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x :6 Computer Hacking: A New Breed of Crime is Born


Jon Hogg

College Composition, mod 3 Instructor: Mr. Gorsuch May 17, 1991

# #.H:...HOGG $$$ #.H:... Thesis: The computer revolution has given birth to a whole new class of crime: the computer hacker. #L---+-T--T--T-+-T--2----T----3--T-+----4T---+---T5----+-T--6----R----7--T-+-I. What hacking is A. Definition - "To hack...at someting means to work on it without any ... hope of success..." B. The word "hacker" has taken on a negative connotation 1) There was a time when hacking was thought of mainly as a constructive activity a. Brought us the innovation of the home computer in the '70s b. Steve Wozniak's invention of the Apple computer 2) Even today there are still "good" hackers who do no harm to anyone C. Terminology 1) Definition of a cyberpunk 2) Defintion of a cracker 3) Phone phreaking a. Definition b. How it is done 4) Worm - "A self-contained program that spreads through computer networks" 5) Time bomb - a program that does something, either benign or destructive, on a certain date 6) Virus - program that attaches itself onto existing computer files & "reproduces" 7) Social engineering 8) Cracker - two types a. "...breaks illegally into computer systems and creates mischief..." b. One who "cracks" the copy-protection scheme on a piece of commercial software and then possibly pirates the software 9) Pirate - One who illegally distributes copies of commercially available software II. Hackers - what they are like A. Mark Koi 1) What got him interested in computers 2) Mark's obscession with his Commodore 64 3) Mark wasn't a superachiever or underachiever 4) Description of Mark's bedroom 5) Mark's "trashing" missions B. A couple of hackers I talked to last summer 1) Fiber Optic G0D 2) "Eagle" - chatted with him on Freenet, then talked voice with him a. His friend on the 3-way line high on drugs b. Both into heavy metal music 3) Joe - chatted with him on Freenet, then talked voice a. Had a prepubescent eigth grader on his 3-way line b. Called an operator while we were on the phone c. Tried to see if I was "elite" C. Description of a hacker BBS III. Hackers - their motivations and attitudes A. Reasons for breaking into computers

1) To bolster their ego 2) For fun 3) The challenge of defeating computer security B. Two camps of computer users 1) Hackers 2) People in "business, science, and national security" who couldn't live without their computers to do their work--hate hackers C. Breaking computer security - nothing wrong in doing it, "if you're accomplishing somthing useful" D. Cyberpunks seeing "cracking supposedly impenetrable networks as a challenging rite of passage" E. "Hackers...are doers, take-things-in-handers...Their arguments are their actions" IV. Hackers are criminals A. Cost of Hacking Activities 1) Phone phreaking - $500 million annually 2) Ripped off data & software piracy - $4 million annually B. "..'predators on society'" C. "...data on crackers..." showing "...they are either juvenile delinquents or plain criminals" V. Ease of doing damage via computer A. The ability of a kid to go out and buy "...the electronic equivalent of a Saturday night special" B. The ability of anyone with grey matter, computer and modem to break into almost any system he/she dials into VI. Legal aspects of hacking A. Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986 B. The Electronic Frontier Foundation 1) Founded by a number of prominent people in the computer field 2) Sticks up for computer users who are victims of unwarranted searches and/or seizures 3) "fight for computer users' rights" D. Robert Morris case 1) Tell what Morris did 2) Morris shouldn't go to jail, says one writer E. Prior restraint illegally practiced by law enforcement when Craig Neidorf was shut down F. Computer technology so new that society must catch up with it

# Our society, in the past fifteen years, has undergone a massive revolution. The revolution I am referring to is that of the computer becoming a major part of the lives of Americans. The computer has permanently changed the way Americans live. For many of us, the use of ATM's is a part of our banking routine. Computer microprocessors rear their heads in various household appliances such as VCR's and TV's. Many business people depend on personal computers to do their work. But one undesirable aspect of society has undergone a revolution because of computers as well: crime. The computer revolution has given birth to a whole new class of criminal: the computer hacker. #l---+---T1----+-T--2----T----3--T-+----4T---+---T5----+-T--6----r----R--T-+-First off, let me give an idea as to what the term "hacker" means and how the term has changed its meaning throughout about the past fifteen years. The textbook that I use in my Pascal programming class gives this definition for hacking: #l---+---T1----+-T--2----T----3--T-+----4T---+---T5----+-T--6-----r----R--T-+-#l---+---T1----+-T--2----T----3--T-+----4T---+---T5----+-T--6-----r----R--T-+-To hack on or at something means to work on it without any great hope of success...Simply hacking something means to explore it for no particular reason, usually late at night. (Cooper & Clancy, 570) #l---+I--T1----+-T--2----T----3--T-+----4T---+---T5----+-T--6----------R--T-+-It was in this spirit of hacking that the hackers of the 1970's made having a computer in one's very own home possible at an affordable price. Steve Wozniak, back in 1975, slapped together some chips and wires and dubbed his creation "Apple I." (the Apple II, which actually has a keyboard and a case, succeeded the Apple I about a year later.) Lee Felsenstein, hacker and inventor of the Osborne I personal computer, brought us "the first keyboard- and display-equipped microcomputer and designed the first portable computer." (Steinburg 157). Even today there are people who like to tinker with electronics and computer hardware. These people who tinker with the insides of their computers try to get their computers to perform beyond the limits imposed by the manufacturer of their computers. These people are the Henry Ford's and the Thomas Edison's of our day. These people enjoy tinkering with computers as a hobby to occupy their free time and do no harm. But in about the past ten years, the word "hacker" has taken on a negative connotation, thanks in part to the news media and the movie #War Games#. A more appropriate term to describe someone who breaks into other computers and causes discomfort and damage via computer is "rodent," "cracker," "cyberpunk," or "worm." Because there are people who are involved in the dark side of computing, a whole crop of new jargon terms have sprung up in the past few years-- allow me to define a few. Cyberpunks are "computer hackers who create harmful programs." A worm (not to be confused with the above mentioning of a "worm") is "a self-contained program that spreads through computer networks." A time bomb is a program that is triggered to performed some action when the computer's system clock reaches a certain date, like wiping out a PC's hard disk or printing a Christmas message on the screen. A virus is "a rogue computer program that copies itself into other programs and diskettes" which is either benign or does something nasty such as wiping out the data on a computer's hard disk. (Allman 25) Social engineering occurs when a hacker dupes a system operator into divulging passwords and access codes by fibbing to the system operator and telling him or her that he (the hacker) needs the password or access code for such-and-such a reason. (Hitt & Tough

48) A cracker is 1) one "...who breaks illegally into computer systems and creates mischief...," and 2) someone who "cracks" the copyprotection scheme on a piece of commercially-available software so the software can be copied for friends/buddies/acquaintances or uploaded to a computer bulletin-board system. (Hitt & Tough 48). There have been times when one has gotten his or her long distance bill from Sprint, MCI or other non-AT&T long distance carrier and has found on the bill a call that he or she never made to California that costs some outrageous amount (the farthest west the person has made a call in recent years is Missouri and the highest onecall charge the person has ever run up was about $5.) The reason for the call? He or she has been the victim of a phone phreaker. Some hackers (I will use the term instead of "rodent," "worm," "cracker," or "cyberpunk") just can't stand the thought of actually paying for the long distance calls they make with their computers. So they use illgotten access codes to illegally place free long-distance calls, stealing long-distance service. This is known as "phone phreaking." Sometimes, phreakers use "black boxes" and other gadgets to aid them in their crime. By now, one has to be wondering just what these computer miscreants are like personally. I hope I can enlighten on this by giving a profile of four Cleveland-area hackers. I will name two of the hackers profiled by the "handle" they use on the computer bulletinboard systems and computer networks they call, to add color. First of all, let's start with The Fiber Optic G0D (note the unusual spelling of "god"!) The Fiber Optic G0D's original parents divorced several years back; his mother then invited another man (whom I'm not sure whether or not she married) to live with her. The FOG and I used to fight each other, but then we were somewhat buddies as well. Once I went to the library near where we lived with him and paid him a dollar or two to copy a disk of Apple // graphics. Later I realized that he had ripped me off by making me pay him money to simply copy a diskette for me. When FOG came of high school age, he spent the ninth grade in alternate school. Throughout his high school career he was suspended and had poor grades. Finally, last month, he dropped out of school in the eleventh grade. His mother recently kicked him out of her house because FOG was caught drinking for the fifth time. Last summer, while I was logged onto the Cleveland Free-Net public-access computer system, I "chatted" with Eagle. While we were chatting, he asked me to disconnect from Freenet and have a voice conversation with him. So I did. He had a three-way line. On the third branch of the line was his friend, who was high on drugs. The three of us talked some, then Eagle put a heavy metal CD in his CD player. Soon after I ended the conversation with them. Also last summer on Freenet I encountered a hacker/phreaker named Joe, who also asked me to have a voice conversation. Joe also had a three-way line. On the other branch of the three-way line was his immature, prepubescent, eighth-grade friend. While the three of us were online, he called an operator (probably using some phreaker's "black box".) Joe and his friend tried to determine if I was "elite" (which is an adjective that computer miscreants like to described as.) The deeds of these hackers (from what I know about them-- but I could be mistaken about them) are innocent when compared to those of the notorious Rocky River hacker Mark Koi, who was "busted" for his misdeeds back in 1986. Koi broke into a Congressional system and also broke into business and college systems as well (Sawicki 86). Why did Koi get himself into so much trouble? It all stems from his interest in computers. Mark became interested in computers when he played

around on a friend's Commodore 64. Because Mark was now interested in computers, he asked for and got a Commodore 64 for Christmas from his parents. He later purchased a modem to go with it. Mark then began hacking on his computer and became addicted to it. Brian Gesing, a friend of Mark Koi, described Koi's hacking as "a full-time job." Koi had "computer-hacker fever...like you're addicted to drugs," according to another one of his friends. (Sawicki 158, 162, 163) Mark's misdeeds didn't stop at hacking on his Commodore 64. He and some of his friends would visit Great Northern, Westgate, or an Ohio Bell office. At the two shopping malls, Koi and his cronies would haul off credit card carbons to get credit card numbers which Koi used to illegally order computer parts. Koi and his friends would also take printouts of passwords and access codes from businesses' garbage dumpsters. Also, they would steal "a manual here, a line set there" from an Ohio Bell truck. (Sawicki 161) Now, what was Mark really like personally? Mark wasn't a superachiever or an underachiever, but somewhere in between. Mark's friends are just average kids too, "not particularly known as athletes" or "as top scholars." Mark made decent grades in "math and computers" but didn't make such good grades in his humanities classes. Mark joined the school wrestling team, but wasn't very good at wrestling. (Sawicki 89) Mark Koi's room "was a true hacker's dream," loaded with books about phone systems, computers, and hacking. Mark's room was almost a jungle of wires. Mark's room wasn't anything like a normal teenager's room. (Sawicki 86) Hackers such as Mark Koi use what are known as computer bulletin board systems (BBS's), run on their personal computers, to exchange information on how to break into various computer systems. The BBS is somewhat like an electronic representation of a bulletin board one would find in a grocery store or other public place-- a place to leave messages and to read the messages left by other people, but in somewhat the format of a memorandum. Below is what one will encounter when he calls a typical hacker computer bulletin board system. The name of the imaginary system in this discussion will be The Hacker's Den. A user calls The Hacker's Den by instructing the modem connected to his computer to dial the phone number of The Hacker's Den. When a connection to The Hacker's Den is finally made, he is greeted by the sysop (short for "system operator"-- he's the guy that owns and operates the BBS.) The sysop (short for "system operator") asks the user who he (there are almost no female hackers) is. If the user is new, the sysop pelts him with various questions about hacking and related illegal acts. Once the sysop has determined that the user is "elite" (skilled in hacking) enough, the sysop grants the user access to the BBS. When the user looks at the files in the file section of this BBS, he sees various pirated (illegally copied) computer games. Also in the file section are pornographic graphic files. When he visits the message areas on this BBS, one will encounter a "war" base where the users who call this BBS do nothing but spill out hatred toward each other with messages laden with profanity and sexual innuendos. Also in the message section are message areas where users exchange information on how to break into various systems, phreak codes, and possibly credit card numbers of innocent victims. There are also message areas that deal with various general subjects such as sports and music, along with an area for miscellaneous conversation. All of this leads one to be curious as to what motivates hackers to do what they do. There are several reasons why a hacker breaks into computer systems. One is to bolster his ego. One hacker

says this: "Don't forget ego. People break into computers because it's fun and it makes them look powerful." (Hitt & Tough 47) Another reason is already mentioned by the hacker quoted above: for fun. Finally, many hackers enjoy the challenge of defeating computer security. Another hacker feels this way: #L---+i--T1----+-T--2----T----3--T-+----4T---+---T5----+-T--6----------R--T-+-But there's nothing wrong with breaking security if you're accomplishing something useful. It's like picking a lock on a tool cabinet to get a screwdriver to fix your radio. As long as you put the screwdriver back, what harm does it do? (Hitt & Tough 48) #l---+I--T1----+-T--2----T----3--T-+----4T---+---T5----+-T--6----------R--T-+-One source I consulted had this to say about cyberpunks: #L---+i--T1----+-T--2----T----3--T-+----4T---+---T5----+-T--6----------R--T-+-Cyberpunks, the second generation of computer hackers, subscribe to an arcane code of honor and look upon cracking supposedly impenetrable networks as a challenging rite of passage. (Marsa & Ray, 96) #l---+I--T1----+-T--2----T----3--T-+----4T---+---T5----+-T--6----------R--T-+-A user of who participated in the electronic discussion on the Well BBS, moderated by two editors of Harper's Magazine, described hackers in the following manner: #L---+i--T1----+-T--2----T----3--T-+----4T---+---T5----+-T--6----------R--T-+-Hackers are not sloganeers. They are doers, take-things-inhanders. They are the opposite of philosophers: they can't wait for the language to catch up to them. Their arguments are their actions. (Hitt & Tough 55) #l---I---T1----+-T--2----T----3--T-+----4T---+---T5----+-T--6----------R--T-+-The author of one source I consulted divided computer users into two camps. In one camp are people "in business, science, and national security" who can't live without their computers to do their work. In the other camp are hackers. These two groups are at odds against each other. The business, science, and national security users hate hackers because they can't afford to have hackers break into their computers. But hackers feel that by finding flaws in systems, they are contributing to making systems better. This attitude that hackers have seems noble enough, but still, hackers are criminals who cause damage and discomfort. Phone phreaking costs long-distance companies about $500 million annually. The long-distance companies probably don't raise their rates to make up for this loss, but that $500 million loss is money that isn't reinvested in more, newer, and better equipment and in new technology research for better long-distance service to the honest consumer. The stealing of computer data and software piracy costs companies about $4 million annually. (Marsa & Ray 100) Some law enforcement people describe hackers as "predators on society." (Wallich 34) A user named Mandel, who participated in the discussion on the Well BBS moderated by Harper's Magazine, says that "the data on crackers suggests that they are either juvenile delinquents or plain criminals." (Hitt & Tough 49) Causing such damage is rather easy. Lance Hoffman, electrical engineering and computer science professor at George Washington University, tells just how easy it is: #L---i---T1----+-T--2----T----3--T-+----4T---+---T5----+-T--6----------R--T-+-Any kid can go out and, for less than a thousand dollars, buy the electronic equivalent of a Saturday night special. With the right computer equipment, he can hook up to international networks and do a lot of damage. (Marsa & Ray 100) #L---i---T1----+-T--2----T----3--T-+----4T---+---T5----+-T--6----------R--T-+--

Just how vulnerable are computer systems? Anybody who has a computer (even a cheap modem), a modem (a gadget that allows one's personal computer to connect to other computers via the phone system), some grey matter, and persistence can break into almost any system he dials into. (Marsa & Ray 98) Since computer hacking is such a new type of crime, society is still figuring out how to deal with it and trying to pass laws that govern computing. #L---+i--T1----+-T--2----T----3--T-+----4T---+---T5----+-T--6----------R--T-+-The Electronic Communication Privacy Act of 1986 made it a crime to own 'any electronic, mechanical, or other device {whose design} renders it primarily useful for the purpose of the surreptitious interception of wire, oral or electronic communication'." (Hitt & Tough 56) #L---+i--T1----+-T--2----T----3--T-+----4T---+---T5----+-T--6----------R--T-+-A number of prominent people in the computer field have formed the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which is a group that sticks up for "computer freaks" who are victims of unwarranted searches, seizures, and other "incursions" by the government. The group's mission is to "fight for computer users' rights" (Lawren 17) Robert Morris, who was a graduate student at Cornell University, was indicted in 1988 for breaking into federal computer systems and letting a computer worm loose on a computer network. The worm did damage to the tune of $96 million (estimated.) ("Terminal Case" 11) The author of one article I consulted feels that Morris shouldn't be sent to jail for his computer worm that hosed up Internet, since Morris didn't actually destroy and data and didn't have criminal intentions when he turned his worm loose on Internet. (Hafner 15-16) About a year ago, law enforcement agencies shut down the computer bulletin-board system run by software publisher Craig Neidorf because an issue of the electronic newsletter he carried on the BBS contained illegal information which Neidorf didn't know was illegally gotten by another hacker. Neidorf's lawyer contended that the law-enforcement agency exercised prior restraint on his electronic newsletter. In short, computer technology is so new that society still must catch up with it and establish "...effective rules of behavior for cyberspace..." The author of the article goes on to say that these rules "...will have to wait until the electronic [frontier] has been settled..." (Wallich 38). In the same article, Kapor says that when "the technology becomes more familiar and...secure,...society will be better able to make decisions about how (or whether) access to [computers] should be controlled." (Wallich 38) The computer revolution has brought with it the wonderful innovation of personal computers. Personal computers have enabled many a business person to be more productive, have revolutionized the way papers are written, music is composed, and the way businesses do their accounting. Computers have changed our way of living. But along with this revolution has come a necessity to use these systems responsibly and to set "rules...for cyberspace."

# #WORKS CITED #l---I---T1----+-T--2----T----3--T-+----4T---+---T5----+-T--6----R----7--T-+-Allman, William F. "Computer Hacking Goes on Trial." #U. S. # #News & World Report#. January 22, 1990: 25. Cooper, Doug and Michael Clancy. #Oh! Pascal!# New York: W. W. Norton & Co., 1985. Hafner, Katie. "Morris Code." #The New Republic#. February 18, 1990: 16-18. Hitt, Jack and Paul Tough, eds. "Is Computer Hacking a Crime?" #Harper's Magazine#. March 1990: 45-56 (57?). Lawren, Bill. "Breaking and Entering." #Omni#. December 1990: 17. Marsa, Linda and Don Ray. "Crime Bytes Back." #Omni#. August 1990: 35-38, 96-102. Sawicki, Stephen. "Hacker fever." #Cleveland Magazine#. October 1986: 86-89, 158-164. Steinberg, Don. "Lee Felsenstein." #PC-Computing#. December 1989: 157. "Terminal Case." #U. S. News & World Report#. August 7, 1989: 11. Wallich, Paul. "Digital Desparados." #Scientific American#. September 1990: 34-38.