
government computer systems. Simultaneously, the PCs issued a press
release entitled "Our Premier: Roadkill on the Information Highway."
We regularly warn Our Faithful Readers about eyeNET's Rule#1: When
strangers approach wielding the "highway metaphor," run. Do not speak
with them. Do not make eye contact. Here's yet more proof.
Last week, eyeNET predicted many new and entertaining adventures could
result from Ontario's premier getting online. We expected the
shenanigans would come from anonymous net.weenies and assorted loons,
not Mike Harris.
It began innocently on Sunday Dec 3, at 1:22:41 a.m. (EST), when an
anonymous individual posted a message called "Greetings to People of
Ontario's Information Highway" to ont.general . It was faked so the
"From:" line said "firstname.lastname@example.org", Rae's office.
Ontarians read it. Ontarians ignored it. The general response was best
summed up by Toronto's Val Dodge (email@example.com), who wrote: "Am I the
only one getting tired of [these spoof posts]? OK, the first couple
were funny, but this is getting really tedious."
No one thought it was from Rae. No one thought it was from "hackers
invading government computers."
Netters just looked at the PATH line and could see the post worked its
way to Ontario from a California computer. On top of that, in the
header it plainly says: "This message is NOT from the person listed in
the from line. It is from an automated software remailing service..."
Fake posts are part of net.life, but this one wasn't even a "forgery"
(a real attempt to pretend to be someone else), it was a "spoof" (an
"imitation" no one is expected to believe). A parody. Hardly a
"security violation" -- unless Harris thinks all political
impersonators represent "security violations." What if terminally
dense Americans thought impersonator Dana Carvey really _was_ George
Bush? Oh my GAWD! Call the cops!
Rae's staff had noticed the fake post. Like the rest of the
net.community, they just ignored it. After all, even the stupidest
elements of the net community hadn't been fooled... why worry?
They didn't account for Mike Harris. Five days later Harris issued his
now famous "Roadkill" press release which includes the line "Internet
Bob: the hacker is hacked."
PC press secretary, Peter Varley, told eye the Conservatives weren't
trying to score political points. They sincerely thought this harmless
post was a "threat to Ontario's security" -- though Varley couldn't
explain why Harris attempted to grandstand. And it's exactly that
attempt to make political points from the matter that most angers
Ontario netters. Sensationalization and playing on the ignorance of
the press (which was as rampant as ever).
The PCs swear they never saw the very explicit disclaimer in the fake
Rae post because the newsreader of the person who "slipped" them this
oh-so-dangerous document edited out most header information. It's
plausible -- many newsreaders chop stuff from headers (headers contain
info to help direct and organize posts for ease of reading). But
ignorance hardly excuses Harris.
In our conversation, Varley, trying to save face, actually suggested
the simple ability to make a spoof post (and fool Mike Harris, I
guess) is still a "security threat." So what are they asking Rae to do
about it? Call in the OPP and stormtroop around cyberspace?
THE NET STRIKES BACK
The net.community's responses in ont.general have been a virtually
unanimous condemnation of Harris.
Several threads (i.e., discussions) developed, the longest one
entitled "MIKE HARRIS IS SLIME." It originated with Brampton's Evan
Leibovitch (firstname.lastname@example.org), who wrote he didn't blame the
"impersonator" because "children will be children", but "the people
who fed this item to Harris are absolute assholes... My respect for
Harris and the Ontario PCs has just taken a nosedive, and I hope the
scum who were behind this realize that they have scored *NO* political
points for pulling this stunt."
In another thread, Toronto's Jamie Mason (email@example.com)
wrote: "Anyone who has been on the net for more than about FIVE
MINUTES would realize that the message was a forgery. Anyone who has
been on the net for more that about TEN minutes wouldn't even take
notice of the message."
T. Kim Nguyen (firstname.lastname@example.org) likened the Harris bluff to "the
way he paraded the woman quitting her job to go on welfare last year.
His antics of the last few weeks trying to make the NDP look bad have
simply succeeded in showing how much of a ridiculous opportunist he
Late Friday afternoon (Dec 9, 5:24 pm), the Premier of Ontario
(email@example.com) issued his first real post to ont.general.
It was called "Thanks" and read, in its entirety:
"Many thanks to those of you who flamed the PC pranksters. I knew
when I went online that I would have to deal with fake posts and
related chaff. That's the price of being on the Net. I'm not about
to delete my account. I still want to hear from people with *real*
concerns and *real* suggestions." Signed: "Bob*The Genuine
eye called the premier's office. They confirm it's real.
The premier's office made it clear it won't launch any investigation
as to where the parody post came from -- and for that it should be
applauded. I've talked with many people who don't understand the net
and when something they don't like happens they invariably respond:
"I'm going to shut the Internet down!" The Rae team is doing it's best
to fit into the net.community, not remake it.
Varley, on the other hand, says the PCs will actively pursue anyone
who "impersonates" Mike Harris online.
Oh no! Look! Just spotted in ont.general! A breach in PC security!!
Alert! Alert! Call the newsmedia!
On Dec 10, "Mike Harris" supposedly posted a missive called "Mike
Harris Fights Back - Kiss My Ass Rae!" to the net. It reads, in part:
"You listen here Rae, my sources informed me that your article was on
the level. You sleazy NDP wimps are more than capable of resorting to
cheap shots like this, so I thought I'd pin one on your grain-fed
ass... DAMN I'm mad!!!"
Signed: "Mike Harris, Progressive Consevative (sic) Party of Ontario."
Retransmit freely in cyberspace Author holds standard copyright
Issues of eye in archive gopher://interlog.com
Coupla Mailing lists available http://www.interlog.com/eye
firstname.lastname@example.org "Break the Gutenberg Lock..." 416-971-8421
Date: Thu, 15 Dec 1994 14:58:16 -0500 (EST)
From: Stanton McCandlish
Subject: File 5--EFF Office (and BBS) moving!
Electronic Frontier Foundation Relocation Underway - New Contact Info!
EFF is moving to larger office space. There will be *.eff.org and
EFF Outpost BBS downtime during this period. Our servers go down
Thursday, Dec. 15, 1994, and will be back online no later than Monday,
Dec. 19 (possibly as soon as Saturday, Dec. 17).
New contact information:
Snail mail: 1667 K St. NW, Suite 801
Washington DC 20006-1605 USA
Phone: +1 202 861 7700
Fax: +1 202 861 1258
BBS: +1 202 861 1223, +1 202 861 1224
Email and network server addresses remain the same.
EFF is a nonprofit public interest civil liberties organization founded
to support freedom of expression and privacy in online communications.
For more info, send any message to email@example.com
Date: Wed, 14 Dec 1994 08:46:52 -0500 (EST)
Subject: File 6--Electronic Submission: Ranter & Spiegel Interview (satire)
Canter & Siegel, those enterprising Americans, have made an impact on
the Internet with their ideas about Internet marketing, to say nothing
of their innovative advances in English spelling. But their tactics
and attitudes are lame compared with a much more dangerous pair I ran
Submitted to "CUD" for publication consideration is the following
interview with Larry Ranter of Ranter & Spiegel, the deadly founders
of Cyber-Sleaze[tm], the Internet's First Wire Fraud Organization:
Mr X, publisher of the satirical E-zine "The Capitalist Cretin
Collective," was recently granted an interview by Larry Ranter of
Ranter & Spiegel, the intrepid founders of "Cyber-Sleaze[tm], the
World's First Internet Wire Fraud Organization." Ranter & Spiegel have
recently written a controversial book about marketing on the Internet
entitled, "How to Make a Fortune Through Fraud." The book is
controversial because its publisher refuses to divulge just how many
copies have already been remaindered.
Mr. X flew to Phenix City, Alabama, where he was met at the airport
by UNIX Eunuch and C Minus-Minus. These are two of Ranter & Spiegel's
"geeks," actually a term for people who have agreed to ruin their
reputations in exchange for supplying mostly unusable computer code.
The interview was held in the top-secret computer underground
bunker (CuB) of Cyber-Sleaze, which contained much sophisticated
equipment--VIC-20 supercomputers, 512K modems, and several unused
dictionaries still in their plastic shrinkwrap. The bunker was kept at
a constant temperature of 45 degrees Fahrenheit because, "I was in a
computer center once and it was cold as heck," said C Minus Minus. The
bunker, actually a refurbished backyard concrete shelter made during
the paranoid Red Threat economy of the 1950's, also contained some
Army surplus cots, a few old packages of military C-rations and a
notepad on which were written legal terms that Larry Ranter had heard
in traffic court and occasionally used in threats to Internet users.
Mr X and founder Larry Ranter sat at a formica dining table while
co-conspirator Marty Spiegel sat on one of the cots moving his lips as
he read newspaper comics. The two geeks quickly moved to work at a JC
Penny computer table that held their Cyber-Sleaze Spam-O-Matic[tm]
supercomputer setup. From time to time they worriedly looked through a
book titled "Simon's Simple Guide to UNIX."
Mr. X: Did you really get 500,000 positive
responses to your Immigration Card
Larry Ranter: Yes.
Mr. X: 500,000 people were interested in
Larry Ranter: No, I said we got 500,000 positive
responses. 499,950 were complaints.
The other 50 were from some people
on a boat in the Pacific Ocean who
wanted to immigrate Tafter
midnight, if possible.'
Mr. X: TPositive response' is an oxymoron,
isn't it? Because any response--no
matter what the content--you
Larry Ranter: Well, that's true. I'm an English
eagle, besides being a legal eagle.
Mr. X: How many BBSs were you kicked off
of because of your spamming?
Larry Ranter: None.
Mr. X: None? I count at least seventeen,
from USENET stories I've read. All
of them for violating written
Larry Ranter: The answer is none. We left each of
those BBS's to, er--pursue, er--
better opportunities elsewhere.
Mr. X: Like you moved your legal business
Larry Ranter: Exactly. Ya gotta go where the
market takes you.
Mr. X: Or state bar associations ...
Larry Ranter: What was that? Would you repeat
that into this ashtray?
Mr. X: Well, isn't it true that you
resigned from the bar in New Jersey
to avoid perjury charges?
Larry Ranter: Hey, what's a little lying between
thieves? That's what I asked the
Mr. X: Isn't it also true that you also
resigned from the Montana bar?
Larry Ranter: Yes, but I had no idea she was
fifteen. Besides, the state line
wasn't marked. It was a dirt road,
and it was two in the morning.
Mr. X: How did you get your Internet book
published? Surely major editors
know something about computers.
Larry Ranter: Well I don't know about *that*
[laughs]. Maybe they do know, but
we created a new computer field:
Computer Information Fraud.
Mr. X: Computer Fraud?
Larry Ranter: No, Computer Information Fraud.
There's a difference. Our fraud
means, if you can fool someone into
thinking you know more about
something--the Internet, say--than
they do, then you can make gobs of
Mr. X: So in other words, as long as you
know more than your audience, you
can influence them in your favor.
Larry Ranter: Mostly you influence them to give
up their money. That's the real
gold at the end of the Information
Rainbow. Who cares if some schmo in
Louisiana wants to sell his dried
flowers? As long as we can fake him
out about our ability to sell his
product on the Internet--
Mr. X: Then you've committed CIF.
Larry Ranter: Please, don't say Tcommitted.' It
drives Marty crazy. But whatever--
as long as we can do that, we'll be
able to take the money and run.
Same with book publishers.
Mr. X: And when things heat up, you run to
another state or another BBS...
Larry Ranter: Exactly. Americans are a mobile
people. They understand this. Just
last week, a couple of my old legal
partners, they got mobile. Moved
Tup the river,' if you know what I
Mr. X: What if your audience knows more
than you about a subject?
Larry Ranter: Fortunately, most don't know
anything about the Internet. They
go to the bookstore because they
saw something on TPrime Time.'
Prolly they heard there's lots of
pornography. People see our book,
read the hype on the cover, glom
onto the word "controversial," and
buy the book. Controversy sells,
you know, even better than porn. So
does the dream of making easy
Mr. X: So then what? What if readers act
on your information? They spam and
they get flamed or billed for
sending unsolicited messages. They
get in trouble for making
inappropriate posts. They lose
their accounts. Their system
provider sues them. Their business
fails. Then what?
Larry Ranter: Not our fault. Ask Rush Limbaugh.
What people do because of what they
read in the book is their problem.
We just wrote it. We're not
responsible for anything. This
ain't some kind of community, you
know! There are no rules here.
Mr. X: Do you advocate doing anything you
mention in the book.
Larry Ranter: Are you kidding? Even *we* know the
book is full of shit. I mean, look
who provided source material for us
[points to the geeks, who are busy
reading alt.hackers to learn the
latest intrusion methods]. Point
is, those customers who buy the
book are really purchasing the
cover. The cover, see? They see the
hype and pay up. After that, to
hell with Tem, I say. The money's
ours and it ain't going back.
Mr. X: You could have put a nude model on
the cover. It would sell the same.
Larry Ranter: Or one of those nifty stereograms.
Mr. X: Getting back to your new concept,
is your book a manual on
Larry Ranter: No. We don't really know everything
about this exciting new field yet.
The book is a tale of Computer
Information Fraud--our tale. Our
personal history. Anthropologists
will study it someday. So will MBA
Mr. X:: And federal judges too?
Larry Ranter: Hush your mouth! [laughs]
Mr. X: Some of the things in the book are
misleading, aren't they?
Larry Ranter: Exactly! That's the premise, you
Furr--er, fool! Those who don't
know about the fraud contained
therein ... see, they're at the
heart of what we're about! CIF!
It's the cyberwave of the future!
Mr. X: Have you received death threats
because of your net-work?
Larry Ranter: Only from members of the New Jersey
At this point, the interview ended when UNIX began shrieking loudly
and pointing at his terminal screen. We rushed over in time to see his
head explode, though this was not the gory act it might seem since his
cranium was completely empty save for a few small pieces of gray
matter in the shape of dollar signs. Minus-Minus and I looked at the
terminal screen as Larry and Marty set upon the corpse, finishing it
off before we had time to analyze what had killed poor UNIX. It was a
line inserted into his .cshrc file by an apparent malicious hacker:
echo "Can't spell libel, won't read your bible"
"Of course I can spell liable," sputtered Larry, blood, RAM chips,
paranoia and hack legal phrases falling from his mouth as he spoke. He
glared at me.
At this point, fearing for my Cyber-life, I fled the bunker and
took the next plane to Tokyo, where I convalesced for a month by
haunting the electronics shops of Akihabara by day and praying all
night at the Asakusa Canon Love-Bar Temple for forgiveness for having
visited Ranter & Spiegel, the horrible creators of the newest
cyber-curse, Computer Information Fraud.
Date: Thu, 23 Oct 1994 22:51:01 CDT
From: CuD Moderators
Subject: File 7--Cu Digest Header Info (unchanged since 25 Nov 1994)
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