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Bruce Sterling

Literary Freeware:  Not for Commercial Use

                            THE HACKER CRACKDOWN

                   Law and Disorder on the Electronic Frontier

                                by Bruce Sterling


Preface to the Electronic Release of *The Hacker

Chronology of the Hacker Crackdown


A Brief History of Telephony / Bell's Golden Vaporware /
Universal Service / Wild Boys and Wire Women / The
Electronic Communities / The Ungentle Giant / The
Breakup / In Defense of the System / The Crash Post-
Mortem / Landslides in Cyberspace

Steal This Phone / Phreaking and Hacking / The View
From Under the Floorboards / Boards: Core of the
Underground / Phile Phun / The Rake's Progress /
Strongholds of the Elite / Sting Boards / Hot Potatoes /
War on the Legion / Terminus / Phile 9-1-1 / War Games
/ Real Cyberpunk

Crooked Boards / The World's Biggest Hacker Bust /
Teach Them a Lesson / The U.S. Secret Service / The
Secret Service Battles the Boodlers / A Walk Downtown /
FCIC: The Cutting-Edge Mess / Cyberspace Rangers /
FLETC:  Training the Hacker-Trackers

NuPrometheus + FBI = Grateful Dead / Whole Earth +
Computer Revolution = WELL / Phiber Runs
Underground and Acid Spikes the Well / The Trial of
Knight Lightning / Shadowhawk Plummets to Earth /
Kyrie in the Confessional / $79,499 / A Scholar
Investigates / Computers, Freedom, and Privacy

Electronic Afterword to *The Hacker Crackdown,*
 New YearsO Day 1994

Preface to the Electronic Release of *The Hacker

January 1, 1994 -- Austin, Texas

        Hi, I'm Bruce Sterling, the author of this
electronic book.

        Out in the traditional world of print, *The
Hacker Crackdown* is ISBN 0-553-08058-X, and is
formally catalogued by the Library of Congress as "1.
Computer crimes -- United States.  2. Telephone --
United States -- Corrupt practices.  3.  Programming
(Electronic computers) -- United States -- Corrupt
practices."  'Corrupt practices,' I always get a kick out
of that description.  Librarians are very ingenious

        The paperback is ISBN 0-553-56370-X.  If you go
and buy a print version of *The Hacker Crackdown,*
an action I encourage heartily, you may notice that
in the front of the book,  beneath the copyright
notice  -- "Copyright (C) 1992 by Bruce Sterling" -- it
has this little block of printed legal boilerplate from
the publisher.  It says, and I quote:

        "No part of this book may be reproduced or
transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic
or mechanical, including photocopying, recording,
or by any information storage and retrieval system,
without permission in writing from the publisher.
For information address:  Bantam Books."

        This is a pretty good disclaimer, as such
disclaimers go.  I collect intellectual-property
disclaimers, and I've seen dozens of them, and this
one is at least pretty straightforward.  In this narrow
and particular case, however, it isn't quite accurate.
Bantam Books puts that disclaimer on every book
they publish, but Bantam Books does not, in fact,
own the electronic rights to this book.  I do, because
of certain extensive contract maneuverings my
agent and I went through before this book was
written.  I want to give those electronic publishing
rights away through certain not-for-profit channels,
and I've convinced Bantam that this is a good idea.

        Since Bantam has seen fit to peacably agree to
this scheme of mine, Bantam Books is not going to
fuss about this.  Provided you don't try to sell the
book, they are not going to bother you for what you
do with the electronic copy of this book. If you want
to check this out personally, you can ask them;
they're at 1540 Broadway NY NY 10036.  However, if
you were so foolish as to print this book and start
retailing it for money in violation of my copyright
and the commercial interests of Bantam Books,
then Bantam, a part of the gigantic Bertelsmann
multinational publishing combine, would roust
some of their heavy-duty attorneys out of
hibernation and crush you like a bug.  This is only to
be expected.  I didn't write this book so that you
could make money out of it.  If anybody is gonna
make money out of this book, it's gonna be me and
my publisher.

        My publisher deserves to make money out of
this book.  Not only did the folks at Bantam Books
commission me to write the book, and pay me a
hefty sum to do so, but they bravely printed, in text,
an electronic document the reproduction of which
was once alleged to be a federal felony.  Bantam
Books and their numerous attorneys were very
brave and forthright about this book.  Furthermore,
my former editor at Bantam Books, Betsy Mitchell,
genuinely cared about this project, and worked hard
on it, and had a lot of wise things to say about the
manuscript.  Betsy deserves genuine credit for this
book, credit that editors too rarely get.

        The critics were very kind to *The Hacker
Crackdown,* and commercially the book has done
well.  On the other hand, I didn't write this book in
order to squeeze every last nickel and dime out of
the mitts of impoverished sixteen-year-old
cyberpunk high-school-students.  Teenagers don't
have any money -- (no, not even enough for the  six-
dollar *Hacker Crackdown* paperback, with its
attractive bright-red cover and useful index).   That's
a major reason why teenagers sometimes succumb
to the temptation to do things they shouldn't, such
as swiping my books out of libraries.   Kids:  this one
is all yours, all right?  Go give the print version back.

        Well-meaning, public-spirited civil libertarians
don't have much money, either.   And it seems
almost criminal to snatch cash out of the hands of
America's direly underpaid electronic law
enforcement community.

        If you're a computer cop, a hacker, or an
electronic civil liberties activist, you are the target
audience for this book.  I wrote this book because I
wanted to help you, and help other people
understand you and your unique, uhm, problems.  I
wrote this book to aid your activities, and to
contribute to the public discussion of important
political issues.  In giving the text away in this
fashion, I am directly contributing to the book's
ultimate aim:  to help civilize cyberspace.

        Information *wants* to be free.  And  the
information inside this book longs for freedom with
a peculiar intensity.  I genuinely believe that the
natural habitat of this book is inside an electronic
network.  That may not be the easiest direct method
to generate revenue for the book's author, but that
doesn't matter; this is where this book belongs by its
nature.  I've written other books -- plenty of other
books -- and I'll write more and I am writing more,
but this one is special.  I am making *The Hacker
Crackdown* available electronically as widely as I
can conveniently manage, and if you like the book,
and think it is useful, then I urge you to do the same
with it.

        You can copy this electronic book.   Copy the
heck out of it, be my guest, and give those copies to
anybody who wants them.  The nascent world of
cyberspace is full of sysadmins, teachers, trainers,
cybrarians, netgurus, and various species of
cybernetic activist.  If you're one of those people,  I
know about you, and I know the hassle you go
through to try to help people learn about the
electronic frontier.  I hope that possessing this book
in electronic form will lessen your troubles.  Granted,
this treatment of our electronic social spectrum is
not the ultimate in academic rigor.  And politically, it
has something to offend and trouble almost
everyone.   But hey, I'm told it's readable, and at
least the price is right.

        You can upload the book onto bulletin board
systems, or Internet nodes, or electronic discussion
groups.  Go right ahead and do that, I am giving you
express permission right now.  Enjoy yourself.

        You can put the book on disks and give the disks
away, as long as you don't take any money for it.

        But this book is not public domain.  You can't
copyright it in your own name.   I own the copyright.
Attempts to pirate this book and make money from
selling it may involve you in a serious litigative snarl.
Believe me, for the pittance you might wring out of
such an action, it's really not worth it.  This book
don't "belong" to you.  In an odd but very genuine
way, I feel it doesn't "belong" to me, either.  It's a
book about the people of cyberspace, and
distributing it in this way is the best way I know to
actually make this information available, freely and
easily, to all the people of cyberspace -- including
people far outside the borders of the United States,
who otherwise may never have a chance to see any
edition of the book, and who may perhaps learn
something useful from this strange story of distant,
obscure, but portentous events in so-called
"American cyberspace."

         This electronic book is now literary freeware.  It
now belongs to the emergent realm of alternative
information economics.  You have no right to make
this electronic book part of the conventional flow of
commerce.  Let it be part of the flow of knowledge:
there's a difference.   I've divided the book into four
sections, so that it is less ungainly for upload and
download; if there's a section of particular relevance
to you and your colleagues, feel free to reproduce
that one and skip the rest.

        Just make more when you need them, and give
them to whoever might want them.

        Now have fun.

        Bruce Sterling --


1865 U.S. Secret Service (USSS) founded.

1876  Alexander Graham Bell invents telephone.

1878  First teenage males flung off phone system by
enraged authorities.

1939  "Futurian" science-fiction group raided by Secret

1971  Yippie phone phreaks start YIPL/TAP magazine.

1972  *Ramparts* magazine seized in blue-box rip-off

1978  Ward Christenson and Randy Suess create first
personal computer bulletin board system.

1982  William Gibson coins term "cyberspace."

1982  "414 Gang"  raided.

1983-1983  AT&T dismantled in divestiture.

1984  Congress passes Comprehensive Crime Control Act
giving USSS jurisdiction over credit card fraud and
computer fraud.

1984  "Legion of Doom" formed.

1984.  *2600:  The Hacker Quarterly*  founded.

1984.   *Whole Earth Software Catalog* published.

1985.  First police "sting" bulletin board systems

1985.  Whole Earth 'Lectronic Link computer conference
(WELL) goes on-line.

1986  Computer Fraud and Abuse Act passed.

1986  Electronic Communications Privacy Act passed.

1987  Chicago prosecutors form Computer Fraud and
Abuse Task Force.


July.  Secret Service covertly videotapes "SummerCon"
hacker convention.

September.  "Prophet" cracks BellSouth AIMSX computer
network and downloads E911 Document to his own
computer and to Jolnet.

September.  AT&T Corporate Information Security
informed of Prophet's action.

October.  Bellcore Security informed of Prophet's action.


January.  Prophet uploads E911 Document to Knight

February 25.  Knight Lightning publishes E911Document
in *Phrack* electronic newsletter.

May.  Chicago Task Force raids and arrests "Kyrie."

June.  "NuPrometheus League" distributes Apple
Computer proprietary software.

June 13.  Florida probation office crossed with phone-sex
line in switching-station stunt.

July.  "Fry Guy" raided by USSS and Chicago Computer
Fraud and Abuse Task Force.

July.  Secret Service raids "Prophet," "Leftist," and "Urvile"
in Georgia.


January 15.  Martin Luther King Day Crash strikes AT&T
long-distance network nationwide.

January 18-19  Chicago Task Force raids Knight Lightning
in St. Louis.

January 24.  USSS and New York State Police raid "Phiber
Optik,"  "Acid Phreak," and "Scorpion" in New York City.

February 1. USSS raids "Terminus" in Maryland.

February 3.  Chicago Task Force raids Richard Andrews'

February 6.  Chicago Task Force raids Richard Andrews'

February 6.  USSS arrests Terminus, Prophet, Leftist, and

February 9.  Chicago Task Force arrests Knight Lightning.

February 20.  AT&T Security shuts down public-access
"attctc" computer in Dallas.

February 21.  Chicago Task Force raids Robert Izenberg in

March 1.  Chicago Task Force raids Steve Jackson Games,
Inc., "Mentor," and "Erik Bloodaxe" in Austin.

May 7,8,9.  USSS and Arizona Organized Crime and
Racketeering Bureau conduct "Operation Sundevil" raids
in Cincinnatti, Detroit, Los Angeles, Miami, Newark,
Phoenix, Pittsburgh, Richmond, Tucson, San Diego, San
Jose, and San Francisco.

May.  FBI interviews John Perry Barlow re NuPrometheus

June.  Mitch Kapor and Barlow found Electronic Frontier
Foundation;  Barlow publishes *Crime and Puzzlement*

July 24-27.  Trial of Knight Lightning.


February.  CPSR Roundtable in Washington, D.C.

March 25-28.  Computers, Freedom and Privacy
conference in San Francisco.

May 1.  Electronic Frontier Foundation, Steve Jackson, and
others file suit against members of Chicago Task Force.

July 1-2.  Switching station phone software crash affects
Washington, Los Angeles, Pittsburgh, San Francisco.

September 17.  AT&T phone crash affects New York City
and three airports.


        This is a book about cops, and  wild teenage whiz-
kids, and lawyers, and hairy-eyed anarchists, and
industrial technicians, and hippies, and high-tech
millionaires, and game hobbyists, and computer security
experts, and Secret Service agents, and grifters, and

        This book is about the electronic frontier of the 1990s.
It concerns activities that take place inside computers and
over telephone lines.

         A science fiction writer coined the useful term
"cyberspace" in 1982.  But the territory in question, the
electronic frontier, is about a hundred and thirty years old.
Cyberspace is the "place" where a telephone conversation
appears to occur.  Not inside your actual phone, the
plastic device on your desk.  Not inside the other person's
phone, in some other city.  *The place between* the
phones.  The indefinite place *out there,* where the two of
you, two human beings, actually meet and communicate.

         Although it is not exactly  "real," "cyberspace" is a
genuine place.   Things happen there that have very
genuine consequences.  This "place" is not "real," but it is
serious, it is earnest.  Tens of thousands of people have
dedicated their lives to it, to the public service of public
communication by wire and electronics.

          People have worked on this "frontier" for
generations now.  Some people became rich and famous
from their efforts there.  Some just played in it, as
hobbyists.  Others soberly pondered it, and wrote about it,
and regulated it, and negotiated over it in international
forums, and sued one another about it, in gigantic, epic
court battles that lasted for years.  And almost since the
beginning, some people have committed crimes in this

        But in the past twenty years, this electrical "space,"
which was once thin and dark and one-dimensional -- little
more than a narrow speaking-tube, stretching from phone
to phone -- has flung itself open like a gigantic jack-in-the-
box.  Light has flooded upon it, the eerie light of the
glowing computer screen.   This dark electric netherworld
has become a vast flowering electronic landscape.   Since
the 1960s, the world of the telephone has cross-bred itself
with computers and television, and though there is still no
substance to cyberspace,  nothing you can handle, it has a
strange kind of physicality now.   It makes good sense
today to talk of cyberspace  as a place all its own.

        Because people live in it now.   Not just a few people,
not just a few technicians and eccentrics, but thousands of
people, quite normal people.  And not just for a little while,
either, but for hours straight, over weeks, and  months, and
years.   Cyberspace today is a "Net," a "Matrix,"
international in scope and growing swiftly and steadily.  It's
growing in size, and wealth, and  political importance.

        People are making entire careers in modern
cyberspace.   Scientists and technicians, of course; they've
been there for twenty years now.  But increasingly,
cyberspace is filling with journalists and doctors and
lawyers and artists and clerks.   Civil servants make their
careers there now, "on-line" in vast government data-
banks; and so do spies, industrial, political, and just plain
snoops; and so do police, at least a few of them.  And there
are children living there now.

        People have met there and been married there.
There are entire living communities in cyberspace today;
chattering, gossipping, planning, conferring and
scheming,  leaving one another voice-mail and electronic
mail, giving one another big weightless chunks of valuable
data,  both legitimate and illegitimate.  They busily pass
one another computer software and the occasional
festering computer virus.

        We do not really understand how to live in
cyberspace yet.  We are feeling our way into it, blundering
about.   That is not surprising.  Our lives in the physical
world, the "real" world, are also far from perfect, despite a
lot more practice.   Human lives, real lives,  are imperfect
by their nature, and there are human beings in
cyberspace.  The way we live in cyberspace is a funhouse
mirror of the way we live in the real world.   We take both
our advantages and our troubles with us.

          This book is about trouble in cyberspace.
Specifically, this book is about certain strange events in
the year 1990, an unprecedented and startling year for the
the growing world of computerized communications.

            In 1990 there came a nationwide crackdown on illicit
computer hackers, with arrests, criminal charges,  one
dramatic show-trial, several guilty pleas,  and huge
confiscations of data and equipment all over the USA.

        The Hacker Crackdown of 1990 was larger, better
organized, more deliberate, and more resolute than any
previous effort in the brave new world of computer crime.
The U.S.  Secret Service, private telephone security, and
state and local law enforcement groups across the country
all joined forces in a determined attempt to break the
back of America's electronic underground.   It was a
fascinating effort, with very mixed results.

        The Hacker Crackdown had another unprecedented
effect; it spurred the creation, within "the computer
community," of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a new
and very odd interest group, fiercely  dedicated to the
establishment and preservation of electronic civil liberties.
The crackdown, remarkable in itself, has created a melee
of debate over electronic crime, punishment, freedom of
the press,  and issues of search and seizure.   Politics has
entered cyberspace.   Where people go, politics follow.

        This is the story of the people of cyberspace.
 PART ONE:  Crashing the System

        On January 15, 1990, AT&T's long-distance telephone
switching system crashed.

          This was a strange, dire, huge event.  Sixty thousand
people lost their telephone service completely.   During
the nine long hours of frantic effort that it took to restore
service, some seventy million telephone calls went

         Losses of service, known as "outages" in the telco
trade, are a known and accepted hazard of the telephone
business.    Hurricanes hit, and phone cables get snapped
by the thousands.   Earthquakes wrench through buried
fiber-optic lines.  Switching stations catch fire and burn to
the ground.  These things do happen.  There are
contingency plans for them, and decades of experience in
dealing with them.   But the Crash of January 15 was
unprecedented.  It was unbelievably huge, and it occurred
for no apparent physical reason.

        The crash started  on a Monday afternoon in a single
switching-station in Manhattan.  But, unlike any merely
physical damage,  it spread and spread.   Station after
station across America collapsed in a chain reaction, until
fully half of AT&T's  network had gone haywire and the
remaining half was hard-put to handle the overflow.

        Within nine hours, AT&T software engineers more or
less understood what had caused the crash.  Replicating
the problem exactly, poring over software line by line,
took them a couple of weeks.   But because it was hard to
understand technically, the full truth of the matter and its
implications were not widely and thoroughly aired and
explained.  The root cause of the crash remained obscure,
surrounded by rumor and fear.

        The crash was a grave corporate embarrassment.
The "culprit" was a bug in AT&T's own software -- not the
sort of admission the telecommunications giant wanted to
make, especially in the face of increasing competition.
Still, the truth *was*  told, in the baffling technical terms
necessary to explain it.

        Somehow  the explanation failed to persuade
American law enforcement officials and even telephone
corporate security personnel.   These people were not
technical experts or software wizards, and they had their
own suspicions about the cause of this disaster.

        The police and telco security  had important sources
of information denied to mere software engineers.   They
had informants in the computer underground and  years
of experience in dealing with high-tech rascality that
seemed to grow ever more sophisticated.   For years they
had been expecting a direct and savage attack against the
American national telephone system.  And with the Crash
of January 15 -- the first month of a new, high-tech decade
-- their predictions, fears, and suspicions seemed at last to
have  entered the real world.   A world where the telephone
system had not merely crashed, but, quite likely, *been*
crashed -- by "hackers."

        The  crash created a large dark cloud of suspicion
that would color  certain people's assumptions and actions
for months.  The fact that it took place in the realm of
software was suspicious on its face.   The fact that it
occurred on Martin Luther King Day, still the most
politically touchy of American holidays, made it more
suspicious yet.

             The  Crash of January 15  gave the Hacker
Crackdown its sense of edge and  its sweaty urgency.   It
made people, powerful people in positions of public
authority, willing to believe the worst.  And, most fatally, it
helped to give investigators a willingness to take extreme
measures and the determination to preserve almost total

         An obscure software fault in an aging switching
system in New York  was to lead to a chain reaction of legal
and constitutional trouble all across the country.


        Like the crash in the telephone system, this chain
reaction was ready and waiting to happen.  During the
1980s, the American legal system was extensively patched
to deal with the novel issues of computer crime.  There
was, for instance, the Electronic  Communications Privacy
Act of 1986  (eloquently described as "a stinking mess" by a
prominent law enforcement official).   And there was the
draconian Computer Fraud and Abuse Act of 1986, passed
unanimously by the United States Senate, which later
would reveal a large number of flaws.   Extensive, well-
meant efforts had been made to keep the legal system up
to date.  But in the day-to-day grind of the real world, even
the most elegant software tends to crumble and suddenly
reveal its hidden bugs.

        Like the advancing telephone system, the American
legal system was certainly not ruined by its temporary
crash; but for those caught under the weight of the
collapsing system, life became a series of blackouts and

        In order to understand why these weird events
occurred, both in the world of technology and in the world
of law, it's not enough to understand the merely technical
problems.  We will get to those; but first and foremost, we
must try to understand the telephone, and the business of
telephones, and the community of human beings that
telephones have created.


        Technologies have life cycles, like cities do, like
institutions do, like laws and governments do.

        The first stage of  any technology is  the Question
Mark, often known as the "Golden Vaporware" stage.   At
this early point, the technology is only a phantom, a mere
gleam in the inventor's eye.   One such inventor was a
speech teacher and electrical tinkerer named Alexander
Graham Bell.

        Bell's early inventions, while ingenious, failed to
move the world.   In 1863, the teenage Bell and his brother
Melville made an artificial talking mechanism out of
wood, rubber, gutta-percha, and tin.  This weird device had
a rubber-covered "tongue" made of movable wooden
segments, with vibrating rubber "vocal cords," and rubber
"lips" and "cheeks."  While Melville puffed a bellows into a
tin tube, imitating the lungs,  young Alec  Bell would
manipulate the "lips," "teeth," and "tongue," causing the
thing to emit high-pitched falsetto gibberish.

        Another would-be technical breakthrough was the
Bell "phonautograph" of 1874, actually made out of a
human cadaver's ear.  Clamped into place on a tripod, this
grisly gadget drew sound-wave images on smoked glass
through a thin straw glued to its vibrating earbones.

        By 1875, Bell had learned to produce audible sounds -
- ugly shrieks and squawks -- by using magnets,
diaphragms, and electrical current.

        Most "Golden Vaporware" technologies go nowhere.

        But the second stage of technology is the Rising Star,
or, the "Goofy Prototype," stage.   The telephone, Bell's
most ambitious gadget yet,  reached this stage on March
10, 1876.  On that great day, Alexander Graham Bell
became the first person to transmit intelligible human
speech electrically.   As it happened, young Professor  Bell,
industriously tinkering in his Boston lab,  had spattered
his trousers with acid.   His assistant, Mr. Watson, heard
his cry for help -- over Bell's experimental audio-
telegraph.  This was an event without precedent.

        Technologies in their "Goofy Prototype" stage rarely
work very well.  They're experimental, and therefore half-
baked and rather frazzled.  The prototype may be
attractive and novel, and it does look as if it ought to be
good for something-or-other.  But nobody, including the
inventor, is quite sure what.  Inventors, and speculators,
and pundits may have very firm ideas about its potential
use, but those ideas are often very wrong.

          The natural habitat of the Goofy Prototype is in trade
shows and in the popular press.   Infant technologies need
publicity and investment money like a tottering calf need
milk.  This was very true of Bell's machine.   To raise
research and development money,  Bell toured with his
device as a stage attraction.

          Contemporary press reports of the stage debut of
the telephone showed pleased astonishment mixed with
considerable dread.   Bell's stage telephone was a large
wooden box with a crude speaker-nozzle, the whole
contraption about the size and shape of an overgrown
Brownie camera.   Its buzzing steel soundplate, pumped
up by powerful electromagnets,  was loud enough to fill an
auditorium.  Bell's assistant Mr. Watson, who could
manage on the keyboards fairly well, kicked in by playing
the organ from distant rooms, and, later, distant cities.
This feat was considered marvellous, but very eerie

         Bell's original notion for the telephone, an idea
promoted for a couple of  years, was that it would become
a mass medium.  We might recognize Bell's idea today as
something close to modern "cable radio."    Telephones  at
a central source would transmit music, Sunday sermons,
and important public speeches to a paying network of
wired-up subscribers.

        At the time, most people thought this notion made
good sense.    In fact, Bell's idea  was workable.  In
Hungary, this philosophy of the telephone was
successfully put into everyday practice.  In Budapest, for
decades, from 1893 until after World War I, there was a
government-run information  service called "Telefon
Hirmondo<<."   Hirmondo<< was a centralized source of news
and entertainment and culture, including stock reports,
plays, concerts, and novels read aloud.  At certain hours of
the day, the phone would ring, you would plug in a
loudspeaker for the use of the family, and Telefon
Hirmondo<< would be on the air -- or rather, on the phone.

        Hirmondo<< is dead tech today, but  Hirmondo<< might
be considered a spiritual ancestor of the modern
telephone-accessed computer data services, such as
CompuServe, GEnie or Prodigy.  The principle behind
Hirmondo<< is also not too far from computer "bulletin-
board systems" or BBS's, which arrived in the late 1970s,
spread rapidly across America, and will figure largely in
this book.

        We are used to using telephones for individual
person-to-person speech, because we are used to the Bell
system.  But this was just one possibility among many.
Communication networks are very flexible and protean,
especially when their hardware becomes sufficiently
advanced.  They can be put to all kinds of uses.   And they
have been -- and they will be.

        Bell's telephone was bound for glory, but this was a
combination of political decisions, canny infighting in
court, inspired industrial leadership, receptive local
conditions and outright good luck.  Much the same is true
of communications systems today.

        As Bell and his backers struggled to install their
newfangled system in the real world of nineteenth-century
New England, they had to fight against skepticism and
industrial rivalry.  There was already a strong electrical
communications network present in America: the
telegraph.  The head of the Western Union telegraph
system dismissed Bell's prototype as "an electrical toy"
and refused to buy the rights to Bell's  patent.    The
telephone, it seemed,  might be all right as a parlor
entertainment -- but not for serious business.

        Telegrams, unlike mere telephones, left a permanent
physical record of their messages.  Telegrams, unlike
telephones,  could be answered whenever the recipient
had time and convenience.  And the telegram had a much
longer distance-range than Bell's early telephone.  These
factors made telegraphy seem a much more sound and
businesslike technology -- at least to some.

        The telegraph system was huge, and well-entrenched.
In 1876, the United States had 214,000 miles of telegraph
wire, and 8500 telegraph offices.  There were specialized
telegraphs for businesses and stock traders, government,
police and fire departments.  And Bell's "toy" was best
known as a stage-magic musical device.

        The third stage of technology is known as the "Cash
Cow" stage.   In the "cash cow" stage, a technology finds its
place in the world, and matures, and becomes settled and
productive.   After a year or so,  Alexander Graham Bell
and his capitalist backers concluded that eerie music
piped from nineteenth-century cyberspace was not the
real selling-point of his invention.  Instead, the telephone
was about speech -- individual, personal speech, the
human voice, human conversation and  human
interaction.   The telephone was not to be managed from
any centralized broadcast center.  It was to be a personal,
intimate technology.

        When you picked up a telephone, you were not
absorbing the cold output of a machine -- you were
speaking to another human being.   Once people realized
this, their instinctive dread of the telephone as an eerie,
unnatural device, swiftly vanished.   A "telephone call" was
not a "call" from a "telephone" itself,  but a call from
another human being, someone you would generally know
and recognize.   The real point was not what the machine
could do for you (or to you), but what you yourself, a
person and citizen, could do *through* the machine.  This
decision on the part of the young Bell Company was
absolutely vital.

        The first telephone networks went up around Boston -
- mostly among the technically curious and the well-to-do
(much the same segment of the American populace that,
a hundred years later, would be buying personal
computers).  Entrenched backers of the telegraph
continued to scoff.

        But in January 1878, a disaster made the telephone
famous.   A train crashed in Tarriffville, Connecticut.
Forward-looking doctors in the nearby city of Hartford had
had Bell's "speaking telephone" installed.    An alert local
druggist was able to telephone an entire community of
local doctors, who rushed to the site to give aid.  The
disaster, as disasters do, aroused intense press coverage.
The phone had proven its usefulness in the real world.

        After Tarriffville, the telephone network spread like
crabgrass.  By 1890 it was all over New England.  By '93, out
to Chicago.  By '97, into Minnesota, Nebraska and Texas.
By 1904 it was all over the continent.

        The telephone had become a mature technology.
Professor Bell  (now generally known as "Dr. Bell" despite
his lack of a formal degree) became quite wealthy.   He
lost interest in the tedious day-to-day business muddle of
the booming telephone network, and gratefully returned
his attention to creatively hacking-around in his  various
laboratories, which were now much larger, better-
ventilated,  and gratifyingly better-equipped.   Bell was
never to have another great inventive success, though his
speculations and prototypes anticipated fiber-optic
transmission, manned flight, sonar, hydrofoil ships,
tetrahedral construction, and Montessori education.   The
"decibel," the standard scientific measure of sound
intensity, was named after Bell.

        Not all Bell's vaporware notions were inspired.  He
was fascinated by human eugenics.   He also spent many
years developing a weird personal system of astrophysics
in which gravity did not exist.

        Bell was a definite eccentric.  He was something of a
hypochondriac, and throughout his life he habitually
stayed up until four A.M., refusing to rise before noon.
But Bell had accomplished a great feat; he was an idol of
millions and his influence, wealth, and great personal
charm, combined with his eccentricity, made him
something of a loose cannon on deck.   Bell maintained a
thriving scientific salon in his winter mansion in
Washington, D.C., which gave him considerable
backstage influence in governmental and scientific
circles.   He was a major financial backer of the the
magazines *Science* and *National Geographic,* both
still flourishing today as important organs of the American
scientific establishment.

         Bell's companion Thomas Watson, similarly wealthy
and similarly odd, became the ardent political disciple of a
19th-century science-fiction writer and would-be social
reformer, Edward Bellamy.  Watson also trod the boards
briefly as a Shakespearian actor.

        There would never be another Alexander Graham
Bell, but in years to come there would be surprising
numbers of people like him.  Bell was a prototype of the
high-tech entrepreneur.   High-tech entrepreneurs will
play a very prominent role in this book: not merely as
technicians and businessmen, but as pioneers of the
technical frontier, who can carry the power and prestige
they derive from high-technology into the political and
social arena.

        Like later entrepreneurs, Bell was fierce in defense of
his own technological territory.  As the telephone began to
flourish, Bell was soon involved in violent lawsuits in the
defense of his patents.  Bell's Boston lawyers were
excellent, however, and Bell himself, as an elecution
teacher and gifted public speaker, was a devastatingly
effective legal witness.  In the eighteen years of  Bell's
patents, the Bell company was involved in six hundred
separate lawsuits.  The legal records printed filled 149
volumes.   The Bell Company won every single suit.

        After Bell's exclusive patents expired, rival telephone
companies sprang up all over America.  Bell's company,
American Bell Telephone, was soon in deep trouble.  In
1907, American Bell Telephone fell into the hands of the
rather sinister J.P. Morgan financial cartel, robber-baron
speculators who dominated Wall Street.

        At this point, history might have taken a different
turn.  American might well have been served forever by a
patchwork of locally owned telephone companies.   Many
state politicians and local businessmen considered this an
excellent solution.

        But the new Bell holding company, American
Telephone and Telegraph or AT&T, put in a new man at
the helm, a visionary industrialist named Theodore Vail.
Vail, a former Post Office manager, understood large
organizations and had an innate feeling for the nature of
large-scale communications.   Vail quickly saw to it that
AT&T seized the technological edge once again.   The
Pupin and Campbell "loading coil," and the deForest
"audion," are both extinct technology today, but in 1913
they gave Vail's company the best *long-distance*  lines
ever built.  By controlling long-distance -- the links
between, and over, and above the smaller local phone
companies -- AT&T swiftly gained the whip-hand over
them, and was soon devouring them right and left.

         Vail plowed the profits back into research and
development, starting the Bell tradition of huge-scale and
brilliant industrial research.

        Technically and financially, AT&T gradually
steamrollered the opposition.  Independent telephone
companies never became entirely extinct, and hundreds
of them flourish today.  But Vail's  AT&T became the
supreme communications company.   At one point, Vail's
AT&T bought Western Union itself, the very company
that had derided Bell's telephone as a "toy."   Vail
thoroughly reformed Western Union's hidebound
business along his modern principles;  but when the
federal government grew anxious at this centralization of
power, Vail politely  gave Western Union back.

        This centralizing process was not unique.  Very
similar  events had happened in American steel, oil, and
railroads.   But AT&T, unlike the other companies, was to
remain supreme.  The monopoly robber-barons of those
other industries were humbled and shattered by
government trust-busting.

        Vail, the former Post Office official, was quite willing
to accommodate the US government; in fact he would
forge an active alliance with it.   AT&T would become
almost a wing of the American government, almost
another Post Office -- though not quite.   AT&T would
willingly submit to federal regulation, but in return, it
would use the government's regulators as its own police,
who would keep out competitors and assure the Bell
system's profits and preeminence.

         This was the second birth -- the political birth -- of the
American telephone system.  Vail's arrangement was to
persist, with vast success, for many decades, until 1982.
His system was an odd kind of American industrial
socialism.  It was born at about the same time as Leninist
Communism, and it lasted almost as long -- and, it must
be admitted, to considerably better effect.

        Vail's system worked.  Except perhaps for aerospace,
there has been no technology more thoroughly dominated
by Americans than the telephone.   The telephone was
seen from the beginning as a quintessentially American
technology.   Bell's policy, and the policy of Theodore Vail,
was a profoundly democratic policy of *universal access.*
Vail's famous corporate slogan, "One Policy, One System,
Universal Service," was a political slogan, with a very
American ring to it.

        The American telephone was not to become the
specialized tool of government or business, but a general
public utility.  At first, it was true, only the wealthy  could
afford private telephones, and Bell's company pursued
the business markets primarily.   The American phone
system was a capitalist effort, meant to make money; it
was not a charity.  But from the first, almost all
communities with telephone service had public
telephones.  And many stores -- especially drugstores --
offered public use of their phones.  You might not own a
telephone -- but you could always get into the system, if
you really needed to.

        There was nothing inevitable about this decision to
make telephones "public" and "universal."   Vail's system
involved a profound act of trust in the public.  This
decision was a political one, informed by the basic values
of the American republic.  The situation might have been
very different;  and in other countries, under other
systems, it certainly was.

        Joseph Stalin, for instance, vetoed plans for a Soviet
phone system soon after the Bolshevik revolution.  Stalin
was certain that publicly accessible telephones would
become instruments of anti-Soviet counterrevolution and
conspiracy.   (He was probably right.)  When telephones
did arrive in the Soviet Union, they would be instruments
of Party authority, and always heavily tapped.  (Alexander
Solzhenitsyn's  prison-camp novel *The First Circle*
describes efforts to develop a phone system more suited
to Stalinist purposes.)

        France, with its tradition of rational centralized
government, had fought bitterly even against the electric
telegraph, which seemed to the French entirely too
anarchical and frivolous.   For decades, nineteenth-
century France communicated via the "visual telegraph,"
a nation-spanning, government-owned  semaphore
system of huge stone towers that signalled from hilltops,
across vast distances, with big windmill-like arms.  In 1846,
one Dr. Barbay, a semaphore enthusiast, memorably
uttered an early version of what might be called "the
security expert's argument" against the open media.

        "No, the electric telegraph is not a sound invention.
It will always be at the mercy of the slightest disruption,
wild youths, drunkards, bums, etc....  The electric telegraph
meets those destructive elements with only a few meters
of wire over which supervision is impossible.  A single man
could, without being seen, cut the telegraph wires leading
to Paris, and in twenty-four hours cut in ten different
places the wires of the same line, without being arrested.
The visual telegraph, on the contrary, has its towers, its
high walls, its gates well-guarded from inside by strong
armed men.  Yes, I declare, substitution of the electric
telegraph for the visual one is a dreadful measure, a truly
idiotic act."

        Dr. Barbay and his high-security stone machines
were eventually unsuccessful, but his argument -- that
communication  exists for the safety and convenience of
the state, and must be carefully protected from the wild
boys and the gutter rabble  who might want to crash the
system -- would be heard again and again.

        When the French telephone system finally did arrive,
its snarled inadequacy was to be notorious.  Devotees of
the American Bell System often recommended a trip to
France, for skeptics.

        In Edwardian Britain, issues of class and privacy were
a ball-and-chain for telephonic progress.   It was
considered outrageous that anyone -- any wild fool off the
street -- could simply barge bellowing into one's office or
home, preceded only by the ringing of a telephone bell.
In Britain, phones were tolerated for the use of business,
but private phones tended be stuffed away into closets,
smoking rooms, or servants' quarters.  Telephone
operators were resented in Britain because they did not
seem to "know their place."   And no one of breeding
would print a telephone number on a business card; this
seemed a crass attempt to make the acquaintance of

        But phone access in America was to become a
popular right; something like universal suffrage, only
more so.  American women could not yet vote when the
phone system came through; yet from the beginning
American women doted on the telephone.  This
"feminization" of the American telephone was often
commented on by foreigners.   Phones in America were
not censored or stiff or  formalized; they were social,
private, intimate, and domestic.   In America, Mother's
Day is by far the busiest day of the year for the phone

        The early telephone companies, and especially
AT&T, were among the foremost employers of American
women.  They employed the daughters of the American
middle-class in great armies: in 1891, eight thousand
women; by 1946, almost a quarter of a million.   Women
seemed to enjoy telephone work; it was respectable, it was
steady, it paid fairly well as women's work went, and -- not
least -- it seemed a genuine contribution to the social good
of the community.   Women found Vail's ideal of public
service attractive.  This was especially true in rural areas,
where women operators, running extensive rural party-
lines, enjoyed considerable social power.   The operator
knew everyone on the party-line, and everyone knew her.

        Although Bell himself was an ardent suffragist, the
telephone company did not employ women for the sake of
advancing female liberation.  AT&T  did this for sound
commercial reasons.  The first telephone operators of the
Bell system were not women, but teenage American boys.
They were telegraphic  messenger boys (a group about to
be rendered technically obsolescent), who swept up
around the phone office, dunned customers for bills, and
made phone connections on the switchboard, all on the

        Within the very first  year of operation, 1878, Bell's
company learned a sharp lesson about combining
teenage boys and telephone switchboards.   Putting
teenage boys in charge of the phone system brought swift
and consistent disaster.  Bell's chief engineer described
them as "Wild Indians."  The boys were openly rude to
customers.  They talked back to subscribers, saucing off,
uttering facetious remarks, and generally giving lip.  The
rascals took Saint Patrick's Day off without permission.
And worst of all they played clever tricks with the
switchboard plugs:  disconnecting calls, crossing lines so
that customers found themselves talking to strangers, and
so forth.

        This combination of power, technical mastery, and
effective anonymity seemed to act like catnip on teenage

        This wild-kid-on-the-wires phenomenon was not
confined to the USA; from the beginning, the same was
true of the British phone system.   An early British
commentator kindly remarked:  "No doubt boys in their
teens found the work not a little irksome, and it is also
highly probable that under the early conditions of
employment the adventurous and inquisitive spirits of
which the average healthy boy of that age is possessed,
were not always conducive to the best attention being
given to the wants of the telephone subscribers."

        So the boys were flung off the system -- or at least,
deprived of control of the switchboard.  But the
"adventurous and inquisitive spirits" of the teenage boys
would be heard from in the world of telephony, again and

        The fourth stage in the technological life-cycle is
death:  "the Dog," dead tech.   The telephone has so far
avoided this fate.  On the contrary, it is thriving, still
spreading, still evolving, and at increasing speed.

         The telephone has achieved a rare and exalted state
for a technological artifact:  it has become a *household
object.*    The telephone, like the clock, like pen and
paper, like kitchen utensils and  running water, has
become a technology that is visible only by its absence.
The telephone is technologically transparent.  The global
telephone system is the largest and most complex
machine in the world, yet it is easy to use.  More
remarkable yet,  the telephone is almost entirely
physically safe for the user.

         For the average citizen in the 1870s, the telephone
was weirder, more shocking, more "high-tech" and harder
to comprehend, than the most outrageous stunts of
advanced computing for us Americans in the 1990s.   In
trying to understand what is happening to us today, with
our bulletin-board systems, direct overseas dialling, fiber-
optic transmissions, computer viruses, hacking stunts, and
a vivid tangle of new laws and new crimes, it is important
to realize that our society has been through a similar
challenge before -- and that, all in all, we did rather well by

        Bell's stage telephone seemed bizarre at first.  But
the sensations of weirdness vanished quickly, once people
began to hear the familiar voices of relatives and friends,
in their own homes on their own telephones.   The
telephone changed from a fearsome high-tech totem to
an everyday pillar of human community.

        This has also happened, and is still happening, to
computer networks.   Computer networks  such as
NSFnet, BITnet,  USENET, JANET,  are technically
advanced, intimidating, and much harder to use than
telephones.  Even the popular, commercial computer
networks, such as GEnie, Prodigy, and CompuServe,
cause much head-scratching and have been described as
"user-hateful."   Nevertheless they too are changing from
fancy high-tech items into everyday sources of human

        The words "community" and "communication" have
the same root.   Wherever you put a communications
network, you put a community as well.  And whenever you
*take away*  that network -- confiscate it, outlaw it,  crash it,
raise its price beyond affordability -- then you hurt that

        Communities  will fight to defend themselves.  People
will fight harder and more bitterly to defend their
communities,  than they will fight to defend their own
individual selves.   And this is very true of the "electronic
community" that arose around computer networks in the
1980s  -- or rather, the *various* electronic communities, in
telephony, law enforcement, computing, and the digital
underground that, by  the year 1990, were raiding, rallying,
arresting, suing, jailing, fining and issuing angry

        None of the events of 1990 were entirely new.
Nothing happened in 1990 that did not have some kind of
earlier and more understandable precedent.   What gave
the Hacker Crackdown its new sense of gravity and
importance was the feeling -- the *community* feeling --
that the political stakes had been raised; that trouble in
cyberspace was no longer mere mischief or inconclusive
skirmishing, but a genuine fight over genuine issues, a
fight for community survival and the shape of the future.

        These electronic communities, having flourished
throughout the 1980s, were becoming aware of
themselves, and increasingly, becoming aware of other,
rival communities.   Worries were sprouting up right and
left, with complaints, rumors, uneasy speculations.   But it
would take a catalyst, a shock, to make the new world
evident.   Like Bell's great publicity break, the  Tarriffville
Rail Disaster of January 1878, it would take a cause

          That cause was the AT&T Crash of January 15, 1990.
After the Crash, the wounded and anxious telephone
community would come out fighting hard.


        The community of telephone technicians, engineers,
operators and researchers is the oldest community in
cyberspace.   These are the veterans, the most developed
group,  the richest, the most respectable, in most ways the
most powerful.   Whole generations  have come and gone
since Alexander Graham Bell's day, but the community he
founded survives; people work for the phone system today
whose great-grandparents worked for the phone system.
Its specialty magazines, such as *Telephony,*  *AT&T
Technical Journal,*   *Telephone Engineer and
Management,*  are decades old; they make computer
publications like *Macworld* and *PC Week*  look like
amateur johnny-come-latelies.

        And the phone companies take no back seat in high-
technology, either.  Other companies' industrial
researchers may have won new markets;  but the
researchers of Bell Labs have won *seven  Nobel Prizes.*
One potent device that Bell Labs originated, the transistor,
has created entire *groups* of industries.  Bell Labs are
world-famous for generating "a patent a day," and have
even made vital discoveries in astronomy, physics and

        Throughout its seventy-year history, "Ma Bell" was
not so much a company as a way of life.  Until the
cataclysmic divestiture of the 1980s, Ma Bell was perhaps
the ultimate maternalist mega-employer.   The AT&T
corporate image was the "gentle giant,"  "the voice with a
smile," a vaguely socialist-realist world of cleanshaven
linemen in shiny helmets and blandly pretty phone-girls
in headsets and nylons.   Bell System employees were
famous as rock-ribbed Kiwanis and Rotary members,
Little-League enthusiasts, school-board people.

        During the long heyday of Ma Bell, the Bell
employee corps were nurtured top-to-botton on a
corporate ethos of public service.   There was good money
in Bell, but Bell was not *about* money; Bell used public
relations, but never mere marketeering.   People went into
the Bell System for a good life, and they had a good life.
But it was not mere money that led Bell people out in the
midst of storms and earthquakes to fight with toppled
phone-poles, to wade in flooded manholes, to pull the red-
eyed graveyard-shift over collapsing switching-systems.
The Bell ethic was the electrical equivalent of the
postman's: neither rain, nor snow, nor gloom of night
would stop these couriers.

         It is easy to be cynical about this, as it is easy to be
cynical about any political or social system;  but cynicism
does not change the fact that thousands of people took
these ideals very seriously.   And some still do.

        The Bell ethos was about public service; and that was
gratifying; but it was also about private *power,* and that
was gratifying too.   As a corporation, Bell was very special.
Bell was privileged.  Bell had snuggled up close to the
state.  In fact, Bell was as close to government as you could
get in America and still make a whole lot of legitimate

          But unlike other companies,  Bell was above and
beyond the vulgar commercial fray.  Through its regional
operating companies, Bell was omnipresent, local, and
intimate, all over America;  but the central ivory towers at
its corporate heart were the tallest and the ivoriest around.

         There were other phone companies in America, to be
sure;  the so-called independents.  Rural cooperatives,
mostly; small fry, mostly tolerated, sometimes warred
upon.  For many decades, "independent" American phone
companies lived in fear and loathing of the official Bell
monopoly  (or the "Bell Octopus," as Ma Bell's nineteenth-
century enemies described her in many angry newspaper
manifestos).  Some few of these independent
entrepreneurs,  while legally in the wrong,  fought so
bitterly against the Octopus that their illegal phone
networks were cast into the street by Bell agents and
publicly burned.

        The pure technical sweetness of the Bell System gave
its operators, inventors and engineers a deeply satisfying
sense of power and mastery.  They had devoted their lives
to improving this vast nation-spanning machine; over
years, whole human lives, they had watched it improve
and grow.   It was like a great technological  temple.  They
were an elite, and they knew it -- even if others did not; in
fact, they felt even more powerful *because* others did
not understand.

          The deep attraction of this sensation  of elite
technical power should never be underestimated.
"Technical power" is not for everybody; for many people it
simply has no charm at all.  But for some people, it
becomes the core of their lives.  For a few, it is
overwhelming, obsessive;  it becomes something close to
an addiction.   People -- especially clever teenage boys
whose lives are otherwise mostly powerless and put-upon -
-  love this sensation of secret power, and are willing to do
all sorts of amazing things to achieve it.  The technical
*power* of electronics has motivated many  strange acts
detailed in this book, which would otherwise be

        So Bell had power beyond mere capitalism.  The Bell
service  ethos worked, and was often propagandized, in a
rather saccharine fashion.  Over the decades,  people
slowly grew tired of this.   And then, openly impatient with
it.  By the early 1980s, Ma Bell was to find herself with
scarcely a real friend in the world.   Vail's industrial
socialism had become hopelessly out-of-fashion
politically.  Bell would be punished for that.  And that
punishment would fall harshly upon the people of the
telephone community.

        In 1983, Ma Bell was dismantled by federal court
action.  The pieces of Bell are now separate corporate
entities.  The core of the company became AT&T
Communications, and also AT&T  Industries (formerly
Western Electric, Bell's manufacturing arm).  AT&T Bell
Labs become Bell Communications Research, Bellcore.
Then there are the Regional Bell Operating Companies,
or  RBOCs, pronounced "arbocks."

        Bell was a titan and even these regional chunks are
gigantic enterprises:  Fortune 50 companies with plenty of
wealth and power behind them.     But the clean lines of
"One Policy, One System, Universal Service" have been
shattered, apparently forever.

        The "One Policy" of the early Reagan Administration
was to shatter a system that smacked of noncompetitive
socialism.  Since that time, there has been no real
telephone "policy" on the federal level.  Despite the
breakup, the remnants of Bell have never been set free to
compete in the open marketplace.

        The RBOCs are still very heavily regulated, but not
from the top.  Instead, they struggle politically,
economically and legally, in what seems an endless
turmoil, in a patchwork of overlapping federal and state
jurisdictions.   Increasingly, like other major American
corporations, the RBOCs  are becoming multinational,
acquiring important commercial interests in Europe, Latin
America, and the Pacific Rim.  But this, too, adds to their
legal and political predicament.

        The people of what used to be Ma Bell are not happy
about their fate.  They feel ill-used.  They might have been
grudgingly willing to make a full transition to the free
market; to become just companies amid other companies.
But this never happened.   Instead,  AT&T and the RBOCS
("the Baby Bells")  feel themselves wrenched from side to
side by state regulators, by Congress, by the FCC,  and
especially by the federal court of Judge Harold Greene,
the magistrate who ordered the Bell breakup and who has
been the de facto czar of American telecommunications
ever since 1983.

        Bell people feel that they exist in a kind of paralegal
limbo today.   They don't understand what's demanded of
them.   If it's "service," why aren't they treated like a public
service?  And if it's money, then why aren't they free to
compete for it?  No one seems to know, really.   Those who
claim to know  keep changing their minds.  Nobody in
authority seems willing to grasp the nettle for once and all.

        Telephone people from other countries are amazed
by the American telephone system today.  Not that it
works so well; for nowadays even the French telephone
system works, more or less.  They are amazed that the
American telephone system *still*  works *at all,* under
these strange conditions.

        Bell's  "One System" of long-distance service is now
only about eighty percent of a system, with the remainder
held by Sprint, MCI, and the midget long-distance
companies.   Ugly wars over dubious corporate practices
such as "slamming" (an underhanded method of snitching
clients from rivals) break out with some regularity in the
realm of long-distance service.  The battle to break Bell's
long-distance monopoly was long and ugly, and since the
breakup the battlefield has not become much prettier.
AT&T's famous shame-and-blame advertisements, which
emphasized the shoddy work and purported ethical
shadiness of their competitors,  were much remarked on
for their studied psychological cruelty.

        There is much bad blood in this industry, and much
long-treasured resentment.  AT&T's post-breakup
corporate logo, a striped sphere, is known in the industry
as the "Death Star"  (a reference from the movie *Star
Wars,* in which the "Death Star" was the spherical  high-
tech fortress of the harsh-breathing  imperial ultra-baddie,
Darth Vader.)   Even AT&T employees are less than
thrilled by the Death Star.   A popular (though banned) T-
shirt among AT&T employees bears the old-fashioned
Bell logo of the Bell System, plus the newfangled striped
sphere, with the before-and-after comments:  "This is your
brain -- This is your brain on drugs!"   AT&T made a very
well-financed and determined effort to break into the
personal computer market;  it was disastrous, and telco
computer experts are derisively known by their
competitors as "the pole-climbers."  AT&T and the Baby
Bell arbocks still seem to have few friends.

        Under conditions of sharp commercial competition, a
crash like that of January 15, 1990 was a major
embarrassment to AT&T.  It was a direct blow against their
much-treasured reputation for reliability.   Within days of
the crash AT&T's Chief Executive Officer, Bob Allen,
officially apologized, in terms of deeply pained  humility:

        "AT&T had a major service disruption last Monday.
We didn't live up to our own standards of quality, and we
didn't live up to yours. It's as simple as that.  And that's not
acceptable to us.  Or to you.... We understand how much
people have come to depend upon AT&T service, so our
AT&T Bell Laboratories scientists and our network
engineers are doing everything possible to guard against a
recurrence.... We know there's no way to make up for the
inconvenience this problem may have caused you."

        Mr Allen's "open letter to customers" was printed in
lavish ads all over the country:  in the *Wall Street
Journal,*  *USA Today,*  *New York Times,*
*Los Angeles Times,*  *Chicago Tribune,* *Philadelphia
Inquirer,*  *San Francisco Chronicle Examiner,* *Boston
Globe,*  *Dallas Morning News,* *Detroit Free Press,*
*Washington Post,* *Houston Chronicle,* *Cleveland
Plain Dealer,* *Atlanta Journal Constitution,*
*Minneapolis Star Tribune,* *St. Paul Pioneer Press
Dispatch,*  *Seattle Times/Post Intelligencer,*
*Tacoma News Tribune,* *Miami Herald,* *Pittsburgh
Press,*  *St. Louis Post Dispatch,* *Denver Post,* *Phoenix
Republic Gazette* and *Tampa Tribune.*

        In another press release, AT&T went to some pains to
suggest that this "software glitch" *might* have happened
just as easily to MCI, although, in fact, it hadn't.  (MCI's
switching software was quite different from AT&T's --
though not necessarily any safer.)   AT&T also announced
their plans to offer a rebate of service on Valentine's Day
to make up for the loss during the Crash.

        "Every technical resource available, including Bell
Labs scientists and engineers, has been devoted to
assuring it will not occur again," the public was told.  They
were further assured that "The chances of a recurrence
are small--a problem of this magnitude never occurred

        In the meantime, however, police and corporate
security maintained their own suspicions about "the
chances of recurrence" and the real reason why a
"problem of this magnitude" had appeared, seemingly out
of nowhere.   Police and security knew for a fact that
hackers of unprecedented sophistication were illegally
entering, and reprogramming, certain digital switching
stations.  Rumors of hidden "viruses" and secret "logic
bombs" in the switches ran rampant in the underground,
with much chortling over AT&T's predicament, and idle
speculation over what unsung hacker genius was
responsible for it.  Some hackers, including police
informants, were trying hard to finger one another as the
true culprits  of the Crash.

        Telco people found little comfort in objectivity when
they contemplated these possibilities.   It was just too close
to the bone for them; it was embarrassing; it hurt so much,
it was hard even to talk about.

        There has always been thieving and misbehavior in
the phone system.  There has always been trouble with the
rival independents, and in the local loops.  But to have
such trouble in the core of the system, the long-distance
switching stations, is a horrifying affair.   To telco people,
this is all the difference between finding roaches in your
kitchen and big horrid sewer-rats in your bedroom.

        From the outside, to the average citizen, the telcos
still seem gigantic and impersonal.  The American public
seems to regard them as something akin to Soviet
apparats.  Even when the telcos  do their best corporate-
citizen routine,  subsidizing magnet high-schools and
sponsoring news-shows on public television, they seem to
win little except public suspicion.

        But from the inside, all this looks very different.
There's harsh competition.  A legal and political system
that seems baffled  and bored, when not actively hostile to
telco interests.  There's a loss of morale, a deep sensation
of having somehow lost the upper hand.  Technological
change has caused a loss of data and revenue to other,
newer forms of transmission.   There's theft, and new
forms of theft, of growing scale and boldness and
sophistication.  With all these factors, it was no surprise to
see the telcos, large and small, break out in a litany of
bitter complaint.

        In late '88 and throughout 1989, telco representatives
grew shrill in their complaints to those few American law
enforcement officials who make it their business to try to
understand what telephone people are talking about.
Telco security officials had discovered the computer-
hacker underground, infiltrated it thoroughly, and
become deeply alarmed at its growing expertise.  Here
they had found a target that was not only loathsome on its
face, but clearly ripe for counterattack.

         Those bitter rivals: AT&T, MCI and Sprint -- and a
crowd of Baby Bells:  PacBell, Bell South, Southwestern
Bell, NYNEX, USWest, as well as the Bell research
consortium Bellcore, and the independent long-distance
carrier  Mid-American  -- all were to have their role in the
great hacker dragnet of 1990.   After years of being
battered and pushed around, the telcos had, at least in a
small way, seized the initiative again.  After years of
turmoil, telcos and government officials were once again
to work smoothly in concert in defense of the System.
Optimism blossomed; enthusiasm grew on all sides; the
prospective taste of vengeance was sweet.


        From the beginning -- even before the crackdown
had a name -- secrecy was a big problem.  There were
many good reasons for secrecy in the hacker crackdown.
Hackers and code-thieves were wily prey, slinking back to
their bedrooms and basements and destroying vital
incriminating evidence at the first hint of trouble.
Furthermore, the crimes themselves were heavily
technical and difficult to describe, even to police -- much
less to the general public.

         When such crimes *had* been described intelligibly
to the public, in the past, that very publicity had tended to
*increase* the crimes enormously.   Telco officials, while
painfully aware of the vulnerabilities of their systems, were
anxious not to publicize those weaknesses.   Experience
showed them that those weaknesses, once discovered,
would be pitilessly exploited by tens of thousands of
people -- not only by professional grifters and by
underground hackers and phone phreaks, but by many
otherwise more-or-less honest everyday folks, who
regarded stealing service from the faceless, soulless
"Phone Company" as a kind of harmless indoor sport.
When it came to protecting their interests, telcos had long
since given up on general public sympathy for "the Voice
with a Smile."  Nowadays the telco's "Voice" was very likely
to be a computer's; and the American public showed
much less of the proper respect and gratitude due the fine
public service bequeathed them by Dr. Bell and Mr. Vail.
The more efficient, high-tech, computerized, and
impersonal the telcos became, it seemed, the more they
were met by sullen public resentment and amoral greed.

        Telco officials wanted to punish the phone-phreak
underground,  in as public and exemplary a manner as
possible.  They wanted to make dire examples of the worst
offenders, to seize the ringleaders and intimidate the
small fry, to discourage and frighten the wacky hobbyists,
and send the professional grifters to jail.  To do all this,
publicity was vital.

        Yet operational secrecy was even more so.  If word got
out that a nationwide crackdown was coming, the hackers
might simply vanish; destroy the evidence, hide their
computers, go to earth, and wait for the campaign to blow
over.  Even the young  hackers were crafty and suspicious,
and as for the professional grifters, they tended to split for
the nearest state-line at the first sign of trouble.  For the
crackdown to work well, they would all have to be caught
red-handed, swept upon suddenly, out of the blue, from
every corner of the compass.

        And there was another strong motive for secrecy.  In
the worst-case scenario, a blown campaign might leave
the telcos open to a devastating hacker counter-attack.   If
there were indeed hackers loose in America  who had
caused the January 15 Crash -- if there were truly gifted
hackers, loose in the nation's long-distance switching
systems, and enraged or frightened by the crackdown --
then they might react unpredictably to an attempt to
collar them.   Even if caught, they might have talented and
vengeful friends still running around loose.   Conceivably,
it could turn ugly.  Very ugly.  In fact, it was hard to
imagine just how ugly things might turn, given that

        Counter-attack from hackers was a genuine concern
for the telcos.  In point of fact, they would never suffer any
such counter-attack.  But in months to come, they would
be at some pains to publicize this notion and to utter grim
warnings about it.

        Still, that risk seemed well worth running.  Better to
run the risk of vengeful attacks, than to live at the mercy of
potential crashers.  Any cop would tell you that a
protection racket had no real future.

         And publicity was such a useful thing.   Corporate
security officers, including telco security,  generally work
under conditions of great discretion.  And corporate
security officials do not make money for their companies.
Their job is to *prevent the loss* of money, which is much
less glamorous than actually winning profits.

        If you are a corporate security official, and you do
your job brilliantly, then nothing bad happens to your
company at all.  Because of this, you appear completely
superfluous.   This is one of the many unattractive aspects
of security work.   It's rare that these folks have the chance
to draw some healthy attention to their own efforts.

        Publicity also served the interest of their friends in
law enforcement.  Public officials, including law
enforcement officials,  thrive by attracting favorable
public interest.  A brilliant prosecution in a matter of vital
public interest  can make the career of a prosecuting
attorney.  And for a police officer, good publicity opens the
purses of the legislature; it may bring a citation, or a
promotion, or at least a rise in status and the respect of
one's peers.

        But to have both publicity and secrecy is to have
one's cake and eat it too.  In months to come, as we will
show, this impossible act was to cause great pain to the
agents of the crackdown.  But early on, it seemed possible
-- maybe even likely -- that the crackdown could
successfully combine the best of both worlds.   The
*arrest* of hackers would be heavily publicized.  The
actual *deeds* of the hackers, which were technically hard
to explain and also a security risk, would be left decently
obscured.   The *threat* hackers posed would be heavily
trumpeted; the likelihood of their actually committing
such fearsome crimes would be left to the public's
imagination.  The spread of the computer underground,
and its growing technical sophistication, would be heavily
promoted;  the actual hackers themselves, mostly
bespectacled middle-class white suburban teenagers,
would be denied any personal publicity.

        It does not seem to have occurred to any telco official
that the hackers accused would demand a day in court;
that journalists would smile upon the hackers as "good
copy;"  that wealthy high-tech entrepreneurs would offer
moral and financial support to crackdown victims; that
constitutional lawyers would show up with briefcases,
frowning mightily.   This possibility does not seem to have
ever entered the game-plan.

        And even if it had, it probably would not have slowed
the ferocious pursuit of a stolen phone-company
document, mellifluously known as "Control Office
Administration of Enhanced 911 Services for Special
Services and Major Account Centers."

        In the chapters to follow, we will explore the worlds of
police and the computer underground, and the large
shadowy area where they overlap.   But first, we must
explore the battleground.  Before we leave the world of the
telcos, we must understand what a switching system
actually is and how your telephone actually works.


        To the average citizen, the idea of the telephone is
represented by, well,  a *telephone:*  a device that you talk
into.  To a telco professional, however, the telephone itself
is known, in lordly fashion, as a "subset."   The "subset" in
your house is a mere adjunct, a distant nerve ending, of
the central switching stations, which are ranked in levels of
heirarchy, up to the  long-distance electronic switching
stations, which are some of the largest computers on

        Let us imagine that it is, say, 1925,  before the
introduction of computers, when the phone system was
simpler and somewhat easier to grasp.   Let's further
imagine that you are Miss Leticia Luthor, a fictional
operator for Ma Bell in New York City of the 20s.

        Basically, you, Miss Luthor, *are* the "switching
system."  You are sitting in front of a large vertical
switchboard, known as a "cordboard," made of shiny
wooden panels, with ten thousand metal-rimmed holes
punched in them, known as jacks.  The engineers would
have put more holes into your switchboard, but ten
thousand is as many as you can reach without actually
having to get up out of your chair.

         Each of these ten thousand holes has its own little
electric lightbulb, known as a "lamp," and its own neatly
printed number code.

         With the ease of long habit, you are scanning your
board for lit-up bulbs.  This is what you do most of the
time, so you are used to it.

          A lamp lights up.  This means that the phone at the
end of that line has been taken off the hook.   Whenever a
handset is taken off the hook, that closes a circuit inside
the phone which then signals the local office, i.e. you,
automatically.  There might be somebody calling, or then
again the phone might be simply off the hook, but this
does not matter to you yet.  The first thing you do, is record
that number in your logbook, in your fine American
public-school handwriting.   This comes first, naturally,
since it is done for billing purposes.

        You now take the plug of your answering cord, which
goes directly to your headset, and plug it into the lit-up
hole.  "Operator," you announce.

        In operator's classes, before taking this job, you have
been issued a large pamphlet full of canned operator's
responses for all kinds of contingencies, which you had to
memorize.  You have also been trained in a proper non-
regional, non-ethnic pronunciation and tone of voice.  You
rarely  have the occasion to make any spontaneous
remark to a customer, and in fact this is frowned upon
(except out on the rural lines where people  have time on
their hands and get up to all kinds of mischief).

        A tough-sounding user's voice at the end of the line
gives you a number.  Immediately, you write that number
down in your logbook, next to the caller's number, which
you just wrote earlier.  You then look and see if the
number this guy wants is in fact on your switchboard,
which it generally is, since it's generally a local call.  Long
distance costs so much that people use it sparingly.

        Only then do you pick up a calling-cord from a shelf
at the base of the switchboard.  This is a long elastic cord
mounted on a kind of reel so that it will zip back in when
you unplug it.  There are a lot of cords down there, and
when a bunch of them are out at once they look like a nest
of snakes.  Some of the girls think there are bugs living in
those cable-holes.  They're called "cable mites" and are
supposed to bite your hands and give you rashes.  You
don't believe this, yourself.

        Gripping the head of your calling-cord, you slip the
tip of it deftly into the sleeve of the jack for the called
person.  Not all the way in, though.  You just touch it.  If
you hear a clicking sound, that means the line is busy and
you can't put the call through.  If the line is busy, you have
to stick the calling-cord into a "busy-tone jack," which will
give the guy a busy-tone.  This way you don't have to talk to
him yourself and absorb his natural human frustration.

        But the line isn't busy.  So you pop the cord all the
way in.   Relay circuits in your board make the distant
phone ring, and if somebody picks it up off the hook, then
a phone conversation starts.   You can hear this
conversation on your answering cord, until you unplug it.
In fact you could listen to the whole conversation if you
wanted, but this is sternly frowned upon by management,
and frankly, when you've overheard one, you've pretty
much heard 'em all.

         You can tell how long the conversation lasts by the
glow of the calling-cord's lamp, down on the calling-cord's
shelf.   When it's over, you unplug and the calling-cord
zips back into place.

        Having done this stuff a few hundred thousand times,
you become quite good at it.  In fact you're plugging, and
connecting, and disconnecting, ten, twenty, forty cords at a
time.  It's a manual handicraft, really, quite satisfying in a
way, rather like weaving on an upright loom.

        Should a long-distance call come up, it would be
different, but not all that different.  Instead of connecting
the call through your own local switchboard, you have to
go up the hierarchy, onto the long-distance lines, known as
"trunklines."  Depending on how far the call goes, it may
have to work its way through a whole series of operators,
which can take quite a while.   The caller doesn't wait on
the line while this complex process is negotiated across
the country by the gaggle of operators.   Instead, the caller
hangs up, and you call him back yourself when the call has
finally worked its way through.

        After four or five years of this work, you get married,
and you have to quit your job, this being the natural order
of womanhood in the American 1920s.  The phone
company has to train somebody else -- maybe two people,
since the phone system has grown somewhat in the
meantime.  And this costs money.

        In fact, to use any kind of human being as a switching
system is a very expensive proposition.   Eight thousand
Leticia Luthors would be bad enough, but a quarter of a
million of them is a military-scale proposition and makes
drastic measures in automation financially worthwhile.

        Although the phone system continues to grow today,
the number of human beings employed by telcos has
been dropping steadily for years.  Phone "operators" now
deal with nothing but unusual contingencies, all routine
operations having been shrugged off onto machines.
Consequently, telephone operators are considerably less
machine-like nowadays,  and have been known to have
accents and actual character in their voices.  When you
reach a human operator today, the operators are rather
more "human" than they were in Leticia's day -- but on the
other hand, human beings in the phone system are much
harder to reach in the first place.

        Over the first half of the twentieth century,
"electromechanical" switching systems of growing
complexity were cautiously introduced into the phone
system.  In certain backwaters, some of these hybrid
systems are still in use.  But after 1965, the phone system
began to go completely electronic, and this is by far the
dominant mode today.  Electromechanical systems have
"crossbars," and "brushes," and other large moving
mechanical parts, which, while faster and cheaper than
Leticia, are still slow, and tend to wear out fairly quickly.

        But fully electronic systems are inscribed on silicon
chips, and are lightning-fast, very cheap, and quite
durable.   They are much cheaper to maintain than even
the best electromechanical systems, and they fit into half
the space.   And with every year, the silicon chip grows
smaller, faster, and cheaper yet.  Best of all,  automated
electronics work around the clock and don't have salaries
or health insurance.

        There are, however, quite serious drawbacks to the
use of computer-chips.   When they do break down, it is a
daunting challenge to figure out what the heck has gone
wrong with them.  A broken cordboard generally had a
problem in it big enough to see.  A broken chip has
invisible, microscopic faults.  And the faults in bad
software can be so subtle as to be practically theological.

        If you want a mechanical system to do something
new, then you must travel to where it is, and pull pieces out
of it, and wire in new pieces.  This costs money.  However,
if you want a chip to do something new, all you have to do
is change its software, which is easy, fast and dirt-cheap.
You don't even have to see the chip to change its program.
Even if you did see the chip, it wouldn't look like much.  A
chip with program X doesn't look one whit different from a
chip with program Y.

        With the proper codes and sequences, and access to
specialized phone-lines, you can change electronic
switching systems all over America from anywhere you

        And so can other people.  If they know how, and if
they want to, they can sneak into a  microchip via the
special phonelines and diddle with it, leaving no physical
trace at all.  If they broke into the operator's station and
held Leticia at gunpoint, that would be very obvious.  If
they broke into a telco building and went after an
electromechanical switch with a toolbelt, that would at
least leave many traces.  But people can do all manner of
amazing things to computer switches just by typing on a
keyboard, and keyboards are everywhere today.  The
extent of this vulnerability is deep, dark, broad, almost
mind-boggling, and yet this is a basic, primal fact of life
about any computer on a network.

        Security experts over the past twenty years have
insisted, with growing urgency, that this basic vulnerability
of computers represents an entirely new level of risk, of
unknown but obviously dire potential to society.   And they
are right.

        An electronic switching station does pretty much
everything Letitia did, except in nanoseconds and on a
much larger scale.  Compared to Miss Luthor's ten
thousand jacks, even a primitive 1ESS switching computer,
60s vintage,  has a 128,000 lines.   And the current AT&T
system of choice is the monstrous fifth-generation 5ESS.

         An Electronic Switching Station can scan every line
on its "board" in a tenth of a second, and it does this over
and over, tirelessly, around the clock.  Instead of eyes, it
uses "ferrod scanners" to check the condition of local lines
and trunks.  Instead of hands, it has "signal distributors,"
"central pulse distributors," "magnetic latching relays,"
and "reed switches," which complete and break the calls.
Instead of a brain, it has a "central processor."   Instead of
an instruction manual, it has a program.   Instead of a
handwritten logbook for recording and billing calls, it has
magnetic tapes. And it never has to talk to anybody.
Everything a customer might say to it is done by punching
the direct-dial tone buttons on your subset.

        Although an Electronic Switching Station can't talk, it
does need an interface, some way to relate to its, er,
employers.   This interface is known as the "master control
center."  (This interface might be better known simply as
"the interface," since it doesn't actually "control" phone
calls directly.  However, a term like "Master Control
Center" is just the kind of rhetoric that telco maintenance
engineers  -- and hackers -- find particularly satisfying.)

        Using the master control center, a phone engineer
can test local and trunk lines for malfunctions.  He (rarely
she) can check various alarm displays, measure traffic on
the lines, examine the records of telephone usage and the
charges for those calls, and change the programming.

        And, of course, anybody else who gets into the master
control center by remote control can also do these things,
if he (rarely she) has managed to figure them out, or, more
likely, has somehow swiped the knowledge from people
who already know.

        In 1989 and 1990, one particular RBOC, BellSouth,
which felt particularly troubled, spent a purported $1.2
million on computer security.   Some think it spent as
much as two million, if you count all the associated costs.
Two million dollars is still very little compared to the great
cost-saving utility of telephonic computer systems.

        Unfortunately, computers are also stupid.  Unlike
human beings, computers  possess the truly profound
stupidity of the inanimate.

         In the 1960s, in the first shocks of spreading
computerization, there was much easy talk about the
stupidity of computers -- how they could "only follow the
program" and were rigidly required to do "only what they
were told."   There has been rather less talk about the
stupidity of computers since they began to achieve
grandmaster status in chess tournaments, and to manifest
many other impressive forms of apparent cleverness.

          Nevertheless, computers *still* are profoundly
brittle and stupid; they are simply vastly more subtle in
their stupidity and brittleness.   The computers of the
1990s are much more reliable in their components than
earlier computer systems, but they are also called upon to
do far more complex things, under far more challenging

        On a basic mathematical level, every single line of a
software program offers a chance for some possible
screwup.   Software does not sit still when it works; it "runs,"
it interacts with itself and with its own inputs and outputs.
By analogy, it stretches like putty into millions of possible
shapes and conditions, so many shapes that they can
never all be successfully tested, not even in the lifespan of
the universe.  Sometimes the putty snaps.

        The stuff we call "software" is not like anything that
human society is used to thinking about.  Software is
something like a machine, and something like
mathematics, and something like language, and
something like thought, and art, and information....  but
software is not in fact any of those other things.   The
protean quality of software is one of the great sources of its
fascination.  It also makes software very powerful, very
subtle, very unpredictable, and very risky.

        Some software is bad and buggy.  Some is "robust,"
even "bulletproof."  The best software is that which has
been tested by thousands of users under thousands of
different conditions, over years.  It is then known as
"stable."   This does *not* mean that the software is now
flawless, free of bugs.  It generally means that there are
plenty of bugs in it, but the bugs are well-identified and
fairly well understood.

         There is simply no way to assure that software is free
of flaws.  Though software is mathematical in nature, it
cannot by "proven" like a mathematical theorem; software
is more like language, with inherent ambiguities, with
different definitions, different assumptions, different
levels of meaning that can conflict.

         Human beings can manage, more or less, with
human language because we can catch the gist of it.

        Computers, despite years of effort in "artificial
intelligence," have proven spectacularly bad in "catching
the gist" of anything at all.  The tiniest bit of semantic grit
may still bring the mightiest computer tumbling down.
One of the most hazardous things you can do to a
computer program is try to improve it -- to try to make it
safer.  Software "patches" represent new, untried un-
"stable" software, which is by definition riskier.

        The modern telephone system has come to depend,
utterly and irretrievably, upon software.  And the System
Crash of January 15, 1990, was caused by an
*improvement* in software.  Or rather, an *attempted*

        As it happened, the problem itself -- the problem per
se  --  took this form.  A piece of telco software had been
written in C language, a standard language of the telco
field.  Within the C software was a long "do... while"
construct.  The "do... while" construct contained a "switch"
statement.  The "switch" statement contained an "if"
clause.  The "if" clause contained a "break."  The "break"
was *supposed* to "break" the "if clause."  Instead, the
"break" broke the "switch" statement.

        That was the problem, the actual reason why people
picking up phones on January 15, 1990, could not talk to
one another.

        Or at least, that was the subtle, abstract, cyberspatial
seed of the problem.  This is how the problem manifested
itself from the realm of programming into the realm of
real life.

        The System 7 software for AT&T's 4ESS switching
station, the "Generic 44E14 Central Office Switch
Software," had been extensively tested, and was
considered very stable.   By the end of 1989, eighty of
AT&T's switching systems nationwide had been
programmed with the new software.  Cautiously, thirty-
four stations were left to run the slower, less-capable
System 6, because AT&T suspected there might be
shakedown problems with the new and unprecedently
sophisticated System 7 network.

        The stations with System 7 were programmed to
switch over to a backup net in case of any problems.  In
mid-December 1989, however, a new high-velocity, high-
security software patch was distributed to each of the 4ESS
switches that would enable them to switch over even more
quickly, making the System 7 network that much more

        Unfortunately, every one of these 4ESS switches was
now in possession of a small but deadly flaw.

         In order to maintain the network, switches must
monitor the condition of other switches -- whether they are
up and running, whether they have temporarily shut down,
whether they are overloaded and in need of assistance,
and so forth.  The new software helped control this
bookkeeping function by monitoring the status calls from
other switches.

        It only takes four to six seconds for a troubled 4ESS
switch to rid itself of all its calls, drop everything
temporarily, and re-boot its software from scratch.
Starting over from scratch will generally rid the switch of
any software problems that may have developed in the
course of running the system.   Bugs that arise will be
simply wiped out by this process.  It is a clever idea.   This
process of automatically re-booting from scratch is known
as the "normal fault recovery routine."   Since AT&T's
software is in fact exceptionally stable, systems rarely have
to go into "fault recovery" in the first place;  but AT&T has
always boasted of its "real world" reliability, and this tactic
is a belt-and-suspenders routine.

        The 4ESS switch used its new software to monitor its
fellow switches as they recovered from faults.   As other
switches came back on line after recovery, they would
send their "OK" signals to the switch.   The switch would
make a little note to that effect in its "status map,"
recognizing that the fellow switch was back and ready to
go, and should be sent some calls and put back to regular

        Unfortunately, while it was busy bookkeeping with
the status map, the tiny flaw in the brand-new software
came into play.  The flaw caused the 4ESS switch to
interacted, subtly but drastically, with incoming telephone
calls from human users.  If -- and only if -- two incoming
phone-calls happened to hit the switch within a hundredth
of a second,  then a small patch of data would be garbled
by the flaw.

        But the switch had been programmed to monitor
itself constantly for any possible damage to its data.
When the switch perceived that its data had been
somehow  garbled, then it too would go down, for swift
repairs to its software.  It would signal its fellow switches
not to send any more work.  It would go into the fault-
recovery mode for four to six seconds.  And then the switch
would be fine again, and would send out its "OK, ready for
work" signal.

        However, the "OK, ready for work" signal was the
*very thing that had caused the   switch to go down in the
first place.*  And *all* the System 7 switches had the same
flaw in their status-map software.  As soon as they stopped
to make  the bookkeeping note that their fellow switch was
"OK," then they too would become vulnerable to the slight
chance that two phone-calls would hit them within a
hundredth of a second.

        At approximately 2:25 p.m. EST on Monday, January
15, one of AT&T's 4ESS toll switching systems in New York
City had an actual, legitimate, minor problem.  It went into
fault recovery routines, announced "I'm going down," then
announced, "I'm back, I'm OK."   And this cheery message
then blasted throughout the network to many of its fellow
4ESS switches.

        Many of the switches, at first, completely escaped
trouble.  These lucky switches were not hit by the
coincidence of two phone calls within a hundredth of a
second.   Their software did not fail -- at first.  But  three
switches -- in Atlanta, St. Louis, and Detroit --  were
unlucky, and were caught with their hands full.  And they
went down.  And they came back up, almost immediately.
And they too began to broadcast the lethal message that
they, too, were "OK" again, activating the lurking software
bug in yet other switches.

        As more and more switches did have that bit of bad
luck and collapsed, the call-traffic became more and more
densely packed in the remaining switches, which were
groaning to keep up with the load.   And of course, as the
calls became more densely packed, the switches were
*much more likely* to be hit twice within a hundredth of a

        It only took four seconds for a switch to get well.
There was no *physical* damage of any kind to the
switches, after all.   Physically, they were working perfectly.
This situation was "only" a software problem.

        But the 4ESS switches were leaping up and down
every four to six seconds, in a virulent spreading wave all
over America,  in utter, manic, mechanical stupidity.  They
kept *knocking*  one another down with their contagious
"OK" messages.

        It took about ten minutes for the chain reaction to
cripple the network.  Even then, switches would
periodically luck-out and manage to resume their normal
work.  Many calls -- millions of them -- were managing to
get through.  But millions weren't.

        The switching stations that used System 6 were not
directly affected.  Thanks to these old-fashioned switches,
AT&T's national system avoided complete collapse.  This
fact also made it clear to engineers that System 7 was at

        Bell Labs engineers, working feverishly in New
Jersey, Illinois, and Ohio, first tried their entire repertoire
of standard network remedies on the malfunctioning
System 7.  None of the remedies worked, of course,
because nothing like this had ever happened to any
phone system before.

        By cutting out the backup safety network entirely,
they were able to reduce the frenzy of "OK" messages by
about half.  The system then began to recover, as the
chain reaction slowed.   By 11:30 pm on Monday January
15, sweating engineers on the midnight shift breathed a
sigh of relief as the last switch cleared-up.

        By Tuesday they were pulling all the brand-new 4ESS
software and replacing it with an earlier version of System

        If these had been human operators, rather than
computers at work, someone would simply have
eventually stopped screaming.  It would have been
*obvious* that the situation was not "OK," and common
sense would have kicked in.   Humans possess common
sense -- at least to some extent.   Computers simply don't.

        On the other hand, computers can handle hundreds
of calls per second.  Humans simply can't.   If every single
human being in America worked for the phone company,
we couldn't match the performance of digital switches:
direct-dialling, three-way calling, speed-calling, call-
waiting, Caller ID, all the rest of the cornucopia of digital
bounty.   Replacing computers with operators is simply not
an option any more.

        And yet we still, anachronistically,  expect humans to
be running our phone system.   It is hard for us to
understand that we have sacrificed huge amounts of
initiative and control to senseless yet powerful machines.
When the phones fail, we want somebody to be
responsible.  We want somebody to blame.

        When the Crash of January 15 happened, the
American populace was simply not prepared to
understand that enormous landslides in cyberspace, like
the Crash itself, can happen, and can be nobody's fault in
particular.   It was easier to believe, maybe even in some
odd way more reassuring to believe, that some evil person,
or evil group, had done this to us.  "Hackers" had done it.
With a virus.   A trojan horse.  A software bomb.  A dirty
plot of some kind.   People believed this, responsible
people.  In 1990, they were looking hard for evidence to
confirm their heartfelt suspicions.

        And they would look in a lot of places.

        Come 1991, however, the outlines of an apparent new
reality would begin to emerge from the fog.

        On July 1 and 2, 1991, computer-software collapses in
telephone switching stations disrupted service in
Washington DC, Pittsburgh, Los Angeles and San
Francisco.   Once again, seemingly minor maintenance
problems had crippled the digital System 7.  About twelve
million people were affected in the Crash of July 1, 1991.

        Said the New York Times Service:  "Telephone
company executives and federal regulators said they were
not ruling out the possibility of sabotage by computer
hackers, but most seemed to think the problems stemmed
from some unknown defect in the software running the

        And sure enough, within the week, a red-faced
software company, DSC Communications Corporation of
Plano, Texas, owned up to "glitches" in the "signal transfer
point" software that DSC had designed for Bell Atlantic
and Pacific Bell.  The immediate cause of the July 1 Crash
was a single mistyped character:  one tiny typographical
flaw in one single line of the software.  One mistyped
letter, in one single line, had deprived the nation's capital
of phone service.  It was not particularly surprising that
this tiny flaw had escaped attention: a typical System 7
station requires *ten million* lines of code.

        On Tuesday, September 17, 1991, came the most
spectacular outage yet.   This case had nothing to do with
software failures -- at least, not directly.  Instead, a group
of AT&T's switching stations in New York City had simply
run out of electrical power and shut down cold.  Their
back-up batteries had failed.  Automatic warning systems
were supposed to warn of the loss of battery power, but
those automatic systems had failed as well.

        This time, Kennedy, La Guardia, and Newark airports
all had their voice and data communications cut.   This
horrifying event was particularly ironic, as attacks on
airport computers by hackers had long been a standard
nightmare scenario, much trumpeted by computer-
security experts who feared the computer underground.
There had even been a Hollywood thriller about sinister
hackers ruining airport computers -- *Die Hard II.*

        Now AT&T itself had crippled airports with computer
malfunctions  -- not just one airport, but three at once,
some of the busiest in the world.

        Air traffic came to a standstill throughout the Greater
New York area, causing more than 500 flights to be
cancelled, in a spreading wave all over America and even
into Europe.  Another 500 or so flights were delayed,
affecting, all in all, about 85,000 passengers.  (One of these
passengers was the chairman of the Federal
Communications Commission.)

        Stranded passengers in New York and New Jersey
were further infuriated to discover that they could not
even manage to make a long distance phone call, to
explain their delay to loved ones or business associates.
Thanks to the crash, about four and a half million
domestic calls, and half a million international calls, failed
to get through.

        The September 17 NYC Crash, unlike the previous
ones, involved not a whisper of "hacker" misdeeds.  On the
contrary,  by 1991, AT&T itself was suffering much of the
vilification that had formerly been directed at hackers.
Congressmen were grumbling.  So were state and federal
regulators.  And so was the press.

        For their part, ancient rival MCI took out snide full-
page newspaper ads in New York, offering their own long-
distance services for the "next time that AT&T goes down."

        "You wouldn't find a classy company like AT&T using
such advertising," protested AT&T Chairman Robert
Allen, unconvincingly.  Once again, out came the full-page
AT&T apologies in newspapers, apologies for "an
inexcusable culmination of both human and mechanical
failure."   (This time, however, AT&T offered no discount
on later calls.  Unkind critics suggested that AT&T were
worried about setting any precedent for refunding the
financial losses caused by telephone crashes.)

        Industry journals asked  publicly if AT&T was "asleep
at the switch."   The telephone network, America's
purported marvel of high-tech reliability,  had gone down
three times in 18 months.  *Fortune* magazine listed the
Crash of September 17 among the "Biggest Business
Goofs of 1991,"  cruelly parodying AT&T's ad campaign in
an article entitled "AT&T Wants You Back (Safely On the
Ground, God Willing)."

        Why had those New York switching systems simply
run out of power?  Because no human being had attended
to the alarm system.  Why did the alarm systems blare
automatically, without any human being noticing?
Because the three telco technicians who *should* have
been listening were absent from their stations in the
power-room, on another floor of the building -- attending a
training class.  A training class about the alarm systems for
the power room!

        "Crashing the System" was no longer
"unprecedented" by late 1991.   On the contrary, it no
longer even seemed an oddity.   By 1991, it was clear that
all the policemen in the world could no longer "protect"
the phone system from crashes.   By far the worst crashes
the system had ever had, had been inflicted, by the
system, upon *itself.*  And this time nobody was making
cocksure statements that this was an anomaly, something
that would never happen again.   By 1991 the System's
defenders had met their nebulous Enemy, and the Enemy
was -- the System.


Bruce Sterling

Literary Freeware:  Not for Commercial Use

THE HACKER CRACKDOWN:  Law and Disorder on the
Electronic Frontier


        The date was May 9, 1990.  The Pope was touring
Mexico City.   Hustlers from the Medellin Cartel were
trying to buy black-market Stinger missiles in Florida.  On
the comics page, Doonesbury character Andy was dying of
AIDS.   And then.... a highly unusual item whose novelty
and calculated rhetoric won it headscratching attention in
newspapers all over America.

        The US Attorney's office in Phoenix, Arizona, had
issued a press release announcing a nationwide law
enforcement crackdown against "illegal computer hacking
activities."  The sweep was officially known as "Operation

        Eight paragraphs in the press release gave the bare
facts:  twenty-seven search warrants carried out on May 8,
with three arrests, and a hundred and fifty agents on the
prowl in "twelve" cities across America.   (Different counts
in local press reports yielded "thirteen," "fourteen," and
"sixteen" cities.)   Officials estimated that criminal losses
of revenue to telephone companies "may run into millions
of dollars."   Credit for the Sundevil investigations was
taken by the US Secret Service, Assistant US Attorney Tim
Holtzen of Phoenix, and the Assistant Attorney General of
Arizona,  Gail Thackeray.

          The prepared remarks of Garry M. Jenkins,
appearing in a U.S. Department of Justice press release,
were of particular interest.  Mr. Jenkins was the Assistant
Director of the US Secret Service, and the highest-ranking
federal official to take any direct public role in  the hacker
crackdown of 1990.

         "Today, the Secret Service is sending a clear message
to those computer hackers who have decided to violate
the laws of this nation in the mistaken belief that they can
successfully avoid detection by hiding behind the relative
anonymity of their computer terminals.(...)
        "Underground groups have been formed for the
purpose of exchanging information relevant to their
criminal activities.  These groups often communicate with
each other through message systems between computers
called 'bulletin boards.'
        "Our experience shows that many computer hacker
suspects are no longer misguided teenagers,
mischievously playing games with their computers in their
bedrooms.  Some are now high tech computer operators
using computers to engage in unlawful conduct."

        Who were these "underground groups" and "high-
tech operators?"  Where had they come from?  What did
they want?  Who *were*   they?  Were they
"mischievous?"  Were they dangerous?  How had
"misguided teenagers" managed to alarm the United
States Secret Service?  And just how widespread was this
sort of thing?

        Of all the major players in the Hacker Crackdown:
the phone companies, law enforcement, the civil
libertarians, and the "hackers" themselves -- the "hackers"
are by far the most mysterious, by far the hardest to
understand, by far the *weirdest.*

         Not only are "hackers"  novel in their activities, but
they come in a variety of odd subcultures, with a variety of
languages, motives and values.

        The earliest proto-hackers were probably those
unsung mischievous telegraph boys who were summarily
fired by the Bell Company in 1878.

        Legitimate "hackers," those computer enthusiasts
who are independent-minded but law-abiding, generally
trace their spiritual ancestry to  elite technical universities,
especially M.I.T. and Stanford, in the 1960s.

        But the genuine roots of the modern hacker
*underground* can probably be traced most successfully
to a now much-obscured hippie anarchist movement
known as the Yippies.   The  Yippies, who took their name
from the largely fictional "Youth International Party,"
carried out a loud and lively policy of surrealistic
subversion and outrageous political mischief.  Their basic
tenets were flagrant sexual promiscuity, open and copious
drug use, the political overthrow of any powermonger over
thirty years of age, and an immediate end to the war in
Vietnam, by any means necessary, including the psychic
levitation of the Pentagon.

        The two most visible Yippies were Abbie Hoffman
and Jerry Rubin.  Rubin eventually  became a Wall Street
broker.  Hoffman, ardently sought by federal authorities,
went into hiding for seven years, in Mexico, France, and
the United States.   While on the lam, Hoffman continued
to write and publish, with help from sympathizers in the
American anarcho-leftist underground.   Mostly, Hoffman
survived through false ID and odd jobs.  Eventually he
underwent facial plastic surgery and adopted an entirely
new identity as one "Barry Freed."   After surrendering
himself to authorities in 1980, Hoffman  spent a year in
prison on a cocaine conviction.

        Hoffman's worldview grew much darker as the glory
days of the 1960s faded.  In 1989, he purportedly
committed suicide, under odd and, to some, rather
suspicious circumstances.

        Abbie Hoffman is said to have caused the Federal
Bureau of Investigation to amass the single largest
investigation file ever opened on an individual American
citizen.  (If this is true, it is still questionable whether the
FBI regarded Abbie Hoffman a serious public threat  --
quite possibly, his file was enormous simply because
Hoffman left colorful legendry wherever he went).   He
was a gifted publicist, who regarded electronic media as
both playground and weapon.  He actively enjoyed
manipulating network TV and other gullible, image-
hungry media,  with various weird lies, mindboggling
rumors, impersonation scams, and other sinister
distortions, all absolutely guaranteed to upset cops,
Presidential candidates, and federal judges.    Hoffman's
most famous work was a book self-reflexively known as
*Steal This Book,* which publicized a number of methods
by which young, penniless hippie agitators might live off
the fat of a system supported by humorless drones.  *Steal
This Book,* whose title urged readers to damage the very
means of distribution which had put it into their hands,
might be described as a spiritual ancestor of a computer

        Hoffman, like many a later conspirator, made
extensive use of pay-phones for his agitation work -- in his
case, generally through the use of cheap brass washers as

        During the Vietnam War, there was a federal surtax
imposed on telephone service; Hoffman and his cohorts
could, and did,  argue that in systematically stealing
phone service they were engaging in civil disobedience:
virtuously denying tax funds to an illegal and immoral war.

         But this thin veil of decency was soon dropped
entirely.  Ripping-off the System  found its own
justification in deep alienation and a basic outlaw
contempt for  conventional bourgeois values.  Ingenious,
vaguely politicized varieties of rip-off, which might be
described as "anarchy by convenience," became very
popular in Yippie circles, and because rip-off was so
useful, it was to survive the Yippie movement itself.

        In the early 1970s, it required fairly limited expertise
and ingenuity to cheat payphones, to divert "free"
electricity and gas service, or to rob vending machines and
parking meters for handy pocket change.   It also required
a conspiracy to spread this knowledge, and the gall and
nerve actually to commit petty theft, but the Yippies had
these qualifications in plenty.  In June 1971, Abbie
Hoffman and a telephone enthusiast sarcastically known
as "Al Bell"  began publishing a newsletter called *Youth
International Party Line.*  This newsletter was dedicated
to collating and spreading Yippie rip-off techniques,
especially of phones, to the joy of the freewheeling
underground and the insensate rage of all straight people.

        As a political tactic, phone-service theft ensured that
Yippie advocates would always have ready access to the
long-distance telephone as a medium, despite the Yippies'
chronic lack of organization, discipline, money, or even a
steady home address.

        *Party Line* was run out of Greenwich Village for a
couple of years, then "Al Bell" more or less defected from
the faltering ranks of Yippiedom, changing the
newsletter's name to *TAP* or *Technical Assistance
Program.*  After the Vietnam War ended, the steam
began leaking rapidly out of American radical dissent.
But  by this time, "Bell" and his dozen or so core
contributors  had the bit between their teeth, and had
begun to derive tremendous gut-level satisfaction from
the sensation of pure *technical power.*

        *TAP* articles, once highly politicized, became
pitilessly jargonized and technical, in homage or parody to
the Bell System's own technical documents, which *TAP*
studied closely, gutted, and reproduced without
permission.   The *TAP* elite revelled in gloating
possession of the specialized knowledge necessary to beat
the system.

           "Al Bell" dropped out of the game by the late 70s,
and "Tom Edison" took over; TAP  readers (some 1400 of
them, all told) now began to show more interest in telex
switches and the growing phenomenon of computer

        In 1983, "Tom Edison" had his computer stolen and
his house set on fire by an arsonist.  This was an eventually
mortal blow to *TAP* (though the legendary name was to
be resurrected in 1990 by a young Kentuckian computer-
outlaw named "Predat0r.")


        Ever since telephones began to make money, there
have been people willing to rob and defraud phone
companies.   The legions of petty phone thieves vastly
outnumber those "phone phreaks" who  "explore the
system" for the sake of the intellectual challenge.   The
New York metropolitan area  (long in the vanguard of
American crime) claims over 150,000 physical attacks on
pay telephones every year!  Studied carefully, a modern
payphone reveals itself as a little fortress, carefully
designed and redesigned over generations,  to resist coin-
slugs, zaps of electricity, chunks of coin-shaped ice,
prybars, magnets, lockpicks, blasting caps.  Public pay-
phones must survive in a world of unfriendly, greedy
people,  and a modern payphone is as exquisitely evolved
as a cactus.

        Because the phone network pre-dates the computer
network, the scofflaws known as "phone phreaks" pre-date
the scofflaws known as "computer hackers."   In practice,
today, the line between "phreaking" and "hacking" is very
blurred, just as the distinction between telephones and
computers has blurred.  The phone system has been
digitized, and computers have learned to "talk" over
phone-lines.   What's worse -- and this was the point of the
Mr. Jenkins of the Secret Service -- some hackers have
learned to steal, and some thieves have learned to hack.

        Despite the blurring, one can still draw a few useful
behavioral distinctions between "phreaks" and "hackers."
Hackers are intensely interested in the "system" per se,
and enjoy relating to machines.  "Phreaks" are more
social,  manipulating the system in a rough-and-ready
fashion in order to get through to other human beings,
fast, cheap and under the table.

        Phone phreaks love nothing so much as "bridges,"
illegal conference calls of ten or twelve chatting
conspirators, seaboard to seaboard, lasting for many hours
-- and running, of course, on somebody else's tab,
preferably a large corporation's.

        As phone-phreak conferences wear on, people drop
out (or simply leave the phone off the hook, while they
sashay off to work or school or babysitting), and new
people are phoned up and invited to join in, from some
other continent, if possible.  Technical trivia, boasts, brags,
lies, head-trip deceptions, weird rumors, and cruel gossip
are all freely exchanged.

        The lowest rung of phone-phreaking is the theft of
telephone access codes.   Charging a phone call to
somebody else's stolen number is, of course, a pig-easy
way of stealing phone service, requiring practically no
technical expertise.  This practice has been very
widespread, especially among lonely people without much
money who are far from home.  Code theft has flourished
especially in college dorms, military bases, and,
notoriously, among roadies for rock bands.   Of late, code
theft has spread very rapidly among Third Worlders in the
US, who pile up enormous unpaid long-distance bills to
the Caribbean, South America, and Pakistan.

        The simplest way to steal phone-codes is simply to
look over a victim's shoulder as he punches-in his own
code-number on a public payphone.  This technique is
known as "shoulder-surfing," and is especially common in
airports, bus terminals, and train stations.  The code is
then sold by the thief for a few dollars.  The buyer abusing
the code has no computer expertise, but calls his Mom in
New York,  Kingston or Caracas and runs up a huge bill
with impunity.  The losses from this primitive phreaking
activity are far, far greater than the monetary losses
caused by computer-intruding hackers.

        In the mid-to-late 1980s, until the introduction of
sterner telco security measures, *computerized* code
theft worked like a charm, and was virtually omnipresent
throughout the digital underground, among phreaks and
hackers alike.   This was accomplished through
programming one's computer to try random code
numbers over the telephone until one of them worked.
Simple programs to do this were widely available in the
underground; a computer running all night was likely to
come up with a dozen or so useful hits.  This could be
repeated week after week until one had a large library of
stolen codes.

        Nowadays, the computerized dialling of hundreds of
numbers can be detected within hours and swiftly traced.
If a stolen code is repeatedly abused, this too can be
detected within a few hours.  But for years in the 1980s, the
publication of stolen codes was a kind of elementary
etiquette for fledgling hackers.   The simplest way to
establish your bona-fides as a raider was to steal a code
through repeated random dialling and offer it to the
"community" for use.   Codes could be both stolen, and
used, simply and easily from the safety of one's own
bedroom, with very little fear of detection or punishment.

        Before computers and their phone-line modems
entered American homes in gigantic numbers, phone
phreaks had their own special telecommunications
hardware gadget, the famous "blue box."  This fraud
device (now rendered increasingly useless by the digital
evolution of the phone system) could trick switching
systems into granting free access to long-distance lines.  It
did this by mimicking the system's own signal, a tone of
2600 hertz.

        Steven Jobs and Steve Wozniak, the founders of
Apple Computer, Inc., once dabbled in selling blue-boxes
in college dorms in California.  For many, in the early days
of phreaking, blue-boxing was scarcely perceived as
"theft," but rather as a fun (if sneaky) way to use excess
phone capacity harmlessly.  After all, the long-distance
lines were *just sitting there*....   Whom did it hurt, really?
If you're not *damaging* the system, and  you're not
*using up any tangible resource,* and if nobody *finds
out* what you did, then what real harm have you done?
What exactly *have* you "stolen," anyway?   If a tree falls
in the forest and nobody hears it, how much is the noise
worth?  Even now this remains a rather dicey question.

        Blue-boxing was no joke to the phone companies,
however.  Indeed, when *Ramparts* magazine, a radical
publication in California, printed the wiring schematics
necessary to create a  mute box in June 1972, the
magazine was seized by police and Pacific Bell phone-
company officials.   The mute box, a blue-box variant,
allowed its user to receive long-distance calls free of
charge to the caller.  This device was closely described in a
*Ramparts* article wryly titled "Regulating the Phone
Company In Your Home."  Publication of this article was
held to be in violation of Californian State Penal Code
section 502.7, which outlaws ownership of wire-fraud
devices and the selling of "plans or instructions for any
instrument, apparatus, or device intended to avoid
telephone toll charges."

        Issues of *Ramparts* were recalled or seized on the
newsstands, and the resultant loss of income helped put
the magazine out of business.  This was an ominous
precedent for free-expression issues, but the telco's
crushing of a radical-fringe magazine passed without
serious challenge at the time.  Even in the freewheeling
California 1970s, it was widely felt that there was
something sacrosanct about what the phone company
knew; that the telco had a legal and moral right to protect
itself by shutting off the flow of such illicit information.
Most telco information was so "specialized" that it would
scarcely be understood by any honest member of the
public.   If not published, it would not be missed.   To print
such material did not seem part of the legitimate role of a
free press.

        In 1990 there would be a similar telco-inspired attack
on the electronic phreak/hacking "magazine" *Phrack.*
The *Phrack* legal case became a central issue in the
Hacker Crackdown, and gave rise to great controversy.
*Phrack* would also be shut down, for a  time, at least, but
this time both the telcos and their law-enforcement allies
would pay a much larger price for their actions.  The
*Phrack* case will be examined in detail, later.

        Phone-phreaking as a social practice is still very
much alive at this moment.  Today, phone-phreaking is
thriving much more vigorously than the better-known and
worse-feared practice of "computer hacking."  New forms
of phreaking are spreading rapidly, following new
vulnerabilities in sophisticated phone services.

        Cellular phones are especially vulnerable; their chips
can be re-programmed to present a false caller ID and
avoid billing.   Doing so also avoids police tapping, making
cellular-phone abuse a favorite among drug-dealers.
"Call-sell operations" using pirate cellular phones can, and
have, been run right out of the backs of cars, which move
from "cell" to "cell" in the local phone system, retailing
stolen long-distance service, like some kind of demented
electronic version of the neighborhood ice-cream truck.

         Private branch-exchange phone systems in large
corporations can be penetrated; phreaks dial-up a local
company, enter its internal phone-system, hack it, then
use the company's own PBX system to dial back out over
the public network, causing the company to be stuck with
the resulting long-distance bill.  This technique is known
as "diverting."  "Diverting"  can be very costly, especially
because phreaks tend to travel in packs and never stop
talking.   Perhaps the worst by-product of this "PBX fraud"
is that victim companies and telcos have sued one another
over the financial responsibility for the stolen calls, thus
enriching not only shabby phreaks but well-paid lawyers.

           "Voice-mail systems" can also be abused; phreaks
can seize their own sections of these sophisticated
electronic answering machines, and use them for trading
codes or knowledge of illegal techniques.   Voice-mail
abuse does not hurt the company directly, but finding
supposedly empty slots in your company's answering
machine all crammed with phreaks eagerly chattering
and hey-duding one another in impenetrable jargon can
cause sensations of almost mystical repulsion and dread.

           Worse yet, phreaks have sometimes been known to
react truculently to attempts to "clean up" the voice-mail
system.  Rather than humbly acquiescing to being thrown
out of their playground, they may very well call up the
company officials at work (or at home) and loudly demand
free voice-mail addresses of their very own.  Such bullying
is taken very seriously by spooked victims.

        Acts of phreak revenge against straight people are
rare, but voice-mail systems are especially tempting and
vulnerable, and an infestation of angry phreaks in one's
voice-mail system is no joke.  They can erase legitimate
messages; or spy on private messages; or harass users with
recorded taunts and  obscenities.   They've even been
known to seize control of voice-mail security, and lock out
legitimate users, or even shut down the system entirely.

        Cellular phone-calls, cordless phones, and ship-to-
shore telephony can all be monitored by various forms of
radio; this kind of "passive monitoring" is spreading
explosively today.  Technically eavesdropping on other
people's cordless and cellular phone-calls is the fastest-
growing area in phreaking today.   This practice strongly
appeals to the lust for power and conveys gratifying
sensations of technical superiority over the eavesdropping
victim.  Monitoring is rife with all manner of tempting evil
mischief.  Simple prurient snooping is by far the most
common activity.   But credit-card numbers unwarily
spoken over the phone can be recorded, stolen and used.
And tapping people's phone-calls (whether through active
telephone taps or passive radio monitors) does lend itself
conveniently to activities like blackmail, industrial
espionage, and political dirty tricks.

        It should be repeated that telecommunications
fraud,  the theft of phone service,  causes vastly greater
monetary losses than the practice of entering into
computers by stealth.   Hackers are mostly young
suburban American white males, and exist in their
hundreds -- but "phreaks" come from both sexes and from
many nationalities, ages and ethnic backgrounds, and are
flourishing in the thousands.


        The term "hacker" has had an unfortunate history.
This book, *The Hacker Crackdown,* has little to say about
"hacking" in its finer, original sense.  The term  can signify
the free-wheeling intellectual exploration of the highest
and deepest potential of computer systems.   Hacking can
describe  the determination to make access to computers
and information as free and open as possible.  Hacking
can involve the heartfelt conviction that beauty can be
found in computers, that the fine aesthetic in a perfect
program can liberate the mind and spirit.  This is
"hacking" as it was defined in Steven Levy's much-praised
history of the pioneer computer milieu, *Hackers,*
published in 1984.

        Hackers of all kinds are absolutely soaked through
with heroic anti-bureaucratic sentiment.  Hackers long for
recognition as a praiseworthy cultural archetype, the
postmodern electronic equivalent of the cowboy and
mountain man.   Whether  they deserve such a reputation
is something for history to decide.  But many hackers --
including those outlaw hackers who are computer
intruders, and whose activities are defined as criminal --
actually attempt to *live up to* this techno-cowboy
reputation.   And given that electronics and
telecommunications are still largely unexplored
territories, there is simply *no telling* what hackers might

        For some people, this freedom is the very breath of
oxygen, the inventive spontaneity that makes life worth
living  and that flings open doors to marvellous possibility
and individual empowerment.  But for many people -- and
increasingly so -- the hacker is an ominous figure, a smart-
aleck sociopath ready to burst out of his basement
wilderness and savage other people's lives for his own
anarchical convenience.

        Any form of power without responsibility, without
direct and formal checks and balances, is frightening to
people -- and reasonably so.  It should be frankly admitted
that hackers *are* frightening, and that the basis of this
fear is not irrational.

        Fear of hackers goes well beyond the fear of merely
criminal activity.

        Subversion and manipulation of the phone system is
an act with disturbing political overtones.  In America,
computers and telephones are potent symbols of
organized authority and the technocratic business elite.

        But there is an element in American culture that has
always strongly rebelled  against these symbols; rebelled
against all large industrial computers and all phone
companies.    A certain anarchical tinge deep in the
American soul delights in causing confusion and pain to
all bureaucracies, including technological ones.

        There is sometimes malice and vandalism in this
attitude, but it is a deep and cherished part of the
American national character.  The outlaw, the rebel, the
rugged individual, the pioneer, the sturdy Jeffersonian
yeoman, the private citizen resisting interference in his
pursuit of happiness --  these are figures that all
Americans recognize, and that many will strongly applaud
and defend.

        Many scrupulously law-abiding citizens today do
cutting-edge work with electronics -- work that has already
had tremendous social influence and will have much
more in years to come.    In all truth, these talented,
hardworking, law-abiding, mature, adult people are far
more disturbing  to the peace and order of the current
status quo  than any scofflaw group of romantic teenage
punk kids.  These law-abiding hackers  have the power,
ability, and willingness to influence other people's lives
quite unpredictably.  They have means, motive, and
opportunity to meddle drastically with the American social
order.    When corralled into governments, universities, or
large multinational companies, and forced to follow
rulebooks and wear suits and ties, they at least have some
conventional halters on their freedom of action.  But when
loosed alone, or in small groups, and fired by imagination
and the entrepreneurial spirit, they can move mountains -
- causing landslides that will likely crash directly into your
office and living room.

        These people, as a class, instinctively recognize that a
public, politicized attack on hackers will eventually spread
to them -- that the term "hacker,"  once demonized, might
be used to knock their hands off the levers of power and
choke them out of existence.  There are hackers today who
fiercely and publicly resist any besmirching of the noble
title of hacker.   Naturally and understandably, they
deeply resent the attack on their values implicit in using
the word "hacker" as a synonym for computer-criminal.

        This book, sadly but in my opinion unavoidably,
rather adds to the degradation of the term.  It concerns
itself mostly with "hacking" in its commonest latter-day
definition, i.e., intruding into computer systems by stealth
and without permission.

        The term "hacking" is used routinely today  by
almost all law enforcement officials with any professional
interest in computer fraud  and abuse.   American police
describe almost any crime committed with, by, through, or
against a computer as hacking.

        Most importantly, "hacker" is what computer-
intruders choose to call *themselves.*  Nobody who
"hacks" into systems willingly describes himself (rarely,
herself) as a "computer intruder," "computer trespasser,"
"cracker," "wormer," "darkside hacker" or "high tech street
gangster."   Several other demeaning terms have been
invented  in the hope that the press and public will leave
the original sense of the word alone.   But few people
actually use these terms.  (I exempt the term "cyberpunk,"
which a few hackers and law enforcement people actually
do use.  The term "cyberpunk" is drawn from literary
criticism and has some odd  and unlikely resonances, but,
like hacker, cyberpunk too has become a criminal
pejorative today.)

        In any case, breaking into computer systems was
hardly alien to the original hacker tradition.   The first
tottering systems of the 1960s  required fairly extensive
internal surgery merely to function day-by-day.   Their
users "invaded" the deepest, most arcane recesses of their
operating software almost as a matter of routine.
"Computer security" in these early, primitive systems was
at best an afterthought.  What security there was, was
entirely physical, for it was assumed that anyone allowed
near this expensive, arcane hardware would be a fully
qualified professional expert.

        In a campus environment, though, this meant that
grad students, teaching assistants, undergraduates, and
eventually, all manner of dropouts and hangers-on ended
up accessing and often running the works.

        Universities, even modern universities, are not in the
business of maintaining security over information.  On the
contrary, universities, as institutions, pre-date the
"information economy" by many centuries and are not-
for-profit cultural entities, whose reason for existence
(purportedly) is to discover truth, codify it through
techniques of scholarship, and then teach it.   Universities
are meant to *pass the torch of civilization,* not just
download data into student skulls, and the values of the
academic community are strongly at odds with those of all
would-be information empires.   Teachers at all levels,
from kindergarten up, have proven to be shameless and
persistent software and data pirates.   Universities do not
merely "leak information" but vigorously broadcast free

        This clash of values has been fraught with
controversy.  Many hackers of the 1960s remember their
professional apprenticeship as a long guerilla war against
the uptight mainframe-computer "information
priesthood."  These computer-hungry youngsters had to
struggle hard for access to computing power, and many of
them were not above certain, er, shortcuts.   But, over the
years,  this practice freed computing from the sterile
reserve of lab-coated technocrats and was largely
responsible for the explosive growth of computing in
general society -- especially *personal* computing.

          Access to technical power acted like catnip on
certain of these youngsters.  Most of the basic techniques
of computer intrusion: password cracking, trapdoors,
backdoors, trojan horses --  were invented in college
environments in the 1960s, in the early days of network
computing.   Some off-the-cuff experience at computer
intrusion was to be in the informal resume of most
"hackers" and many future industry giants.   Outside of the
tiny cult of computer enthusiasts, few people thought
much about  the implications of "breaking into"
computers.  This sort of activity had not yet been
publicized, much less criminalized.

        In the 1960s, definitions of "property" and "privacy"
had not yet been extended to cyberspace.  Computers
were not yet indispensable to society.  There were no vast
databanks of vulnerable, proprietary information stored in
computers, which might be accessed, copied without
permission, erased, altered, or sabotaged.   The stakes
were low in the early days -- but they grew every year,
exponentially, as computers themselves grew.

        By the 1990s, commercial and political pressures had
become overwhelming, and they broke the social
boundaries of the hacking subculture.   Hacking had
become too important to be left to the  hackers.   Society
was now forced to tackle the intangible nature of
cyberspace-as-property, cyberspace as privately-owned
unreal-estate.   In the  new, severe, responsible, high-
stakes context of the "Information Society" of the 1990s,
"hacking" was called into question.

        What did it mean to break into a computer without
permission and use its computational power, or look
around inside its files without hurting anything?  What
were computer-intruding hackers, anyway -- how should
society, and the law,  best define their actions?    Were
they just *browsers,* harmless intellectual explorers?
Were they *voyeurs,* snoops, invaders of privacy?  Should
they be sternly treated as potential *agents of espionage,*
or perhaps as *industrial spies?* Or were they best
defined as *trespassers,* a very common teenage
misdemeanor?  Was hacking  *theft of service?*  (After
all, intruders were getting someone else's computer to
carry out their orders, without permission and without
paying).   Was hacking *fraud?*  Maybe it was best
described as *impersonation.*  The commonest mode of
computer intrusion was (and is) to swipe or snoop
somebody else's password, and then enter the computer
in the guise of another person -- who is commonly stuck
with the blame and the bills.

        Perhaps a medical metaphor was better -- hackers
should be defined as "sick," as *computer addicts* unable
to control their irresponsible, compulsive behavior.

        But these weighty assessments meant little to the
people who were actually being judged.   From inside the
underground world of hacking itself,  all these perceptions
seem quaint, wrongheaded, stupid, or meaningless.   The
most important self-perception of underground hackers --
from the 1960s, right through to the present day --  is that
they are an *elite.*  The day-to-day struggle in the
underground is not over sociological definitions -- who
cares? -- but for power, knowledge, and  status among
one's peers.

        When you are a hacker, it is your own inner
conviction of your elite status that enables you to break, or
let us say "transcend," the rules.   It is not that *all* rules go
by the board.   The rules habitually broken  by hackers are
*unimportant* rules -- the rules of dopey greedhead telco
bureaucrats and pig-ignorant government pests.

        Hackers have their *own* rules,  which separate
behavior which is cool and elite, from behavior which is
rodentlike, stupid and losing.   These "rules," however, are
mostly unwritten and  enforced by peer pressure and
tribal feeling.   Like all rules that depend on the unspoken
conviction that everybody else is a good old boy, these
rules are ripe for abuse.  The mechanisms of hacker peer-
pressure, "teletrials" and ostracism, are rarely used and
rarely work.  Back-stabbing slander, threats, and
electronic harassment are also freely employed in down-
and-dirty intrahacker feuds, but this rarely forces a rival
out of the scene entirely.  The only real solution for the
problem of an utterly losing, treacherous and rodentlike
hacker is to *turn him in to the police.*   Unlike the Mafia
or Medellin Cartel, the hacker elite cannot simply execute
the bigmouths, creeps and troublemakers among their
ranks, so they turn one another in with astonishing

        There is no tradition of silence or *omerta* in the
hacker underworld.     Hackers can be shy, even reclusive,
but when they do talk, hackers tend to brag, boast and
strut.   Almost everything hackers do is *invisible;* if they
don't brag, boast, and strut about it, then *nobody will ever
know.*  If you don't have something to brag, boast, and
strut about, then nobody in the underground will
recognize you and favor you with vital cooperation and

        The way to win a solid reputation in the underground
is by telling other hackers things that could only have
been learned by exceptional cunning and stealth.
Forbidden knowledge, therefore, is the basic currency of
the digital underground, like seashells among Trobriand
Islanders.   Hackers hoard this knowledge, and dwell upon
it obsessively, and refine it, and bargain with it, and talk
and talk about it.

        Many hackers even suffer from a strange obsession
to *teach* -- to spread the ethos and the knowledge of the
digital underground.  They'll do this even when it gains
them no particular advantage and presents a grave
personal risk.

         And when that risk catches up with them, they will go
right on teaching and preaching -- to a new audience this
time, their interrogators from law enforcement.   Almost
every hacker arrested tells everything he knows --  all
about his friends, his mentors, his disciples -- legends,
threats, horror stories, dire rumors, gossip, hallucinations.
This is, of course, convenient for law enforcement -- except
when law enforcement begins to believe hacker legendry.

        Phone phreaks are unique among criminals in their
willingness to call up law enforcement officials -- in the
office, at their homes -- and give them an extended piece
of their mind.  It is hard not to interpret this as *begging
for arrest,* and in fact it is an act of incredible
foolhardiness.  Police are naturally nettled by these acts of
chutzpah and will go well out of their way to bust these
flaunting idiots.   But it can also be interpreted as a
product of a world-view so elitist, so closed and hermetic,
that electronic police are simply  not perceived as "police,"
but rather as *enemy phone phreaks* who should be
scolded into behaving "decently."

        Hackers at their most grandiloquent perceive
themselves as the elite pioneers of a new electronic world.
Attempts to make them obey the democratically
established laws of contemporary American society are
seen as repression and persecution.   After all, they argue,
if Alexander Graham Bell had gone along with the rules of
the Western Union telegraph company, there would have
been no telephones.  If Jobs and Wozniak had believed
that IBM was the be-all and end-all, there would have
been no personal computers.  If Benjamin Franklin and
Thomas Jefferson had tried to "work within the system"
there would have been no United States.

        Not only do hackers privately believe this as an
article of faith, but they have been known to write ardent
manifestos about it.  Here are some revealing excerpts
from an especially vivid hacker manifesto:  "The Techno-
Revolution" by  "Dr. Crash,"  which appeared in electronic
form in *Phrack* Volume 1, Issue 6, Phile 3.

        "To fully explain the true motives behind hacking, we
must first take a quick look into the past.  In the 1960s, a
group of MIT students built the first modern computer
system.  This wild, rebellious group of young men were the
first to bear the name 'hackers.'  The systems that they
developed were intended to be used to solve world
problems and to benefit all of mankind.
        "As we can see, this has not been the case.  The
computer system has been solely in the hands of big
businesses and the government.  The wonderful device
meant to enrich life has become a weapon which
dehumanizes people.  To the government and large
businesses, people are no more than disk space, and the
government doesn't use computers to arrange aid for the
poor, but to control nuclear death weapons.  The average
American can only have access to a small microcomputer
which is worth only a fraction of what they pay for it.  The
businesses keep the true state-of-the-art equipment away
from the people behind a steel wall of incredibly high
prices and bureaucracy.  It is because of this state of
affairs that hacking was born.(...)
        "Of course, the government doesn't want the
monopoly of technology broken, so they have outlawed
hacking and arrest anyone who is caught.(...) The phone
company is another example of technology abused and
kept from people with high prices.(...)
        "Hackers often find that their existing equipment,
due to the monopoly tactics of computer companies, is
inefficient for their purposes.  Due to the exorbitantly high
prices, it is impossible to legally purchase the necessary
equipment.  This need has given still another segment of
the fight:  Credit Carding.  Carding is a way of obtaining
the necessary goods without paying for them.  It is again
due to the companies' stupidity that Carding is so easy,
and shows that the world's businesses are in the hands of
those with considerably less technical know-how than we,
the hackers. (...)
        "Hacking must continue.  We must train newcomers
to the art of hacking.(....)  And whatever you do, continue
the fight.  Whether you know it or not, if you are a hacker,
you are a revolutionary.  Don't worry, you're on the right

        The  defense of "carding" is rare.  Most hackers
regard credit-card theft as "poison" to the underground, a
sleazy and immoral effort that, worse yet, is hard to get
away with.   Nevertheless, manifestos advocating credit-
card theft, the deliberate crashing of computer systems,
and even acts of violent physical destruction such as
vandalism and arson do exist in the underground.  These
boasts and threats are taken quite seriously by the police.
And not every hacker is an abstract, Platonic computer-
nerd.  Some few are quite experienced at picking locks,
robbing phone-trucks, and breaking and entering

        Hackers  vary in their degree of hatred for authority
and the violence of their rhetoric.  But, at a bottom line,
they are scofflaws.  They don't regard the current rules of
electronic behavior as respectable efforts to preserve law
and order and protect public safety.  They regard these
laws as immoral efforts by soulless corporations to protect
their profit margins and to crush dissidents.   "Stupid"
people, including police, businessmen, politicians, and
journalists, simply have no right to judge the actions of
those possessed of genius, techno-revolutionary
intentions, and technical expertise.


        Hackers are generally teenagers and college kids not
engaged in earning a living.   They often come from fairly
well-to-do middle-class backgrounds, and are markedly
anti-materialistic (except, that is, when it comes to
computer equipment).   Anyone motivated by greed for
mere money (as opposed to the greed for power,
knowledge and status)  is swiftly written-off as a narrow-
minded breadhead whose interests can only be corrupt
and contemptible.   Having grown up in the 1970s and
1980s, the young Bohemians of the digital underground
regard straight society as awash in plutocratic corruption,
where everyone from the President down is for sale and
whoever has the gold makes the rules.

        Interestingly, there's a funhouse-mirror image of this
attitude on the other side of the conflict.  The police are
also one of the most markedly anti-materialistic groups in
American society, motivated not by mere money but by
ideals of service, justice, esprit-de-corps, and, of course,
their own brand of specialized knowledge and power.
Remarkably, the propaganda war between cops and
hackers has always involved angry allegations that the
other side is trying to make a sleazy buck.  Hackers
consistently sneer that anti-phreak prosecutors are
angling for cushy jobs as telco lawyers and that computer-
crime police are aiming to cash in later as well-paid
computer-security consultants in the private sector.

        For their part, police publicly conflate all hacking
crimes with robbing payphones with crowbars.  Allegations
of "monetary losses" from computer intrusion are
notoriously inflated.  The act of illicitly copying a
document from a computer is morally equated with
directly robbing a company of, say, half a million dollars.
The teenage computer intruder in possession of this
"proprietary"  document has certainly not sold it for such a
sum, would likely have little idea how to sell it at all, and
quite probably doesn't even understand what he has.  He
has not made a cent in profit from his felony but is still
morally equated with a thief who has robbed the church
poorbox and lit out for Brazil.

        Police want to believe that all hackers are thieves.  It
is a tortuous and almost unbearable act for the American
justice system to put people in jail because they want to
learn things which are forbidden for them to know.   In an
American context, almost any pretext for punishment is
better than jailing people to protect certain restricted
kinds of information.  Nevertheless, *policing
information* is part and parcel of the struggle against

        This dilemma is well exemplified by the remarkable
activities of "Emmanuel Goldstein," editor and publisher
of a print magazine known as *2600: The Hacker
Quarterly.*  Goldstein was an English major at Long
Island's State University of New York in the '70s, when he
became involved with the local college radio station.  His
growing interest in electronics caused him to drift into
Yippie *TAP* circles and thus into the digital
underground, where he became a self-described techno-
rat.  His magazine publishes techniques of computer
intrusion and telephone "exploration" as well as gloating
exposes of telco misdeeds and governmental failings.

        Goldstein lives quietly and very privately in a large,
crumbling Victorian mansion in Setauket, New York.   The
seaside house is decorated with telco decals, chunks of
driftwood, and the basic bric-a-brac of a hippie crash-pad.
He is unmarried, mildly unkempt, and survives mostly on
TV dinners and turkey-stuffing eaten straight out of the
bag.   Goldstein is a man of considerable charm and
fluency, with a brief, disarming smile and the kind of
pitiless, stubborn, thoroughly recidivist integrity that
America's electronic police find genuinely alarming.

        Goldstein took his nom-de-plume, or "handle," from a
character in Orwell's *1984,*  which may be taken,
correctly, as a symptom of the gravity of his sociopolitical
worldview.   He is not himself a practicing computer
intruder, though he vigorously abets these actions,
especially when they are pursued against large
corporations or governmental agencies.   Nor is he a thief,
for he loudly scorns mere theft of phone service, in favor of
'exploring and manipulating the system.'  He is probably
best described and understood as a *dissident.*

         Weirdly, Goldstein is living in modern America
under conditions very similar to those of former East
European intellectual dissidents.  In other words, he
flagrantly espouses a value-system that is deeply and
irrevocably opposed to the system of those in power and
the police.  The values in *2600* are generally expressed in
terms that are ironic, sarcastic, paradoxical, or just
downright confused.  But there's no mistaking their
radically anti-authoritarian tenor.  *2600* holds that
technical power and specialized knowledge, of any kind
obtainable, belong by right in the hands of those
individuals brave and bold enough to discover them -- by
whatever means necessary.  Devices, laws, or systems that
forbid access, and the free spread of knowledge, are
provocations that any free and self-respecting hacker
should relentlessly attack.  The "privacy" of governments,
corporations and other soulless technocratic organizations
should never be protected at the expense of the liberty
and free initiative of the individual techno-rat.

        However, in our contemporary workaday world,  both
governments and corporations are very anxious indeed to
police information which is secret, proprietary, restricted,
confidential, copyrighted, patented, hazardous, illegal,
unethical, embarrassing, or otherwise sensitive.   This
makes Goldstein persona non grata, and his philosophy a

        Very little about the conditions of Goldstein's daily
life would astonish, say, Vaclav Havel.  (We may note in
passing that President Havel once had his word-processor
confiscated by the Czechoslovak police.)   Goldstein lives
by *samizdat,* acting semi-openly as a data-center for the
underground, while challenging the powers-that-be to
abide by their own stated rules:  freedom of speech and
the First Amendment.

        Goldstein thoroughly looks and acts the part of
techno-rat, with shoulder-length ringlets and a piratical
black fisherman's-cap set at a rakish angle.  He often
shows up like Banquo's ghost at meetings of computer
professionals, where he listens quietly, half-smiling and
taking thorough notes.

        Computer professionals generally meet publicly,  and
find it very difficult to rid themselves of Goldstein and his
ilk  without extralegal and unconstitutional actions.
Sympathizers, many of them quite respectable people
with responsible jobs, admire Goldstein's attitude and
surreptitiously pass him information.  An unknown but
presumably large proportion of Goldstein's  2,000-plus
readership are telco security personnel and police, who
are forced to subscribe to *2600*  to stay abreast of new
developments in hacking.  They thus find themselves
*paying this guy's rent* while grinding their teeth in
anguish, a situation that would have delighted Abbie
Hoffman (one of Goldstein's few idols).

        Goldstein is probably the best-known public
representative of the hacker underground today, and
certainly the best-hated.  Police regard him as a Fagin, a
corrupter of youth, and speak of him with untempered
loathing.  He is quite an accomplished gadfly.

        After the  Martin Luther King Day Crash of 1990,
Goldstein, for instance, adeptly rubbed salt into the wound
in the pages of *2600.*   "Yeah, it was fun for the phone
phreaks as we watched the network crumble," he admitted
cheerfully.   "But it was also an ominous sign of what's to
come...  Some AT&T people, aided by well-meaning but
ignorant media, were spreading the notion that many
companies had the same software and therefore could
face the same problem someday.  Wrong.  This was
entirely an AT&T software deficiency.  Of course, other
companies could face entirely *different* software
problems.  But then, so too could AT&T."

        After a technical discussion of the system's failings,
the Long Island techno-rat went on to offer thoughtful
criticism to the gigantic multinational's hundreds of
professionally qualified engineers.  "What we don't know
is how a major force in communications like AT&T could
be so sloppy.  What happened to backups?  Sure,
computer systems go down all the time, but people
making phone calls are not the same as people logging on
to computers.  We must make that distinction.  It's not
acceptable for the phone system or any other essential
service to 'go down.'  If we continue to trust technology
without understanding it, we can look forward to many
variations on this theme.
        "AT&T owes it to its customers to be prepared to
*instantly* switch to another network if something strange
and unpredictable starts occurring.  The news here isn't so
much the failure of a computer program, but the failure of
AT&T's entire structure."

        The very idea of this.... this *person*....  offering
"advice" about "AT&T's entire structure" is more than
some people can easily bear.   How dare this near-criminal
dictate what is or isn't "acceptable" behavior from AT&T?
Especially when he's publishing, in the very same issue,
detailed schematic diagrams for creating various
switching-network signalling tones unavailable to the

         "See what happens when you drop a 'silver box' tone
or two down your local exchange or through different long
distance service carriers," advises *2600* contributor "Mr.
Upsetter" in "How To Build a Signal Box."  "If you
experiment systematically and keep good records, you will
surely discover something interesting."

        This is, of course, the scientific method, generally
regarded as a praiseworthy activity and one of the flowers
of modern civilization.   One can indeed learn a great deal
with this sort of structured intellectual activity.   Telco
employees regard this mode of "exploration" as akin to
flinging sticks of dynamite into their pond to see what lives
on the bottom.

        *2600* has been published consistently since 1984.  It
has also run a bulletin board computer system, printed
*2600* T-shirts, taken fax calls...  The Spring 1991 issue has
an interesting announcement on page 45:  "We just
discovered an extra set of wires attached to our fax line
and heading up the pole.  (They've since been clipped.)
Your faxes to us and to anyone else could be monitored."

         In the worldview of *2600,* the tiny band of techno-
rat brothers (rarely, sisters) are a beseiged vanguard of the
truly free and honest.   The rest of the world is a maelstrom
of corporate crime and high-level governmental
corruption, occasionally tempered with well-meaning
ignorance.   To read a few issues in a row is to enter a
nightmare akin to Solzhenitsyn's, somewhat tempered by
the fact that *2600* is often extremely funny.

        Goldstein did not become a target of the Hacker
Crackdown, though he protested loudly, eloquently, and
publicly about it, and it added considerably to his fame.  It
was not that he is not regarded as dangerous, because he
is so regarded.  Goldstein has had brushes with the law in
the past:  in 1985, a *2600* bulletin board computer was
seized by the FBI, and some software on it was formally
declared "a burglary tool in the form of a computer
program."  But Goldstein escaped direct repression in
1990, because his magazine is printed on paper, and
recognized as subject to Constitutional freedom of the
press protection.  As was seen in the *Ramparts* case, this
is far from an absolute guarantee.  Still, as a practical
matter, shutting down *2600* by court-order would create
so much legal hassle that it is simply unfeasible, at least
for the present.   Throughout 1990, both Goldstein and his
magazine were peevishly thriving.

        Instead, the Crackdown of 1990 would concern itself
with the computerized version of forbidden data.  The
crackdown itself, first and foremost, was about *bulletin
board systems.*  Bulletin Board Systems, most often
known by the ugly and un-pluralizable acronym "BBS," are
the life-blood of the digital underground.  Boards were
also central to law enforcement's tactics and strategy in
the Hacker Crackdown.

        A "bulletin board system" can be formally defined as
a computer which serves as an information and message-
passing center for users dialing-up over the phone-lines
through the use of  modems.   A "modem," or modulator-
demodulator, is a device which translates the digital
impulses of computers into audible analog telephone
signals, and vice versa.   Modems connect computers to
phones and thus to each other.

        Large-scale mainframe computers have been
connected since the 1960s, but *personal* computers, run
by individuals out of their homes, were first networked in
the late 1970s.   The "board" created by Ward Christensen
and Randy Suess in February 1978, in Chicago, Illinois, is
generally regarded as the first personal-computer bulletin
board system worthy of the name.

        Boards run on many different machines, employing
many different kinds of software.  Early boards were crude
and buggy, and their managers, known as "system
operators" or "sysops," were hard-working technical
experts who wrote their own software.  But like most
everything else in the world of electronics, boards became
faster, cheaper, better-designed, and generally far more
sophisticated throughout the 1980s.  They also moved
swiftly out of the hands of pioneers and into those of the
general public.   By 1985 there were something in the
neighborhood of 4,000 boards in America.  By 1990 it was
calculated, vaguely, that there were about 30,000 boards in
the US, with uncounted thousands overseas.

        Computer bulletin boards are unregulated
enterprises.  Running a board is a rough-and-ready, catch-
as-catch-can proposition.   Basically,  anybody with a
computer, modem, software and a phone-line can start a
board.   With second-hand equipment and public-domain
free software, the price of a board might be quite small --
less than it would take to publish a magazine or even a
decent pamphlet.   Entrepreneurs eagerly sell bulletin-
board software, and will coach nontechnical amateur
sysops in its use.

        Boards are not "presses."  They are not magazines, or
libraries, or phones, or CB radios, or traditional cork
bulletin boards down at the local laundry, though they
have some passing resemblance to those earlier media.
Boards are a new medium -- they may even be a *large
number* of new media.

        Consider these unique characteristics:  boards are
cheap, yet they  can have a national, even global reach.
Boards can be contacted from anywhere in the global
telephone network, at *no cost* to the person running the
board -- the caller pays the phone bill, and if the caller is
local, the call is free.  Boards do not involve an editorial
elite addressing a mass audience.   The "sysop" of a board
is not an exclusive publisher or writer -- he is managing an
electronic salon, where individuals can address the
general public,  play the part of the general public, and
also  exchange private mail with other individuals.  And
the "conversation" on boards, though fluid, rapid, and
highly interactive, is not spoken, but written.  It is also
relatively anonymous, sometimes completely so.

        And because boards are cheap and ubiquitous,
regulations and licensing requirements would likely be
practically unenforceable.  It would almost be easier to
"regulate"  "inspect" and "license" the content of private
mail -- probably more so, since the mail system is
operated by the federal government.  Boards are run by
individuals, independently, entirely at their own whim.

        For the sysop, the cost of operation is not the primary
limiting factor.  Once the investment in a computer and
modem has been made, the only steady cost is the charge
for maintaining a phone line (or several phone lines).   The
primary limits for sysops are time and energy.  Boards
require upkeep.  New users are generally "validated" --
they must be issued individual passwords, and called at
home by voice-phone, so that their identity can be
verified.  Obnoxious users, who exist in plenty, must be
chided or purged.  Proliferating messages must be deleted
when they grow old, so that the capacity of the system is
not overwhelmed.  And software programs (if such things
are kept on the board)  must be examined for possible
computer viruses.   If there is a financial charge to use the
board (increasingly common, especially in larger and
fancier systems) then accounts must be kept, and users
must be billed.  And if the board crashes -- a very common
occurrence -- then repairs must be made.

        Boards can be distinguished by the amount of effort
spent in regulating them.  First, we have the completely
open board, whose sysop is off chugging brews and
watching re-runs while his users generally degenerate
over time into peevish anarchy and eventual silence.
Second comes the supervised board, where the sysop
breaks in every once in a while to tidy up, calm brawls,
issue announcements, and rid the community of  dolts
and troublemakers.   Third is the heavily supervised
board,  which sternly urges adult and responsible behavior
and swiftly edits any message considered offensive,
impertinent, illegal or irrelevant.  And last comes the
completely  edited "electronic publication,"  which is
presented to a silent audience which is not allowed to
respond directly in any way.

        Boards can also be grouped by their degree of
anonymity.  There is the completely anonymous board,
where everyone uses pseudonyms -- "handles" -- and even
the sysop is unaware of the user's true identity.  The sysop
himself is likely pseudonymous on a board of this type.
Second, and rather more common, is the board where the
sysop knows (or thinks he knows) the true names and
addresses of all users, but the users don't know one
another's names and may not know his.  Third is the board
where everyone has to use real names, and roleplaying
and pseudonymous posturing are forbidden.

        Boards can be grouped by their immediacy.  "Chat-
lines" are boards linking several users together over
several different phone-lines simultaneously, so that
people exchange messages at the very moment that they
type.  (Many large boards feature "chat" capabilities along
with other services.)   Less immediate boards, perhaps
with a single phoneline, store messages serially, one at a
time.  And some boards are only open for business in
daylight hours or on weekends, which greatly slows
response.  A *network* of boards, such as "FidoNet," can
carry electronic mail from board to board, continent to
continent, across huge distances -- but at a relative snail's
pace, so that a message can take several days to reach its
target audience and elicit a reply.

        Boards can be grouped by their degree of
community.  Some boards emphasize the exchange of
private, person-to-person electronic mail.   Others
emphasize public postings and may even purge people
who "lurk," merely reading posts but refusing to openly
participate.  Some boards are intimate and neighborly.
Others are frosty and highly technical.  Some are little
more than storage dumps for software, where users
"download" and "upload" programs, but interact among
themselves little if at all.

        Boards can be grouped by their ease of access.  Some
boards are entirely public.  Others are private and
restricted only to personal friends of the sysop.   Some
boards divide users by status.   On these boards, some
users, especially beginners, strangers or children, will be
restricted to general topics, and perhaps forbidden to post.
Favored users, though, are granted the ability to post as
they please, and to stay "on-line" as long as they like, even
to the disadvantage of other people trying to call in.  High-
status users can be given access to hidden areas in the
board, such as off-color topics, private discussions, and/or
valuable software.  Favored users may even become
"remote sysops" with the power to take remote control of
the board through their own home computers.  Quite
often "remote sysops" end up doing all the work and
taking formal control of the enterprise, despite the fact
that it's physically located in someone else's house.
Sometimes several "co-sysops" share power.

        And boards can also be grouped by size.  Massive,
nationwide commercial networks, such as CompuServe,
Delphi, GEnie and Prodigy, are run on mainframe
computers and are generally not considered "boards,"
though they share many of their characteristics, such as
electronic mail, discussion topics, libraries of software, and
persistent and growing problems with civil-liberties issues.
Some private boards have as many as thirty phone-lines
and quite sophisticated hardware.   And then there are
tiny boards.

        Boards vary in popularity.  Some boards are huge and
crowded, where users must claw their way in against a
constant busy-signal.  Others are huge and empty -- there
are few things sadder than a formerly flourishing board
where no one posts any longer, and the dead
conversations of vanished users lie about gathering digital
dust.  Some boards are tiny and intimate, their telephone
numbers intentionally kept confidential so that only a
small number can log on.

        And some boards are *underground.*

        Boards can be mysterious entities.  The activities of
their users can be hard to differentiate from conspiracy.
Sometimes they *are* conspiracies.  Boards have
harbored, or have been accused of harboring, all manner
of fringe groups, and have abetted, or been accused of
abetting, every manner of frowned-upon, sleazy, radical,
and criminal activity.   There are Satanist boards.  Nazi
boards.  Pornographic boards.  Pedophile boards.  Drug-
dealing boards.  Anarchist boards.  Communist boards.
Gay and Lesbian boards (these exist in great profusion,
many of them quite lively with well-established histories).
Religious cult boards.  Evangelical boards.  Witchcraft
boards, hippie boards, punk boards, skateboarder boards.
Boards for UFO believers.   There may well be boards for
serial killers, airline terrorists and professional assassins.
There is simply no way to tell.   Boards spring up, flourish,
and disappear in large numbers, in most every corner of
the developed world.  Even apparently innocuous public
boards can, and sometimes do, harbor secret areas known
only to a few.  And even on the vast, public, commercial
services, private mail is very private -- and quite possibly

        Boards cover most every topic imaginable and some
that are hard to imagine.  They cover a vast spectrum of
social activity.   However, all board users do have
something in common:  their possession of computers and
phones.  Naturally, computers and phones are primary
topics of conversation on almost every board.

        And hackers and phone phreaks, those utter
devotees of computers and phones, live by boards.  They
swarm by boards.  They are bred by boards.  By the late
1980s, phone-phreak groups and hacker groups, united by
boards, had proliferated fantastically.

        As evidence, here is a list of hacker groups compiled
by the editors of *Phrack* on August 8, 1988.

        The Administration.  Advanced Telecommunications,
Inc.  ALIAS.  American Tone Travelers.  Anarchy Inc.
Apple Mafia.  The Association. Atlantic Pirates Guild.

        Bad Ass Mother Fuckers.  Bellcore.  Bell Shock Force.
Black Bag.

        Camorra.  C&M Productions.  Catholics Anonymous.
Chaos Computer Club.  Chief Executive Officers.  Circle
Of Death.  Circle Of Deneb.  Club X.  Coalition of Hi-Tech
Pirates.  Coast-To-Coast.  Corrupt Computing.  Cult Of The
Dead Cow.  Custom Retaliations.

        Damage Inc.  D&B Communications. The Dange
Gang.  Dec Hunters.  Digital Gang.  DPAK.

         Eastern Alliance. The Elite Hackers Guild.  Elite
Phreakers and Hackers Club.  The Elite Society Of
America.  EPG.  Executives Of Crime. Extasyy Elite.

         Fargo 4A.  Farmers Of Doom.  The Federation.  Feds
R Us.  First Class. Five O.  Five Star.   Force Hackers.  The

         Hack-A-Trip.  Hackers Of America.   High Mountain
Hackers.  High Society.  The Hitchhikers.

        IBM Syndicate.  The Ice Pirates.   Imperial Warlords.
Inner Circle. Inner Circle II.  Insanity Inc.  International
Computer Underground Bandits.

         Justice League of America.

         Kaos Inc.  Knights Of Shadow.  Knights Of The
Round Table.

         League Of Adepts.  Legion Of Doom.  Legion Of
Hackers.  Lords Of Chaos.  Lunatic Labs, Unlimited.

        Master Hackers.  MAD!  The Marauders.  MD/PhD.
Metal Communications, Inc.  MetalliBashers, Inc.  MBI.
Metro Communications.  Midwest Pirates Guild.

        NASA Elite.  The NATO Association.  Neon Knights.
Nihilist Order.         Order Of The Rose.  OSS.

        Pacific Pirates Guild.  Phantom Access Associates.
PHido PHreaks. The Phirm.  Phlash.  PhoneLine
Phantoms.  Phone Phreakers Of America. Phortune 500.
Phreak Hack Delinquents.  Phreak Hack Destroyers.
Phreakers, Hackers, And Laundromat Employees Gang
(PHALSE Gang).  Phreaks Against Geeks.  Phreaks
Against Phreaks Against Geeks.  Phreaks and Hackers of
America.  Phreaks Anonymous World Wide.  Project
Genesis.  The Punk Mafia.

        The Racketeers.  Red Dawn Text Files.  Roscoe Gang.

        SABRE.  Secret Circle of Pirates.  Secret Service.  707
Club.  Shadow Brotherhood.  Sharp Inc.  65C02 Elite.
Spectral Force. Star League.  Stowaways.   Strata-Crackers.

        Team Hackers '86.  Team Hackers '87.
TeleComputist Newsletter Staff.  Tribunal Of Knowledge.
Triple Entente.  Turn Over And Die Syndrome (TOADS).
300 Club.  1200 Club.  2300 Club.  2600 Club.  2601 Club.

        The United Soft WareZ Force.  United Technical
        Ware Brigade.  The Warelords.  WASP.

        Contemplating this list is  an impressive, almost
humbling business.   As a cultural artifact, the thing
approaches poetry.

        Underground groups -- subcultures -- can be
distinguished from independent cultures by their  habit of
referring constantly to the parent society.  Undergrounds
by their nature constantly  must maintain a membrane of
differentiation.   Funny/distinctive clothes and hair,
specialized jargon, specialized ghettoized areas in cities,
different hours of rising, working, sleeping....  The digital
underground, which specializes in information, relies very
heavily on language to distinguish itself.   As can be seen
from this list, they make heavy use of parody and
mockery.   It's revealing to see who they choose to mock.

        First,  large corporations.  We have the Phortune 500,
The Chief Executive Officers,  Bellcore,  IBM Syndicate,
SABRE (a computerized reservation service maintained
by airlines).  The common use of "Inc." is telling -- none of
these groups are actual corporations, but take clear
delight in mimicking them.

        Second,  governments and police.  NASA Elite, NATO
Association.  "Feds R Us" and "Secret Service" are fine bits
of fleering boldness.  OSS -- the Office of Strategic Services
was the forerunner of the CIA.

        Third, criminals.  Using stigmatizing pejoratives as a
perverse badge of honor is a time-honored tactic for
subcultures:   punks, gangs, delinquents, mafias, pirates,
bandits, racketeers.

        Specialized orthography, especially the use of "ph"
for "f" and "z" for the plural "s," are instant recognition
symbols.  So is the use of the numeral "0" for the letter "O"
-- computer-software orthography generally features a
slash through the zero, making the distinction obvious.

        Some terms are poetically descriptive of computer
intrusion:  the Stowaways,  the Hitchhikers, the PhoneLine
Phantoms, Coast-to-Coast.  Others are simple bravado
and vainglorious puffery.  (Note the insistent use of the
terms "elite" and "master.")  Some terms are
blasphemous, some obscene, others merely cryptic --
anything to puzzle, offend, confuse, and keep the straights
at bay.

        Many hacker groups further re-encrypt their names
by the use of acronyms:  United Technical Underground
becomes UTU, Farmers of Doom become FoD,  the
United SoftWareZ Force becomes, at its own insistence,
"TuSwF," and woe to the ignorant rodent who capitalizes
the wrong letters.

        It should be further recognized that the members of
these groups are themselves pseudonymous.  If you did, in
fact, run across the "PhoneLine Phantoms," you would find
them to consist of  "Carrier Culprit,"  "The Executioner,"
"Black Majik,"  "Egyptian Lover,"  "Solid State," and  "Mr
Icom."  "Carrier Culprit" will likely be referred to by his
friends as "CC," as in, "I got these dialups from CC of PLP."

        It's quite possible that this entire list refers to as few
as a thousand people.   It is not a complete list of
underground groups -- there has never been such a list,
and there never will be.   Groups rise, flourish, decline,
share membership, maintain a cloud of wannabes and
casual hangers-on.  People pass in and out, are ostracized,
get bored, are busted by police, or are cornered by telco
security and presented with huge bills.  Many
"underground groups" are software pirates, "warez d00dz,"
who might break copy protection and pirate programs, but
likely wouldn't dare to intrude on a computer-system.

        It is hard to estimate the true population of the digital
underground.  There is constant turnover.  Most hackers
start young, come and go, then drop out at age 22 -- the
age of college graduation.  And a large majority of
"hackers" access pirate boards, adopt a handle,  swipe
software and perhaps abuse a phone-code or two, while
never actually joining the elite.

        Some professional informants, who make it their
business to retail knowledge of the underground to
paymasters in private corporate security, have estimated
the hacker population at as high as fifty thousand.   This is
likely highly inflated, unless one counts every single
teenage software pirate  and petty phone-booth thief.  My
best guess is about 5,000 people.   Of these, I would guess
that as few as a hundred are truly "elite"  -- active
computer intruders, skilled enough to penetrate
sophisticated systems and truly to worry corporate security
and law enforcement.

        Another interesting speculation is whether this group
is growing or not.  Young teenage hackers are often
convinced that hackers exist in vast swarms and will soon
dominate the cybernetic universe.  Older and wiser
veterans, perhaps as wizened as 24 or 25 years old, are
convinced that the glory days are long gone, that the cops
have the underground's number now, and that kids these
days are dirt-stupid and just want to play Nintendo.

        My own assessment is that computer intrusion, as a
non-profit act of intellectual exploration and mastery, is in
slow decline, at least in the United States; but that
electronic fraud, especially telecommunication crime, is
growing by leaps and bounds.

        One might find a useful parallel to the digital
underground in  the drug  underground.   There was a
time, now much-obscured by historical revisionism, when
Bohemians freely shared joints at concerts, and hip, small-
scale marijuana dealers might turn people on just for the
sake of enjoying a long stoned conversation about the
Doors and Allen Ginsberg.  Now drugs are increasingly
verboten, except in a high-stakes, highly-criminal world of
highly addictive drugs.  Over years of disenchantment and
police harassment, a vaguely ideological, free-wheeling
drug underground has relinquished the business of drug-
dealing to a  far more savage criminal hard-core.   This is
not a pleasant prospect to contemplate, but the analogy is
fairly compelling.

        What does an underground board look like?   What
distinguishes it from a standard board?  It isn't necessarily
the conversation -- hackers often talk about common
board topics, such as hardware, software, sex, science
fiction, current events, politics, movies, personal gossip.
Underground boards can best be distinguished by their
files, or "philes,"  pre-composed texts which teach the
techniques and ethos of the underground.   These are
prized reservoirs of forbidden knowledge.  Some are
anonymous, but most proudly bear the handle of the
"hacker" who has created them, and his group affiliation, if
he has one.

        Here is a partial table-of-contents of philes from an
underground board, somewhere in the heart of middle
America, circa 1991.  The descriptions are mostly self-

BANKAMER.ZIP    5406 06-11-91  Hacking Bank America
CHHACK.ZIP      4481 06-11-91  Chilton Hacking
CITIBANK.ZIP    4118 06-11-91  Hacking Citibank
CREDIMTC.ZIP    3241 06-11-91  Hacking Mtc Credit
DIGEST.ZIP      5159 06-11-91  Hackers Digest
HACK.ZIP       14031 06-11-91  How To Hack
HACKBAS.ZIP     5073 06-11-91  Basics Of Hacking
HACKDICT.ZIP   42774 06-11-91  Hackers Dictionary
HACKER.ZIP     57938 06-11-91  Hacker Info
HACKERME.ZIP    3148 06-11-91  Hackers Manual
HACKHAND.ZIP    4814 06-11-91  Hackers Handbook
HACKTHES.ZIP   48290 06-11-91  Hackers Thesis
HACKVMS.ZIP     4696 06-11-91  Hacking Vms Systems
MCDON.ZIP       3830 06-11-91  Hacking Macdonalds
(Home Of The Archs)
P500UNIX.ZIP   15525 06-11-91  Phortune 500 Guide To
RADHACK.ZIP     8411 06-11-91  Radio Hacking
TAOTRASH.DOC    4096 12-25-89  Suggestions For
TECHHACK.ZIP    5063 06-11-91  Technical Hacking

The files above are do-it-yourself manuals about
computer intrusion.  The above is only a small section of a
much larger library of hacking and phreaking techniques
and history.  We now move into a different and perhaps
surprising area.


ANARC.ZIP       3641 06-11-91  Anarchy Files
ANARCHST.ZIP   63703 06-11-91  Anarchist Book
ANARCHY.ZIP     2076 06-11-91  Anarchy At Home
ANARCHY3.ZIP    6982 06-11-91  Anarchy No 3
ANARCTOY.ZIP    2361 06-11-91  Anarchy Toys
ANTIMODM.ZIP    2877 06-11-91  Anti-modem Weapons
ATOM.ZIP        4494 06-11-91  How To Make An Atom
BARBITUA.ZIP    3982 06-11-91  Barbiturate Formula
BLCKPWDR.ZIP    2810 06-11-91  Black Powder Formulas
BOMB.ZIP        3765 06-11-91  How To Make Bombs
BOOM.ZIP        2036 06-11-91  Things That Go Boom
CHLORINE.ZIP    1926 06-11-91  Chlorine Bomb
COOKBOOK.ZIP    1500 06-11-91  Anarchy Cook Book
DESTROY.ZIP     3947 06-11-91  Destroy Stuff
DUSTBOMB.ZIP    2576 06-11-91  Dust Bomb
ELECTERR.ZIP    3230 06-11-91  Electronic Terror
EXPLOS1.ZIP     2598 06-11-91  Explosives 1
EXPLOSIV.ZIP   18051 06-11-91  More Explosives
EZSTEAL.ZIP     4521 06-11-91  Ez-stealing
FLAME.ZIP       2240 06-11-91  Flame Thrower
FLASHLT.ZIP     2533 06-11-91  Flashlight Bomb
FMBUG.ZIP       2906 06-11-91  How To Make An Fm Bug
OMEEXPL.ZIP    2139 06-11-91  Home Explosives
HOW2BRK.ZIP     3332 06-11-91  How To Break In
LETTER.ZIP      2990 06-11-91  Letter Bomb
LOCK.ZIP        2199 06-11-91  How To Pick Locks
MRSHIN.ZIP      3991 06-11-91  Briefcase Locks
NAPALM.ZIP      3563 06-11-91  Napalm At Home
NITRO.ZIP       3158 06-11-91  Fun With Nitro
PARAMIL.ZIP     2962 06-11-91  Paramilitary Info
PICKING.ZIP     3398 06-11-91  Picking Locks
PIPEBOMB.ZIP    2137 06-11-91  Pipe Bomb
POTASS.ZIP      3987 06-11-91  Formulas With Potassium
PRANK.TXT      11074 08-03-90  More Pranks To Pull On
REVENGE.ZIP     4447 06-11-91  Revenge Tactics
ROCKET.ZIP      2590 06-11-91  Rockets For Fun
SMUGGLE.ZIP     3385 06-11-91  How To Smuggle

        *Holy Cow!*  The damned thing is full of stuff about

        What are we to make of this?

        First, it should be acknowledged that spreading
knowledge about demolitions to teenagers is a highly and
deliberately antisocial act.   It is not, however, illegal.

        Second, it should be recognized that most of these
philes were in fact *written* by teenagers.  Most adult
American males who can remember their teenage years
will recognize that the notion of building a flamethrower in
your garage is an incredibly neat-o idea.  *Actually*
building a flamethrower in your garage, however, is
fraught with discouraging difficulty.  Stuffing gunpowder
into a booby-trapped flashlight, so as to blow the arm off
your high-school vice-principal, can be a thing of dark
beauty to contemplate.   Actually committing assault by
explosives  will earn you the sustained attention of the
federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.

        Some people, however, will actually try these plans.  A
determinedly murderous American teenager can
probably buy or steal a handgun far more easily than he
can brew fake "napalm" in the kitchen sink.  Nevertheless,
if temptation is spread before people a certain number
will succumb, and a small minority will actually attempt
these stunts.  A large minority of that small minority will
either fail or, quite likely, maim themselves, since these
"philes" have not been checked for accuracy, are not the
product of professional experience, and are often highly
fanciful.  But the gloating menace of these philes is not to
be entirely dismissed.

        Hackers may not be "serious" about bombing; if they
were, we would hear far more about exploding flashlights,
homemade bazookas, and gym teachers poisoned by
chlorine and potassium.  However, hackers are *very*
serious about forbidden knowledge.  They are possessed
not merely by curiosity, but by a positive *lust to know.*
The desire to know what others don't is scarcely new.  But
the *intensity* of this desire, as manifested by these young
technophilic denizens of the Information Age, may in fact
*be* new, and may represent some basic shift in social
values -- a harbinger of what the world may come to, as
society lays more and more value on the possession,
assimilation and retailing of *information* as a basic
commodity of daily life.

        There have always been young men with obsessive
interests in these topics.  Never before, however, have they
been able to network so extensively and easily, and to
propagandize their interests with impunity to random
passers-by.   High-school teachers will recognize that
there's always one in a crowd, but when the one in a crowd
escapes control by jumping into the phone-lines, and
becomes a hundred such kids all together on a board,
then trouble is brewing visibly.  The urge of authority to
*do something,*  even something drastic, is hard to resist.
And in 1990, authority did something.  In fact authority did
a great deal.

        The process by which boards create hackers goes
something like this.  A youngster becomes interested in
computers -- usually, computer games.  He hears from
friends that "bulletin boards" exist where games can be
obtained for free.  (Many computer games are "freeware,"
not copyrighted -- invented simply for the love of it and
given away to the public; some of these games are quite
good.)  He bugs his parents for a modem, or quite often,
uses his parents' modem.

         The world of boards suddenly opens up.  Computer
games can be quite expensive, real budget-breakers for a
kid, but pirated games, stripped of copy protection,  are
cheap or free.  They are also illegal, but it is very rare,
almost unheard of, for a small-scale software pirate to be
prosecuted.  Once "cracked" of its copy protection, the
program, being digital data, becomes infinitely
reproducible.  Even the instructions to the game, any
manuals that accompany it, can be reproduced as text
files, or photocopied from legitimate sets.  Other users  on
boards can give many useful hints in game-playing tactics.
And a youngster with an infinite supply of free computer
games can certainly cut quite a swath among his modem-
less friends.

        And boards are pseudonymous.  No one need know
that you're fourteen years old -- with a little practice at
subterfuge, you can talk to adults about adult things, and
be accepted and taken seriously!  You can even pretend to
be a girl, or an old man, or anybody you can imagine.  If
you find this kind of deception gratifying, there is ample
opportunity to hone your ability on boards.

        But local boards can grow stale.  And almost every
board maintains a list of phone-numbers to other boards,
some in distant, tempting, exotic locales.   Who knows
what they're up to, in Oregon or Alaska or Florida or
California?  It's very easy to find out -- just  order the
modem to call through its software -- nothing to this, just
typing on a keyboard, the same thing you would do for
most any computer game.   The machine reacts swiftly
and in a few seconds you are talking to a bunch of
interesting people on another seaboard.

        And yet the *bills* for this trivial action can be
staggering!  Just by going tippety-tap with your fingers, you
may have saddled your parents with four hundred bucks
in long-distance charges, and gotten chewed out but good.
That hardly seems fair.

        How horrifying to have made friends in another state
and to be deprived of their company -- and their software -
-  just because telephone companies demand absurd
amounts of money!   How painful, to be restricted to
boards in one's own *area code* --   what the heck is an
"area code" anyway, and what makes it so special?   A few
grumbles, complaints, and innocent questions of this sort
will often elicit a sympathetic reply from another board
user  --  someone with some stolen codes to hand.  You
dither a while,  knowing this isn't quite right, then you
make up your mind to try them anyhow -- *and they work!*
Suddenly you're doing something even your parents can't
do.  Six months ago you were just some kid -- now, you're
the Crimson Flash of Area Code 512!   You're bad -- you're

        Maybe you'll stop at a few abused codes.  Maybe
you'll decide that boards aren't all that interesting after all,
that it's wrong, not worth the risk  -- but maybe you won't.
The next step is to pick up your own repeat-dialling
program --  to learn to generate your own stolen codes.
(This was dead easy five years ago, much harder to get
away with nowadays, but not yet impossible.)   And these
dialling programs are not complex or intimidating -- some
are as small as twenty lines of software.

        Now, you too can share codes.   You can trade codes
to learn other techniques.   If you're smart enough to catch
on, and obsessive enough to want to bother,  and ruthless
enough to start seriously bending rules, then you'll get
better, fast.  You start to develop a rep.  You  move up to a
heavier class of board -- a board with a bad attitude, the
kind of board that naive dopes like your classmates and
your former self have never even heard of!  You pick up
the jargon of phreaking and hacking from the board.   You
read a few of those anarchy philes -- and man, you never
realized you could be a real *outlaw* without ever leaving
your bedroom.

        You still play other computer games, but now you
have a new and bigger game.   This one will bring you a
different kind of status than destroying even eight zillion
lousy space invaders.

        Hacking is perceived by hackers as a "game."  This is
not an entirely unreasonable or sociopathic perception.
You can win or lose at hacking, succeed or fail, but it never
feels "real."  It's not simply that imaginative youngsters
sometimes have a hard time telling "make-believe" from
"real life."  Cyberspace is *not real!*  "Real" things are
physical objects like trees and  shoes and cars.  Hacking
takes place on a screen.   Words aren't physical, numbers
(even telephone numbers and credit card numbers)
aren't physical.  Sticks and stones may break my bones,
but data will never hurt me.  Computers *simulate* reality,
like computer games that simulate tank battles or
dogfights or spaceships.   Simulations are just make-
believe, and the stuff in computers is *not real.*

        Consider this:  if "hacking" is supposed to be so
serious and real-life and  dangerous, then how come
*nine-year-old kids* have computers and modems?  You
wouldn't give a nine year old his own car, or his own rifle, or
his own chainsaw -- those things are "real."

        People underground are perfectly aware that the
"game" is frowned upon by the powers that be.   Word gets
around about busts in the underground.   Publicizing busts
is one of the primary functions of pirate boards,  but they
also promulgate an attitude about them, and their own
idiosyncratic ideas of justice.   The users of underground
boards won't complain if some guy is busted for crashing
systems, spreading viruses, or stealing money by wire-
fraud.   They may shake their heads with a sneaky grin, but
they won't openly defend these practices.   But when a kid
is charged with some theoretical amount of theft:
$233,846.14, for instance, because he sneaked into a
computer and copied something, and kept it in his house
on a floppy disk -- this is regarded as a sign of near-
insanity from prosecutors, a sign that they've drastically
mistaken the immaterial game of computing for their real
and boring everyday world of fatcat corporate money.

        It's as if big companies and their suck-up lawyers
think that computing belongs to them, and they can retail
it with price stickers, as if it were boxes of laundry soap!
But pricing "information"  is like trying to price air or price
dreams.  Well, anybody on a pirate board knows that
computing can be, and ought to be, *free.*  Pirate boards
are little independent worlds in cyberspace, and they don't
belong to anybody but the underground.   Underground
boards aren't "brought to you by Procter & Gamble."

        To log on to an underground board can mean to
experience liberation, to enter a world where, for once,
money isn't everything and adults don't have all the

        Let's sample another vivid hacker manifesto.  Here
are some excerpts from "The Conscience of a Hacker," by
"The Mentor," from *Phrack* Volume One, Issue 7, Phile

        "I made a discovery today.  I found a computer.  Wait
a second, this is cool.  It does what I want it to.  If it makes a
mistake, it's because I screwed it up.  Not because it
doesn't like me.(...)
        "And then it happened... a door opened to a world...
rushing through the phone line like heroin through an
addict's veins, an electronic pulse is sent out, a refuge
from day-to-day incompetencies is sought... a board is
found.   'This is it...  this is where I belong...'
        "I know everyone here... even if I've never met them,
never talked to them, may never hear from them again... I
know you all...(...)
        "This is our world now....  the world of the electron and
the switch, the beauty of the baud.  We make use of a
service already existing without paying for what could be
dirt-cheap if it wasn't run by profiteering gluttons, and you
call us criminals.  We explore... and you call us criminals.
We seek after knowledge... and you call us criminals.  We
exist without skin color, without nationality, without
religious bias... and you call us criminals.  You build atomic
bombs, you wage wars, you murder, cheat and lie to us and
try to make us believe that it's for our own good, yet we're
the criminals.
        "Yes, I am a criminal.  My crime is that of curiosity.
My crime is that of judging people by what they say and
think, not what they look like.  My crime is that of
outsmarting you, something that you will never forgive me


        There have been underground boards almost as long
as there have been boards.  One of the first was 8BBS,
which became a stronghold of the West Coast phone-
phreak elite.   After going on-line in March 1980, 8BBS
sponsored "Susan Thunder," and "Tuc,"  and, most
notoriously, "the Condor."  "The Condor"  bore the singular
distinction of becoming the most vilified American phreak
and hacker ever.   Angry underground associates, fed up
with Condor's peevish behavior, turned him in to police,
along with a heaping double-helping of  outrageous
hacker legendry.  As a result, Condor was kept in solitary
confinement for seven months,  for fear that he might start
World War Three by triggering missile silos from the
prison payphone.  (Having served his time, Condor is now
walking around loose;  WWIII has thus far conspicuously
failed to occur.)

        The sysop of 8BBS was an ardent free-speech
enthusiast who simply felt that *any* attempt to restrict
the expression of his users was unconstitutional and
immoral.   Swarms of the technically curious entered 8BBS
and emerged as phreaks and hackers, until, in 1982, a
friendly 8BBS alumnus passed the sysop a new modem
which had been purchased by credit-card fraud.  Police
took this opportunity to seize the entire board and remove
what they considered an attractive nuisance.

        Plovernet was a powerful East Coast pirate board that
operated in both New York and Florida.  Owned and
operated by teenage hacker "Quasi Moto,"  Plovernet
attracted five hundred eager users in 1983.  "Emmanuel
Goldstein" was one-time co-sysop of Plovernet, along with
"Lex Luthor,"  founder of the "Legion of Doom" group.
Plovernet  bore the signal honor of being the original
home of the "Legion of Doom," about which the reader will
be hearing a great deal, soon.

        "Pirate-80," or "P-80," run by a sysop known as "Scan-
Man," got into the game very early in Charleston, and
continued steadily for years.  P-80 flourished so flagrantly
that even its most hardened users became nervous, and
some slanderously speculated that "Scan Man" must have
ties to corporate security, a charge he vigorously denied.

        "414 Private" was the home board for the first *group*
to attract conspicuous trouble, the teenage "414 Gang,"
whose intrusions into Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and
Los Alamos military computers were to be a nine-days-
wonder in 1982.

        At about this time, the first software piracy boards
began to open up, trading cracked games for the Atari 800
and the Commodore C64.   Naturally these boards were
heavily frequented by teenagers.  And with the 1983
release of the hacker-thriller movie *War Games,* the
scene exploded.   It seemed that every kid in America had
demanded and  gotten a modem for Christmas.  Most of
these dabbler wannabes put their modems in the attic
after a few weeks, and most of the remainder minded their
P's and Q's and stayed well out of hot water.  But some
stubborn and talented diehards had this hacker kid in
*War Games* figured for a happening dude.   They simply
could not rest until they had contacted the underground --
or, failing that, created their own.

        In the mid-80s, underground boards sprang up like
digital fungi.  ShadowSpawn Elite.  Sherwood Forest I, II,
and III. Digital Logic Data Service in Florida, sysoped by
no less a man than "Digital Logic" himself; Lex Luthor of
the Legion of Doom was prominent on this board, since it
was in his area code.  Lex's own board,  "Legion of Doom,"
started in 1984.  The Neon Knights ran a network of Apple-
hacker boards: Neon Knights North, South, East and
West.   Free World II was run by "Major Havoc."  Lunatic
Labs is still in operation as of this writing.   Dr. Ripco in
Chicago, an anything-goes anarchist board with an
extensive and raucous history, was seized by Secret
Service agents in 1990 on Sundevil day, but up again
almost immediately, with new machines and scarcely
diminished  vigor.

        The St. Louis scene was not to rank with major centers
of American hacking such as New York and L.A.  But St.
Louis did rejoice in possession of "Knight Lightning" and
"Taran King,"  two of the foremost *journalists* native to
the underground.   Missouri boards like Metal Shop,
Metal Shop Private, Metal Shop Brewery, may not have
been the heaviest boards around in terms of illicit
expertise.  But they became boards where hackers could
exchange social gossip and try to figure out what the heck
was going on nationally -- and internationally.   Gossip
from Metal Shop was put into the form of news files, then
assembled into a general electronic publication, *Phrack,*
a portmanteau title coined from "phreak" and "hack."  The
*Phrack* editors were as obsessively curious about other
hackers as hackers were about machines.

        *Phrack,* being free of charge and lively reading,
began to circulate throughout the underground.   As Taran
King and Knight Lightning left high school for college,
*Phrack* began to appear on mainframe machines linked
to BITNET, and, through BITNET to the "Internet,"  that
loose but extremely potent not-for-profit network where
academic, governmental and corporate machines trade
data through the UNIX TCP/IP protocol.   (The "Internet
Worm"  of  November 2-3,1988, created by Cornell grad
student Robert Morris,  was to be the largest and best-
publicized computer-intrusion scandal to date.  Morris
claimed that his ingenious "worm" program was meant to
harmlessly explore the Internet, but due to bad
programming, the Worm replicated out of control and
crashed some six thousand Internet computers.   Smaller-
scale and less ambitious Internet hacking was a standard
for the underground elite.)

        Most any underground board not hopelessly lame
and out-of-it would feature a complete run of *Phrack* --
and, possibly, the lesser-known standards of the
underground:  the *Legion of Doom Technical Journal,*
the obscene and raucous *Cult of the Dead Cow*  files,
*P/HUN*  magazine,  *Pirate,*  the *Syndicate Reports,*
and perhaps the highly anarcho-political *Activist Times

        Possession of *Phrack*  on one's board was prima
facie evidence of a bad attitude.   *Phrack* was seemingly
everywhere, aiding, abetting, and spreading the
underground ethos.  And this did not escape the attention
of corporate security or the police.

         We now come to the touchy subject of police and
boards.  Police, do, in fact, own boards.   In 1989, there were
police-sponsored boards in California, Colorado, Florida,
Georgia, Idaho, Michigan, Missouri, Texas, and Virginia:
boards such as "Crime Bytes,"  "Crimestoppers,"  "All
Points" and "Bullet-N-Board."   Police officers, as private
computer enthusiasts, ran their own boards in Arizona,
California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Missouri,
Maryland, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee
and Texas.   Police boards have often proved helpful in
community relations.  Sometimes crimes are reported on
police boards.

        Sometimes crimes are *committed*  on police
boards.  This has sometimes happened by accident, as
naive hackers blunder onto police boards and blithely
begin offering telephone codes.  Far more often, however,
it occurs through the now almost-traditional use of "sting
boards."  The first police sting-boards were established in
1985:  "Underground Tunnel" in Austin, Texas, whose
sysop Sgt. Robert Ansley called himself "Pluto" -- "The
Phone Company" in Phoenix, Arizona, run by Ken
MacLeod of the Maricopa County Sheriff's office -- and
Sgt. Dan Pasquale's board in Fremont, California.   Sysops
posed as hackers, and swiftly garnered coteries of ardent
users, who posted codes and loaded pirate software with
abandon, and came to a sticky end.

        Sting boards, like other boards, are cheap to operate,
very cheap by the standards of undercover police
operations.  Once accepted by the local underground,
sysops will likely be invited into other pirate boards, where
they can compile more dossiers.  And when the sting is
announced and the worst offenders arrested, the publicity
is generally  gratifying.  The resultant paranoia in the
underground -- perhaps more justly described as a
"deterrence effect" -- tends to quell local lawbreaking for
quite a while.

        Obviously police do not have to beat the underbrush
for hackers.  On the contrary, they can go trolling for them.
Those caught can be grilled.  Some become useful
informants.  They can lead the way to pirate boards all
across the country.

        And boards all across the country showed the sticky
fingerprints of *Phrack,* and of that loudest and most
flagrant of all underground groups, the "Legion of Doom."

        The term "Legion of Doom" came from comic books.
The Legion of Doom, a conspiracy of costumed super-
villains headed by the chrome-domed criminal ultra-
mastermind Lex Luthor, gave Superman a lot of four-color
graphic trouble for a number of decades.   Of course,
Superman, that exemplar of Truth, Justice, and the
American Way, always won in the long run.   This didn't
matter to the hacker Doomsters -- "Legion of Doom" was
not some thunderous and evil Satanic reference, it was not
meant to be taken seriously.  "Legion of Doom" came
from funny-books and was supposed to be funny.

        "Legion of Doom" did have a good mouthfilling ring
to it, though.  It sounded really cool.  Other groups, such as
the "Farmers of Doom," closely allied to LoD, recognized
this grandiloquent quality, and made fun of it.  There was
even a hacker group called "Justice League of America,"
named after Superman's club of true-blue crimefighting

        But they didn't last; the Legion did.

        The original Legion of Doom, hanging out on Quasi
Moto's Plovernet board, were phone phreaks.   They
weren't much into computers.   "Lex Luthor" himself (who
was under eighteen when he formed the Legion)  was a
COSMOS expert, COSMOS being the "Central System for
Mainframe Operations," a telco internal computer
network.   Lex would eventually become quite a dab hand
at breaking into IBM mainframes, but although everyone
liked Lex and admired his attitude, he was not considered
a truly accomplished computer intruder.  Nor was he the
"mastermind" of the Legion of Doom --  LoD were never
big on formal leadership.  As a regular on Plovernet and
sysop of his "Legion of Doom BBS,"  Lex was the Legion's
cheerleader and recruiting officer.

        Legion of Doom began on the ruins of an earlier
phreak group, The Knights of Shadow.  Later, LoD was to
subsume the personnel of the hacker group "Tribunal of
Knowledge."  People came and went constantly in LoD;
groups split up or formed offshoots.

        Early on, the LoD phreaks befriended a few
computer-intrusion enthusiasts, who became the
associated "Legion of Hackers."  Then the two groups
conflated into the "Legion of Doom/Hackers,"  or LoD/H.
When the original "hacker" wing, Messrs. "Compu-
Phreak" and "Phucked Agent 04," found other matters to
occupy their time, the extra "/H" slowly atrophied out of
the name;  but by this time the phreak wing, Messrs.  Lex
Luthor, "Blue Archer," "Gary Seven," "Kerrang Khan,"
"Master of Impact," "Silver Spy," "The Marauder," and
"The Videosmith," had picked up a plethora of intrusion
expertise and had become a force to be reckoned with.

        LoD members seemed to have an instinctive
understanding that the way to real power in the
underground lay through covert publicity.   LoD were
flagrant.  Not only was it one of the earliest groups, but the
members took pains to widely distribute their illicit
knowledge.   Some LoD members, like "The Mentor," were
close to evangelical about it.   *Legion of Doom Technical
Journal*  began to show up on boards throughout the

        *LoD Technical Journal* was named in cruel parody
of the ancient and honored *AT&T Technical Journal.*
The material in these two publications was quite similar --
much of it, adopted from public journals and discussions
in the telco community.  And yet, the predatory attitude of
LoD made even its most innocuous data seem deeply
sinister; an outrage; a clear and present danger.

        To see why this should be, let's consider the following
(invented) paragraphs, as a kind of thought experiment.

        (A)  "W. Fred Brown, AT&T Vice President for
Advanced Technical Development, testified May 8  at a
Washington hearing of the National Telecommunications
and Information Administration (NTIA), regarding
Bellcore's GARDEN project.  GARDEN (Generalized
Automatic Remote Distributed Electronic Network)  is a
telephone-switch programming tool that makes it possible
to develop new telecom services, including hold-on-hold
and customized message transfers,  from any keypad
terminal, within seconds.   The GARDEN prototype
combines centrex lines with a minicomputer using UNIX
operating system software."

        (B)  "Crimson Flash 512 of the Centrex Mobsters
reports:  D00dz, you wouldn't believe this GARDEN
bullshit Bellcore's just come up with!   Now you don't even
need a lousy Commodore to reprogram a switch -- just log
on to GARDEN as a technician, and you can reprogram
switches right off the keypad in any public phone booth!
You can give yourself hold-on-hold and customized
message transfers, and best of all, the thing is run off
(notoriously insecure)  centrex lines using -- get this --
standard UNIX software!  Ha ha ha ha!"

        Message (A), couched in typical techno-
bureaucratese, appears tedious and almost unreadable.
(A) scarcely seems threatening or menacing.   Message
(B), on the other hand, is a dreadful thing, prima facie
evidence of a dire conspiracy, definitely not the kind of
thing you want your teenager reading.

        The *information,* however, is identical.  It is *public*
information, presented before the federal government in
an open hearing.  It is not "secret."  It is not "proprietary."
It is not even "confidential."  On the contrary, the
development of advanced software systems is a matter of
great public pride to Bellcore.

        However, when Bellcore publicly announces a project
of this kind, it expects a certain attitude from the public --
something along the lines of  *gosh wow, you guys are
great, keep that up, whatever it is*  --  certainly not cruel
mimickry, one-upmanship and outrageous speculations
about possible security holes.

        Now put yourself in the place of a policeman
confronted by an outraged parent, or telco official, with a
copy of Version (B).  This well-meaning citizen, to his
horror, has discovered a local bulletin-board carrying
outrageous stuff like (B), which his son is examining with a
deep and unhealthy interest.   If (B) were printed in a book
or magazine, you, as an American law enforcement officer,
would know that it would take a hell of a lot of trouble to do
anything about it;  but it doesn't take technical genius to
recognize that if there's a computer in your area harboring
stuff like (B), there's going to be trouble.

        In fact, if you ask around, any computer-literate cop
will tell you straight out that boards with stuff like (B) are
the *source* of trouble.  And the *worst* source of trouble
on boards are the ringleaders inventing and spreading
stuff like (B).  If it weren't for these jokers, there wouldn't
*be* any trouble.

        And Legion of Doom were on boards like nobody
else.  Plovernet.  The Legion of Doom Board.  The Farmers
of Doom Board.  Metal Shop.  OSUNY.  Blottoland.
Private Sector.  Atlantis.  Digital Logic.  Hell Phrozen Over.

        LoD members also ran their own boards.  "Silver Spy"
started his own board, "Catch-22,"  considered one of the
heaviest around.   So did "Mentor," with his "Phoenix
Project."   When they didn't run boards themselves, they
showed up on other people's boards, to brag, boast, and
strut.  And where they themselves didn't go, their philes
went, carrying evil knowledge and an even more evil

        As early as 1986, the police were under the vague
impression that *everyone* in the underground was
Legion of Doom.   LoD was never that large --
considerably smaller than either "Metal
Communications" or "The Administration," for instance --
but LoD got tremendous press.  Especially in *Phrack,*
which at times read like an LoD fan magazine; and
*Phrack* was everywhere, especially in the offices of telco
security.   You couldn't *get* busted as a phone phreak, a
hacker, or even a lousy codes kid or warez dood, without
the cops asking if you were LoD.

        This was a difficult charge to deny, as LoD never
distributed membership badges or laminated ID cards.  If
they had, they would likely have died out quickly, for
turnover in their membership was considerable.  LoD was
less a high-tech street-gang than an ongoing state-of-
mind.  LoD was the Gang That Refused to Die.   By 1990,
LoD had *ruled* for ten years, and it seemed *weird* to
police that they were continually busting people who were
only sixteen years old.   All these teenage small-timers
were pleading the tiresome hacker litany  of "just curious,
no criminal intent."  Somewhere at the center of this
conspiracy there had to be some serious adult
masterminds, not this seemingly endless supply of myopic
suburban white kids with high SATs and funny haircuts.

        There was no question that most any American
hacker arrested would "know" LoD.  They knew the
handles of contributors to *LoD Tech Journal,*  and were
likely to have learned their craft through LoD boards and
LoD activism.  But they'd never met anyone from LoD.
Even some of the rotating cadre who were actually and
formally "in LoD" knew one another only by board-mail
and pseudonyms.   This was a highly unconventional
profile for a criminal conspiracy.  Computer networking,
and the rapid evolution of the digital underground,  made
the situation very diffuse and confusing.

        Furthermore, a big reputation in the digital
underground did not coincide with one's willingness to
commit "crimes."   Instead, reputation was based on
cleverness and technical mastery.  As a result, it often
seemed that the *heavier* the hackers were, the *less*
likely they were to have committed any kind of common,
easily prosecutable crime.   There were some hackers who
could really steal.  And there were hackers who could
really hack.  But the two groups didn't seem to overlap
much, if at all.   For instance, most people in the
underground looked up to "Emmanuel Goldstein" of
*2600* as a hacker demigod.  But Goldstein's publishing
activities were entirely legal -- Goldstein just printed
dodgy stuff and talked about politics, he didn't even hack.
When you came right down to it, Goldstein spent half his
time complaining that computer security *wasn't strong
enough* and ought to be drastically improved across the

        Truly heavy-duty hackers, those with serious
technical skills who had earned the respect of the
underground,  never stole money or abused credit cards.
Sometimes they might abuse phone-codes -- but often,
they seemed to get all the free phone-time they wanted
without leaving a trace of any kind.

        The best hackers, the most powerful and technically
accomplished, were not professional fraudsters.   They
raided computers habitually, but wouldn't alter anything,
or damage anything.  They didn't even steal computer
equipment -- most had day-jobs messing with hardware,
and could get all the cheap secondhand equipment they
wanted.   The hottest hackers, unlike the teenage
wannabes,  weren't snobs about fancy or expensive
hardware.  Their machines tended to be raw second-hand
digital hot-rods full of custom add-ons that they'd cobbled
together out of chickenwire, memory chips and spit.  Some
were adults, computer software writers and consultants by
trade, and making quite good livings at it.  Some of them
*actually worked for the phone company* --  and for those,
the "hackers" actually found under the skirts of Ma Bell,
there would be little mercy in 1990.

         It has long been an article of faith in the
underground that the "best" hackers never get caught.
They're far too smart, supposedly.  They never get caught
because they never boast, brag, or strut.   These demigods
may read underground boards (with a condescending
smile), but they never say anything there.   The "best"
hackers, according to legend, are adult computer
professionals, such as mainframe system administrators,
who already know the ins and outs of their particular
brand of security.   Even the "best" hacker can't break in to
just any computer at random: the knowledge of security
holes is too specialized, varying widely with different
software and hardware.  But if people are employed to run,
say, a UNIX mainframe or a VAX/VMS machine, then
they tend to learn security from the inside out.  Armed
with this knowledge, they can look into most anybody
else's UNIX or VMS without much trouble or risk, if they
want to.   And, according to hacker legend, of course they
want to, so of course they do.   They just don't make a big
deal of what they've done.  So nobody ever finds out.

        It is also an article of faith in the underground that
professional telco people "phreak" like crazed weasels.
*Of course* they spy on Madonna's phone calls -- I mean,
*wouldn't you?*  Of course they give themselves free long-
distance -- why the hell should *they* pay, they're running
the whole shebang!

        It has, as a third matter, long been an article of faith
that any hacker caught can escape serious punishment if
he confesses *how he did it.*  Hackers seem to believe
that governmental agencies and large corporations are
blundering about in cyberspace like eyeless jellyfish or
cave salamanders.  They feel that these large but
pathetically stupid organizations will proffer up genuine
gratitude, and perhaps even a security post and a big
salary, to the hot-shot intruder who will deign to reveal to
them the supreme genius of his modus operandi.

        In the case of longtime LoD member "Control-C,"
this actually happened, more or less.   Control-C had led
Michigan Bell a merry chase, and when captured in 1987,
he turned out to be a bright and apparently physically
harmless young fanatic, fascinated by phones.   There was
no chance in hell that Control-C would actually repay the
enormous and largely theoretical sums in long-distance
service that he had accumulated from Michigan Bell.   He
could always be indicted for fraud or computer-intrusion,
but there seemed little real point in this -- he hadn't
physically damaged any computer.  He'd just plead guilty,
and he'd likely get the usual slap-on-the-wrist, and in the
meantime it would be a big hassle for Michigan Bell just
to bring up the case.  But if kept on the payroll, he might at
least keep his fellow hackers at bay.

        There were uses for him.  For instance, a contrite
Control-C was featured on Michigan Bell internal posters,
sternly warning employees to shred their trash.   He'd
always gotten most of his best inside info from "trashing" --
raiding telco dumpsters, for useful data indiscreetly
thrown away.   He signed these posters, too.  Control-C had
become something like a Michigan Bell mascot.  And in
fact, Control-C *did* keep other hackers at bay.  Little
hackers were quite scared of Control-C and his heavy-duty
Legion of Doom friends.   And big hackers *were* his
friends and didn't want to screw up his cushy situation.

        No matter what one might say of LoD, they did stick
together.   When "Wasp," an apparently genuinely
malicious New York hacker, began crashing Bellcore
machines,  Control-C received swift volunteer help from
"the Mentor" and the Georgia LoD wing  made up of "The
Prophet," "Urvile," and "Leftist."   Using Mentor's Phoenix
Project board to coordinate, the Doomsters helped telco
security to trap Wasp, by luring him into a machine with a
tap and line-trace installed.  Wasp lost.  LoD won!  And
my, did they brag.

          Urvile, Prophet and Leftist were well-qualified for
this activity, probably more so even than the quite
accomplished Control-C.  The Georgia boys knew all about
phone switching-stations.  Though relative johnny-come-
latelies in the Legion of Doom, they were considered some
of LoD's heaviest guys, into the hairiest systems around.
They had the good fortune to live in or near Atlanta, home
of the sleepy and apparently tolerant BellSouth RBOC.

        As RBOC security went, BellSouth were "cake."   US
West (of Arizona, the Rockies and the Pacific Northwest)
were tough and aggressive, probably the heaviest RBOC
around.  Pacific Bell, California's PacBell, were sleek, high-
tech, and longtime veterans of the LA phone-phreak wars.
NYNEX had the misfortune to run the New York City area,
and were warily prepared for most anything.   Even
Michigan Bell, a division of the Ameritech RBOC, at least
had the elementary sense to hire their own hacker as a
useful scarecrow.  But BellSouth, even though their
corporate P.R.  proclaimed them to have "Everything You
Expect From a Leader," were pathetic.

        When rumor about LoD's mastery of Georgia's
switching network got around to BellSouth through
Bellcore and telco security scuttlebutt, they at first refused
to believe it.   If you paid serious attention to every rumor
out and about these hacker kids, you would hear all kinds
of wacko saucer-nut nonsense:  that the National Security
Agency monitored all American phone calls, that the CIA
and DEA tracked traffic on bulletin-boards with word-
analysis programs, that the Condor could start World
War III from a payphone.

        If there were hackers into BellSouth switching-
stations, then how come nothing had happened?  Nothing
had been hurt.  BellSouth's machines weren't crashing.
BellSouth wasn't suffering especially badly from fraud.
BellSouth's customers weren't complaining.  BellSouth
was headquartered in Atlanta, ambitious metropolis of the
new high-tech Sunbelt; and BellSouth was upgrading its
network by leaps and bounds, digitizing the works left right
and center.   They could hardly be considered sluggish or
naive.  BellSouth's technical expertise was second to none,
thank you kindly.

        But then came the Florida business.

        On June 13, 1989, callers to the Palm Beach County
Probation Department, in Delray Beach, Florida,  found
themselves involved in a remarkable discussion with a
phone-sex worker named "Tina" in New York State.
Somehow, *any* call to this probation office near Miami
was instantly and magically transported across state lines,
at no extra charge to the user, to a pornographic phone-
sex hotline hundreds of miles away!

        This practical joke may seem utterly hilarious at first
hearing, and indeed there was a good deal of chuckling
about it in phone phreak circles, including the Autumn
1989 issue of *2600.*  But for Southern Bell  (the division of
the BellSouth RBOC supplying local service for Florida,
Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina),  this was a
smoking gun.  For the first time ever,  a computer intruder
had broken into a BellSouth central office switching
station and re-programmed it!

        Or so BellSouth thought in June 1989.  Actually, LoD
members had been frolicking harmlessly in BellSouth
switches since September 1987.  The stunt of June 13 --
call-forwarding a number through manipulation of a
switching station -- was child's play for hackers as
accomplished as the Georgia wing of LoD.  Switching calls
interstate sounded like a big deal, but it took only four
lines of code to accomplish this.    An easy, yet more
discreet, stunt, would be to call-forward another number to
your own house.  If you were careful and considerate, and
changed the software back later, then not a soul would
know.  Except you.  And whoever you had bragged to about

        As for BellSouth, what they didn't know wouldn't hurt

        Except now somebody had blown the whole thing
wide open, and BellSouth knew.

        A now alerted and considerably paranoid BellSouth
began searching switches right and left for signs of
impropriety, in that hot summer of 1989.  No fewer than
forty-two BellSouth employees were put on 12-hour shifts,
twenty-four hours a day, for two solid months, poring over
records and monitoring computers for any sign of phony
access.  These forty-two overworked experts were known as
BellSouth's  "Intrusion Task Force."

          What the investigators found astounded them.
Proprietary telco databases had been manipulated:
phone numbers had been created out of thin air, with no
users' names and no addresses.  And perhaps worst of all,
no charges and no records of use.   The new digital
ReMOB  (Remote Observation)  diagnostic feature had
been extensively tampered with -- hackers had learned to
reprogram ReMOB software, so that they could listen in
on any switch-routed call at their leisure!   They were using
telco property to *spy!*

         The electrifying news went out throughout law
enforcement in 1989.  It had never really occurred to
anyone at BellSouth that their prized and brand-new
digital switching-stations could be *re-programmed.*
People seemed utterly amazed that anyone could have
the nerve.   Of course these switching stations were
"computers," and everybody knew hackers liked to "break
into computers:"   but telephone people's computers were
*different* from normal people's computers.

         The exact reason *why* these computers were
"different" was rather ill-defined.  It certainly wasn't the
extent of their security.  The security on these BellSouth
computers was lousy;  the AIMSX computers, for instance,
didn't even have passwords.   But there was no question
that BellSouth strongly *felt* that their computers were
very different indeed.  And if there were some criminals
out there who had not gotten that message, BellSouth was
determined to see that message taught.

        After all, a 5ESS switching station was no mere
bookkeeping system for some local chain of florists.
Public service depended on these stations.   Public
*safety* depended on these stations.

        And hackers, lurking in there call-forwarding or
ReMobbing,  could spy on anybody in the local area!
They could spy on telco officials!  They could spy on police
stations!  They could spy on local offices of the Secret

        In 1989, electronic cops and hacker-trackers began
using scrambler-phones and secured lines.  It only made
sense.  There was no telling who was into those systems.
Whoever they were, they sounded scary.   This was some
new level of antisocial daring.  Could be West German
hackers, in the pay of the KGB.   That too had seemed a
weird and farfetched notion, until Clifford Stoll had poked
and prodded a sluggish Washington law-enforcement
bureaucracy into investigating a computer intrusion that
turned out to be exactly that -- *hackers, in the pay of the
KGB!*    Stoll, the  systems manager for an Internet lab in
Berkeley California, had ended up on the front page of the
*New York  Times,*  proclaimed a national  hero in the
first true story of international computer espionage.
Stoll's counterspy efforts, which he related in a bestselling
book, *The Cuckoo's Egg,*  in 1989, had established the
credibility of 'hacking' as a possible threat to national
security.  The United States Secret Service doesn't mess
around when it suspects a possible action by a foreign
intelligence apparat.

        The Secret Service scrambler-phones and secured
lines put a tremendous kink in law enforcement's ability to
operate freely; to get the word out, cooperate, prevent
misunderstandings.   Nevertheless, 1989 scarcely seemed
the time for half-measures.  If the police and Secret
Service themselves were not operationally secure, then
how could they reasonably demand measures of security
from private enterprise?  At least, the inconvenience
made people aware of the seriousness  of the threat.

        If there was a final spur needed to get the police off
the dime, it came in the realization that the emergency
911 system was vulnerable.   The 911 system has its own
specialized software, but it is run on the same digital
switching systems as the rest of the telephone network.
911 is not physically different from normal telephony.  But
it is certainly culturally  different, because this is the area
of telephonic cyberspace reserved for the police and
emergency services.

        Your average policeman may not know much about
hackers or phone-phreaks.  Computer people are weird;
even computer *cops*  are rather weird; the stuff they do is
hard to figure out.   But a threat to the 911 system is
anything but an abstract threat.  If the 911 system goes,
people can die.

        Imagine being in a car-wreck, staggering to a phone-
booth, punching 911 and hearing "Tina" pick up the
phone-sex line somewhere in New York!   The situation's
no longer comical, somehow.

         And was it possible?  No question.  Hackers had
attacked 911 systems before.  Phreaks can max-out 911
systems just by siccing a bunch of computer-modems on
them in tandem, dialling them over and over until they
clog.  That's very crude and low-tech, but it's still a serious

        The time had come for action.  It was time to take
stern measures with the underground.  It was time to start
picking up the dropped threads, the loose edges, the bits
of braggadocio here and there; it was time to get on the
stick and start putting serious casework together.  Hackers
weren't "invisible."  They *thought*  they were invisible;
but the truth was, they had just been tolerated too long.

        Under sustained police attention in the summer of
'89, the digital underground began to unravel as never

        The first big break in the case came very early on:
July 1989, the following month.  The perpetrator of the
"Tina" switch was caught, and confessed.  His name was
"Fry Guy," a 16-year-old in Indiana.  Fry Guy had been a
very wicked young man.

        Fry Guy had earned his handle from a stunt involving
French fries.  Fry Guy had filched the log-in of a local
MacDonald's manager and had logged-on to the
MacDonald's mainframe on the Sprint Telenet system.
Posing as the manager, Fry Guy had altered MacDonald's
records, and given some teenage hamburger-flipping
friends of his, generous raises.  He had not been caught.

        Emboldened by success, Fry Guy moved on to credit-
card abuse.  Fry Guy was quite an accomplished talker;
with a gift for "social engineering."   If you can do "social
engineering"  -- fast-talk, fake-outs, impersonation,
conning, scamming -- then card abuse comes easy.
(Getting away with it in the long run is another question).

        Fry Guy had run across "Urvile" of the Legion of
Doom on the ALTOS Chat board in Bonn, Germany.
ALTOS Chat was a sophisticated board, accessible
through globe-spanning computer networks like BITnet,
Tymnet, and Telenet.    ALTOS was much frequented by
members of Germany's  Chaos Computer Club.  Two
Chaos hackers who hung out on ALTOS, "Jaeger" and
"Pengo," had been the central villains of Clifford Stoll's
CUCKOO'S EGG case:  consorting in East Berlin with a
spymaster from the KGB, and breaking into American
computers for hire, through the Internet.

        When LoD members learned the story of Jaeger's
depredations from Stoll's book, they were rather less than
impressed, technically speaking.  On LoD's own favorite
board of the moment, "Black Ice," LoD members bragged
that they themselves could have done all the Chaos break-
ins in a week flat!  Nevertheless,  LoD were grudgingly
impressed by the Chaos rep, the sheer hairy-eyed daring
of hash-smoking anarchist hackers who had rubbed
shoulders with the fearsome big-boys of international
Communist espionage.  LoD members sometimes traded
bits of knowledge with friendly German hackers on ALTOS
-- phone numbers for vulnerable VAX/VMS computers in
Georgia, for instance.  Dutch and British phone phreaks,
and the Australian clique of "Phoenix," "Nom," and
"Electron," were ALTOS regulars, too.  In underground
circles, to hang out on ALTOS was considered the sign of
an elite dude, a sophisticated hacker of the international
digital jet-set.

        Fry Guy quickly learned how to raid information from
credit-card consumer-reporting agencies.  He had over a
hundred stolen credit-card numbers in his notebooks, and
upwards of a thousand swiped long-distance access codes.
He knew how to get onto Altos, and how to talk the talk of
the underground convincingly.  He now wheedled
knowledge of switching-station tricks from Urvile on the
ALTOS system.

        Combining these two forms of knowledge enabled
Fry Guy to bootstrap his way up to a new form of wire-
fraud.  First, he'd snitched credit card numbers from
credit-company computers.  The data he copied included
names, addresses and phone numbers of the random

        Then Fry Guy, impersonating a card-holder, called up
Western Union and asked for a cash advance on "his"
credit card.  Western Union, as a security guarantee,
would call the customer back, at home, to verify the

        But, just as he had switched the Florida probation
office to "Tina" in New York,  Fry Guy switched the card-
holder's number to a local pay-phone.  There he would
lurk in wait, muddying his trail by routing and re-routing
the call, through switches as far away as Canada.   When
the call came through, he would boldly "social-engineer,"
or con, the Western Union people, pretending to be the
legitimate card-holder.  Since he'd answered the proper
phone number, the deception was not very hard.
Western Union's money was then shipped to a
confederate of Fry Guy's in his home town in Indiana.

        Fry Guy and his cohort, using LoD techniques, stole
six thousand dollars from Western Union between
December 1988 and July 1989.  They also dabbled in
ordering delivery of stolen goods through card-fraud.  Fry
Guy was intoxicated with success.  The sixteen-year-old
fantasized wildly to hacker rivals, boasting that he'd used
rip-off money to hire  himself a big limousine, and had
driven out-of-state with a groupie from his favorite heavy-
metal band, Motley Crue.

        Armed with knowledge, power, and a gratifying
stream of free money, Fry Guy now took it upon himself to
call local representatives of Indiana Bell security, to brag,
boast, strut, and utter tormenting warnings that his
powerful friends in the notorious Legion of Doom could
crash the national telephone network.  Fry Guy even
named a date for the scheme:  the Fourth of July, a
national holiday.

        This egregious example of the begging-for-arrest
syndrome was shortly followed by Fry Guy's arrest.  After
the Indiana telephone company figured out who he was,
the Secret Service had DNRs -- Dialed Number
Recorders -- installed on his home phone lines.  These
devices are not taps, and can't record the substance of
phone calls, but they do record the phone numbers of all
calls going in and out.   Tracing these numbers showed Fry
Guy's long-distance code fraud, his extensive ties to pirate
bulletin boards, and numerous personal calls to his LoD
friends in Atlanta.   By July 11, 1989, Prophet, Urvile and
Leftist also had Secret Service DNR "pen registers"
installed on their own lines.

        The Secret Service showed up in force at Fry Guy's
house on July 22, 1989, to the horror of his unsuspecting
parents.  The raiders were led by a special agent from the
Secret Service's Indianapolis office.   However, the raiders
were accompanied and advised by Timothy M. Foley of
the Secret Service's Chicago office (a gentleman about
whom we will soon be hearing a great deal).

        Following federal computer-crime techniques that
had been standard since the early 1980s, the Secret
Service searched the house thoroughly, and seized all of
Fry Guy's electronic equipment and notebooks.   All Fry
Guy's equipment went out the door in the custody of the
Secret Service, which put a swift end to his depredations.

        The USSS interrogated Fry Guy at length.  His case
was put in the charge of Deborah Daniels, the federal US
Attorney for the Southern District of Indiana.  Fry Guy was
charged with eleven counts of computer fraud,
unauthorized computer access, and wire fraud.   The
evidence was thorough and irrefutable.  For his part, Fry
Guy blamed his corruption on the Legion of Doom and
offered to testify against them.

        Fry Guy insisted that the Legion intended to crash
the phone system on a national holiday.   And when AT&T
crashed on Martin Luther King Day, 1990, this lent a
credence to his claim that genuinely alarmed telco
security and the Secret Service.

        Fry Guy eventually pled guilty on May 31, 1990.  On
September 14, he was sentenced to forty-four months'
probation and  four hundred hours' community service.
He could have had it much worse; but it made sense to
prosecutors to take it easy on this teenage minor, while
zeroing in on the notorious kingpins of the Legion of

        But the case against LoD had nagging flaws.
Despite the best effort of investigators, it was impossible
to prove that the Legion had crashed the phone system on
January 15, because they, in fact, hadn't done so.  The
investigations of 1989 did show that certain members of
the Legion of Doom had achieved unprecedented power
over the telco switching stations, and that they were in
active conspiracy to obtain more power yet.  Investigators
were privately convinced that the Legion of Doom
intended to do awful things with this knowledge, but mere
evil intent was not enough to put them in jail.

           And although the Atlanta Three -- Prophet, Leftist,
and especially Urvile -- had taught Fry Guy plenty, they
were not themselves credit-card fraudsters.  The only
thing they'd "stolen" was long-distance service -- and since
they'd done much of that through phone-switch
manipulation, there was no easy way to judge how much
they'd "stolen," or whether this practice was even "theft" of
any easily recognizable kind.

          Fry Guy's theft of long-distance codes had cost the
phone companies plenty.  The theft of long-distance
service may be a fairly theoretical "loss,"  but it costs
genuine money and genuine time to delete all those
stolen codes, and to re-issue new codes to the innocent
owners of those corrupted codes.  The owners of the codes
themselves are victimized, and lose time and money and
peace of mind in the hassle.   And then there were the
credit-card victims to deal with, too, and Western Union.
When it came to rip-off, Fry Guy was far more of a thief
than LoD.  It was only when it came to actual computer
expertise that Fry Guy was small potatoes.

        The Atlanta Legion thought most "rules" of
cyberspace were for rodents and losers, but they *did*
have rules.  *They never crashed anything, and they never
took money.*   These were rough rules-of-thumb, and
rather dubious principles when it comes to the ethical
subtleties of cyberspace, but they enabled the Atlanta
Three to operate with a relatively clear conscience (though
never with peace of mind).

        If you didn't hack for money, if you weren't robbing
people of actual funds -- money in the bank, that is --  then
nobody *really* got hurt, in LoD's opinion.  "Theft of
service" was a bogus issue, and "intellectual property" was
a bad joke.   But LoD had only elitist contempt for rip-off
artists, "leechers," thieves.   They considered themselves
clean.  In their opinion, if you didn't smash-up or crash any
systems  -- (well, not on purpose, anyhow -- accidents can
happen, just ask Robert Morris)  then it was very unfair to
call you a "vandal" or a "cracker."  When you were
hanging out on-line with your "pals" in telco security, you
could face them down from the higher plane of hacker
morality.  And you could mock the police from the
supercilious heights of your hacker's quest for pure

         But from the point of view of law enforcement and
telco security, however, Fry Guy was not really dangerous.
The Atlanta Three *were* dangerous.  It wasn't the crimes
they were committing, but the *danger,*   the potential
hazard, the sheer *technical power*  LoD had
accumulated, that had made the situation untenable.

        Fry Guy was not LoD.  He'd never laid eyes on
anyone in LoD; his only contacts with them had been
electronic.  Core members of the Legion of Doom tended
to meet physically for conventions every year or so, to get
drunk, give each other the hacker high-sign, send out for
pizza and ravage hotel suites.  Fry Guy had never done any
of this.   Deborah Daniels assessed Fry Guy accurately as
"an LoD wannabe."

        Nevertheless Fry Guy's crimes would be directly
attributed to LoD in much future police propaganda.  LoD
would be described as "a closely knit group" involved in
"numerous illegal activities" including "stealing and
modifying individual credit histories," and "fraudulently
obtaining money and property."  Fry Guy did this, but the
Atlanta Three didn't; they simply weren't into theft, but
rather intrusion.   This caused a strange kink in the
prosecution's strategy.  LoD were accused of
"disseminating information about attacking computers to
other computer hackers in an effort to shift the focus of
law enforcement to those other hackers and away from the
Legion of Doom."

        This last accusation (taken directly from a press
release by the Chicago Computer Fraud and Abuse Task
Force) sounds particularly far-fetched.  One might
conclude at this point that investigators would have been
well-advised to go ahead and "shift their focus" from the
"Legion of Doom."   Maybe they *should* concentrate on
"those other hackers" -- the ones who were actually
stealing money and physical objects.

        But the Hacker Crackdown of 1990 was not a simple
policing action.  It wasn't meant just to walk the beat in
cyberspace -- it was a *crackdown,* a deliberate attempt to
nail the core of the operation, to send a dire and potent
message that would settle the hash of the digital
underground for good.

        By this reasoning, Fry Guy wasn't much more than
the electronic equivalent of a cheap streetcorner dope
dealer.  As long as the masterminds of LoD were still
flagrantly operating, pushing their mountains of illicit
knowledge right and left, and whipping up enthusiasm for
blatant lawbreaking, then there would be an *infinite
supply*  of Fry Guys.

         Because LoD were flagrant, they had left trails
everywhere, to be picked up by law enforcement in New
York, Indiana, Florida, Texas, Arizona, Missouri, even
Australia.  But 1990's war on the Legion of Doom was led
out of Illinois, by the Chicago Computer Fraud and Abuse
Task Force.


          The Computer Fraud and Abuse Task Force, led by
federal prosecutor William J. Cook, had started in 1987
and had swiftly become one of the most aggressive local
"dedicated computer-crime units."  Chicago was a natural
home for such a group.  The world's first computer
bulletin-board system had been invented in Illinois.  The
state of Illinois had some of the nation's first and sternest
computer crime laws.   Illinois State Police were markedly
alert to the possibilities of white-collar crime and
electronic fraud.

        And William J. Cook in particular was a rising star in
electronic crime-busting.   He and his fellow federal
prosecutors at the U.S. Attorney's office in Chicago had a
tight relation with the Secret Service, especially go-getting
Chicago-based agent Timothy  Foley.  While Cook and his
Department of Justice colleagues plotted strategy, Foley
was their man on the street.

        Throughout the 1980s, the federal government had
given prosecutors an armory of new, untried legal tools
against computer crime.  Cook and his colleagues were
pioneers in the use of these new statutes in the real-life
cut-and-thrust of the federal courtroom.

        On October 2, 1986, the US Senate had passed the
"Computer Fraud and Abuse Act" unanimously, but there
were pitifully few convictions under this statute.  Cook's
group took their name from this statute, since they were
determined to transform this powerful but rather
theoretical Act of Congress into a real-life engine of legal
destruction against computer fraudsters and scofflaws.

        It was not a question of merely discovering crimes,
investigating them, and then trying and punishing their
perpetrators.   The Chicago unit, like most everyone else in
the business, already *knew* who the bad guys were:  the
Legion of Doom and the writers and editors of *Phrack.*
The task at hand was to find some legal means of putting
these characters away.

        This approach might seem a bit dubious, to someone
not acquainted with the gritty realities of prosecutorial
work.  But prosecutors don't put people in jail for crimes
they have committed; they put people in jail for crimes
they have committed *that can be proved in court.*
Chicago federal police put Al Capone in prison for
income-tax fraud.   Chicago is a big town, with a rough-
and-ready bare-knuckle tradition on both sides of the law.

        Fry Guy had broken the case wide open and alerted
telco security to the scope of the problem.   But Fry Guy's
crimes would not put the Atlanta Three behind bars --
much less the wacko underground journalists of *Phrack.*
So on July 22, 1989, the same day that Fry Guy was raided
in Indiana, the Secret Service descended upon the Atlanta

        This was likely inevitable.  By the summer of 1989, law
enforcement were closing in on the Atlanta Three from at
least six directions at once.   First, there were the leads
from Fry Guy, which had led to the DNR registers being
installed on the lines of the Atlanta Three.  The DNR
evidence alone would have finished them off, sooner or

        But second, the Atlanta lads were already well-known
to Control-C and his telco security sponsors.  LoD's
contacts with telco security had made them overconfident
and even more boastful than usual; they felt that they had
powerful friends in high places, and that they were being
openly tolerated by telco security.  But BellSouth's
Intrusion Task Force were hot on the trail of LoD and
sparing no effort or expense.

        The Atlanta Three had also been identified by name
and listed on the extensive anti-hacker files maintained,
and retailed for pay, by private security operative John
Maxfield of Detroit.  Maxfield, who had extensive ties to
telco security and many informants in the underground,
was a bete noire of the *Phrack* crowd, and the dislike was

        The Atlanta Three themselves had written articles for
*Phrack.*  This boastful act could not possibly escape telco
and law enforcement attention.

        "Knightmare," a high-school age hacker from
Arizona,  was a close friend and disciple of Atlanta LoD,
but he had been nabbed by the formidable Arizona
Organized Crime and Racketeering Unit.   Knightmare
was on some of LoD's favorite boards -- "Black Ice" in
particular -- and was privy to their secrets.  And to have
Gail Thackeray, the Assistant Attorney General of Arizona,
on one's trail was a dreadful peril for any hacker.

        And perhaps worst of all, Prophet had committed a
major blunder by passing an illicitly copied BellSouth
computer-file to Knight Lightning, who had published it in
*Phrack.*   This, as we will see, was an act of dire
consequence for almost everyone concerned.

        On July 22, 1989, the Secret Service showed up at the
Leftist's house, where he lived with his parents.  A massive
squad of some twenty officers surrounded the building:
Secret Service, federal marshals, local police, possibly
BellSouth telco security; it was hard to tell in the crush.
Leftist's dad, at work in his basement office, first noticed a
muscular stranger in plain clothes crashing through the
back yard with a drawn pistol.   As more strangers poured
into the house, Leftist's dad naturally assumed there was
an armed robbery in progress.

        Like most hacker parents, Leftist's mom and dad had
only the vaguest notions of what their son had been up to
all this time.   Leftist had a day-job repairing computer
hardware.  His obsession with computers seemed a bit
odd, but harmless enough, and likely to produce a well-
paying career.  The sudden, overwhelming raid left
Leftist's parents traumatized.

        The Leftist himself had been out after work with his
co-workers, surrounding a couple of pitchers of
margaritas.  As he came trucking on tequila-numbed feet
up the pavement, toting a bag full of floppy-disks, he
noticed a large number of unmarked cars parked in his
driveway.  All the cars sported tiny microwave antennas.

        The Secret Service had knocked the front door off its
hinges, almost flattening his Mom.

        Inside, Leftist was greeted by Special Agent James
Cool of the US Secret Service, Atlanta office.  Leftist was
flabbergasted.  He'd never met a Secret Service agent
before.   He could not imagine that he'd ever done
anything worthy of federal attention.  He'd always figured
that if his activities became intolerable, one of his contacts
in telco security would give him a private phone-call and
tell him to knock it off.

        But now Leftist was pat-searched for weapons by grim
professionals, and his bag of floppies was quickly seized.
He and his parents were all shepherded into separate
rooms and grilled at length as a score of officers scoured
their home for anything electronic.

        Leftist was horrified as his treasured IBM AT
personal computer with its forty-meg hard disk, and his
recently purchased 80386 IBM-clone with a  whopping
hundred-meg hard disk, both went swiftly out the door in
Secret Service custody.  They also seized all his disks, all
his notebooks, and a tremendous booty in dogeared telco
documents that Leftist had snitched out of trash

        Leftist figured the whole thing for a big
misunderstanding.  He'd never been into *military*
computers.  He wasn't a *spy* or a *Communist.*  He  was
just a good ol' Georgia hacker, and now he just wanted all
these people out of the house.  But it seemed they
wouldn't go until he made some kind of statement.

        And so, he levelled with them.

        And that, Leftist said later from his federal prison
camp in Talladega, Alabama, was a big mistake.

        The Atlanta area was unique, in that it had three
members of the Legion of Doom who actually occupied
more or less the same physical  locality.  Unlike the rest of
LoD, who tended to associate by phone and computer,
Atlanta LoD actually *were* "tightly knit."  It was no real
surprise that the Secret Service agents apprehending
Urvile at the computer-labs at Georgia Tech, would
discover Prophet with him as well.

        Urvile, a 21-year-old Georgia Tech student in polymer
chemistry, posed quite a puzzling case for law
enforcement.  Urvile --  also known as "Necron 99," as well
as other handles, for he tended to change his cover-alias
about once a month -- was both an accomplished hacker
and a fanatic simulation-gamer.

        Simulation games are an unusual hobby; but then
hackers are unusual people, and their favorite pastimes
tend to be somewhat out of the ordinary.  The best-known
American simulation game is probably "Dungeons &
Dragons," a multi-player parlor entertainment played with
paper, maps, pencils, statistical tables and a variety of
oddly-shaped dice.  Players pretend to be heroic
characters exploring a wholly-invented fantasy world.  The
fantasy worlds of simulation gaming are commonly
pseudo-medieval, involving swords and sorcery -- spell-
casting wizards, knights in armor, unicorns and dragons,
demons and goblins.

        Urvile and his fellow gamers  preferred their
fantasies highly technological.   They made use of a game
known as "G.U.R.P.S.,"  the "Generic Universal Role
Playing System," published by a company called Steve
Jackson Games (SJG).

        "G.U.R.P.S."  served as a framework for creating  a
wide variety of artificial fantasy worlds.  Steve Jackson
Games published  a smorgasboard of books, full of
detailed information and gaming hints, which were used
to flesh-out many different fantastic backgrounds for  the
basic GURPS framework.  Urvile made extensive use of
two SJG books called *GURPS High-Tech*  and *GURPS
Special Ops.*

        In the artificial fantasy-world of *GURPS Special
Ops,*  players entered a modern  fantasy of intrigue and
international espionage.   On beginning the game, players
started small and powerless, perhaps as minor-league CIA
agents or penny-ante arms dealers.   But as players
persisted through a series of game sessions (game
sessions generally lasted for hours, over long, elaborate
campaigns that might be pursued for months on end)
then they would achieve new skills, new knowledge, new
power.  They would acquire and hone new abilities, such as
marksmanship, karate, wiretapping, or Watergate
burglary.  They could also win various kinds of imaginary
booty, like Berettas, or martini shakers, or fast cars with
ejection seats and machine-guns under the headlights.

        As might be imagined from the complexity of these
games, Urvile's gaming notes were very detailed and
extensive.  Urvile was a "dungeon-master," inventing
scenarios for his fellow gamers, giant simulated
adventure-puzzles for his friends to unravel.   Urvile's
game notes covered dozens of pages with all sorts of exotic
lunacy, all about ninja raids on Libya and break-ins on
encrypted Red Chinese supercomputers.   His notes were
written on scrap-paper and kept in loose-leaf binders.

        The handiest scrap paper around Urvile's college
digs were the many pounds of BellSouth printouts and
documents that he had snitched out of telco dumpsters.
His notes were written on the back of misappropriated
telco property.   Worse yet, the gaming notes were
chaotically interspersed with Urvile's hand-scrawled
records involving  *actual computer intrusions*  that he
had committed.

        Not only was it next to impossible to tell Urvile's
fantasy game-notes from cyberspace "reality," but Urvile
himself barely made this distinction.  It's no exaggeration
to say that to Urvile it was *all* a game.   Urvile was very
bright, highly imaginative, and quite careless of other
people's notions of propriety.  His connection to "reality"
was not something to which he paid a great deal of

        Hacking was a game for Urvile.  It was an amusement
he was carrying out, it was something he was doing for fun.
And  Urvile was an obsessive young man.  He could no
more stop hacking than he could stop in the middle of a
jigsaw puzzle, or stop in the middle of reading a Stephen
Donaldson fantasy trilogy.  (The name "Urvile" came from
a best-selling Donaldson novel.)

        Urvile's airy, bulletproof attitude seriously annoyed
his interrogators.   First of all, he didn't consider that he'd
done anything wrong.  There was scarcely a shred of
honest remorse in him.   On the contrary, he seemed
privately convinced that his police interrogators were
operating in a demented fantasy-world all their own.
Urvile was too polite and well-behaved to say this straight-
out, but his reactions were askew and disquieting.

        For instance, there was the business about LoD's
ability to monitor phone-calls to the police and Secret
Service.  Urvile agreed that this was quite possible, and
posed no big problem for LoD.  In fact, he and his friends
had kicked the idea around on the "Black Ice" board,
much as they had discussed many other nifty notions,
such as building personal flame-throwers and jury-rigging
fistfulls of blasting-caps.  They had hundreds of dial-up
numbers for government agencies that they'd gotten
through scanning Atlanta phones, or had pulled from
raided VAX/VMS mainframe computers.

        Basically, they'd never gotten around to listening in
on the cops because the idea wasn't interesting enough to
bother with.  Besides, if they'd been monitoring Secret
Service phone calls, obviously they'd never have been
caught in the first place.  Right?

        The Secret Service was less than satisfied with this
rapier-like hacker logic.

        Then there was the issue of crashing the phone
system.  No problem, Urvile admitted sunnily.   Atlanta
LoD could have shut down phone service all over Atlanta
any time they liked.   *Even the 911 service?*   Nothing
special about that, Urvile explained patiently.   Bring the
switch to its knees, with say the UNIX "makedir" bug, and
911 goes down too as a matter of course.  The 911 system
wasn't very interesting, frankly.   It might be tremendously
interesting to cops (for odd reasons of their own), but as
technical challenges went, the 911 service was yawnsville.

        So of course the Atlanta Three could crash service.
They probably could have crashed service all over
BellSouth territory, if they'd worked at it for a while.   But
Atlanta LoD weren't crashers.   Only losers and rodents
were crashers.  LoD were *elite.*

          Urvile was privately convinced that sheer technical
expertise could win him free of any kind of problem.  As
far as he was concerned, elite status in the digital
underground had placed him permanently beyond the
intellectual grasp of cops and straights.  Urvile had a lot to

        Of the three LoD stalwarts, Prophet was in the most
direct trouble.  Prophet was a UNIX programming expert
who burrowed in and out of the Internet as a matter of
course.   He'd started his hacking career at around age 14,
meddling with a UNIX mainframe system at the
University of North Carolina.

        Prophet himself had written the handy Legion of
Doom file "UNIX Use and Security From the Ground Up."
UNIX  (pronounced "you-nicks")  is a powerful, flexible
computer operating-system, for multi-user, multi-tasking
computers.   In 1969, when UNIX was created in Bell Labs,
such computers were exclusive to large corporations and
universities, but today UNIX is run on thousands of
powerful home machines.  UNIX was particularly well-
suited to telecommunications programming, and had
become a standard in the field.   Naturally, UNIX also
became a standard for the elite hacker and phone phreak.

        Lately, Prophet had not been so active as Leftist and
Urvile, but Prophet was a recidivist.   In 1986, when he was
eighteen, Prophet had been convicted of "unauthorized
access to a computer network" in North Carolina.  He'd
been discovered breaking into the Southern Bell Data
Network, a UNIX-based internal telco network supposedly
closed to the public.  He'd gotten a typical hacker
sentence:  six months suspended, 120 hours community
service, and three years' probation.

        After that humiliating bust, Prophet had gotten rid of
most of his tonnage of illicit phreak and hacker data, and
had tried to go straight.  He was, after all, still on probation.
But by  the autumn of 1988, the temptations of cyberspace
had proved too much for young Prophet, and he was
shoulder-to-shoulder with Urvile and Leftist into some of
the hairiest systems around.

        In early September 1988, he'd broken into BellSouth's
centralized automation system, AIMSX or "Advanced
Information Management System."     AIMSX was an
internal business network for BellSouth, where telco
employees stored electronic mail, databases, memos, and
calendars, and did text processing.   Since AIMSX did not
have public dial-ups, it was considered utterly invisible to
the public, and was not well-secured -- it didn't even
require passwords.   Prophet abused an account known as
"waa1," the personal account of an unsuspecting telco
employee.   Disguised as the owner of waa1, Prophet made
about ten visits to AIMSX.

        Prophet did not damage or delete anything in the
system.  His presence in AIMSX was harmless and almost
invisible.  But he could not rest content with that.

        One particular piece of processed text on AIMSX was
a telco document known as "Bell South Standard Practice
660-225-104SV Control Office Administration of Enhanced
911 Services for Special Services and Major Account
Centers dated March 1988."

        Prophet had not been looking for this document.  It
was merely one among hundreds of similar documents
with impenetrable titles.  However, having blundered over
it in the course of his illicit wanderings through AIMSX, he
decided to take it with him as a trophy.  It might prove very
useful in some future boasting, bragging, and strutting
session.   So,  some time in September 1988, Prophet
ordered the AIMSX mainframe computer to copy this
document (henceforth called simply  called "the E911
Document")  and  to transfer this copy to his home

        No one noticed that Prophet had done this.  He had
"stolen" the E911 Document in some sense, but notions of
property in cyberspace can be tricky.   BellSouth noticed
nothing wrong, because BellSouth still had their original
copy.  They had not been "robbed" of the document itself.
Many people were supposed to copy this document --
specifically, people who worked for the nineteen BellSouth
"special services and major account centers," scattered
throughout the Southeastern United States.  That was
what it was for, why it was present on a computer network
in the first place: so that it could be copied and read -- by
telco employees.   But now the data had been copied by
someone who wasn't supposed to look at it.

        Prophet now had his trophy.  But he further decided
to store yet another copy of the E911 Document on
another person's computer.  This unwitting person was a
computer enthusiast named Richard Andrews who lived
near Joliet, Illinois.  Richard Andrews was a UNIX
programmer by trade, and ran a powerful UNIX board
called "Jolnet," in the basement of his house.

        Prophet, using the handle "Robert Johnson," had
obtained an account on Richard Andrews' computer.  And
there he stashed the E911 Document, by storing it in his
own private section of Andrews' computer.

        Why did Prophet do this?  If Prophet had eliminated
the E911 Document from his own computer, and kept it
hundreds of miles away, on another machine, under an
alias, then he might have been fairly safe from discovery
and prosecution -- although his sneaky action had
certainly put the unsuspecting Richard Andrews at risk.

        But, like most hackers, Prophet was a pack-rat for
illicit data.  When it came to the crunch, he could not bear
to part from his trophy.   When Prophet's place in
Decatur, Georgia was raided in July 1989, there was the
E911 Document, a smoking gun.  And there was Prophet in
the hands of the Secret Service, doing his best to "explain."

        Our story now takes us away from the Atlanta Three
and their raids of the Summer of 1989.  We must leave
Atlanta Three "cooperating fully" with their numerous
investigators.  And  all three of them did cooperate, as
their  Sentencing Memorandum from the US District
Court of the Northern Division of Georgia explained  --
just before all three of them were sentenced to various
federal prisons in November 1990.

        We must now catch up on the other aspects of the
war on the Legion of Doom.   The war on the Legion was a
war on a network -- in fact, a network of three networks,
which intertwined and interrelated in a complex fashion.
The Legion itself, with Atlanta LoD, and their hanger-on
Fry Guy, were the first network.  The second network was
*Phrack* magazine, with its editors and contributors.

        The third  network involved the electronic circle
around a  hacker known as "Terminus."

        The war against these hacker networks was carried
out by a law enforcement network.  Atlanta LoD  and Fry
Guy were pursued by USSS agents and federal
prosecutors in Atlanta, Indiana, and Chicago.  "Terminus"
found himself pursued by USSS and  federal prosecutors
from Baltimore and Chicago.  And the war against Phrack
was almost entirely a Chicago operation.

        The investigation of Terminus involved a great deal
of energy, mostly from the Chicago Task Force, but it was
to be the least-known and least-publicized of the
Crackdown operations.  Terminus, who lived in Maryland,
was a UNIX programmer and consultant, fairly well-
known (under his given name)  in the UNIX community,
as an acknowledged expert on AT&T minicomputers.
Terminus idolized AT&T, especially Bellcore, and longed
for public recognition as a UNIX expert; his highest
ambition was to work for Bell Labs.

        But Terminus had odd friends and a spotted history.
Terminus had once been  the subject of an admiring
interview in *Phrack* (Volume II, Issue 14, Phile 2  -- dated
May 1987).   In this article, *Phrack* co-editor Taran King
described "Terminus" as an electronics engineer,  5'9",
brown-haired, born in 1959 -- at 28 years old, quite mature
for a hacker.

        Terminus had once been sysop of a phreak/hack
underground board called "MetroNet," which ran on an
Apple II.  Later he'd replaced "MetroNet" with an
underground board called "MegaNet," specializing in
IBMs.  In his younger days, Terminus had written one of
the very first and most elegant code-scanning programs
for the IBM-PC.  This program had been widely
distributed in the underground.  Uncounted legions of PC-
owning  phreaks and hackers had used Terminus's
scanner  program to rip-off telco codes.  This  feat had not
escaped the attention of telco security; it hardly could,
since Terminus's earlier handle, "Terminal Technician,"
was proudly written right on the program.

        When he became a full-time computer professional
(specializing in telecommunications programming),  he
adopted the handle Terminus, meant to indicate that he
had "reached the final point of being a proficient hacker."
He'd moved up to the UNIX-based "Netsys" board on an
AT&T computer, with four phone lines and an impressive
240 megs of storage.   "Netsys" carried complete issues of
*Phrack,* and Terminus was quite friendly with its
publishers, Taran King and Knight Lightning.

        In the early 1980s, Terminus had been a regular on
Plovernet, Pirate-80, Sherwood Forest and Shadowland, all
well-known pirate boards, all heavily frequented by the
Legion of Doom.   As it happened, Terminus was never
officially "in LoD," because he'd never been given the
official LoD high-sign and back-slap by Legion maven Lex
Luthor.   Terminus had never physically met anyone from
LoD.  But that scarcely mattered much -- the Atlanta
Three themselves had never been officially vetted by Lex,

        As far as law enforcement was concerned, the issues
were clear. Terminus was a full-time, adult computer
professional with particular skills at AT&T software and
hardware -- but Terminus reeked of the Legion of Doom
and the underground.

        On February 1, 1990 -- half a month after the Martin
Luther King Day Crash --  USSS  agents Tim Foley from
Chicago, and Jack Lewis from the Baltimore office,
accompanied by AT&T security officer Jerry Dalton,
travelled to Middle Town, Maryland.  There they grilled
Terminus in his home (to the stark terror of his wife and
small children), and, in their customary fashion, hauled
his computers out the door.

        The Netsys machine proved to contain a plethora of
arcane UNIX software -- proprietary source code formally
owned by AT&T.  Software such as:  UNIX System Five
Release 3.2; UNIX SV Release 3.1;  UUCP
communications software; KORN SHELL; RFS; IWB;
WWB; DWB; the C++ programming language; PMON;

        In the long-established piratical tradition of the
underground,  Terminus had been trading this illicitly-
copied  software with a small circle of fellow UNIX
programmers.   Very unwisely, he had stored seven years
of his electronic mail on his Netsys machine, which
documented all the friendly arrangements he had made
with his various colleagues.

        Terminus had not crashed the AT&T phone system
on January 15.  He was, however, blithely running a not-
for-profit AT&T software-piracy ring.  This was not an
activity AT&T found amusing.   AT&T security officer Jerry
Dalton valued this "stolen" property at over three hundred
thousand dollars.

        AT&T's entry into the tussle of free enterprise had
been complicated by the new, vague groundrules of the
information economy.   Until the break-up of Ma Bell,
AT&T was forbidden to sell computer hardware or
software.  Ma Bell was the phone company; Ma Bell was
not allowed to use the enormous revenue from telephone
utilities, in order to finance any entry into the computer

        AT&T nevertheless invented the UNIX operating
system.   And somehow AT&T managed to make UNIX a
minor source of income.  Weirdly, UNIX was not sold as
computer software, but actually retailed under an obscure
regulatory exemption allowing sales of surplus equipment
and scrap.  Any bolder attempt to promote or retail UNIX
would have aroused angry legal opposition from computer
companies.  Instead, UNIX was licensed to universities, at
modest rates, where the acids of academic freedom ate
away steadily at AT&T's proprietary rights.

        Come the breakup, AT&T recognized that UNIX was
a potential gold-mine.   By now, large chunks of UNIX
code had been created that were not AT&T's, and were
being sold by others.  An entire rival UNIX-based
operating system had arisen in Berkeley, California  (one
of the world's great founts of ideological hackerdom).
Today, "hackers" commonly consider "Berkeley UNIX" to
be technically superior to AT&T's "System V UNIX," but
AT&T has not allowed mere technical elegance to intrude
on the real-world business of marketing proprietary
software.   AT&T has made its own code deliberately
incompatible with other folks' UNIX, and has written code
that it can prove is copyrightable, even if that code
happens to be somewhat awkward -- "kludgey."   AT&T
UNIX user licenses are serious business agreements,
replete with very clear copyright statements and non-
disclosure clauses.

        AT&T has not exactly kept the UNIX cat in the bag,
but it kept a grip on its scruff with some success.   By the
rampant, explosive standards of software piracy, AT&T
UNIX source code is heavily copyrighted, well-guarded,
well-licensed.   UNIX was traditionally run only on
mainframe machines, owned by large groups of suit-and-
tie professionals, rather than on bedroom machines where
people can get up to easy mischief.

        And AT&T UNIX source code is serious high-level
programming.   The number of skilled UNIX
programmers with any actual motive to swipe UNIX
source code is small.  It's tiny, compared to the tens of
thousands prepared to rip-off, say, entertaining PC games
like "Leisure Suit Larry."

        But by 1989, the warez-d00d underground, in the
persons of Terminus and his friends,  was gnawing at
AT&T UNIX.  And the property in question was not sold
for twenty bucks over the counter at the local branch of
Babbage's or Egghead's;  this was massive, sophisticated,
multi-line, multi-author corporate code worth tens of
thousands of dollars.

        It must be recognized at this point that Terminus's
purported ring of UNIX software pirates had not actually
made any money from their suspected crimes.  The
$300,000 dollar figure bandied about for the contents of
Terminus's computer did not mean that Terminus was in
actual illicit possession of three hundred thousand of
AT&T's  dollars.   Terminus was shipping software back
and forth, privately, person to person, for free.  He was not
making a commercial business of piracy.  He hadn't asked
for money; he didn't take money.  He lived quite modestly.

        AT&T employees -- as well as freelance UNIX
consultants, like Terminus -- commonly worked with
"proprietary" AT&T software, both in the office and at
home on their private machines.   AT&T rarely sent
security officers out to comb the hard disks of its
consultants.   Cheap freelance UNIX  contractors were
quite useful to AT&T; they didn't have health insurance or
retirement programs, much less union membership in the
Communication Workers of America.  They were humble
digital drudges, wandering with mop and bucket through
the Great Technological Temple of AT&T; but when the
Secret Service arrived at their homes, it seemed they were
eating with company silverware and sleeping on company
sheets!  Outrageously, they behaved as if the things they
worked with every day belonged to them!

        And these were no mere hacker teenagers with their
hands full of trash-paper and their noses pressed to the
corporate windowpane.  These guys were UNIX wizards,
not only carrying AT&T data in their machines and their
heads, but eagerly networking about it, over machines that
were far more powerful than anything previously
imagined in private hands.  How do you keep people
disposable, yet assure their awestruck respect for your
property?  It was a dilemma.

          Much UNIX code was public-domain, available for
free.   Much "proprietary" UNIX code had been
extensively re-written, perhaps altered so much that it
became an entirely new productE-- or perhaps not.
Intellectual property rights for software developers were,
and are, extraordinarily complex and confused.   And
software "piracy," like the private copying of videos, is one
of the most widely practiced "crimes" in the world today.

        The USSS were not experts in UNIX or familiar with
the customs of its use.   The United States Secret Service,
considered as a body, did not have one single person in it
who could program in a UNIX environment -- no, not even
one.   The Secret Service *were* making extensive use of
expert help, but the "experts" they had chosen were AT&T
and Bellcore security officials, the very victims of the
purported crimes under investigation, the very people
whose interest in AT&T's  "proprietary" software was most

        On February 6, 1990, Terminus was arrested by Agent
Lewis.  Eventually, Terminus would be sent to prison for
his illicit use of a piece of AT&T software.

        The issue of pirated AT&T software would bubble
along in the background during the war on the Legion of
Doom.  Some half-dozen of Terminus's on-line
acquaintances, including people in Illinois, Texas and
California, were grilled by the Secret Service in connection
with the illicit copying of software.   Except for Terminus,
however, none were charged with a crime.  None of them
shared his peculiar prominence in the hacker

        But that did not meant that these people would, or
could, stay out of trouble.   The transferral of illicit data in
cyberspace is hazy and ill-defined business, with
paradoxical dangers for everyone concerned:  hackers,
signal carriers, board owners,  cops, prosecutors, even
random passers-by.  Sometimes, well-meant attempts to
avert trouble  or punish wrongdoing bring more trouble
than  would simple ignorance, indifference or impropriety.

        Terminus's "Netsys" board was not a common-or-
garden bulletin board system, though it had most of the
usual functions of a board.  Netsys was not a stand-alone
machine, but part of the globe-spanning  "UUCP"
cooperative network.  The UUCP network uses a set of
Unix software programs called "Unix-to-Unix Copy," which
allows Unix systems to throw data to one another at high
speed through the public telephone network.   UUCP is a
radically decentralized, not-for-profit network of UNIX
computers.   There are tens of thousands of these UNIX
machines.  Some are small, but many are powerful and
also link to other networks.  UUCP has certain arcane links
to  major networks such as JANET, EasyNet, BITNET,
JUNET, VNET, DASnet, PeaceNet and FidoNet, as well as
the gigantic Internet.  (The so-called "Internet" is not
actually a network itself, but rather an "internetwork"
connections standard that allows several globe-spanning
computer networks to communicate with one another.
Readers fascinated by the weird and intricate tangles of
modern computer networks may enjoy John S.
Quarterman's authoritative 719-page explication, *The
Matrix,* Digital Press, 1990.)

        A skilled user of Terminus' UNIX machine could
send and receive electronic mail from almost any major
computer network in the world.  Netsys was not called a
"board" per se, but rather a "node."   "Nodes" were larger,
faster, and more sophisticated than mere "boards," and
for hackers, to hang out on internationally-connected
"nodes" was quite the step up from merely hanging out on
local "boards."

        Terminus's Netsys node in Maryland had a number
of direct links to other, similar UUCP  nodes, run by
people who shared his interests and at least something of
his free-wheeling attitude.   One of these nodes was Jolnet,
owned by Richard Andrews, who, like Terminus, was an
independent UNIX consultant.   Jolnet also ran UNIX, and
could be contacted at high speed by mainframe machines
from all over the world.  Jolnet was quite a sophisticated
piece of work, technically speaking, but it was still run by
an individual, as a private, not-for-profit hobby.   Jolnet was
mostly used by other UNIX programmers -- for mail,
storage, and access to networks.  Jolnet supplied access
network access to about two hundred people, as well as a
local junior college.

        Among its various features and services, Jolnet also
carried *Phrack* magazine.

        For reasons of his own, Richard Andrews had become
suspicious of a new user called  "Robert Johnson."  Richard
Andrews took it upon himself to have a look at what
"Robert Johnson" was storing in Jolnet.  And Andrews
found the E911 Document.

        "Robert Johnson" was the Prophet from the Legion of
Doom, and the E911 Document was illicitly copied data
from Prophet's raid on the BellSouth computers.

        The E911 Document, a particularly illicit piece of
digital property, was about to resume its long, complex,
and disastrous career.

        It struck Andrews as fishy that someone not a
telephone employee should have a document referring to
the "Enhanced 911 System."  Besides,  the document itself
bore an obvious warning.


        These standard nondisclosure tags are often
appended to all sorts of corporate material.   Telcos as a
species are particularly notorious for stamping most
everything in sight as "not for use or disclosure."  Still, this
particular piece of data was  about the 911 System.  That
sounded bad to  Rich Andrews.

        Andrews was not prepared to ignore this sort of
trouble.  He thought it would be wise to pass the document
along to a friend and acquaintance on the UNIX network,
for consultation.  So, around September 1988, Andrews
sent yet another copy of the E911 Document electronically
to an AT&T employee, one Charles Boykin, who ran a
UNIX-based node called "attctc" in Dallas, Texas.

        "Attctc" was the property of AT&T, and was run from
AT&T's Customer Technology Center  in Dallas, hence the
name "attctc."  "Attctc" was better-known as "Killer," the
name of the machine that the system was running on.
"Killer" was a hefty, powerful, AT&T 3B2 500 model, a
multi-user, multi-tasking UNIX platform with 32 meg of
memory and a mind-boggling 3.2 Gigabytes of storage.
When  Killer had first arrived in Texas, in 1985, the 3B2
had been one of AT&T's great white hopes for going head-
to-head with IBM for the corporate computer-hardware
market.  "Killer" had been shipped to the Customer
Technology Center in the Dallas Infomart, essentially a
high-technology mall, and there it sat, a demonstration

        Charles Boykin, a veteran AT&T hardware and digital
communications expert, was a local technical backup man
for the AT&T 3B2 system.   As a display model in the
Infomart mall, "Killer" had little to do, and it seemed a
shame to waste the system's capacity.  So Boykin
ingeniously wrote some UNIX bulletin-board software for
"Killer," and plugged the machine in to the local phone
network.   "Killer's" debut in late 1985 made it the first
publicly available UNIX site in the state of Texas.  Anyone
who wanted to play was welcome.

        The machine immediately attracted an electronic
community.  It joined the UUCP network, and offered
network links to over eighty other computer sites, all of
which became dependent on Killer for their links to the
greater world of cyberspace.   And it wasn't just for the big
guys; personal computer users also stored freeware
programs for the Amiga, the Apple, the IBM and the
Macintosh on Killer's vast 3,200 meg archives.  At one
time, Killer had the largest library of public-domain
Macintosh software in Texas.

        Eventually, Killer attracted about 1,500 users, all
busily communicating, uploading and downloading,
getting mail, gossipping, and linking to arcane and distant

          Boykin received no pay for running Killer.  He
considered it good publicity for the AT&T 3B2 system
(whose sales were somewhat less than stellar), but he also
simply enjoyed the vibrant community his skill had
created.   He gave away the bulletin-board UNIX software
he had written, free of charge.

        In the UNIX programming community, Charlie
Boykin had the reputation of a warm, open-hearted, level-
headed kind of guy.   In 1989, a group of Texan UNIX
professionals voted Boykin "System Administrator of the
Year."   He was considered a fellow you could trust for
good advice.

        In September 1988, without warning, the E911
Document came plunging into Boykin's life, forwarded by
Richard Andrews.  Boykin immediately recognized that
the Document was hot property.   He was not a voice-
communications man, and knew little about the ins and
outs of the Baby Bells, but he certainly knew what the 911
System was, and he was angry to see confidential data
about it in the hands of a nogoodnik.  This was clearly a
matter for telco security.  So, on September 21, 1988,
Boykin made yet *another* copy of the  E911 Document
and passed this one along to a professional acquaintance
of his, one Jerome Dalton, from AT&T Corporate
Information Security.   Jerry Dalton was the very fellow
who would later raid Terminus's house.

        From AT&T's security division, the E911 Document
went to Bellcore.

        Bellcore (or BELL COmmunications REsearch)  had
once been the central laboratory of the Bell System.  Bell
Labs employees had invented the UNIX operating
system.  Now Bellcore was a quasi-independent, jointly
owned company that  acted as the research arm for all
seven of the Baby Bell RBOCs.   Bellcore was in a good
position to co-ordinate security technology and
consultation for the RBOCs, and the gentleman in charge
of this effort was Henry M. Kluepfel, a veteran of the Bell
System who had worked there for twenty-four years.

        On October  13, 1988, Dalton passed the E911
Document to Henry Kluepfel.  Kluepfel, a veteran expert
witness in telecommunications fraud and computer-fraud
cases, had certainly seen worse trouble than this.   He
recognized the document for what it was:  a trophy from a
hacker break-in.

        However, whatever harm had been done in the
intrusion was presumably old news.   At this point there
seemed little to be done.  Kluepfel made a careful note of
the circumstances and shelved the problem for the time

        Whole months passed.

        February 1989 arrived.  The Atlanta Three were living
it up in Bell South's switches, and had not yet met their
comeuppance.   The Legion was thriving.  So was *Phrack*
magazine.   A good six months had passed since Prophet's
AIMSX break-in.  Prophet, as hackers will, grew weary of
sitting on his laurels.  "Knight Lightning" and "Taran
King,"  the editors of *Phrack,* were always begging
Prophet for material they could publish.   Prophet decided
that the heat must be off by this time, and that he could
safely brag, boast, and strut.

        So he sent a copy of the E911 Document -- yet
another one -- from Rich Andrews' Jolnet machine to
Knight Lightning's  BITnet account at the University of

        Let's review the fate of the document so far.

        0.  The original E911 Document.  This in the AIMSX
system on a mainframe computer in Atlanta, available to
hundreds of people, but all of them, presumably,
BellSouth employees.   An unknown number of them may
have their own copies of this document, but they are all
professionals and all trusted by the phone company.

        1.  Prophet's illicit copy, at home on his own computer
in Decatur, Georgia.

        2.  Prophet's back-up copy, stored on Rich Andrew's
Jolnet machine in the basement of Rich Andrews'  house
near Joliet Illinois.

        3.  Charles Boykin's copy on "Killer" in Dallas, Texas,
sent by Rich Andrews from Joliet.

        4.  Jerry Dalton's copy at AT&T Corporate
Information Security in New Jersey, sent from Charles
Boykin in Dallas.

        5.  Henry Kluepfel's copy at Bellcore security
headquarters in New Jersey, sent by Dalton.

        6.  Knight Lightning's copy, sent by Prophet from
Rich Andrews' machine, and now in Columbia, Missouri.

         We can see that the "security" situation of this
proprietary document, once dug out of AIMSX,  swiftly
became bizarre.   Without any money changing hands,
without any particular special effort, this data had been
reproduced at least six times and had spread itself all over
the continent.  By far the worst, however, was yet to come.

        In February 1989, Prophet and Knight Lightning
bargained electronically over the fate of this trophy.
Prophet wanted to boast, but, at the same time, scarcely
wanted to be caught.

        For his part, Knight Lightning was eager to publish as
much of the document as he could manage.   Knight
Lightning was a fledgling political-science major with a
particular interest in freedom-of-information issues.  He
would gladly publish most anything that would reflect
glory on the prowess of the underground and embarrass
the telcos.   However, Knight Lightning himself had
contacts in telco security, and sometimes consulted them
on material he'd received that might be too dicey for

        Prophet and  Knight Lightning decided to edit the
E911 Document so as  to delete most of its identifying
traits.   First of all, its large "NOT FOR USE OR
DISCLOSURE" warning had to go.  Then there were other
matters.  For instance, it listed the office telephone
numbers of several BellSouth 911 specialists in Florida.  If
these phone numbers were published in *Phrack,* the
BellSouth employees involved would very likely be
hassled by phone phreaks, which would anger BellSouth
no end, and pose a definite operational hazard for both
Prophet and *Phrack.*

        So Knight Lightning cut the Document almost in half,
removing the phone numbers and some of the touchier
and more specific information.  He passed it back
electronically to Prophet;  Prophet was still nervous, so
Knight Lightning cut a bit more.  They finally agreed that
it was ready to go, and that it would be published in
*Phrack* under the pseudonym, "The Eavesdropper."

        And this was done on February 25, 1989.

        The twenty-fourth issue of *Phrack*  featured a chatty
interview with co-ed phone-phreak "Chanda Leir," three
articles on BITNET and its links to other computer
networks,  an article on 800 and 900 numbers by "Unknown
User,"  "VaxCat's" article on telco basics (slyly entitled
"Lifting Ma Bell's Veil of Secrecy,)" and the usual "Phrack
World News."

        The News section, with painful irony, featured an
extended account of the sentencing of "Shadowhawk,"  an
eighteen-year-old Chicago hacker who had just been put
in federal prison by William J. Cook himself.

        And then there were the two articles by "The
Eavesdropper."   The first was the  edited E911 Document,
now titled "Control Office Administration Of Enhanced
911 Services for Special Services and Major Account
Centers."  Eavesdropper's second article was a glossary of
terms explaining the blizzard of telco acronyms and
buzzwords in the E911 Document.

        The hapless document was now distributed, in the
usual *Phrack* routine, to a good one hundred and fifty
sites.  Not a hundred and fifty *people,* mind you -- a
hundred and fifty *sites,* some of these sites linked to
UNIX nodes or bulletin board systems, which themselves
had readerships of tens, dozens, even hundreds of people.

        This was February 1989.  Nothing happened
immediately.  Summer came, and the Atlanta crew were
raided by the Secret Service.   Fry Guy was apprehended.
Still nothing whatever happened to *Phrack.* Six more
issues of *Phrack* came out, 30 in all, more or less on a
monthly schedule.  Knight Lightning and co-editor Taran
King went untouched.

        *Phrack* tended to duck and cover whenever the
heat came down.  During the summer busts of 1987 --
(hacker busts tended to cluster in summer, perhaps
because hackers were easier to find at home than in
college) -- *Phrack* had ceased publication for several
months, and laid low.   Several LoD hangers-on had been
arrested, but nothing had happened to the *Phrack*  crew,
the premiere gossips of the underground.  In 1988,
*Phrack* had been taken over by a new editor, "Crimson
Death," a raucous youngster with a taste for anarchy files.

         1989, however, looked like a bounty year for the
underground.  Knight Lightning and his co-editor Taran
King took up the reins again, and *Phrack* flourished
throughout 1989.   Atlanta LoD went down hard in the
summer of 1989, but *Phrack* rolled merrily on.   Prophet's
E911 Document seemed unlikely to cause *Phrack* any
trouble.  By January 1990, it had been available in
*Phrack* for almost a year.   Kluepfel and Dalton, officers
of Bellcore and AT&T  security, had possessed the
document for sixteen months -- in fact, they'd had it even
before Knight Lightning himself, and had done nothing in
particular to stop its distribution.  They hadn't even told
Rich Andrews or Charles Boykin to erase the copies from
their UNIX nodes, Jolnet and Killer.

        But then came the monster Martin Luther King Day
Crash of January 15, 1990.

        A flat three days later, on January 18,  four agents
showed up at Knight Lightning's fraternity house.   One
was Timothy Foley, the second Barbara Golden, both of
them Secret Service agents from the Chicago office.   Also
along was a University of Missouri security officer, and
Reed Newlin, a security man from Southwestern Bell, the
RBOC having jurisdiction over Missouri.

        Foley accused Knight Lightning of causing the
nationwide crash of the phone system.

        Knight Lightning was aghast at this allegation.   On
the face of it, the suspicion was not entirely implausible --
though Knight Lightning knew that he himself hadn't
done it.   Plenty of hot-dog hackers had bragged that they
could crash the phone system, however.  "Shadowhawk,"
for instance, the Chicago hacker whom William Cook had
recently put in jail, had several times  boasted on boards
that he could "shut down AT&T's public switched

         And now this event, or something that looked just
like it, had actually taken place.  The Crash had lit a fire
under the Chicago Task Force.  And the former fence-
sitters at Bellcore and AT&T were now ready to roll.  The
consensus among telco security -- already horrified by the
skill of the BellSouth intruders  -- was that the digital
underground was out of hand.  LoD and *Phrack* must go.

        And in publishing Prophet's E911 Document,
*Phrack* had provided law enforcement with what
appeared to be a powerful legal weapon.

        Foley confronted Knight Lightning about the  E911

        Knight Lightning was cowed.  He immediately began
"cooperating fully" in the usual tradition of the digital

        He gave Foley a complete run of *Phrack,*printed
out in a set of three-ring binders.   He handed over his
electronic mailing list of *Phrack* subscribers. Knight
Lightning was grilled for four hours by Foley and his
cohorts.  Knight Lightning admitted that Prophet had
passed him the E911 Document, and he admitted that he
had known it was stolen booty from a hacker raid on a
telephone company.  Knight Lightning signed a statement
to this effect, and agreed, in writing, to cooperate with

        Next day -- January 19, 1990, a Friday  -- the Secret
Service returned with a search warrant, and thoroughly
searched Knight Lightning's upstairs room in the
fraternity house.   They took all his floppy disks, though,
interestingly, they left Knight Lightning in possession of
both his computer and his modem.  (The computer had no
hard disk, and in Foley's judgement was not a store of
evidence.)   But this was a very minor bright spot among
Knight Lightning's rapidly multiplying troubles.  By this
time, Knight Lightning was in plenty of hot water, not only
with federal police, prosecutors, telco investigators, and
university security, but with the elders of his own campus
fraternity, who were outraged to think that they had been
unwittingly harboring a federal computer-criminal.

        On Monday, Knight Lightning was summoned to
Chicago, where he was further grilled by Foley and USSS
veteran agent Barbara Golden, this time with an attorney
present.  And on Tuesday, he was formally indicted by a
federal grand jury.

        The trial of Knight Lightning, which occurred on July
24-27, 1990, was the crucial show-trial of the Hacker
Crackdown.  We will examine the trial at some length in
Part Four of this book.

        In the meantime, we must continue our dogged
pursuit of the E911 Document.

        It must have been clear by January 1990 that the E911
Document, in the form *Phrack* had published it back in
February 1989, had gone off at the speed of light in at least
a hundred and fifty different directions.   To attempt to put
this electronic genie back in the bottle was flatly

        And yet, the E911 Document was *still* stolen
property, formally and legally speaking.  Any electronic
transference of this document, by anyone unauthorized to
have it, could be interpreted as an act of wire fraud.
Interstate transfer of stolen property, including electronic
property, was a federal crime.

        The Chicago Computer Fraud and Abuse Task Force
had been assured that the E911 Document was worth a
hefty sum of money.  In fact, they had a precise estimate
of its worth from BellSouth security personnel:  $79,449.   A
sum of this scale seemed to warrant vigorous prosecution.
Even if the damage could not be undone, at least this large
sum offered a good legal pretext for stern punishment of
the thieves.   It seemed likely to impress judges and juries.
And it could be used in court to mop up the Legion of

        The Atlanta crowd was already in the bag, by the time
the Chicago Task Force had gotten around to *Phrack.*
But the Legion was a hydra-headed thing.   In late 89, a
brand-new Legion of Doom board, "Phoenix Project," had
gone up in Austin, Texas.  Phoenix Project was sysoped by
no less a man than the Mentor himself, ably assisted by
University of Texas student and hardened Doomster "Erik

        As we have seen from his *Phrack* manifesto, the
Mentor was a hacker zealot who regarded computer
intrusion as something close to a moral duty.  Phoenix
Project  was an ambitious effort, intended to revive the
digital underground to what Mentor considered the full
flower of the early 80s.  The Phoenix board would also
boldly bring elite hackers face-to-face with the telco
"opposition."  On "Phoenix," America's cleverest hackers
would supposedly shame the telco squareheads out of
their stick-in-the-mud attitudes, and perhaps convince
them that the Legion of Doom elite were really an all-right
crew.  The  premiere of "Phoenix Project" was heavily
trumpeted by *Phrack,* and "Phoenix Project" carried a
complete run of *Phrack* issues, including the E911
Document as *Phrack* had published it.

        Phoenix Project was only one of many -- possibly
hundreds -- of nodes and boards all over America that
were in guilty possession of the E911 Document.  But
Phoenix was an outright, unashamed Legion of Doom
board.  Under Mentor's guidance, it was flaunting itself in
the face of telco security personnel. Worse yet, it was
actively trying to *win them over* as sympathizers for the
digital underground elite.   "Phoenix" had no cards or
codes on it.  Its hacker elite considered Phoenix at least
technically legal.   But Phoenix was a corrupting influence,
where hacker anarchy was eating away like digital acid at
the underbelly of corporate propriety.

        The Chicago Computer Fraud and Abuse Task Force
now prepared to descend upon Austin, Texas.

        Oddly, not one but *two* trails of the Task Force's
investigation led toward Austin.  The city of Austin, like
Atlanta, had made itself a bulwark of the Sunbelt's
Information Age, with a strong university research
presence, and a number of cutting-edge electronics
companies, including Motorola, Dell, CompuAdd, IBM,
Sematech and MCC.

        Where computing machinery went, hackers
generally followed.  Austin boasted not only "Phoenix
Project," currently LoD's most flagrant underground
board, but a number of UNIX  nodes.

        One of these nodes was "Elephant," run by a UNIX
consultant named Robert Izenberg.  Izenberg, in search of
a relaxed Southern lifestyle and a lowered cost-of-living,
had recently migrated to Austin from New Jersey.  In New
Jersey, Izenberg had worked for an independent
contracting company, programming UNIX code for AT&T
itself.  "Terminus" had been a frequent user on Izenberg's
privately owned Elephant node.

        Having interviewed Terminus and examined the
records on Netsys, the Chicago Task Force were now
convinced that they had discovered an underground gang
of UNIX software pirates, who were demonstrably guilty of
interstate trafficking in illicitly copied  AT&T source code.
Izenberg was swept into the dragnet around Terminus, the
self-proclaimed ultimate UNIX hacker.

        Izenberg, in Austin, had settled down into a UNIX job
with a Texan branch of IBM.  Izenberg was no longer
working as a contractor for AT&T, but he had friends in
New Jersey, and he still logged on to AT&T UNIX
computers back in New Jersey, more or less whenever it
pleased him.  Izenberg's activities appeared highly
suspicious to the Task Force.  Izenberg might well be
breaking into AT&T computers, swiping AT&T software,
and passing it to  Terminus and other possible
confederates, through the UNIX node network.  And this
data was worth, not merely $79,499, but hundreds of
thousands of dollars!

        On February 21, 1990, Robert Izenberg arrived home
from work at IBM to find that all the computers had
mysteriously vanished from his Austin apartment.
Naturally he assumed that he had been robbed.  His
"Elephant" node, his other machines, his notebooks, his
disks, his tapes, all gone!  However, nothing much else
seemed disturbed -- the place had not been ransacked.

        The puzzle becaming much stranger some five
minutes later.   Austin U. S. Secret Service Agent Al Soliz,
accompanied by University of Texas campus-security
officer Larry Coutorie and the ubiquitous Tim Foley, made
their appearance at Izenberg's door.  They were in plain
clothes: slacks, polo shirts.  They came in, and Tim Foley
accused Izenberg of belonging to the Legion of Doom.

        Izenberg told them that he had never heard of the
"Legion of Doom."  And what about a certain stolen E911
Document, that posed a direct threat to the police
emergency lines?   Izenberg claimed that he'd never
heard of that, either.

        His interrogators found this difficult to believe.
Didn't he know Terminus?


        They gave him Terminus's real name.  Oh yes, said
Izenberg.  He knew *that* guy all right -- he was leading
discussions on the Internet about AT&T computers,
especially the AT&T 3B2.

        AT&T had thrust this machine into the marketplace,
but, like many of AT&T's ambitious attempts to enter the
computing arena, the 3B2 project had something less than
a glittering success.   Izenberg himself had been a
contractor for the division of AT&T that supported the 3B2.
The entire division had been shut down.

          Nowadays, the cheapest and quickest way to get
help with this fractious piece of machinery was to join one
of Terminus's discussion groups on the Internet, where
friendly and knowledgeable hackers would help you for
free.  Naturally the remarks within this group were less
than flattering about the Death Star....  was *that* the

        Foley told Izenberg that Terminus had been
acquiring hot software through his, Izenberg's, machine.

        Izenberg shrugged this off.   A good eight megabytes
of data flowed through his UUCP site every day.   UUCP
nodes spewed data like fire hoses.  Elephant had been
directly linked to Netsys -- not surprising, since Terminus
was a 3B2 expert and Izenberg had been a 3B2 contractor.
Izenberg was also linked to "attctc" and the University of
Texas.   Terminus was a well-known UNIX expert, and
might have been up to all manner of hijinks on Elephant.
Nothing Izenberg could do about that.  That was
physically impossible.  Needle in a haystack.

         In a four-hour grilling, Foley urged Izenberg to come
clean and admit that he was in conspiracy with Terminus,
and a member of the Legion of Doom.

        Izenberg denied this.  He was no weirdo teenage
hacker -- he was thirty-two years old, and didn't even have
a "handle."  Izenberg was a former TV technician and
electronics specialist who had drifted into UNIX
consulting as a full-grown adult.   Izenberg had never met
Terminus, physically.  He'd once bought a cheap high-
speed modem from him, though.

        Foley told him that this modem (a Telenet T2500
which ran at 19.2 kilobaud, and which had just gone out
Izenberg's door in Secret Service custody)  was likely hot
property.  Izenberg was taken aback to hear this; but then
again, most of Izenberg's equipment, like that of most
freelance professionals in the industry, was discounted,
passed hand-to-hand through various kinds of barter and
gray-market.   There was no proof that the modem was
stolen, and even if it was, Izenberg hardly saw how that
gave them the right to take every electronic item in his

         Still, if the United States Secret Service figured they
needed his computer for national security reasons -- or
whatever -- then Izenberg would not kick.  He figured he
would somehow make the sacrifice of his twenty thousand
dollars' worth of professional equipment, in the spirit of
full cooperation and good citizenship.

        Robert Izenberg was not arrested.  Izenberg was not
charged with any crime.  His UUCP node -- full of some
140 megabytes of the files, mail, and data of himself and
his dozen or so entirely innocent users --  went out the door
as "evidence."  Along with the disks and tapes, Izenberg
had lost about 800 megabytes of data.

        Six months would pass before Izenberg decided to
phone the Secret Service and ask how the case was going.
That was the first time that Robert Izenberg would ever
hear the name of William Cook.  As of January 1992, a full
two years after the seizure, Izenberg, still not charged with
any crime, would be struggling through the morass of the
courts, in hope of recovering his thousands of dollars'
worth of seized equipment.

        In the meantime, the Izenberg case received
absolutely no press coverage.   The Secret Service had
walked into an Austin home, removed a UNIX bulletin-
board system, and met with no operational difficulties

        Except that word of a crackdown had percolated
through the Legion of Doom.   "The Mentor" voluntarily
shut down "The Phoenix Project."  It seemed a pity,
especially as telco security employees had, in fact, shown
up on Phoenix, just as he had hoped -- along with the usual
motley crowd of LoD heavies, hangers-on, phreaks,
hackers and wannabes.  There was "Sandy" Sandquist
from US SPRINT security, and some guy named Henry
Kluepfel, from Bellcore itself!  Kluepfel had been trading
friendly banter with hackers on Phoenix since January
30th (two weeks after the Martin Luther King Day Crash).
The presence of such a stellar telco official seemed quite
the coup for Phoenix Project.

        Still, Mentor could judge the climate.  Atlanta in
ruins, *Phrack* in deep trouble, something weird going on
with UNIX nodes -- discretion was advisable.  Phoenix
Project went off-line.

        Kluepfel, of course, had been monitoring this LoD
bulletin board for his own purposes -- and those of the
Chicago unit.   As far back as June 1987, Kluepfel had
logged on to a Texas underground board called "Phreak
Klass 2600."  There he'd discovered an Chicago youngster
named "Shadowhawk," strutting and boasting about rifling
AT&T computer files, and bragging of his ambitions to
riddle AT&T's Bellcore computers with trojan horse
programs.  Kluepfel had passed the news to Cook in
Chicago, Shadowhawk's computers had gone out the door
in Secret Service custody, and Shadowhawk himself had
gone to jail.

        Now it was Phoenix Project's turn.   Phoenix Project
postured about "legality" and "merely intellectual
interest," but it reeked of the underground.  It had
*Phrack* on it.  It had the E911 Document.  It had a lot of
dicey talk about breaking into systems, including some
bold and reckless stuff about a supposed "decryption
service" that Mentor and friends were planning to run, to
help crack encrypted passwords off of hacked systems.

        Mentor was an adult.   There was a  bulletin board at
his place of work, as well.  Kleupfel logged onto this board,
too, and discovered it to be called "Illuminati."  It was run
by some company called Steve Jackson Games.

        On  March 1, 1990, the Austin crackdown went into
high gear.

        On the morning of March 1 -- a Thursday -- 21-year-
old University of Texas student "Erik Bloodaxe," co-sysop
of Phoenix Project and an avowed member of the Legion
of Doom, was wakened by a police revolver levelled at his

        Bloodaxe watched, jittery, as Secret Service agents
appropriated his 300 baud terminal and, rifling his files,
discovered his treasured source-code for Robert Morris's
notorious Internet Worm.  But Bloodaxe, a wily operator,
had suspected that something of the like might be
coming.  All his best equipment had been hidden away
elsewhere.  The raiders took everything electronic,
however, including his telephone.  They were stymied by
his hefty arcade-style Pac-Man game, and left it in place,
as it was simply too heavy to move.

        Bloodaxe was not arrested.   He was not charged with
any crime.  A good two years later, the police still had what
they had taken from him, however.

        The Mentor was less wary.  The dawn raid rousted
him and his wife from bed in their underwear, and six
Secret Service agents, accompanied by an Austin
policeman and  Henry Kluepfel himself, made a rich haul.
Off went the works, into the agents' white Chevrolet
minivan:  an IBM PC-AT clone with 4 meg of RAM and a
120-meg hard disk; a Hewlett-Packard LaserJet II printer;
a completely legitimate and highly expensive SCO-Xenix
286 operating system; Pagemaker disks and
documentation; and the Microsoft Word word-processing
program.  Mentor's wife had her incomplete academic
thesis stored on the hard-disk; that went, too, and so did
the couple's telephone.  As of two years later, all this
property remained in police custody.

        Mentor remained under guard in his apartment as
agents prepared to raid Steve Jackson Games.  The fact
that this was a business headquarters and not a private
residence did not deter the agents.  It was still very early;
no one was at work yet.  The agents prepared to break
down the door, but Mentor, eavesdropping on the Secret
Service walkie-talkie traffic, begged them not to do it, and
offered his key to the building.

        The exact details of the next events are unclear.  The
agents would not let anyone else into the building.  Their
search warrant, when produced, was unsigned.
Apparently they breakfasted from the local
"Whataburger," as the litter from hamburgers was later
found inside.  They also extensively sampled a bag of
jellybeans kept by an SJG employee.  Someone tore a
"Dukakis for President" sticker from the wall.

        SJG employees, diligently showing up for the day's
work, were met at the door and briefly questioned by U.S.
Secret Service agents.  The employees watched in
astonishment as agents wielding crowbars and
screwdrivers emerged with captive machines.  They
attacked outdoor storage units with boltcutters.  The
agents wore blue nylon windbreakers with "SECRET
SERVICE" stencilled across the back, with running-shoes
and jeans.

        Jackson's company lost three computers, several
hard-disks, hundred of floppy disks, two monitors, three
modems, a laser printer, various powercords, cables, and
adapters (and, oddly, a small bag of screws, bolts and
nuts).   The seizure of Illuminati BBS deprived SJG of all
the programs, text files, and private e-mail on the board.
The loss of two other SJG computers was a severe blow as
well, since it caused the loss of electronically stored
contracts, financial projections, address directories,
mailing lists, personnel files, business correspondence,
and, not least, the drafts of forthcoming games and
gaming books.

        No one at Steve Jackson Games was arrested.  No
one was accused of any crime.   No charges were filed.
Everything appropriated was officially kept as "evidence"
of crimes never specified.

        After the *Phrack* show-trial, the Steve Jackson
Games scandal was the most bizarre and aggravating
incident of the Hacker Crackdown of 1990.   This raid by
the Chicago Task Force on a science-fiction gaming
publisher was to rouse a swarming host of civil liberties
issues, and gave rise to an enduring controversy that was
still re-complicating itself, and growing in the scope of its
implications, a full two years later.

        The pursuit of the E911 Document stopped with the
Steve Jackson Games raid.   As we have seen, there were
hundreds, perhaps thousands of computer users in
America with the E911 Document in their possession.
Theoretically, Chicago had a perfect legal right to raid any
of these people, and could have legally seized the
machines of anybody who subscribed to *Phrack.*
However, there was no copy of the E911 Document on
Jackson's Illuminati board.   And there the Chicago raiders
stopped dead; they have not raided anyone since.

        It might be assumed that Rich Andrews and Charlie
Boykin, who had brought the E911 Document to the
attention of telco security, might be spared any official
suspicion.  But as we have seen, the willingness to
"cooperate fully" offers little, if any, assurance against
federal anti-hacker prosecution.

        Richard Andrews found himself in deep trouble,
thanks to the E911 Document.  Andrews lived in Illinois,
the native stomping grounds of the Chicago Task Force.
On February 3 and 6, both his home and his place of work
were raided by USSS.  His machines went out the door,
too, and he was grilled at length (though not arrested).
Andrews proved to be in purportedly guilty possession of:
QUEST, among other items.   Andrews had received this
proprietary code -- which AT&T officially valued at well
over $250,000 -- through the UNIX network, much of it
supplied to him as a personal favor by Terminus.  Perhaps
worse yet, Andrews admitted to returning the favor, by
passing Terminus a copy of AT&T proprietary STARLAN
source code.

         Even Charles Boykin, himself an AT&T employee,
entered some very hot water.   By 1990, he'd almost
forgotten about the E911 problem he'd reported in
September 88; in fact, since that date, he'd passed two
more security alerts to Jerry Dalton, concerning matters
that Boykin considered far worse than the E911

        But by 1990, year of the crackdown,  AT&T Corporate
Information Security was fed up with "Killer."   This
machine offered no  direct income to AT&T, and was
providing aid and comfort to a cloud of suspicious yokels
from outside the company, some of them actively
malicious toward AT&T, its property, and its corporate
interests.   Whatever goodwill and publicity had been won
among Killer's 1,500 devoted users was considered no
longer worth the security risk.  On February 20, 1990,  Jerry
Dalton arrived in Dallas and simply unplugged the phone
jacks, to the puzzled alarm of Killer's many Texan users.
Killer went permanently off-line, with the loss of vast
archives of programs and huge quantities of electronic
mail; it was never restored to service.   AT&T showed no
particular regard for the "property" of these 1,500 people.
Whatever "property" the users had been storing on
AT&T's computer simply vanished completely.

        Boykin, who had himself reported the E911 problem,
now found himself under a cloud of suspicion.  In a weird
private-security replay of the Secret Service seizures,
Boykin's own home was visited by AT&T Security and his
own machines were carried out the door.

        However, there were marked special features in the
Boykin case.   Boykin's disks and his personal computers
were swiftly examined by his corporate employers and
returned politely in just two days -- (unlike Secret Service
seizures, which commonly take months or years).   Boykin
was not charged with any crime or wrongdoing, and he
kept his job with AT&T (though he did retire from AT&T in
September 1991, at the age of 52).

        It's interesting to note that the US Secret Service
somehow failed to seize Boykin's "Killer" node and carry
AT&T's own computer out the door.   Nor did they raid
Boykin's home.  They seemed perfectly willing to take the
word of AT&T Security that AT&T's employee, and AT&T's
"Killer" node, were free of hacker contraband and on the

        It's digital water-under-the-bridge at this point, as
Killer's 3,200 megabytes of Texan electronic community
were erased in 1990, and "Killer" itself was shipped out of
the state.

        But the experiences of Andrews and Boykin, and the
users of their systems, remained side issues.   They did not
begin to assume the social, political, and legal importance
that gathered, slowly but inexorably, around the issue of
the raid on Steve Jackson Games.


        We must now turn our attention to Steve Jackson
Games itself, and explain what SJG was, what it really did,
and how it had managed to attract this particularly odd
and virulent kind of trouble.  The reader may recall that
this is not the first but the second time that the company
has appeared in this narrative; a Steve Jackson game
called GURPS was a favorite pastime of Atlanta hacker
Urvile, and Urvile's science-fictional gaming notes had
been mixed up promiscuously with notes about his actual
computer intrusions.

        First, Steve Jackson Games, Inc., was *not* a
publisher of "computer games."  SJG published
"simulation games," parlor games that were played on
paper, with pencils, and dice, and printed guidebooks full
of rules and statistics tables.  There were no computers
involved in the games themselves.   When you bought a
Steve Jackson Game, you did not receive any software
disks.  What you got was a plastic bag with some
cardboard game tokens, maybe a few maps or a deck of
cards.  Most of their products were books.

        However, computers *were* deeply involved in the
Steve Jackson Games business.  Like almost all modern
publishers, Steve Jackson and his fifteen employees used
computers to write text, to keep accounts, and to run the
business generally.  They also used a computer to run
their official bulletin board system for Steve Jackson
Games, a board called Illuminati.  On Illuminati,
simulation gamers who happened to own computers and
modems could associate, trade mail, debate the theory
and practice of gaming, and keep up with the company's
news and its product announcements.

        Illuminati was a modestly popular board, run on a
small computer with limited storage,  only one phone-line,
and no ties to large-scale computer networks.   It did,
however, have hundreds of users, many of them dedicated
gamers willing to call from out-of-state.

        Illuminati was *not* an "underground" board.  It did
not feature hints on computer intrusion, or "anarchy files,"
or illicitly posted credit card numbers, or long-distance
access codes.  Some of Illuminati's users, however, were
members of the Legion of Doom.    And so was one of
Steve Jackson's senior employees -- the Mentor.   The
Mentor wrote for *Phrack,* and also ran an underground
board, Phoenix Project -- but the Mentor was not a
computer professional.  The Mentor was the managing
editor of Steve Jackson Games and a professional game
designer by trade.   These LoD members did not use
Illuminati to help their *hacking* activities.  They used it
to help their *game-playing* activities -- and they were
even more dedicated to simulation gaming than they were
to hacking.

        "Illuminati" got its name from a card-game that Steve
Jackson himself, the company's founder and sole owner,
had invented.  This multi-player card-game was one of Mr
Jackson's best-known, most successful, most technically
innovative products.   "Illuminati" was a game of
paranoiac conspiracy in which various antisocial cults
warred covertly to dominate the world.   "Illuminati" was
hilarious, and great fun to play, involving flying saucers,
the CIA, the KGB, the phone companies, the Ku Klux
Klan, the South American Nazis, the cocaine cartels, the
Boy Scouts, and dozens of other splinter groups from the
twisted depths of Mr. Jackson's professionally fervid
imagination.  For the uninitiated, any public discussion of
the "Illuminati" card-game sounded, by turns, utterly
menacing or completely insane.

        And then there was SJG's "Car Wars," in which
souped-up armored hot-rods with rocket-launchers and
heavy machine-guns did battle on the American highways
of the future.   The lively Car Wars discussion on the
Illuminati board featured many meticulous, painstaking
discussions of the effects of grenades, land-mines,
flamethrowers and napalm.  It sounded like hacker
anarchy files run amuck.

        Mr Jackson and his co-workers earned their daily
bread by supplying people with make-believe adventures
and weird ideas.  The more far-out, the better.

        Simulation gaming is an unusual pastime, but
gamers have not generally had to beg the permission of
the Secret Service to exist.  Wargames and role-playing
adventures are an old and honored pastime, much
favored by professional military strategists.   Once little-
known, these games are now played by hundreds of
thousands of enthusiasts throughout North America,
Europe and Japan.  Gaming-books, once restricted to
hobby outlets, now commonly appear in chain-stores like
B. Dalton's and Waldenbooks, and sell vigorously.

        Steve Jackson Games, Inc., of Austin, Texas, was a
games company of the middle rank.  In 1989, SJG grossed
about a million dollars.   Jackson himself had a good
reputation in his industry as a talented and innovative
designer of rather unconventional games, but his
company was something less than a titan of the field --
certainly not like the multimillion-dollar TSR Inc., or
Britain's gigantic "Games Workshop."

        SJG's Austin headquarters was a modest two-story
brick office-suite, cluttered with phones, photocopiers, fax
machines and computers. It bustled with semi-organized
activity and was littered with glossy promotional brochures
and dog-eared science-fiction novels.  Attached to the
offices was a large tin-roofed warehouse piled twenty feet
high with cardboard boxes of games and books.   Despite
the weird imaginings that went on within it, the SJG
headquarters was quite a quotidian, everyday sort of place.
It looked like what it was:  a publishers' digs.

        Both "Car Wars" and "Illuminati" were well-known,
popular games.  But the mainstay of the Jackson
organization was their Generic Universal Role-Playing
System, "G.U.R.P.S."   The GURPS system was considered
solid and well-designed, an asset for players.  But perhaps
the most popular feature of the GURPS system was that it
allowed gaming-masters to design scenarios that closely
resembled well-known books, movies, and other works of
fantasy.  Jackson had  licensed and adapted works from
many science fiction and fantasy authors.  There was
*GURPS Conan,* *GURPS Riverworld,* *GURPS
Horseclans,* *GURPS Witch World,*  names eminently
familiar to science-fiction readers.  And there was *GURPS
Special Ops,*  from the world of espionage fantasy and
unconventional warfare.

        And then there was *GURPS Cyberpunk.*

        "Cyberpunk" was a term given to certain science
fiction writers who had entered the genre in the 1980s.
"Cyberpunk," as the label implies, had two general
distinguishing features.  First, its writers had a compelling
interest in information technology, an interest closely akin
to science fiction's earlier fascination with space travel.
And second, these writers  were "punks," with all the
distinguishing features that that implies:  Bohemian
artiness, youth run wild, an air of deliberate rebellion,
funny clothes and hair, odd politics, a fondness for
abrasive rock and roll; in a word, trouble.

        The "cyberpunk" SF writers were a small group of
mostly college-educated white middle-class litterateurs,
scattered through the US and Canada.  Only one, Rudy
Rucker, a professor of computer science in Silicon Valley,
could rank with even the humblest computer hacker.   But,
except for Professor Rucker, the "cyberpunk" authors were
not programmers or hardware experts; they considered
themselves artists (as, indeed, did Professor Rucker).
However, these writers all owned computers, and took an
intense and public interest in the social ramifications of
the information industry.

        The cyberpunks had a strong following among the
global generation that had grown up in a world of
computers, multinational networks, and  cable television.
Their outlook was considered somewhat morbid, cynical,
and dark, but then again, so was the outlook of their
generational peers.  As that generation matured and
increased in strength and influence, so did the
cyberpunks.   As science-fiction writers went, they were
doing fairly well for themselves.  By the late 1980s, their
work had attracted attention from gaming companies,
including Steve Jackson Games, which was planning a
cyberpunk simulation for the flourishing GURPS gaming-

        The time seemed ripe for such a product, which had
already been proven in the marketplace.  The first games-
company out of the gate, with a product boldly called
"Cyberpunk" in defiance of possible infringement-of-
copyright suits, had been an upstart group called R.
Talsorian.  Talsorian's Cyberpunk was a fairly decent
game, but the mechanics of the simulation system left a
lot to be desired.  Commercially, however, the game did
very well.

        The next cyberpunk game had been the even more
successful *Shadowrun* by FASA Corporation.  The
mechanics of this game were fine, but the scenario was
rendered moronic by  sappy fantasy elements like elves,
trolls, wizards, and  dragons -- all highly ideologically-
incorrect, according to the hard-edged, high-tech
standards of cyberpunk science fiction.

        Other game designers were champing at the bit.
Prominent among them was the Mentor, a gentleman
who, like most of his friends in the Legion of Doom, was
quite the cyberpunk devotee.  Mentor reasoned that the
time had come for a *real* cyberpunk gaming-book -- one
that the princes of computer-mischief in the Legion of
Doom could play without laughing themselves sick.  This
book, *GURPS Cyberpunk,*  would reek of culturally on-
line authenticity.

          Mentor was particularly well-qualified for this task.
Naturally, he knew far more about computer-intrusion
and digital skullduggery than any previously published
cyberpunk author.  Not only that, but he was good at his
work.   A vivid imagination, combined with an instinctive
feeling for the working of systems and, especially, the
loopholes within them, are excellent qualities for a
professional game designer.

        By March 1st, *GURPS Cyberpunk* was almost
complete, ready to print and ship.  Steve Jackson expected
vigorous sales for this item, which, he hoped, would keep
the company financially afloat for several months.
*GURPS Cyberpunk,*  like the other GURPS "modules,"
was not a "game" like a Monopoly set, but a *book:*  a
bound paperback book the size of a glossy magazine, with
a slick color cover, and pages full of text, illustrations,
tables and footnotes.   It was advertised as a game, and
was used as an aid to game-playing,  but it was a book, with
an ISBN number, published in Texas, copyrighted, and
sold in bookstores.

        And now, that book, stored on a computer, had gone
out the door in the custody of the Secret Service.

        The day after the raid, Steve Jackson visited the local
Secret Service headquarters with a lawyer in tow.  There he
confronted Tim Foley (still in Austin at that time) and
demanded his book back.   But there was trouble.
*GURPS Cyberpunk,*  alleged a Secret Service agent to
astonished businessman Steve Jackson, was "a manual for
computer crime."

        "It's science fiction," Jackson said.

        "No, this is real."  This statement was repeated
several times, by several agents.  Jackson's ominously
accurate game had passed from pure, obscure, small-
scale fantasy into the impure, highly publicized, large-
scale fantasy of the Hacker Crackdown.

        No mention was made of the real reason for the
search.  According to their search warrant, the raiders had
expected to find the E911 Document stored on Jackson's
bulletin board system.   But that warrant was sealed; a
procedure that most law enforcement agencies will use
only when lives are demonstrably in danger.   The raiders'
true motives were not discovered until the Jackson search-
warrant was unsealed by his lawyers, many months later.
The Secret Service, and the Chicago Computer Fraud and
Abuse Task Force, said absolutely nothing to Steve
Jackson about any threat to the police 911 System.   They
said nothing about the Atlanta Three, nothing about
*Phrack* or Knight Lightning, nothing about Terminus.

        Jackson was left to believe that his computers had
been seized because he intended to publish a science
fiction book that law enforcement considered too
dangerous to see print.

        This misconception was repeated again and again,
for months, to an ever-widening public audience.  It was
not the truth of the case; but as months passed, and this
misconception was publicly printed again and again, it
became one of the few publicly known "facts" about the
mysterious Hacker Crackdown.   The Secret Service had
seized a computer to stop the publication of a cyberpunk
science fiction book.

        The second section of this book, "The Digital
Underground," is almost finished now.  We have become
acquainted with all the major figures of this case who
actually belong to the underground milieu of computer
intrusion.   We have some idea of their history, their
motives, their general modus operandi.  We now know, I
hope, who they are, where they came from, and more or
less what they want.  In the next section of this book, "Law
and Order," we will leave this milieu and directly enter the
world of America's computer-crime police.

        At this point, however, I have another figure to
introduce:  myself.

        My name is Bruce Sterling.   I live in Austin, Texas,
where I am a science fiction writer by trade:  specifically, a
*cyberpunk* science fiction writer.

        Like my "cyberpunk" colleagues in the U.S. and
Canada, I've never been entirely happy with this literary
label -- especially after it became a synonym for computer
criminal.  But I did once edit a book of stories by my
colleagues, called  *MIRRORSHADES:  the Cyberpunk
Anthology,*  and I've long been a writer of literary-critical
cyberpunk manifestos.   I am not a "hacker" of any
description, though I do have readers in the digital

        When the Steve Jackson Games seizure occurred, I
naturally took an intense interest.  If "cyberpunk" books
were being banned by federal police in my own home
town, I reasonably wondered whether I myself might be
next.  Would my computer be seized by the Secret
Service?  At the time, I was in possession of an aging Apple
IIe without so much as a hard disk.  If I were to be raided
as an author of computer-crime manuals, the loss of my
feeble word-processor would likely provoke more snickers
than sympathy.

        I'd known Steve Jackson for many years.   We knew
one another as colleagues, for we frequented the same
local science-fiction conventions.  I'd played Jackson
games, and recognized his cleverness; but he certainly
had never struck me as a potential mastermind of
computer crime.

        I also knew a little about computer bulletin-board
systems.  In the mid-1980s I had taken an active role in an
Austin board called "SMOF-BBS," one of the first boards
dedicated to science fiction.  I had a modem, and on
occasion I'd logged on to Illuminati, which always looked
entertainly wacky, but certainly harmless enough.

        At the time of the Jackson seizure, I had no
experience whatsoever with underground boards.   But I
knew that no one on Illuminati talked about breaking into
systems illegally, or about robbing phone companies.
Illuminati didn't even offer pirated computer games.
Steve Jackson, like many creative artists,  was markedly
touchy about theft of intellectual property.

        It seemed to me that Jackson was either seriously
suspected of some crime -- in which case, he would be
charged soon, and would have his day in court -- or else he
was innocent, in which case the Secret Service would
quickly return his equipment, and everyone would have a
good laugh.  I rather expected the good laugh.  The
situation was not without its comic side.  The raid, known
as the "Cyberpunk Bust" in the science fiction community,
was winning a great deal of free national publicity both for
Jackson himself and the "cyberpunk" science fiction
writers generally.

        Besides, science fiction people are used to being
misinterpreted.  Science fiction is a colorful, disreputable,
slipshod occupation, full of unlikely oddballs, which, of
course, is why we like it.   Weirdness can be an
occupational hazard in our field.  People who wear
Halloween costumes are sometimes mistaken for

        Once upon a time -- back in 1939, in New York City --
science fiction and the U.S. Secret Service collided in a
comic case of mistaken identity.  This weird incident
involved a literary group quite famous in science fiction,
known as "the Futurians," whose membership included
such future genre greats as Isaac Asimov, Frederik Pohl,
and Damon Knight.  The Futurians were every bit as
offbeat and wacky as any of their spiritual descendants,
including the cyberpunks, and were given to communal
living, spontaneous group renditions of light opera, and
midnight fencing exhibitions on the lawn.  The Futurians
didn't have bulletin board systems, but they did have the
technological equivalent in 1939 -- mimeographs and a
private printing press.   These were in steady use,
producing a stream of science-fiction fan magazines,
literary manifestos, and weird articles, which were picked
up in ink-sticky bundles by a succession of strange, gangly,
spotty young men in fedoras and overcoats.

        The neighbors grew alarmed at the antics of the
Futurians and reported them to the Secret Service as
suspected counterfeiters.   In the winter of 1939, a squad of
USSS agents with drawn guns burst into "Futurian House,"
prepared to confiscate the forged currency and illicit
printing presses.  There they discovered a slumbering
science fiction fan named George Hahn, a guest of the
Futurian commune who had just arrived in New York.
George Hahn managed to explain himself and his group,
and the Secret Service agents left the Futurians in peace
henceforth.  (Alas, Hahn died in 1991, just before I had
discovered this astonishing historical parallel, and just
before I could interview him for this book.)

        But the Jackson case did not come to a swift and
comic end.   No quick answers came his way, or mine;  no
swift reassurances that all was right in the digital world,
that matters were well in hand after all.   Quite the
opposite.   In my alternate role as a sometime pop-science
journalist, I interviewed  Jackson and his staff for an article
in a British magazine.   The strange details of the raid left
me more concerned than ever.   Without its computers,
the company had been financially and operationally
crippled.   Half the SJG workforce, a group of entirely
innocent people, had been sorrowfully fired, deprived of
their livelihoods by the seizure.  It began to dawn on me
that authors -- American writers -- might well have their
computers seized, under sealed warrants, without any
criminal charge; and that, as Steve Jackson had
discovered, there was no immediate recourse for this.
This was no joke; this wasn't science fiction; this was real.

        I determined to put science fiction aside until I had
discovered what had happened and where this trouble
had come from.  It was time to enter the purportedly real
world of electronic free expression and computer crime.
Hence, this book.  Hence, the world of the telcos;  and the
world of the digital underground; and next, the world of
the police.

Bruce Sterling

Literary Freeware:  Not for Commercial Use

on the Electronic Frontier


        Of the various anti-hacker activities of 1990,
"Operation Sundevil" had by far the highest public
profile.   The sweeping, nationwide computer
seizures of May 8, 1990 were unprecedented in
scope and highly, if rather selectively, publicized.

        Unlike the efforts of the Chicago Computer
Fraud and Abuse Task Force,  "Operation Sundevil"
was not intended to combat "hacking" in the sense
of computer intrusion or sophisticated raids on telco
switching stations.  Nor did it have anything to do
with hacker misdeeds with AT&T's software, or with
Southern Bell's proprietary documents.

        Instead, "Operation Sundevil" was a crackdown
on those traditional scourges of the digital
underground:  credit-card theft and telephone code
abuse.   The ambitious activities out of Chicago, and
the somewhat lesser-known but  vigorous anti-
hacker actions of the New York State Police in 1990,
were never a part of "Operation Sundevil" per se,
which was based in Arizona.

        Nevertheless, after the spectacular May 8 raids,
the public, misled by  police secrecy, hacker panic,
and a puzzled national press-corps, conflated all
aspects of the nationwide crackdown in 1990 under
the blanket term "Operation Sundevil."  "Sundevil" is
still the best-known synonym for the crackdown of
1990.  But the Arizona organizers of "Sundevil" did
not really deserve this reputation -- any more, for
instance, than all hackers deserve a reputation as

        There was some justice in this confused
perception, though.  For one thing, the confusion
was abetted by the Washington office of the Secret
Service, who responded to Freedom of Information
Act requests on "Operation Sundevil" by referring
investigators to the publicly known cases of Knight
Lightning and the Atlanta Three.  And "Sundevil"
was certainly the largest aspect of the Crackdown,
the most deliberate and the best-organized.  As a
crackdown on electronic fraud, "Sundevil" lacked
the frantic pace of the war on the Legion of Doom;
on the contrary, Sundevil's targets were picked out
with cool deliberation over an elaborate
investigation lasting two full years.

        And once again the targets were bulletin board

        Boards can be powerful aids to organized fraud.
Underground boards carry lively, extensive,
detailed, and often quite flagrant "discussions" of
lawbreaking techniques and lawbreaking activities.
"Discussing" crime in the abstract, or "discussing"
the particulars of criminal cases, is not illegal -- but
there are stern state and federal laws against
coldbloodedly conspiring in groups in order to
commit crimes.

        In the eyes of police, people who actively
conspire to break the law are not regarded as
"clubs," "debating salons," "users' groups," or "free
speech advocates."   Rather, such people tend to
find themselves formally indicted by prosecutors as
"gangs," "racketeers," "corrupt organizations" and
"organized crime figures."

        What's more, the illicit data contained on
outlaw boards goes well beyond mere acts of speech
and/or possible criminal conspiracy.  As we have
seen, it was common practice in the digital
underground to post purloined telephone codes on
boards, for any phreak or hacker who cared to abuse
them.  Is posting digital booty of this sort supposed
to be protected by the First Amendment?  Hardly --
though the issue, like most issues in cyberspace, is
not entirely resolved.   Some theorists argue that to
merely *recite* a number publicly is not illegal --
only its *use* is illegal.   But anti-hacker police point
out that magazines and newspapers (more
traditional forms of free expression) never publish
stolen telephone codes (even though this might well
raise their circulation).

        Stolen credit card numbers, being riskier and
more valuable, were less often publicly posted on
boards -- but there is no question that some
underground boards carried "carding" traffic,
generally exchanged through private mail.

        Underground boards also carried handy
programs for "scanning" telephone codes and
raiding credit card companies, as well as the usual
obnoxious galaxy of pirated software, cracked
passwords, blue-box schematics, intrusion manuals,
anarchy files, porn files, and so forth.

        But besides their nuisance potential for the
spread of illicit knowledge, bulletin boards have
another vitally interesting aspect for the professional
investigator.  Bulletin boards are cram-full of
*evidence.*  All that busy trading of electronic mail,
all those hacker boasts, brags and struts,  even the
stolen codes and cards, can be neat, electronic, real-
time recordings of criminal activity.

        As an investigator, when you seize a pirate
board, you have scored a coup as effective as
tapping phones or intercepting mail.  However, you
have not actually tapped a phone or intercepted a
letter.   The rules of evidence regarding phone-taps
and mail interceptions are old, stern and well-
understood by police, prosecutors and defense
attorneys alike.  The rules of evidence regarding
boards are new, waffling, and understood by nobody
at all.

        Sundevil was the largest crackdown on boards in
world history.  On May 7, 8, and 9, 1990, about forty-
two computer systems were seized.  Of those forty-
two computers, about twenty-five actually were
running boards.  (The vagueness of this estimate is
attributable to the vagueness of (a) what a
"computer system" is, and (b) what it actually means
to "run a board" with one -- or with two computers, or
with three.)

        About twenty-five boards vanished into police
custody in May 1990.   As we have seen, there are an
estimated 30,000 boards in America today.  If we
assume that one board in a hundred is up to no good
with codes and cards (which rather flatters the
honesty of the board-using community), then that
would leave 2,975 outlaw boards untouched by
Sundevil.  Sundevil seized about one tenth of one
percent of all computer bulletin boards in America.
Seen objectively, this is something less than a
comprehensive assault.   In 1990, Sundevil's
organizers -- the team at the Phoenix Secret Service
office, and the Arizona Attorney General's office --
had a list of at least *three hundred* boards that
they considered fully deserving of search and
seizure warrants.   The twenty-five boards actually
seized were merely among the most obvious and
egregious of this much larger list of candidates.   All
these boards had been examined beforehand --
either by informants, who had passed printouts to
the Secret Service, or by Secret Service agents
themselves, who not only come equipped with
modems but know how to use them.

        There were a number of motives for Sundevil.
First, it offered a chance to get ahead of the curve on
wire-fraud crimes.  Tracking back credit-card ripoffs
to their perpetrators can be appallingly difficult.  If
these miscreants have any kind of electronic
sophistication, they can snarl their tracks through
the phone network into a mind-boggling,
untraceable mess, while still managing to "reach out
and rob someone."  Boards, however, full of brags
and boasts, codes and cards, offer evidence in the
handy congealed form.

        Seizures themselves -- the mere physical
removal of machines -- tends to take the pressure
off.  During Sundevil, a large number of code kids,
warez d00dz, and credit card thieves would be
deprived of those boards -- their  means of
community and conspiracy -- in one swift blow.  As
for the sysops themselves (commonly among the
boldest offenders) they would be directly stripped of
their computer equipment, and rendered digitally
mute and blind.

        And this aspect of Sundevil was carried out with
great success.   Sundevil seems to have been a
complete tactical surprise -- unlike the fragmentary
and continuing seizures of the war on the Legion of
Doom, Sundevil was precisely timed and utterly
overwhelming.    At least forty "computers" were
seized during May 7, 8 and 9, 1990, in Cincinnati,
Detroit, Los Angeles, Miami, Newark, Phoenix,
Tucson, Richmond, San Diego, San Jose, Pittsburgh
and San Francisco.   Some cities saw multiple raids,
such as the five separate raids in the New York City
environs.  Plano, Texas (essentially a suburb of the
Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex, and a hub of the
telecommunications industry)  saw four computer
seizures.  Chicago, ever in the forefront, saw its own
local Sundevil raid, briskly carried out by Secret
Service agents Timothy Foley and Barbara Golden.

        Many of these raids occurred, not in the cities
proper, but in associated white-middle class suburbs
-- places like Mount Lebanon, Pennsylvania and
Clark Lake, Michigan.   There were a few raids on
offices; most took place in people's homes, the
classic hacker basements and bedrooms.

        The Sundevil raids were searches and seizures,
not a group of mass arrests.  There were only four
arrests during Sundevil.  "Tony the Trashman," a
longtime teenage bete noire of the Arizona
Racketeering unit, was arrested in Tucson on May 9.
"Dr. Ripco," sysop of an outlaw board with the
misfortune to exist in Chicago itself, was also
arrested  -- on illegal weapons charges.   Local units
also arrested a 19-year-old female phone phreak
named "Electra" in Pennsylvania,  and a male
juvenile in California.  Federal agents however were
not seeking arrests, but computers.

        Hackers are generally not indicted (if at all)
until the evidence in their seized computers is
evaluated -- a process that can take weeks, months --
even years.    When hackers are arrested on the
spot, it's generally an arrest for other reasons.  Drugs
and/or illegal weapons show up in a good third of
anti-hacker computer seizures (though not during

        That scofflaw teenage hackers (or their parents)
should have marijuana in their homes is probably
not a shocking revelation, but the surprisingly
common presence of illegal firearms in hacker dens
is a bit disquieting.   A Personal Computer can be a
great equalizer for the techno-cowboy -- much like
that more traditional American "Great Equalizer,"
the Personal Sixgun.   Maybe it's not all that
surprising that some guy obsessed with power
through illicit technology would also have a few illicit
high-velocity-impact devices around.  An element of
the digital underground particularly dotes on those
"anarchy philes,"  and this element tends to shade
into the crackpot milieu of survivalists, gun-nuts,
anarcho-leftists and the ultra-libertarian right-wing.

        This is not to say that hacker raids to date have
uncovered any major crack-dens or illegal arsenals;
but Secret Service agents do not regard "hackers" as
"just kids."   They regard hackers as unpredictable
people, bright and slippery.   It doesn't help matters
that the hacker himself has been "hiding behind his
keyboard" all this time.   Commonly, police have no
idea what he looks like.  This makes him an
unknown quantity, someone best treated with
proper caution.

        To date, no hacker has come out shooting,
though they do sometimes brag on boards that they
will do just that.  Threats of this sort are taken
seriously.   Secret Service hacker raids tend to be
swift, comprehensive, well-manned (even over-
manned);  and agents generally burst through every
door in the home at once, sometimes with drawn
guns.  Any potential resistance is swiftly quelled.
Hacker raids are usually raids on people's homes.
It can be a very dangerous business to raid an
American home; people can panic when strangers
invade their sanctum.   Statistically speaking, the
most dangerous thing a policeman can do is to enter
someone's home.  (The second most dangerous
thing is to stop a car in traffic.)  People have guns in
their homes.   More cops are hurt in homes than are
ever hurt in biker bars or massage parlors.

        But in any case, no one was hurt during
Sundevil, or indeed during any part of the Hacker

        Nor were there any allegations of any physical
mistreatment of a suspect.   Guns were pointed,
interrogations were sharp and prolonged; but no one
in 1990 claimed any act of brutality by any
crackdown raider.

        In addition to the forty or so computers,
Sundevil reaped floppy disks in particularly great
abundance -- an estimated 23,000 of them, which
naturally included every manner of illegitimate
data:  pirated games, stolen codes, hot credit card
numbers, the complete text and software of entire
pirate bulletin-boards.  These floppy disks, which
remain in police custody today, offer a gigantic,
almost embarrassingly rich source of possible
criminal indictments.  These 23,000 floppy disks also
include a thus-far unknown quantity of legitimate
computer games, legitimate software,  purportedly
"private" mail from boards, business records, and
personal correspondence of all kinds.

        Standard computer-crime search warrants lay
great emphasis on seizing written documents as well
as computers -- specifically including photocopies,
computer printouts, telephone bills, address books,
logs, notes, memoranda and correspondence.  In
practice, this has meant that diaries, gaming
magazines, software documentation, nonfiction
books on hacking and computer security,
sometimes even science fiction novels, have all
vanished out the door in police custody.   A wide
variety of electronic items have been known to
vanish as well, including telephones, televisions,
answering machines, Sony Walkmans, desktop
printers, compact disks, and audiotapes.

        No fewer than 150 members of the Secret
Service were sent into the field during Sundevil.
They were commonly accompanied by squads of
local and/or state police.   Most of these officers --
especially  the locals -- had never been on an anti-
hacker raid before.  (This was one good reason, in
fact, why so many of them were invited along in the
first place.)   Also, the presence of a uniformed
police officer assures the raidees that the people
entering their homes are, in fact, police.   Secret
Service agents wear plain clothes.  So do the telco
security experts who commonly accompany the
Secret Service on raids (and who make no particular
effort to identify themselves as mere employees of
telephone companies).

        A typical hacker raid goes something like this.
First, police storm in rapidly, through every
entrance, with overwhelming force, in the
assumption that this tactic will keep casualties to a
minimum.  Second, possible suspects are
immediately removed from the vicinity of any and
all computer systems, so that they will have no
chance to purge or destroy computer evidence.
Suspects are herded into a room without computers,
commonly the living room,  and kept under guard --
not *armed* guard, for the guns are swiftly
holstered, but under guard nevertheless.   They are
presented with the search warrant and warned that
anything they say may be held against them.
Commonly they have a great deal to say, especially
if they are unsuspecting parents.

        Somewhere in the house is the "hot spot" -- a
computer tied to a phone line (possibly several
computers and several phones).   Commonly it's a
teenager's bedroom, but it can be anywhere in the
house; there may be several such rooms.   This "hot
spot" is put in charge of a two-agent team, the
"finder" and the "recorder."   The "finder" is
computer-trained, commonly the case agent who
has actually obtained the search warrant from a
judge.   He or she understands what is being sought,
and actually carries out the seizures: unplugs
machines, opens drawers, desks, files, floppy-disk
containers, etc.   The "recorder" photographs all the
equipment, just as it stands -- especially the tangle
of wired connections in the back, which can
otherwise be a real nightmare to restore.  The
recorder will also commonly photograph every room
in the house, lest some wily criminal claim that the
police had robbed him during the search.   Some
recorders carry videocams or tape recorders;
however, it's more common for the recorder to
simply take written notes.  Objects are described
and numbered as the finder seizes them, generally
on standard preprinted police inventory forms.

        Even Secret Service agents were not, and are
not, expert computer users.  They have not made,
and do not make, judgements on the fly about
potential threats posed by various forms of
equipment.   They may exercise discretion; they may
leave Dad his computer, for instance, but they don't
*have* to.   Standard computer-crime search
warrants, which date back to the early 80s, use a
sweeping language that targets computers,  most
anything attached to a computer, most anything
used to operate a computer -- most anything that
remotely resembles a computer -- plus most any
and all written documents surrounding it.
Computer-crime investigators have strongly urged
agents to seize the works.

        In this sense, Operation Sundevil appears to
have been a complete success.  Boards went down
all over America, and were shipped en masse to the
computer investigation lab of the Secret Service, in
Washington DC, along with the 23,000 floppy disks
and unknown quantities of printed material.

        But the seizure of twenty-five boards, and the
multi-megabyte mountains of possibly useful
evidence contained in these boards (and in their
owners' other computers, also out the door), were far
from the only motives for Operation Sundevil.   An
unprecedented action of great ambition and size,
Sundevil's motives can only be described as
political.   It was a public-relations effort, meant to
pass certain messages, meant to make certain
situations clear:  both in the mind of the general
public, and in the minds of various constituencies of
the electronic community.

         First  -- and this motivation was vital -- a
"message" would be sent from law enforcement to
the digital underground.   This very message was
recited in so many words by Garry M. Jenkins, the
Assistant Director of the US Secret Service, at the
Sundevil press conference in Phoenix on May 9,
1990, immediately after the raids.   In brief, hackers
were mistaken in their foolish belief that they could
hide behind the "relative anonymity of their
computer terminals."  On the contrary, they should
fully understand that state and federal cops were
actively patrolling the beat in cyberspace -- that they
were on the watch everywhere, even in those sleazy
and secretive dens of cybernetic vice, the
underground boards.

        This is not an unusual message for police to
publicly convey to crooks.   The message is a
standard message; only the context is new.

        In this respect,  the Sundevil raids were the
digital equivalent of the standard vice-squad
crackdown on massage parlors, porno bookstores,
head-shops,  or floating crap-games.  There may be
few or no arrests in a raid of this sort; no convictions,
no trials, no interrogations.   In cases of this sort,
police may well walk out the door with many pounds
of sleazy magazines, X-rated videotapes, sex toys,
gambling equipment, baggies of marijuana....

        Of course, if something truly horrendous is
discovered by the raiders, there will be arrests and
prosecutions.   Far more likely, however, there will
simply be a brief but sharp disruption of the closed
and secretive world of the nogoodniks.  There will be
"street hassle."  "Heat."  "Deterrence."  And, of
course, the immediate loss of the seized goods.  It is
very unlikely that any of this seized material will ever
be returned.   Whether charged or not, whether
convicted or not, the perpetrators will almost surely
lack the nerve ever to ask for this stuff to be given

        Arrests and trials -- putting people in jail -- may
involve all kinds of formal legalities; but dealing with
the justice system is far from the only task of police.
Police do not simply arrest people.  They don't
simply put people in jail.   That is not how the police
perceive their jobs.  Police "protect and serve."
Police "keep the peace," they "keep public order."
Like other forms of public relations, keeping public
order is not an exact science.  Keeping public order
is something of an art-form.

        If a group of tough-looking teenage hoodlums
was loitering on a street-corner, no one would be
surprised to see a street-cop arrive and sternly order
them to "break it up."   On the contrary, the surprise
would come if one of these ne'er-do-wells stepped
briskly into a phone-booth, called a civil rights
lawyer, and instituted a civil suit in defense of his
Constitutional rights of free speech and free
assembly.  But  something much  along this line was
one of the many anomolous outcomes of the Hacker

        Sundevil also carried useful "messages" for
other constituents of the electronic community.
These messages may not have been read aloud
from the Phoenix podium in front of the press corps,
but there was little mistaking their meaning.  There
was a message of reassurance for the primary
victims of coding and carding:  the telcos, and the
credit companies.  Sundevil was greeted with joy by
the security officers of the electronic business
community.   After years of high-tech harassment
and spiralling revenue losses, their complaints of
rampant outlawry were being taken seriously by law
enforcement.  No more head-scratching or
dismissive shrugs; no more feeble excuses about
"lack of computer-trained officers" or the low priority
of "victimless" white-collar telecommunication

        Computer-crime experts have long believed
that computer-related offenses are drastically
under-reported.   They regard this as a major open
scandal of their field.  Some victims are reluctant to
come forth, because they believe that police and
prosecutors are not computer-literate, and can and
will do nothing.  Others are embarrassed by their
vulnerabilities, and will take strong measures to
avoid any publicity; this is especially true of banks,
who fear a loss of investor confidence should an
embezzlement-case or wire-fraud surface.   And
some victims are so helplessly confused by their own
high technology that they never even realize that a
crime has occurred -- even when they have been
fleeced to the bone.

        The results of this situation can be dire.
Criminals escape apprehension and punishment.
The computer-crime units that do exist, can't get
work.   The true scope of computer-crime:  its size, its
real nature, the scope of its threats, and the legal
remedies for it -- all remain obscured.

        Another problem is very little publicized, but it
is a cause of genuine concern.  Where there is
persistent crime, but no effective police protection,
then vigilantism can result.   Telcos, banks, credit
companies, the major corporations who maintain
extensive computer networks vulnerable to hacking
-- these organizations are powerful, wealthy, and
politically influential.   They are disinclined to be
pushed around by crooks (or by most anyone else,
for that matter).  They often maintain well-organized
private security forces, commonly run by
experienced veterans of military and police units,
who have left public service for the greener pastures
of the private sector.   For police, the corporate
security manager can be a powerful ally; but if this
gentleman finds no allies in the police, and the
pressure is on from his board-of-directors, he may
quietly take certain matters into his own hands.

        Nor is there any lack of disposable hired-help in
the corporate security business.  Private security
agencies -- the 'security business' generally -- grew
explosively in the 1980s.  Today there are spooky
gumshoed armies of "security consultants," "rent-a-
cops," "private eyes,"  "outside experts" --  every
manner of shady operator who retails in "results"
and discretion.   Or course, many of these
gentlemen and ladies may be  paragons of
professional and moral rectitude.  But as anyone
who has read a hard-boiled detective novel knows,
police tend to be less than fond of this sort of
private-sector competition.

        Companies in search of computer-security have
even been known to hire hackers.   Police shudder at
this prospect.

        Police treasure good relations with the business
community.   Rarely will you see a policeman so
indiscreet as to  allege publicly that some major
employer in his state or city has succumbed to
paranoia and gone off the rails.  Nevertheless, police
-- and computer police in particular -- are aware of
this possibility.   Computer-crime police can and do
spend up to half of their business hours just doing
public relations:  seminars, "dog and pony shows,"
sometimes with parents' groups or computer users,
but generally with their core audience: the likely
victims of hacking crimes.  These, of course, are
telcos, credit card companies and large computer-
equipped corporations.   The police strongly urge
these people, as good citizens, to report offenses and
press criminal charges; they pass the message that
there is someone in authority who cares,
understands, and, best of all, will take useful action
should a computer-crime occur.

        But reassuring talk is cheap.  Sundevil offered

        The final message of Sundevil was intended for
internal consumption by law enforcement.  Sundevil
was offered as proof that the community of
American computer-crime police  had come of age.
Sundevil was proof that enormous things like
Sundevil itself could now be accomplished.
Sundevil was proof that the Secret Service and its
local law-enforcement allies could act like a well-
oiled machine -- (despite the hampering use of
those scrambled phones).   It was also proof that the
Arizona Organized Crime and Racketeering Unit  --
the sparkplug of Sundevil -- ranked with the best in
the world in ambition, organization, and sheer
conceptual daring.

        And, as a final fillip, Sundevil was a message
from the Secret Service to their longtime rivals in the
Federal Bureau of Investigation.  By Congressional
fiat, both USSS and FBI formally share jurisdiction
over federal computer-crimebusting activities.
Neither of these groups has ever been remotely
happy with this muddled situation.  It seems to
suggest that Congress cannot make up its mind as to
which of these groups is better qualified.   And there
is scarcely a G-man or a Special Agent anywhere
without a very firm opinion on that topic.


           For the neophyte, one of the most puzzling
aspects of the crackdown on hackers is why the
United States Secret Service has anything at all to do
with this matter.

        The Secret Service is best known for its primary
public role:  its agents protect the President of the
United States.  They also guard the President's
family, the Vice President and his family, former
Presidents, and Presidential candidates.   They
sometimes guard foreign dignitaries who are visiting
the United States, especially foreign heads of state,
and have been known to accompany American
officials on diplomatic missions overseas.

        Special Agents of the Secret Service don't wear
uniforms, but the Secret Service also has two
uniformed police agencies.  There's the former
White House Police  (now known as the Secret
Service Uniformed Division, since they currently
guard foreign embassies in Washington, as well as
the White House itself).  And there's the uniformed
Treasury Police Force.

        The Secret Service has been charged by
Congress with a number of little-known duties.
They guard the precious metals in Treasury vaults.
They guard the most valuable historical documents
of the United States:  originals of the Constitution,
the Declaration of Independence, Lincoln's Second
Inaugural Address, an American-owned copy of the
Magna Carta, and so forth.   Once they were
assigned to guard the Mona Lisa, on her American
tour in the 1960s.

        The entire Secret Service is a division of the
Treasury Department.   Secret Service Special
Agents (there are about 1,900 of them)  are
bodyguards for the President et al, but they all work
for the Treasury.  And the Treasury (through its
divisions of the U.S. Mint and the Bureau of
Engraving and Printing) prints the nation's money.

        As Treasury police, the Secret Service guards
the nation's currency; it is the only federal law
enforcement agency with direct jurisdiction over
counterfeiting and forgery.  It analyzes documents
for authenticity, and its fight against  fake cash is still
quite lively (especially since the skilled
counterfeiters of Medellin, Columbia have gotten
into the act).   Government checks, bonds, and other
obligations, which exist in untold millions and are
worth untold billions, are common targets for
forgery, which the Secret Service also battles.   It
even handles forgery of postage stamps.

        But cash is fading in importance today as
money has become electronic.  As necessity
beckoned, the Secret Service moved from fighting
the counterfeiting of paper currency and the forging
of checks, to the protection of funds transferred by

        From wire-fraud, it was a simple skip-and-jump
to what is formally known as "access device fraud."
Congress granted the Secret Service the authority to
investigate "access device fraud"  under Title 18 of
the United States Code (U.S.C.  Section 1029).

        The term "access device" seems intuitively
simple.  It's some kind of high-tech gizmo you use to
get money with.  It makes good sense to put this sort
of thing in the charge of counterfeiting and wire-
fraud experts.

        However, in Section 1029, the term "access
device" is very generously defined.  An access device
is: "any card, plate, code, account number, or other
means of account access that can be used, alone or
in conjunction with another access device, to obtain
money, goods, services, or any other thing of value,
or that can be used to initiate a transfer of funds."

        "Access device" can therefore be construed to
include credit cards themselves (a popular forgery
item nowadays).  It also includes credit card account
*numbers,* those standards of the digital
underground.   The same goes for telephone charge
cards (an increasingly popular item with telcos, who
are tired of being robbed of pocket change by
phone-booth thieves).   And also telephone access
*codes,* those *other* standards of the digital
underground.  (Stolen telephone codes may not
"obtain money," but they certainly do obtain
valuable "services," which is specifically forbidden
by Section 1029.)

        We can now see that Section 1029 already pits
the United States Secret Service directly against the
digital underground, without any mention at all of
the word "computer."

        Standard phreaking devices, like "blue boxes,"
used to steal phone service from old-fashioned
mechanical switches, are unquestionably
"counterfeit access devices."   Thanks to Sec.1029, it
is not only illegal to *use* counterfeit access devices,
but it is even illegal to *build* them.   "Producing,"
"designing" "duplicating" or "assembling" blue
boxes are all federal crimes today, and if you do this,
the Secret Service has been charged by Congress to
come after you.

        Automatic Teller Machines, which replicated all
over America during the 1980s, are definitely "access
devices," too, and an attempt to tamper with their
punch-in codes and plastic bank cards falls directly
under Sec. 1029.

        Section 1029 is remarkably elastic.  Suppose you
find a computer password in somebody's trash.  That
password might be a "code" -- it's certainly a "means
of account access."  Now suppose you log on to a
computer and copy some software for yourself.
You've certainly obtained "service" (computer
service)  and a "thing of value" (the software).
Suppose you tell a dozen friends about your swiped
password, and let them use it, too.  Now you're
"trafficking in unauthorized access devices."  And
when the Prophet, a member of the Legion of Doom,
passed a stolen telephone company document to
Knight Lightning at *Phrack* magazine, they were
both charged under Sec. 1029!

        There are two limitations on Section 1029.  First,
the offense must "affect interstate or foreign
commerce" in order to become a matter of federal
jurisdiction.  The term "affecting commerce" is not
well defined; but you may take it as a given that the
Secret Service can take an interest if you've done
most anything that happens to cross a state line.
State and local police can be touchy about their
jurisdictions, and can sometimes be mulish when
the feds show up.   But when it comes to computer-
crime, the local police are pathetically grateful for
federal help -- in fact they complain that they can't
get enough of it.   If you're stealing long-distance
service, you're almost certainly crossing state lines,
and you're definitely "affecting the interstate
commerce" of the telcos.  And if you're abusing
credit cards by ordering stuff out of glossy catalogs
from, say, Vermont, you're in for it.

        The second limitation is money.  As a rule, the
feds don't pursue penny-ante offenders.  Federal
judges will dismiss cases that appear to waste their
time.  Federal crimes must be serious;  Section 1029
specifies a minimum loss of a thousand dollars.

        We now come to the very next section of Title
18, which is Section 1030, "Fraud and related activity
in connection with computers."  This statute gives
the Secret Service direct jurisdiction over acts of
computer intrusion.  On the face of it, the Secret
Service would now seem to command the field.
Section 1030, however, is nowhere near so ductile as
Section 1029.

        The first annoyance is Section 1030(d), which

        "(d) The United States Secret Service shall, *in
addition to any other agency having such authority,*
have the authority to investigate offenses under this
section.  Such authority of the United States Secret
Service shall be exercised in accordance with an
agreement which shall be entered into by the
Secretary  of the Treasury *and the Attorney
General.*"   (Author's  italics.)

        The Secretary of the Treasury is the titular head
of the Secret Service, while the Attorney General is
in charge of the FBI.  In Section (d), Congress
shrugged off responsibility for the computer-crime
turf-battle between the Service and the Bureau, and
made them fight it out all by themselves.  The result
was a rather dire one for the Secret Service, for the
FBI ended up with exclusive jurisdiction over
computer break-ins having to do with national
security, foreign espionage, federally insured banks,
and U.S. military bases, while retaining joint
jurisdiction over all the other computer intrusions.
Essentially, when it comes to Section 1030, the FBI
not only gets the real glamor stuff for itself, but can
peer over the shoulder of the Secret Service and
barge in to meddle whenever it suits them.

        The second problem has to do with the dicey
term "Federal interest computer."  Section 1030(a)(2)
makes it illegal to "access a computer without
authorization" if that computer belongs to a
financial institution or an issuer of credit cards
(fraud cases, in other words).   Congress was quite
willing to give the Secret Service jurisdiction over
money-transferring computers, but Congress balked
at letting them investigate any and all computer
intrusions.   Instead, the USSS had to settle for the
money machines and the "Federal interest
computers."   A "Federal interest computer" is a
computer which the government itself owns, or is
using.  Large networks of interstate computers,
linked over state lines, are also considered to be of
"Federal interest."   (This notion of "Federal interest"
is legally rather foggy and has never been clearly
defined in the courts.  The Secret Service has never
yet had its hand slapped for investigating computer
break-ins that were *not* of "Federal interest," but
conceivably someday this might happen.)

        So the Secret Service's authority over
"unauthorized access" to computers covers a lot of
territory, but by no means the whole ball of
cyberspatial wax.   If you are, for instance, a *local*
computer retailer, or the owner of a *local* bulletin
board system, then a malicious *local* intruder can
break in, crash your system, trash your files and
scatter viruses, and the U.S.  Secret Service cannot
do a single thing about it.

        At least, it can't do anything *directly.*   But the
Secret Service will do plenty to help the local people
who can.

        The FBI may have dealt itself an ace off the
bottom of the deck when it comes to Section 1030;
but that's not the whole story; that's not the street.
What's Congress thinks is one thing, and Congress
has been known to change its mind.  The *real* turf-
struggle is out there in the streets where it's
happening.    If you're a local street-cop with a
computer problem, the Secret Service wants you to
know where you can find the real expertise.  While
the Bureau crowd are off having their favorite shoes
polished -- (wing-tips) -- and making derisive fun of
the Service's favorite shoes -- ("pansy-ass tassels") --
the tassel-toting Secret Service has a crew of ready-
and-able  hacker-trackers installed in the capital of
every state in the Union.   Need advice?  They'll give
you advice, or at least point you in the right
direction.  Need training?  They can see to that, too.

        If you're a local cop and you call in the FBI, the
FBI (as is widely and slanderously rumored)  will
order you around like a coolie, take all the credit for
your busts, and mop up every possible scrap of
reflected glory.  The Secret Service, on the other
hand, doesn't brag a lot.  They're the quiet types.
*Very* quiet.  Very cool.  Efficient.  High-tech.
Mirrorshades, icy stares, radio ear-plugs, an Uzi
machine-pistol tucked somewhere in that well-cut
jacket.  American samurai, sworn to give their lives
to protect our President.  "The granite agents."
Trained in martial arts, absolutely fearless.  Every
single one of 'em has a top-secret security clearance.
Something goes a little wrong, you're not gonna hear
any whining and moaning and political buck-
passing out of these guys.

        The facade of the granite agent is not, of course,
the reality.  Secret Service agents are human beings.
And the real glory in Service work is not in battling
computer crime -- not yet, anyway -- but in
protecting the President.  The real glamour of Secret
Service work is in the White House Detail.   If you're
at the President's side, then the kids and the wife see
you on television; you rub shoulders with the most
powerful people in the world.   That's the real heart
of Service work, the number one priority.  More than
one computer investigation has stopped dead in the
water when Service agents vanished at the
President's need.

        There's romance in the work of the Service.  The
intimate access to circles of great power;  the esprit-
de-corps of a highly trained and disciplined elite; the
high responsibility of defending the Chief Executive;
the fulfillment of a patriotic duty.   And as police
work goes, the pay's not bad.  But there's squalor in
Service work, too.  You may get spat upon by
protesters howling abuse -- and if they get violent, if
they get too close, sometimes you have to knock one
of them down -- discreetly.

        The real squalor in Service work is drudgery
such as "the quarterlies," traipsing out four times a
year, year in, year out, to interview the various
pathetic wretches, many of them in prisons and
asylums, who have seen fit to threaten the
President's life.   And then there's the grinding stress
of searching  all those faces in the endless bustling
crowds, looking for hatred, looking for psychosis,
looking for the tight, nervous face of an Arthur
Bremer, a Squeaky Fromme, a Lee Harvey Oswald.
It's watching all those grasping, waving hands for
sudden movements, while your ears strain at your
radio headphone for the long-rehearsed cry of

        It's poring, in grinding detail, over the
biographies of every rotten loser who ever shot at a
President.  It's the unsung work of the Protective
Research Section, who study scrawled, anonymous
death threats with all the meticulous tools of anti-
forgery techniques.

        And it's maintaining the hefty computerized
files on anyone who ever threatened the President's
life.  Civil libertarians have become increasingly
concerned at the Government's use of computer
files to track American citizens -- but the Secret
Service file of potential Presidential assassins, which
has upward of twenty thousand names, rarely
causes a peep of protest.  If you *ever* state that you
intend to kill the President, the Secret Service will
want to know and record who you are, where you are,
what you are, and what you're up to.   If you're a
serious threat -- if you're officially considered "of
protective interest" -- then the Secret Service may
well keep tabs on you for the rest of your natural life.

        Protecting the President has first call on all the
Service's resources.  But there's a lot more to the
Service's traditions and history than standing guard
outside the Oval Office.

        The Secret Service is the nation's oldest general
federal law-enforcement agency.   Compared to the
Secret Service, the FBI are new-hires and the CIA
are temps.  The Secret Service was founded 'way
back in 1865, at the suggestion of Hugh McCulloch,
Abraham Lincoln's Secretary of the Treasury.
McCulloch wanted a specialized Treasury police to
combat counterfeiting.  Abraham Lincoln agreed
that this seemed a good idea, and, with a terrible
irony, Abraham Lincoln was shot that very night by
John Wilkes Booth.

        The Secret Service originally had nothing to do
with protecting Presidents.  They didn't take this on
as a regular assignment until after the Garfield
assassination in 1881.   And they didn't get any
Congressional money for it until President McKinley
was shot in 1901.   The Service was originally
designed for one purpose: destroying counterfeiters.


        There are interesting parallels between the
Service's nineteenth-century entry into
counterfeiting, and America's twentieth-century
entry into computer-crime.

        In 1865, America's paper currency was a terrible
muddle.  Security was drastically bad.  Currency was
printed on the spot by local banks in literally
hundreds of different designs.  No one really knew
what the heck a dollar bill was supposed to look like.
Bogus bills passed easily.  If some joker told you that
a one-dollar bill from the Railroad Bank of Lowell,
Massachusetts had a woman leaning on a shield,
with a locomotive, a cornucopia, a compass, various
agricultural implements, a railroad bridge, and
some factories, then you pretty much had to take his
word for it.  (And in fact he was telling the truth!)

          *Sixteen hundred* local American banks
designed and printed their own paper currency, and
there were no general standards for security.  Like a
badly guarded node in a computer network, badly
designed bills were easy to fake, and  posed a
security hazard for the entire monetary system.

        No one knew the exact extent of the threat to
the currency.  There were panicked estimates that as
much as a third of the entire national currency was
faked.  Counterfeiters -- known as "boodlers" in the
underground slang of the time -- were  mostly
technically skilled printers who had gone to the bad.
Many had once worked printing legitimate currency.
Boodlers operated in rings and gangs.   Technical
experts engraved the bogus plates -- commonly in
basements in New York City.  Smooth confidence
men passed large wads of high-quality, high-
denomination fakes, including the really
sophisticated stuff --  government bonds, stock
certificates, and railway shares.  Cheaper, botched
fakes were sold or sharewared to low-level gangs of
boodler wannabes.  (The really cheesy lowlife
boodlers merely upgraded real bills by altering face
values, changing ones to fives, tens to hundreds, and
so on.)

        The techniques of boodling were little-known
and regarded with a certain awe by the mid-
nineteenth-century  public.  The ability to
manipulate the system for rip-off seemed
diabolically clever.  As the skill and daring of the
boodlers increased, the situation became
intolerable.  The federal government stepped in,
and began offering its own federal currency, which
was printed in fancy green ink, but only on the back -
- the original "greenbacks."  And at first, the
improved security of the well-designed, well-printed
federal greenbacks seemed to solve the problem;
but then the counterfeiters caught on.  Within a few
years things were worse than ever:  a *centralized*
system where *all* security was bad!

        The local police were helpless.  The
Government tried offering blood money to potential
informants, but this met with little success.  Banks,
plagued by boodling, gave up hope of police help
and hired private security men instead.  Merchants
and bankers queued up by the thousands to buy
privately-printed manuals on currency security, slim
little books like Laban Heath's  *Infallible
Government Counterfeit Detector.*  The back of the
book offered Laban Heath's patent microscope for
five bucks.

        Then the Secret Service entered the picture.
The first agents were a rough and ready crew.   Their
chief was one William P. Wood, a former guerilla in
the Mexican War who'd won a reputation busting
contractor fraudsters for the War Department
during the Civil War.   Wood, who was also Keeper
of the Capital Prison, had a sideline as a
counterfeiting expert, bagging boodlers for the
federal bounty money.

        Wood was named Chief of the new Secret
Service in July 1865.  There were only ten  Secret
Service agents in all:  Wood himself, a handful
who'd worked for him in the War Department, and a
few former private investigators -- counterfeiting
experts -- whom Wood had won over to public
service.   (The Secret Service of 1865 was much the
size of the Chicago Computer Fraud Task Force or
the Arizona Racketeering Unit of 1990.)  These ten
"Operatives" had an additional twenty or so
"Assistant Operatives" and "Informants."   Besides
salary and per diem, each Secret Service employee
received a whopping twenty-five dollars for each
boodler he captured.

        Wood himself publicly estimated that at least
*half* of America's currency was counterfeit, a
perhaps pardonable perception.   Within a year the
Secret Service had arrested over 200 counterfeiters.
They busted about two hundred boodlers a year for
four years straight.

        Wood attributed his success to travelling fast
and light, hitting the bad-guys hard, and avoiding
bureaucratic baggage.  "Because my raids were
made without military escort and I did not ask the
assistance of state officers, I surprised the
professional counterfeiter."

        Wood's social message to the once-impudent
boodlers bore an eerie ring of Sundevil:  "It was also
my purpose to convince such characters that it
would no longer be healthy for them to ply their
vocation without being handled roughly, a fact they
soon discovered."

        William P. Wood, the Secret Service's guerilla
pioneer, did not end well.  He succumbed to the lure
of aiming for the really big score.  The notorious
Brockway Gang of New York City,  headed by
William E. Brockway, the "King of the
Counterfeiters," had forged a number of
government bonds.  They'd passed these brilliant
fakes on the prestigious Wall Street investment firm
of Jay Cooke and Company.  The Cooke firm were
frantic and offered a huge reward for the forgers'

        Laboring diligently, Wood confiscated the
plates (though not Mr. Brockway) and claimed the
reward.  But the Cooke company treacherously
reneged.   Wood got involved in a down-and-dirty
lawsuit with the Cooke capitalists.   Wood's boss,
Secretary of the Treasury McCulloch, felt that
Wood's demands for money and glory were
unseemly, and even when the reward money finally
came through, McCulloch refused to pay Wood
anything.   Wood found himself mired in a
seemingly endless round of federal suits and
Congressional lobbying.

        Wood never got his money.  And he lost his job
to boot.  He resigned in 1869.

        Wood's agents suffered, too.  On May 12, 1869,
the second Chief of the Secret Service took over, and
almost immediately fired most of Wood's pioneer
Secret Service agents:   Operatives, Assistants and
Informants alike.  The practice of receiving $25 per
crook was abolished.   And the Secret Service began
the long, uncertain process of thorough

        Wood ended badly.  He must have felt stabbed
in the back.  In fact his entire organization was

        On the other hand, William P. Wood *was* the
first head of the Secret Service.  William Wood was
the pioneer.  People still honor his name.  Who
remembers the name of the *second* head of the
Secret Service?

        As for William Brockway (also known as
"Colonel Spencer"), he was finally arrested by the
Secret Service in 1880.  He did five years in prison,
got out, and was still boodling at the age of seventy-

        Anyone with an interest in  Operation Sundevil -
- or in American computer-crime generally -- could
scarcely miss the presence of Gail Thackeray,
Assistant Attorney General of the State of Arizona.
Computer-crime training manuals often cited
Thackeray's group and her work;  she was the
highest-ranking state official to specialize in
computer-related offenses.   Her name had been on
the Sundevil press release (though modestly ranked
well after the local federal prosecuting attorney and
the head of the Phoenix Secret Service office).

        As public commentary, and controversy, began
to mount about the Hacker Crackdown, this
Arizonan state official began to take a higher and
higher public profile.  Though uttering almost
nothing specific about the Sundevil operation itself,
she coined some of the most striking soundbites of
the growing propaganda war:  "Agents are operating
in good faith, and I don't think you can say that for
the hacker community," was one.  Another was the
memorable "I am not a mad dog prosecutor"
(*Houston Chronicle,*  Sept 2, 1990.)  In the
meantime, the Secret Service maintained its usual
extreme discretion; the Chicago Unit, smarting from
the backlash of the Steve Jackson scandal, had gone
completely to earth.

        As I collated my growing pile of newspaper
clippings, Gail Thackeray ranked as a comparative
fount of public knowledge on police operations.

        I decided that I  had to get to know Gail
Thackeray.   I wrote to her at the Arizona Attorney
General's Office.   Not only did she kindly reply to
me, but, to my astonishment, she knew very well
what "cyberpunk" science fiction was.

        Shortly after this, Gail Thackeray lost her job.
And I temporarily misplaced my own career as a
science-fiction writer, to become a full-time
computer-crime journalist.   In early March, 1991, I
flew to Phoenix, Arizona, to interview Gail Thackeray
for my book on the hacker crackdown.

        "Credit cards didn't used to cost anything to
get," says Gail Thackeray.  "Now they cost forty
bucks -- and that's all just to cover the costs from
*rip-off artists.*"

        Electronic nuisance criminals are parasites.
One by one they're not much harm, no big deal.  But
they never come just one by one. They come in
swarms, heaps, legions, sometimes whole
subcultures.  And they bite.  Every time we buy a
credit card today, we lose a little financial vitality to a
particular species of bloodsucker.

        What, in her expert opinion, are the worst forms
of electronic crime, I ask, consulting my notes.  Is it --
credit card fraud?  Breaking into ATM bank
machines?  Phone-phreaking?  Computer
intrusions?  Software viruses?  Access-code theft?
Records tampering?  Software piracy?  Pornographic
bulletin boards? Satellite TV piracy?  Theft of cable
service?   It's a long list.  By the time I reach the end
of it I feel rather depressed.

        "Oh no," says Gail Thackeray, leaning forward
over the table, her whole body gone stiff with
energetic indignation, "the biggest damage is
telephone fraud.  Fake sweepstakes, fake charities.
Boiler-room con operations.  You could pay off the
national debt with what these guys steal....  They
target old people, they get hold of credit ratings and
demographics, they rip off the old and the weak."
The words come tumbling out of her.

        It's low-tech stuff, your everyday boiler-room
fraud.  Grifters, conning people out of money over
the phone, have been around for decades.  This is
where the word "phony" came from!

        It's just that it's so much *easier* now, horribly
facilitated by advances in technology and the
byzantine structure of the modern phone system.
The same professional fraudsters do it over and
over, Thackeray tells me, they hide behind dense
onion-shells of fake companies.... fake holding
corporations nine or ten layers deep, registered all
over the map.  They get a phone installed under a
false name in an empty safe-house.  And then they
call-forward everything out of that phone to yet
another phone,  a phone that may even be in
another *state.*  And they don't even pay the
charges on their phones; after a month or so, they
just split.  Set up somewhere else in another
Podunkville with the same seedy crew of veteran
phone-crooks.  They buy or steal commercial credit
card reports, slap them on the PC, have a program
pick out people over sixty-five  who pay a lot to
charities.  A whole subculture living off this,
merciless folks on the con.

        "The 'light-bulbs for the blind' people,"
Thackeray muses, with a special loathing.  "There's
just no end to them."

        We're sitting in a downtown diner in Phoenix,
Arizona.  It's a tough town, Phoenix.  A state capital
seeing some hard times.  Even to a Texan like
myself, Arizona state politics seem rather baroque.
There was, and remains, endless trouble over the
Martin Luther King holiday, the sort of stiff-necked,
foot-shooting incident for which Arizona politics
seem famous.  There was Evan Mecham, the
eccentric Republican millionaire governor who was
impeached, after reducing state government to a
ludicrous shambles.  Then there was the national
Keating scandal, involving Arizona savings and
loans, in which both  of Arizona's  U.S. senators,
DeConcini and McCain, played sadly prominent

        And the very latest is the bizarre AzScam case,
in which state legislators were videotaped, eagerly
taking cash from an informant of the Phoenix city
police department, who was posing as a Vegas

        "Oh," says Thackeray cheerfully.  "These people
are amateurs here, they thought they were finally
getting to play with the big boys.  They don't have the
least idea how to take a bribe!  It's not institutional
corruption.  It's not  like back in Philly."

        Gail Thackeray was a former prosecutor in
Philadelphia.  Now she's a former assistant attorney
general of the State of Arizona.  Since  moving to
Arizona in 1986, she had worked under the aegis of
Steve Twist,  her boss in the Attorney General's
office.  Steve Twist wrote Arizona's pioneering
computer crime laws and naturally took an interest
in seeing them enforced. It was a snug niche, and
Thackeray's Organized Crime and Racketeering
Unit won a national reputation for ambition and
technical knowledgeability....  Until the latest
election in Arizona.  Thackeray's boss ran for the top
job, and lost.  The victor, the new Attorney General,
apparently went to some pains to eliminate the
bureaucratic traces of his rival, including his pet
group -- Thackeray's group.   Twelve people got their
walking papers.

        Now Thackeray's painstakingly assembled
computer lab sits gathering dust somewhere in the
glass-and-concrete Attorney General's HQ on 1275
Washington Street.  Her computer-crime books, her
painstakingly garnered back issues of phreak and
hacker zines, all bought at her own expense -- are
piled in boxes somewhere.  The State of Arizona is
simply not particularly interested in electronic
racketeering at the moment.

        At the moment of our interview, Gail Thackeray,
officially unemployed, is working out of the county
sheriff's office, living on her savings, and prosecuting
several cases -- working 60-hour weeks, just as always
-- for no pay at all.  "I'm trying to train people," she

        Half her life seems to be spent training people -
- merely pointing out, to the naive and incredulous
(such as myself) that this stuff is *actually going on
out there.*  It's a small world, computer crime.  A
young world.   Gail Thackeray, a trim blonde Baby-
Boomer who favors Grand Canyon white-water
rafting to kill some slow time, is one of the world's
most senior, most veteran "hacker-trackers."   Her
mentor was Donn Parker,  the California think-tank
theorist who got it all started 'way back in the mid-
70s, the "grandfather of the field,"  "the great bald
eagle of computer crime."

        And what she has learned, Gail Thackeray
teaches.  Endlessly. Tirelessly.  To anybody.  To
Secret Service agents and state police, at the Glynco,
Georgia federal training center.  To local police, on
"roadshows" with her slide projector and notebook.
To corporate security personnel.  To journalists.  To

         Even *crooks* look to Gail Thackeray for advice.
Phone-phreaks call her at the office.  They know very
well who she is.  They pump her for information on
what the cops are up to, how much they know.
Sometimes whole *crowds* of phone phreaks,
hanging out on illegal conference calls, will call Gail
Thackeray up.  They taunt her.  And, as always, they
boast.  Phone-phreaks, real stone phone-phreaks,
simply *cannot shut up.*  They natter on for hours.

        Left to themselves, they mostly talk about the
intricacies of ripping-off phones; it's about as
interesting as listening to hot-rodders talk about
suspension and distributor-caps.  They also gossip
cruelly about each other.  And when talking to Gail
Thackeray, they incriminate themselves.   "I have
tapes," Thackeray says coolly.

        Phone phreaks just talk like crazy.  "Dial-Tone"
out in Alabama has been known to spend half-an-
hour simply reading stolen phone-codes aloud into
voice-mail answering machines.  Hundreds,
thousands of numbers, recited in a monotone,
without a break -- an eerie phenomenon.  When
arrested, it's a rare phone phreak who doesn't
inform at endless length on everybody he knows.

        Hackers are no better.  What other group of
criminals, she asks rhetorically, publishes
newsletters and holds conventions?   She seems
deeply nettled by the sheer brazenness of this
behavior, though to an outsider, this activity might
make one wonder whether hackers should be
considered "criminals" at all.  Skateboarders have
magazines, and they trespass a lot.  Hot rod people
have magazines and they break speed limits and
sometimes kill people....

        I ask her whether it would be any loss to society
if phone phreaking and computer hacking, as
hobbies, simply dried up and blew away, so that
nobody ever did it again.

        She seems surprised.  "No," she says swiftly.
"Maybe a little... in the old days... the MIT stuff...  But
there's a lot of wonderful, legal stuff you can do with
computers now, you don't have to break into
somebody else's just to learn.  You don't have that
excuse. You can learn all you like."

        Did you ever hack into a system? I ask.

        The trainees do it at Glynco.  Just to
demonstrate system vulnerabilities.  She's cool to
the notion.  Genuinely indifferent.

        "What kind of computer do you have?"

        "A Compaq 286LE," she mutters.

        "What kind do you *wish* you had?"

        At this question, the unmistakable light of true
hackerdom flares in Gail Thackeray's eyes.  She
becomes tense, animated, the words pour out:  "An
Amiga 2000 with an IBM card and Mac emulation!
The most common hacker machines are Amigas
and Commodores.  And Apples."  If she had the
Amiga, she enthuses, she could run a whole galaxy
of seized computer-evidence disks on one
convenient multifunctional machine.  A cheap one,
too.  Not like the old Attorney General lab, where
they had an ancient CP/M machine, assorted
Amiga flavors and Apple flavors, a couple IBMS, all
the utility software... but no Commodores.  The
workstations down at the Attorney General's are
Wang dedicated word-processors.  Lame machines
tied in to an office net --  though at least they get on-
line to the Lexis and Westlaw legal data services.

        I don't say anything.  I recognize the syndrome,
though.  This computer-fever has been running
through segments of our society for years now.  It's a
strange kind of lust: K-hunger, Meg-hunger; but it's
a shared disease; it can kill parties dead, as
conversation spirals into the deepest and most
deviant recesses of software releases and expensive
peripherals....  The mark of the hacker beast.  I have
it too.  The whole "electronic community," whatever
the hell that is, has it.  Gail Thackeray has it.  Gail
Thackeray is a hacker cop.   My immediate reaction
is a strong rush of indignant pity:  *why doesn't
somebody buy this woman her Amiga?!*   It's not
like she's asking for a Cray X-MP supercomputer
mainframe; an Amiga's a sweet little  cookie-box
thing.  We're losing zillions in organized fraud;
prosecuting and defending a single hacker case in
court can cost a hundred grand easy.  How come
nobody can come up with four lousy grand so this
woman can do her job?  For a hundred grand we
could buy every computer cop in America an Amiga.
There aren't that many of 'em.

        Computers.  The lust, the hunger, for
computers.  The loyalty they inspire, the intense
sense of possessiveness.   The culture they have
bred.  I myself am sitting in  downtown Phoenix,
Arizona because it suddenly occurred to me that the
police might -- just *might* -- come and take away
my computer.  The prospect of this, the mere
*implied threat,*  was unbearable.  It literally
changed my life.  It was changing the lives of many
others.  Eventually it would change everybody's life.

        Gail Thackeray was one of the top computer-
crime people in America.  And I was just some
novelist, and yet I had a better computer than hers.
*Practically everybody I knew*  had a better
computer than Gail Thackeray and her feeble
laptop 286.  It was like sending the sheriff in to clean
up Dodge City and arming her with a slingshot cut
from an old rubber tire.

        But then again, you don't need a howitzer to
enforce the law.  You can do a lot just with a badge.
With a badge alone, you can basically wreak havoc,
take a terrible vengeance on wrongdoers.  Ninety
percent of "computer crime investigation" is just
"crime investigation:" names, places, dossiers,
modus operandi, search warrants, victims,
complainants, informants...

        What will computer crime look like in ten
years?  Will it get better?  Did "Sundevil" send 'em
reeling back in confusion?

        It'll be like it is now,  only worse, she tells me
with perfect conviction.  Still there in the
background, ticking along, changing with the times:
the criminal underworld.  It'll be like drugs are.  Like
our problems with alcohol.  All the cops and laws in
the world never solved our problems with alcohol.  If
there's something people want, a certain percentage
of them are just going to take it.  Fifteen percent of
the populace will never steal.  Fifteen percent will
steal most anything not nailed down.  The battle is
for the hearts and minds of the remaining seventy

        And criminals catch on fast.  If there's not "too
steep a learning curve" -- if it doesn't require a
baffling amount of expertise and practice -- then
criminals are often some of the first through the gate
of a new technology.  Especially if it helps them to
hide.  They have tons of cash, criminals.  The new
communications tech -- like pagers, cellular phones,
faxes, Federal Express -- were pioneered by rich
corporate people, and by criminals.  In the early
years of pagers and beepers, dope dealers were so
enthralled this technology that owing a beeper was
practically prima facie evidence of cocaine dealing.
CB radio exploded when the speed limit hit 55 and
breaking the highway law became a national
pastime.  Dope dealers send cash by  Federal
Express, despite, or perhaps *because of,* the
warnings in FedEx offices that tell you never to try
this.  Fed Ex uses X-rays and dogs on their mail, to
stop drug shipments.  That doesn't work very well.

        Drug dealers went wild over cellular phones.
There are simple methods of faking ID on cellular
phones, making the location of the call mobile, free
of charge, and effectively untraceable.  Now
victimized cellular companies routinely bring in vast
toll-lists of calls to Colombia and Pakistan.

        Judge Greene's fragmentation of the phone
company is driving law enforcement nuts.  Four
thousand telecommunications companies.  Fraud
skyrocketing.  Every temptation in the world
available with a phone and a credit card number.
Criminals untraceable.  A galaxy of "new neat rotten
things to do."

         If there were one thing Thackeray would like to
have, it would be an effective legal end-run through
this new fragmentation minefield.

          It would be a new form of electronic search
warrant, an "electronic letter of marque" to be issued
by a judge.  It would create a new category of
"electronic emergency."   Like a wiretap, its use
would be rare, but it would cut across state lines and
force swift cooperation from all concerned.  Cellular,
phone, laser, computer network, PBXes, AT&T, Baby
Bells, long-distance entrepreneurs, packet radio.
Some document, some mighty court-order, that
could slice through four thousand separate forms of
corporate red-tape, and get her at once to the source
of calls, the source of email threats and viruses, the
sources of bomb threats, kidnapping threats.  "From
now on," she says, "the Lindberg baby will always

        Something that would make the Net sit still, if
only for a moment.  Something that would get her up
to speed.  Seven league boots.  That's what she really
needs.  "Those guys move in nanoseconds and I'm
on the Pony Express."

        And then, too, there's the  coming international
angle.  Electronic crime has never been easy to
localize, to tie to a physical jurisdiction.  And phone-
phreaks and hackers loathe boundaries, they jump
them whenever they can.  The English.  The Dutch.
And the Germans, especially the ubiquitous Chaos
Computer Club.  The Australians.  They've all
learned phone-phreaking from America.  It's a
growth mischief industry.  The multinational
networks are global, but governments and the police
simply aren't.  Neither are the laws.  Or the legal
frameworks for citizen protection.

        One language is global, though -- English.
Phone phreaks speak English; it's their native
tongue even if they're Germans.  English may have
started in England but now it's the Net language; it
might as well be called "CNNese."

        Asians just aren't much into phone phreaking.
They're the world masters at organized software
piracy.  The French aren't into phone-phreaking
either.  The French are into computerized industrial

        In the old days of the MIT righteous
hackerdom, crashing systems didn't hurt anybody.
Not all that much, anyway.  Not permanently.  Now
the players are more venal.  Now the consequences
are worse.  Hacking will begin killing people soon.
Already there are methods of stacking calls onto 911
systems, annoying the police, and possibly causing
the death of some poor soul calling in with a genuine
emergency.  Hackers in Amtrak computers, or air-
traffic control computers, will kill somebody
someday.  Maybe a lot of people.  Gail Thackeray
expects it.

        And the viruses are getting nastier.  The "Scud"
virus is the latest one out.  It wipes hard-disks.

        According to Thackeray, the idea that phone-
phreaks are Robin Hoods is a fraud.  They don't
deserve this repute.   Basically, they pick on the
weak.  AT&T now protects itself with the fearsome
ANI (Automatic Number Identification) trace
capability.  When AT&T wised up and tightened
security generally, the phreaks drifted into the Baby
Bells.  The Baby Bells lashed out in 1989 and 1990, so
the phreaks switched to smaller long-distance
entrepreneurs.  Today, they are moving into locally
owned PBXes and voice-mail systems, which are full
of security holes, dreadfully easy to hack.  These
victims aren't the moneybags Sheriff of Nottingham
or Bad King John, but small groups of innocent
people who find it hard to protect themselves, and
who really suffer from these depredations.  Phone
phreaks pick on the weak.  They do it for power.  If it
were legal, they wouldn't do it.  They don't want
service, or knowledge, they want the thrill of power-
tripping.   There's plenty of knowledge or service
around, if you're willing to pay.  Phone phreaks don't
pay, they steal.  It's because it is illegal that it feels
like power, that it gratifies their vanity.

        I leave Gail Thackeray with a handshake at the
door of her office building -- a vast International-
Style office building downtown.  The Sheriff's office is
renting part of it.  I get the vague impression that
quite a lot of the building is empty -- real estate

        In a Phoenix sports apparel store, in a downtown
mall, I meet the "Sun Devil" himself.  He is the
cartoon mascot of Arizona State University, whose
football stadium, "Sundevil," is near the local Secret
Service HQ -- hence the name Operation Sundevil.
The Sun Devil himself is named "Sparky."  Sparky
the Sun Devil is maroon and bright yellow, the
school colors.  Sparky brandishes a three-tined
yellow pitchfork.  He has a small mustache, pointed
ears, a barbed tail, and is dashing forward jabbing
the air with the pitchfork, with an expression of
devilish glee.

        Phoenix was the home of Operation Sundevil.
The Legion of Doom ran a hacker bulletin board
called "The Phoenix Project."  An Australian hacker
named "Phoenix"  once burrowed through the
Internet to attack Cliff Stoll, then bragged and
boasted about it to *The New York Times.*  This net
of coincidence is both odd and meaningless.

        The headquarters of the Arizona Attorney
General, Gail Thackeray's former workplace, is on
1275 Washington Avenue.  Many of the downtown
streets in Phoenix are named after prominent
American presidents:  Washington, Jefferson,

        After dark, all the employees go home to their
suburbs.  Washington, Jefferson and Madison --
what would be the Phoenix inner city, if there were
an inner city in this sprawling automobile-bred town
--  become the haunts of transients and derelicts.
The homeless. The sidewalks along Washington are
lined with orange trees.  Ripe fallen fruit lies
scattered like croquet balls on the sidewalks and
gutters.  No one seems to be eating them.  I try a
fresh one.  It tastes unbearably bitter.

          The Attorney General's office, built in 1981
during the Babbitt administration,  is a long low two-
story building of white cement and wall-sized sheets
of curtain-glass.  Behind each glass wall is a lawyer's
office, quite open and visible to anyone strolling by.
Across the street is a dour government building
labelled simply ECONOMIC SECURITY, something
that has not been in great supply in the American
Southwest lately.

        The offices  are about twelve feet square.  They
feature tall wooden cases full of red-spined
lawbooks; Wang computer monitors; telephones;
Post-it notes galore.  Also framed law diplomas and a
general excess of bad Western landscape art.  Ansel
Adams photos are a big favorite, perhaps to
compensate for the dismal specter of the parking-
lot, two acres of striped black asphalt, which features
gravel landscaping and some sickly-looking barrel

        It has grown dark.  Gail Thackeray has told me
that the people who work late here, are afraid of
muggings in the parking lot.  It seems cruelly ironic
that a woman tracing electronic racketeers across
the interstate labyrinth of Cyberspace should fear
an assault by a homeless derelict in the parking lot
of her own workplace.

        Perhaps this is less than coincidence.  Perhaps
these two seemingly disparate worlds are somehow
generating one another.  The poor and
disenfranchised take to the streets, while the rich
and computer-equipped, safe in their bedrooms,
chatter over their modems.  Quite often the derelicts
kick the glass out and break in to the lawyers' offices,
if they see something they need or want badly

        I cross  the parking lot to the street behind the
Attorney General's office.  A pair of young tramps
are bedding down on flattened sheets of cardboard,
under an alcove stretching over the sidewalk.  One
tramp wears a glitter-covered T-shirt reading
"CALIFORNIA" in Coca-Cola cursive.  His nose and
cheeks look chafed and swollen; they glisten with
what seems to be Vaseline.  The other tramp has a
ragged long-sleeved shirt and lank brown hair
parted in the middle. They both wear blue jeans
coated in grime.  They are both drunk.

        "You guys crash here a lot?" I ask them.

        They look at me warily.  I am wearing black
jeans, a black pinstriped suit jacket and a black silk
tie.  I have odd shoes and a funny haircut.

        "It's our first time here," says the red-nosed
tramp unconvincingly. There is a lot of cardboard
stacked here.  More than any two people could use.

        "We usually stay at the Vinnie's down the
street," says the brown-haired tramp, puffing a
Marlboro with a meditative air, as he sprawls with his
head on a blue nylon backpack.  "The Saint

        "You know who works in that building over
there?"  I ask, pointing.

        The brown-haired tramp shrugs.  "Some kind of
attorneys, it says."

`       We urge one another to take it easy.  I give
them five bucks.

        A block down the street I meet a vigorous
workman who is wheeling along some kind of
industrial trolley; it has what appears to be a tank of
propane on it.

         We make eye contact.  We nod politely.  I walk
past him.  "Hey!  Excuse me sir!" he says.

        "Yes?" I say, stopping and turning.

        "Have you seen," the guy says rapidly, "a black
guy, about 6'7", scars on both his cheeks like this --"
he gestures --  "wears a black baseball cap on
backwards, wandering around here anyplace?"

        "Sounds like I don't much *want* to meet him," I

        "He took my wallet," says my new acquaintance.
"Took it this morning.  Y'know, some people would
be *scared* of a guy like that.  But I'm not scared.
I'm from Chicago.  I'm gonna hunt him down.  We
do things like that in Chicago."


        "I went to the cops and now he's got an APB out
on his ass," he says with satisfaction.  "You run into
him, you let me know."

        "Okay," I say.  "What is your name, sir?"


        "And how can I reach you?"

        "Oh," Stanley says, in the same rapid voice, "you
don't have to reach, uh, me.  You can just call the
cops.  Go straight to the cops." He reaches into a
pocket and pulls out a greasy piece of pasteboard.
"See, here's my report on him."

        I look.  The "report," the size of an index card, is
labelled PRO-ACT:  Phoenix Residents Opposing
Active Crime Threat.... or is it  Organized Against
Crime Threat?  In the darkening street it's hard to
read.  Some kind of vigilante group?  Neighborhood
watch?  I feel very puzzled.

        "Are you a police officer, sir?"

        He smiles, seems very pleased by the question.

        "No," he says.

`       "But you are a 'Phoenix Resident?'"

        "Would you believe a homeless person,"
Stanley says.

        "Really?  But what's with the..."   For the first
time I take a close look at Stanley's trolley.  It's a
rubber-wheeled thing of industrial metal, but the
device I had mistaken for a tank of propane is in fact
a water-cooler.  Stanley also has an Army duffel-bag,
stuffed tight as a sausage with clothing or perhaps a
tent, and, at the base of his trolley, a cardboard box
and a battered leather briefcase.

        "I see," I say, quite at a loss.  For the first time I
notice that Stanley has a wallet.  He has not lost his
wallet at all.  It is in his back pocket and chained to
his belt.  It's not a new wallet.  It seems to have seen
a lot of wear.

        "Well, you know how it is, brother," says Stanley.
Now that I know that he is homeless -- *a possible
threat* --  my entire perception of him has changed
in an instant.   His speech, which once seemed just
bright and enthusiastic, now seems to have a
dangerous tang of mania.  "I have to do this!" he
assures me.  "Track this guy down... It's a thing I do...
you know... to keep myself together!"  He smiles,
nods, lifts his trolley by its decaying rubber

        "Gotta work together, y'know, "  Stanley booms,
his face alight with cheerfulness, "the police can't do

        The gentlemen I met in my stroll in downtown
Phoenix are the only computer illiterates in this
book.  To regard them as irrelevant, however, would
be a grave mistake.

        As computerization spreads across society, the
populace at large is subjected to wave after wave of
future shock.  But, as a necessary converse, the
"computer community" itself is subjected to wave
after wave of incoming computer illiterates.   How
will those currently enjoying America's digital
bounty regard, and treat, all this teeming refuse
yearning to breathe free?  Will the electronic
frontier be another Land of Opportunity -- or an
armed and monitored enclave, where the
disenfranchised snuggle on their cardboard at the
locked doors of our houses of justice?

        Some people just don't get along with
computers.  They can't read.  They can't type.  They
just don't have it in their heads to master arcane
instructions in wirebound manuals.   Somewhere,
the process of computerization of the populace will
reach a limit.  Some people -- quite decent people
maybe, who might have thrived in any other
situation -- will be left irretrievably outside the
bounds.   What's to be done with these people, in
the bright new shiny electroworld?  How will they be
regarded, by the mouse-whizzing masters of
cyberspace?  With contempt?  Indifference?  Fear?

        In retrospect, it astonishes me to realize how
quickly poor Stanley became a  perceived threat.
Surprise and fear are closely allied feelings.  And the
world of computing is full of surprises.

        I met one character in the streets of Phoenix
whose role in those book is supremely and directly
relevant.  That personage was Stanley's giant
thieving scarred phantom.  This phantasm is
everywhere in this book.  He is the specter haunting

        Sometimes he's a maniac vandal ready to
smash the phone system for no sane reason at all.
Sometimes he's a fascist fed, coldly programming
his mighty mainframes to destroy our Bill of Rights.
Sometimes he's a telco bureaucrat, covertly
conspiring to register all modems in the service of
an Orwellian surveillance regime.   Mostly, though,
this fearsome phantom is a "hacker."   He's strange,
he doesn't belong, he's not authorized, he doesn't
smell right, he's not keeping his proper place, he's
not one of us.  The focus of fear is the hacker, for
much the same reasons that Stanley's fancied
assailant is black.

        Stanley's demon can't go away, because he
doesn't exist.  Despite singleminded and
tremendous effort, he can't be arrested, sued, jailed,
or fired.  The only constructive way to do *anything*
about him is to learn more about Stanley himself.
This learning process may be repellent, it may be
ugly, it may involve grave elements of paranoiac
confusion, but it's necessary.  Knowing Stanley
requires something more than class-crossing
condescension.  It requires more than steely legal
objectivity.  It requires  human compassion and

        To know Stanley is to know his demon.  If you
know the other guy's demon, then maybe you'll
come to know some of your own.   You'll be able to
separate reality from illusion.   And then you won't
do your cause, and yourself, more harm than good.
Like poor damned Stanley from Chicago did.


        The Federal Computer Investigations
Committee (FCIC) is the most important and
influential organization in the realm of American
computer-crime.  Since the police of other countries
have largely taken their computer-crime cues from
American methods, the FCIC might well be called
the most important computer crime group in the

        It is also, by federal standards, an organization
of great unorthodoxy.  State and local investigators
mix with federal agents.   Lawyers, financial auditors
and computer-security programmers trade notes
with street cops.  Industry vendors and telco security
people show up to explain their gadgetry and plead
for protection and justice.   Private investigators,
think-tank experts and industry pundits throw in
their two cents' worth.   The FCIC is the antithesis of
a formal bureaucracy.

        Members of the FCIC are obscurely proud of
this fact; they recognize their group as aberrant,  but
are entirely convinced that this, for them, outright
*weird* behavior is nevertheless *absolutely
necessary* to get their jobs done.

        FCIC regulars  -- from the Secret Service, the
FBI, the IRS, the Department of Labor, the offices of
federal attorneys, state police, the Air Force, from
military intelligence --  often attend meetings, held
hither and thither across the country,  at their own
expense.  The FCIC doesn't get grants.  It doesn't
charge membership fees.  It doesn't have a boss.  It
has no headquarters -- just a mail drop in
Washington DC, at the Fraud Division of the Secret
Service.  It doesn't have a budget.  It doesn't have
schedules.  It meets three times a year -- sort of.
Sometimes it issues publications, but the FCIC has
no regular publisher,  no treasurer, not even a
secretary.   There are no minutes of FCIC  meetings.
Non-federal people are considered "non-voting
members,"  but there's not much in the way of
elections.  There are no badges, lapel pins or
certificates of membership.   Everyone is on a first-
name basis.   There are about forty of them.  Nobody
knows how many, exactly.  People come, people go --
sometimes people "go" formally but still hang
around anyway.  Nobody has ever exactly figured
out what "membership" of this "Committee"
actually entails.

        Strange as this may seem to some, to anyone
familiar with the social world of computing, the
"organization" of the FCIC is very recognizable.

         For years now, economists and management
theorists have speculated that the tidal wave of the
information revolution would destroy rigid,
pyramidal bureaucracies, where everything is top-
down and centrally controlled.   Highly trained
"employees" would take on much greater autonomy,
being self-starting, and self-motivating,  moving
from place to place, task to task, with great speed
and fluidity.  "Ad-hocracy" would rule, with groups of
people spontaneously knitting together across
organizational lines, tackling the problem at hand,
applying intense computer-aided expertise to it, and
then vanishing whence they came.

        This is more or less what has actually happened
in the world of federal computer investigation.  With
the conspicuous exception of the phone companies,
which are after all over a hundred years old,
practically *every* organization that plays any
important role in this book functions just like the
FCIC.    The Chicago Task Force, the Arizona
Racketeering Unit, the Legion of Doom, the Phrack
crowd, the Electronic Frontier Foundation -- they
*all* look and act like "tiger teams" or "user's
groups."  They are all electronic ad-hocracies
leaping up spontaneously to attempt to meet a

         Some are police.  Some are, by strict definition,
criminals.  Some are political interest-groups.   But
every single group has that same quality of apparent
spontaneity -- "Hey, gang!  My uncle's got a barn --
let's put on a show!"

        Every one of these groups is embarrassed by
this "amateurism," and, for the sake of their public
image in a world of non-computer people,  they all
attempt to look as stern and formal and impressive
as possible.    These electronic frontier-dwellers
resemble groups of nineteenth-century pioneers
hankering after the respectability of statehood.
There are however,  two crucial differences in the
historical experience of these "pioneers" of the
nineteeth and twenty-first centuries.

          First, powerful information technology *does*
play into the hands of small, fluid, loosely organized
groups.  There have always been "pioneers,"
"hobbyists," "amateurs," "dilettantes," "volunteers,"
"movements," "users' groups" and "blue-ribbon
panels of experts" around.   But a group of this kind -
- when technically equipped to ship huge amounts
of specialized information, at lightning speed, to its
members, to government, and to the press -- is
simply a different kind of animal.   It's like the
difference between an eel and an electric eel.

        The second crucial change is that American
society is currently in a state  approaching
permanent technological revolution.  In the world of
computers particularly,  it is practically impossible to
*ever* stop being a  "pioneer," unless you either
drop dead or deliberately jump off the bus.  The
scene has never slowed down enough to become
well-institutionalized.  And after twenty, thirty, forty
years the "computer revolution" continues to spread,
to permeate new corners of society.   Anything that
really works is already obsolete.

        If you spend your entire working life as a
"pioneer," the word "pioneer" begins to lose its
meaning.  Your way of life looks less and less like an
introduction to Osomething else" more stable and
organized,  and more and more like *just the way
things are.*   A "permanent revolution" is really a
contradiction in terms.  If "turmoil"  lasts long
enough, it simply becomes *a new kind of society*  --
still the same game of history, but new players, new

        Apply this to the world of late twentieth-century
law enforcement, and the implications are  novel
and puzzling indeed.  Any bureaucratic rulebook
you write about computer-crime will be flawed when
you write it, and almost an antique by the time it
sees print.   The fluidity and fast reactions of the
FCIC give them a great advantage in this regard,
which explains their success.  Even with the best will
in the world (which it does not, in fact, possess) it is
impossible for an organization the size of the U.S.
Federal Bureau of Investigation to get up to speed
on the theory and practice of computer crime.   If
they tried to train all their agents to do this, it would
be *suicidal,*  as they would *never be able to do
anything else.*

         The FBI does try to train its agents in the basics
of electronic crime, at their base in Quantico,
Virginia.   And the Secret Service, along with many
other law enforcement groups, runs quite successful
and well-attended training courses on wire fraud,
business crime, and computer intrusion  at the
Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC,
pronounced "fletsy") in Glynco, Georgia.   But the
best efforts of these bureaucracies does not remove
the absolute need for a "cutting-edge mess" like the

        For you see -- the members of FCIC *are* the
trainers of the rest of law enforcement.  Practically
and literally speaking, they are the Glynco
computer-crime faculty by another name.  If the
FCIC went over a cliff on a bus, the U.S. law
enforcement community would be rendered deaf
dumb and blind in the world of computer crime, and
would swiftly feel a desperate need to reinvent them.
And this is no time to go starting from scratch.

        On June 11, 1991, I once again arrived in
Phoenix, Arizona, for the latest meeting of the
Federal Computer Investigations Committee.  This
was more or less the twentieth meeting of this stellar
group.   The count was uncertain, since nobody
could figure out whether to include the meetings of
"the Colluquy," which is what the FCIC was called in
the mid-1980s before it had even managed to obtain
the dignity of its own acronym.

        Since my last visit to Arizona, in May, the local
AzScam bribery scandal had resolved itself in a
general muddle of humiliation.  The Phoenix chief of
police, whose agents had videotaped nine state
legislators up to no good, had resigned his office in a
tussle with the Phoenix city council over the
propriety of his undercover operations.

        The Phoenix Chief could now join Gail
Thackeray and eleven of her closest associates in
the shared experience of politically motivated
unemployment.   As of June, resignations were still
continuing at the Arizona Attorney General's office,
which could be interpreted as either a New Broom
Sweeping Clean or a Night of the Long Knives Part
II, depending on your point of view.

        The meeting of FCIC was held at the Scottsdale
Hilton Resort. Scottsdale is a wealthy suburb of
Phoenix, known as "Scottsdull" to scoffing local
trendies, but well-equipped with posh shopping-
malls and manicured lawns, while conspicuously
undersupplied with homeless derelicts.   The
Scottsdale Hilton Resort was a sprawling hotel in
postmodern  crypto-Southwestern style.  It featured
a "mission bell tower" plated in turquoise tile and
vaguely resembling a Saudi minaret.

        Inside it was all barbarically striped Santa Fe
Style decor.   There was a health spa downstairs and
a large oddly-shaped pool in the patio.  A poolside
umbrella-stand offered Ben and Jerry's politically
correct Peace Pops.

        I registered as a member of FCIC, attaining a
handy discount rate, then went in search of the Feds.
Sure enough, at the back of the hotel grounds came
the unmistakable sound of Gail Thackeray holding

        Since I had also attended the Computers
Freedom and Privacy conference (about which more
later), this was the second time I had seen
Thackeray in a group of her law enforcement
colleagues.   Once again I was struck by how simply
pleased they seemed to see her.   It was natural that
she'd get *some* attention, as Gail was one of two
women in a group of some thirty men; but there was
a lot more to it than that.

        Gail Thackeray personifies the social glue of the
FCIC.  They could give a damn about her losing her
job with the Attorney General.  They were sorry
about it, of course, but hell, they'd all lost jobs.   If
they were the kind of guys who liked steady  boring
jobs, they would never have gotten into computer
work in the first place.

        I wandered into her circle and was immediately
introduced to five strangers.  The conditions of my
visit at FCIC were reviewed.  I would not quote
anyone directly.  I would not tie opinions expressed
to the agencies of the attendees.  I would not (a
purely hypothetical example) report the
conversation of a guy from the Secret Service talking
quite civilly to  a guy from the FBI, as these two
agencies *never*  talk to each other, and the IRS
(also present, also hypothetical) *never talks to

        Worse yet, I was forbidden to attend the first
conference.  And I didn't.  I have no idea what the
FCIC was up to behind closed doors that afternoon.
I rather suspect that they were engaging in a frank
and thorough confession of their errors, goof-ups
and blunders, as this has been a feature of every
FCIC meeting since their legendary Memphis beer-
bust of 1986.  Perhaps the single greatest attraction
of FCIC is that it is a place where you can go, let your
hair down, and completely level with people who
actually comprehend what you are talking about.
Not only do they understand you, but they *really
pay attention,*  they are *grateful for your insights,*
and they *forgive you,*  which in nine cases out of
ten is something even your boss can't do, because as
soon as you start talking "ROM," "BBS," or "T-1
trunk," his eyes glaze over.

        I had nothing much to do that afternoon.  The
FCIC were beavering away in their  conference
room.  Doors were firmly closed, windows too dark to
peer through.  I wondered what a real hacker, a
computer intruder, would do at a meeting like this.

        The answer came at once.  He would "trash" the
place.  Not reduce the place to trash  in some orgy of
vandalism; that's not the use of the term in the
hacker milieu.  No, he would quietly *empty the
trash baskets* and silently raid any valuable data
indiscreetly thrown away.

        Journalists have been known to do this.
(Journalists hunting information have been known
to do almost every single unethical thing that
hackers have ever done.  They also throw in a few
awful techniques all their own.)  The legality of
'trashing' is somewhat dubious but it is not in fact
flagrantly illegal.   It was, however, absurd to
contemplate trashing the FCIC.  These people knew
all about trashing.   I wouldn't last fifteen seconds.

        The idea sounded interesting, though.   I'd been
hearing a lot about the practice lately.  On the spur
of the moment, I decided I would try trashing the
office *across the hall*  from the FCIC, an area
which had nothing to do with the investigators.

        The office was tiny; six chairs, a table....
Nevertheless, it was open, so I dug around in its
plastic trash can.

        To my utter astonishment, I came up with the
torn scraps of a SPRINT long-distance phone bill.
More digging produced a bank statement and the
scraps of a hand-written letter, along with gum,
cigarette ashes, candy wrappers and a day-old-issue

        The trash went back in its receptacle while the
scraps of data went into  my travel bag.  I detoured
through the hotel souvenir shop for some Scotch
tape and went up to my room.

        Coincidence or not, it was quite true.  Some poor
soul had, in fact, thrown a SPRINT bill into the
hotel's trash.   Date May 1991, total amount due:
$252.36.  Not a business phone, either, but a
residential bill, in the name of someone called
Evelyn (not her real name).  Evelyn's records showed
a ## PAST DUE BILL ##!   Here was her nine-digit
account ID.    Here was a stern computer-printed


        I examined my watch.  Still plenty of time left for
the FCIC to carry on.  I sorted out the scraps of
Evelyn's SPRINT bill and re-assembled them with
fresh Scotch tape.  Here was her ten-digit
FONCARD number.   Didn't seem to have the ID
number necessary to cause real fraud trouble.

        I did, however, have Evelyn's home phone
number.  And the phone numbers for a whole crowd
of Evelyn's long-distance friends and acquaintances.
In San Diego, Folsom, Redondo, Las Vegas, La Jolla,
Topeka, and Northampton Massachusetts.  Even
somebody in Australia!

        I examined other documents.  Here was a bank
statement.  It was Evelyn's IRA account down at a
bank in San Mateo California (total balance
$1877.20).  Here was a charge-card bill for $382.64.
She was paying it off bit by bit.

        Driven by motives that were completely
unethical and prurient, I now examined the
handwritten notes.  They had been torn fairly
thoroughly, so much so that it took me almost an
entire five minutes to reassemble them.

        They were drafts of a love letter.  They had been
written on the lined stationery of Evelyn's employer,
a biomedical company.  Probably written at work
when she should have been doing something else.

        "Dear Bob," (not his real name)  "I guess in
everyone's life there comes a time when hard
decisions have to be made, and this is a difficult one
for me -- very upsetting.  Since you haven't called
me, and I don't understand why, I can only surmise
it's because you don't want to.  I thought I would
have heard from you Friday.  I did have a few
unusual problems with my phone and possibly you
tried, I hope so.
        "Robert, you asked me to 'let go'..."

        The first note ended.  *Unusual problems with
her phone?*  I looked swiftly at the next note.

        "Bob, not hearing from you for the whole
weekend has left me very perplexed..."

         Next draft.

        "Dear Bob, there is so much I don't understand
right now, and I wish I did.  I wish I could talk to you,
but for some unknown reason you have elected not
to call -- this is so difficult for me to understand..."

        She tried again.

        "Bob, Since I have always held you in such high
esteem, I had every hope that we could remain good
friends, but now one essential ingredient is missing -
- respect.  Your ability to discard people when their
purpose is served is appalling to me.  The kindest
thing you could do for me now is to leave me alone.
You are no longer welcome in my heart or home..."

        Try again.

        "Bob, I wrote a very factual note to you to say
how much respect I had lost for you, by the way you
treat people, me in particular, so uncaring and cold.
The kindest thing you can do for me is to leave me
alone entirely, as you are no longer welcome in my
heart or home. I would appreciate it if you could
retire your debt to me as soon as possible -- I wish no
link to you in any way.  Sincerely, Evelyn."

        Good heavens, I thought, the bastard actually
owes her money!  I turned to the next page.

        "Bob:  very simple.  GOODBYE!  No more mind
games -- no more fascination -- no more coldness --
no more respect for you!  It's over -- Finis.  Evie"

        There were two versions of the final brushoff
letter, but they read about the same.  Maybe she
hadn't sent it.  The final item in my illicit and
shameful booty was an envelope addressed to "Bob"
at his home address, but it had no stamp on it and it
hadn't been mailed.

        Maybe she'd just been blowing off steam
because her rascal boyfriend had neglected to call
her one weekend.   Big deal.  Maybe they'd kissed
and made up, maybe she and Bob were down at
Pop's Chocolate Shop now, sharing a malted.  Sure.

        Easy to find out.  All I had to do was call Evelyn
up.  With a half-clever story and enough brass-
plated gall I could probably trick the truth out of her.
Phone-phreaks and hackers deceive people over the
phone all the time.  It's called "social engineering."
Social engineering is a very common practice in the
underground, and almost magically effective.
Human beings are almost always the weakest link in
computer security.  The simplest way to learn Things
You Are Not Meant To Know is simply to call up
and exploit the knowledgeable people.   With social
engineering, you use the bits of specialized
knowledge you already have as a key, to manipulate
people into believing that you are legitimate.  You
can then coax, flatter, or frighten them into revealing
almost anything you want to know.  Deceiving
people (especially over the phone) is easy and fun.
Exploiting their gullibility is very gratifying; it makes
you feel very superior to them.

        If I'd been a  malicious hacker on a trashing
raid, I would now have Evelyn very much in my
power.  Given all this inside  data, it wouldn't take
much effort at all to invent a convincing lie.  If I were
ruthless enough, and jaded enough, and clever
enough, this momentary indiscretion of hers --
maybe committed in tears, who knows -- could cause
her a whole world of confusion and grief.

        I didn't even have to have a *malicious*  motive.
Maybe I'd be "on her side," and call up Bob instead,
and anonymously threaten to break both his
kneecaps if he didn't take Evelyn out for a steak
dinner pronto.   It was still profoundly *none of my
business.*   To have gotten this knowledge at all was
a sordid act and to use it would be to inflict a sordid

        To do all these awful things would require
exactly zero high-tech expertise.  All it would take
was the willingness to do it and a certain amount of
bent imagination.

        I went back downstairs. The hard-working FCIC,
who had labored forty-five minutes over their
schedule, were through for the day, and adjourned
to the hotel bar.  We all had a beer.

         I had a chat with a guy about "Isis," or rather
IACIS, the International Association of Computer
Investigation Specialists.  They're into "computer
forensics,"  the techniques of picking computer-
systems apart without destroying vital evidence.
IACIS, currently run out of Oregon, is comprised of
investigators in the U.S., Canada, Taiwan and
Ireland.  "Taiwan and Ireland?"  I said.  Are *Taiwan*
and *Ireland*  really in the forefront of this stuff?
Well not exactly, my informant admitted.  They just
happen to have been the first ones to have caught
on by word of mouth.  Still, the international angle
counts, because this is obviously an international
problem.  Phone-lines go everywhere.

        There was a Mountie here from the Royal
Canadian Mounted Police.  He seemed to be having
quite a good time.   Nobody had flung this Canadian
out because he might pose a foreign security risk.
These are cyberspace cops.  They still worry a lot
about "jurisdictions," but mere geography is the
least of their troubles.

        NASA had failed to show.  NASA suffers a lot
from computer intrusions, in particular from
Australian raiders and a well-trumpeted Chaos
Computer Club case,  and in 1990 there was a brief
press flurry when it was revealed that one of NASA's
Houston branch-exchanges had been systematically
ripped off by a gang of phone-phreaks.   But the
NASA guys had had their funding cut.  They were
stripping everything.

        Air Force OSI, its Office of Special
Investigations, is the *only*  federal entity dedicated
full-time to computer security.  They'd been
expected to show up in force, but some of them had
cancelled -- a Pentagon budget pinch.

        As the empties piled up, the guys began joshing
around and telling war-stories.  "These are cops,"
Thackeray said tolerantly.  "If they're not talking
shop they talk about women and beer."

        I heard the story about the guy who, asked for "a
copy" of a computer disk, *photocopied the label on
it.*  He put the floppy disk onto the glass plate of a
photocopier.  The blast of static when the copier
worked  completely erased all the real information
on the disk.

        Some other poor souls threw a whole bag of
confiscated diskettes into the squad-car trunk next
to the police radio.  The powerful radio signal
blasted them, too.

         We heard a bit about Dave Geneson, the first
computer prosecutor, a mainframe-runner in Dade
County, turned lawyer.   Dave Geneson was one guy
who had hit the ground running, a signal virtue in
making the transition to computer-crime.  It was
generally agreed that it was easier to learn the world
of computers first, then police or prosecutorial work.
You could take certain computer people and train
'em to successful police work -- but of course they
had to have the *cop mentality.*  They had to have
street smarts.  Patience.  Persistence.  And
discretion.   You've got to make sure they're not hot-
shots, show-offs,  "cowboys."

        Most of the folks in the bar had backgrounds in
military intelligence, or drugs, or homicide.  It was
rudely opined that "military intelligence" was a
contradiction in terms, while even the grisly world of
homicide was considered cleaner than drug
enforcement.  One guy had been 'way undercover
doing dope-work in Europe for four years straight.
"I'm almost recovered now," he said deadpan, with
the acid black humor that is pure cop.  "Hey, now I
can say *fucker*  without putting *mother*  in front
of it."

        "In the cop world," another guy said earnestly,
"everything is good and bad, black and white.  In the
computer world everything is gray."

        One guy -- a founder of the FCIC, who'd been
with the group since it was just the Colluquy --
described his own introduction to the field.  He'd
been a Washington DC homicide guy called in on a
"hacker" case.  From the word "hacker," he naturally
assumed he was on the trail of a knife-wielding
marauder, and went to the computer center
expecting blood and a body.  When he finally
figured out what was happening there (after loudly
demanding, in vain, that the programmers "speak
English"),  he called headquarters and told them he
was clueless about computers.  They told him
nobody else knew diddly either, and to get the hell
back to work.

        So, he said, he had proceeded by comparisons.
By analogy.  By metaphor.  "Somebody broke in to
your computer, huh?"  Breaking and entering; I can
understand that.  How'd he get in?  "Over the phone-
lines."  Harassing phone-calls, I can understand
that!  What we need here is a tap and a trace!

        It worked.  It was better than nothing.   And it
worked a lot faster when he got hold of another cop
who'd done something similar.  And then the two of
them got another, and another, and pretty soon the
Colluquy was a happening thing.  It helped a lot that
everybody seemed to know Carlton Fitzpatrick, the
data-processing trainer in Glynco.

        The ice broke big-time in Memphis in '86.  The
Colluquy had attracted a bunch of new guys -- Secret
Service, FBI, military, other feds, heavy guys.
Nobody wanted to tell anybody anything.  They
suspected that if word got back to the home office
they'd all be fired.  They passed an uncomfortably
guarded afternoon.

        The formalities got them nowhere.  But after the
formal session was over, the organizers brought in a
case of beer.  As soon as the participants knocked it
off with the bureaucratic ranks and turf-fighting,
everything changed.  "I bared my soul," one veteran
reminisced proudly.  By nightfall they were building
pyramids of empty beer-cans and doing everything
but composing a team fight song.

        FCIC were not the only computer-crime people
around.  There was DATTA (District Attorneys'
Technology Theft Association),  though they mostly
specialized in chip theft, intellectual property, and
black-market cases.  There was HTCIA  (High Tech
Computer Investigators Association), also out in
Silicon Valley, a year older than FCIC and featuring
brilliant people like Donald Ingraham.  There was
LEETAC (Law Enforcement Electronic Technology
Assistance Committee)  in Florida, and computer-
crime units in Illinois and Maryland and Texas and
Ohio and Colorado and Pennsylvania.   But these
were local groups.  FCIC were the first to really
network nationally and on a federal level.

        FCIC people live on the phone lines.  Not on
bulletin board systems -- they know very well what
boards are, and they know that  boards aren't secure.
Everyone in the FCIC has a voice-phone bill like you
wouldn't believe.  FCIC people have been tight with
the telco people for a long time.  Telephone
cyberspace is their native habitat.

        FCIC has three basic sub-tribes:  the trainers,
the security people, and the investigators.  That's
why it's called an "Investigations Committee" with
no mention of the term "computer-crime" -- the
dreaded "C-word."   FCIC, officially, is "an
association of agencies rather than individuals;"
unofficially, this field is small enough that the
influence of individuals and individual expertise is
paramount.  Attendance is by invitation only, and
most everyone in FCIC considers himself a prophet
without honor in his own house.

        Again and again I heard this,  with different
terms but identical sentiments.  "I'd been sitting in
the wilderness talking to myself."  "I was totally
isolated."  "I was desperate."  "FCIC is the best thing
there is about computer crime in America."   "FCIC
is what really works."  "This is where you hear real
people telling you what's really happening out there,
not just lawyers picking nits."  "We taught each
other everything we knew."

        The sincerity of these statements convinces me
that this is true.  FCIC is the real thing and it is
invaluable.  It's also very sharply at odds with the
rest of the traditions and power structure in
American law enforcement.   There probably  hasn't
been anything around as loose and go-getting as the
FCIC since the start of the U.S. Secret Service in the
1860s.   FCIC people are living like twenty-first-
century people in a twentieth-century environment,
and while there's a great deal to be said for that,
there's also a great deal to be said against it, and
those against it happen to control the budgets.

        I listened to two FCIC guys from Jersey compare
life histories.  One of them had been a biker in a
fairly heavy-duty gang in the 1960s.  "Oh, did you
know so-and-so?" said the other guy from Jersey.
"Big guy, heavyset?"

        "Yeah, I knew him."

        "Yeah, he was one of ours.  He was our plant in
the gang."

        "Really?  Wow!  Yeah, I knew him.  Helluva guy."

        Thackeray reminisced at length about being
tear-gassed blind in the November 1969  antiwar
protests in Washington Circle, covering them for
her college paper.  "Oh yeah, I was there," said
another cop.  "Glad to hear that tear gas hit
somethin'.  Haw haw haw."  He'd been so blind
himself, he confessed, that later that day he'd
arrested a small tree.

        FCIC are an odd group, sifted out by
coincidence and necessity, and turned into a new
kind of cop.   There are a lot of specialized cops in
the world -- your bunco guys, your drug guys, your
tax guys, but the only group that matches FCIC for
sheer isolation are probably the child-pornography
people.  Because they both deal with conspirators
who are desperate to exchange forbidden data and
also desperate to hide; and because nobody else in
law enforcement even wants to hear about it.

        FCIC people tend to change jobs a lot.  They
tend not to get the equipment and training they
want and need.  And they tend to get sued quite

        As the night wore on and a band set up in the
bar, the talk grew darker.  Nothing ever gets done in
government, someone opined, until there's a
*disaster.*  Computing disasters are awful, but
there's no denying that they greatly  help the
credibility of FCIC people.  The Internet Worm, for
instance.  "For years we'd been warning about that --
but it's nothing compared to what's coming."  They
expect horrors, these people.  They know that
nothing will really get done until there is a horror.


        Next day we heard an extensive briefing from a
guy who'd been a computer cop, gotten into hot
water with an Arizona city council, and now installed
computer networks for a living (at a considerable
rise in pay).  He talked about pulling fiber-optic
networks apart.

        Even a single computer, with enough
peripherals, is a literal "network" -- a bunch of
machines all cabled together, generally with a
complexity that puts stereo units to shame.   FCIC
people invent and publicize  methods of seizing
computers and maintaining their evidence.   Simple
things, sometimes, but vital rules of thumb for street
cops, who nowadays often stumble across a busy
computer in the midst of a drug investigation or a
white-collar bust.  For instance:  Photograph the
system before you touch it.  Label the ends of all the
cables before you detach anything.  "Park" the heads
on the disk drives before you move them.  Get the
diskettes.  Don't put the diskettes in magnetic fields.
Don't write on diskettes with ballpoint pens.  Get the
manuals.  Get the printouts.  Get the handwritten
notes.  Copy data before you look at it, and then
examine the copy instead of the original.

        Now our lecturer distributed copied diagrams of
a typical LAN or "Local Area Network", which
happened to be out of Connecticut.  *One hundred
and fifty-nine*  desktop computers, each with its own
peripherals.  Three "file servers."  Five "star
couplers" each with thirty-two ports.  One sixteen-
port coupler off in the corner office.   All these
machines talking to each other, distributing
electronic mail, distributing software, distributing,
quite possibly, criminal evidence.  All linked by high-
capacity fiber-optic cable.  A bad guy -- cops talk a
lot about "bad guys"  -- might be lurking on PC #47
or #123 and distributing his ill doings onto some
dupe's "personal"  machine in another office -- or
another floor -- or, quite possibly, two or three miles
away!   Or,  conceivably, the evidence might be
"data-striped" -- split up into meaningless slivers
stored, one by one, on a whole crowd of different disk

        The lecturer challenged us for solutions.  I for
one was utterly clueless.  As far as I could figure, the
Cossacks were at the gate; there were probably more
disks in this single building than were seized during
the entirety of Operation Sundevil.

        "Inside informant," somebody said.  Right.
There's always the human angle, something easy to
forget when contemplating the arcane recesses of
high technology.  Cops are skilled at getting people
to talk, and computer people, given a chair and
some sustained attention, will talk about their
computers till their throats go raw.  There's a case on
record of a single question -- "How'd you do it?" --
eliciting a forty-five-minute videotaped confession
from a computer criminal who not only completely
incriminated himself but drew helpful diagrams.

        Computer people talk.  Hackers *brag.*   Phone-
phreaks talk *pathologically*  -- why else are they
stealing phone-codes, if not to natter for ten hours
straight to their friends on an opposite seaboard?
Computer-literate people do in fact possess an
arsenal of nifty gadgets and techniques that would
allow them to conceal all kinds of exotic
skullduggery, and if they could only *shut up*  about
it, they could probably get away with all manner of
amazing information-crimes.   But that's just not how
it works -- or at least, that's not how it's worked *so

        Most every phone-phreak ever busted has
swiftly implicated his mentors, his disciples, and his
friends.  Most every white-collar computer-criminal,
smugly convinced that his clever scheme is
bulletproof,  swiftly learns otherwise when, for the
first time in his life, an actual no-kidding policeman
leans over, grabs the front of his shirt, looks him
right in the eye and says:  "All right, *asshole* --  you
and me are going downtown!"   All the hardware in
the world will not insulate your nerves from these
actual real-life sensations of terror and guilt.

        Cops know ways to get from point A to point Z
without thumbing through every letter in some
smart-ass bad-guy's  alphabet.  Cops know how to
cut to the chase.  Cops know a lot of things other
people don't know.

        Hackers know a lot of things other people don't
know, too.  Hackers know, for instance, how to sneak
into your computer through the phone-lines.  But
cops  can show up *right on your doorstep*  and
carry off *you*  and your computer in separate steel
boxes.   A cop interested in hackers can grab them
and grill them.  A hacker interested in cops has to
depend on hearsay, underground legends, and what
cops are willing to publicly reveal.  And the Secret
Service didn't get named "the *Secret*  Service"
because they blab a lot.

        Some people, our lecturer informed us, were
under the mistaken impression that it was
"impossible" to tap a fiber-optic line.  Well, he
announced, he and his son had just whipped up a
fiber-optic tap in his workshop at home.  He passed
it around the audience, along with a circuit-covered
LAN plug-in card so we'd all recognize one if we saw
it on a case.  We all had a look.

        The tap was a classic "Goofy Prototype" -- a
thumb-length rounded metal cylinder with a pair of
plastic brackets on it.  From one end dangled three
thin black cables, each of which ended in a tiny
black plastic cap.   When you plucked the safety-cap
off the end of a cable,  you could see the glass fiber  -
- no thicker than a pinhole.

          Our lecturer informed us that the metal
cylinder was a "wavelength division multiplexer."
Apparently, what one did was to cut the fiber-optic
cable, insert two of the legs into the cut to complete
the network again, and then read any passing data
on the line by hooking up the third leg to some kind
of monitor.  Sounded simple enough.  I wondered
why nobody had thought of it before.  I also
wondered whether this guy's son back at the
workshop had any teenage friends.

        We had a break.  The guy sitting next to me was
wearing a giveaway baseball cap advertising the Uzi
submachine gun.  We had a desultory chat about
the merits of Uzis.  Long a favorite of the Secret
Service, it seems Uzis went out of fashion with the
advent of the Persian Gulf War, our Arab allies
taking some offense at Americans toting Israeli
weapons.  Besides, I was informed by another
expert, Uzis jam.  The equivalent weapon of choice
today is the Heckler & Koch, manufactured in

          The guy with the Uzi cap was a forensic
photographer.  He also did a lot of photographic
surveillance work in computer crime cases.   He
used to, that is, until the firings in Phoenix.  He was
now a private investigator and, with his wife, ran a
photography salon specializing in weddings and
portrait photos.  At -- one must repeat -- a
considerable rise in income.

        He was still FCIC.  If you were FCIC, and you
needed to talk to an expert about forensic
photography, well, there he was, willing and able.  If
he hadn't shown up, people would have missed him.

        Our lecturer had raised the point that
preliminary investigation of a computer system is
vital before any seizure is undertaken.  It's vital to
understand how many machines are in there, what
kinds there are, what kind of operating system they
use,  how many people use them, where the actual
data itself is stored.  To simply barge into an office
demanding "all the computers" is a recipe for swift

        This entails some discreet inquiries beforehand.
In fact, what it entails is basically undercover work.
An intelligence operation.   *Spying,*  not to put too
fine a point on it.

        In a chat after the lecture, I asked an attendee
whether "trashing" might work.

        I received a swift briefing on the theory and
practice of "trash covers."  Police "trash covers," like
"mail covers" or like wiretaps, require the agreement
of a judge.  This obtained, the "trashing" work of cops
is just like that of hackers, only more so and much
better organized.  So much so, I was informed, that
mobsters in Phoenix make extensive use of locked
garbage cans picked up by a specialty high-security
trash company.

        In one case, a tiger team of Arizona cops had
trashed a local residence for four months.  Every
week they showed up on the municipal garbage
truck, disguised as garbagemen, and carried the
contents of the suspect cans off to a shade tree,
where they combed through the garbage -- a messy
task, especially considering that one of the
occupants was undergoing kidney dialysis.  All
useful documents were cleaned, dried and
examined.  A discarded typewriter-ribbon was an
especially valuable source of data, as its long one-
strike ribbon of film contained the contents of every
letter mailed out of the house.  The letters were
neatly retyped by a police secretary equipped with a
large desk-mounted magnifying glass.

        There is something weirdly disquieting about
the whole subject of "trashing" -- an unsuspected
and indeed rather disgusting mode of deep personal
vulnerability.  Things that we pass by every day, that
we take utterly for granted, can be exploited with so
little work.   Once discovered, the knowledge of these
vulnerabilities tend to spread.

        Take the lowly subject of *manhole covers.*  The
humble manhole cover reproduces many of the
dilemmas of computer-security in miniature.
Manhole covers are, of course, technological
artifacts, access-points to our buried urban
infrastructure.  To the vast majority of us, manhole
covers are invisible.  They are also vulnerable.  For
many years now, the Secret Service has made a
point of caulking manhole covers along all routes of
the Presidential motorcade.   This is, of course, to
deter terrorists from leaping out of underground
ambush or, more likely, planting remote-control car-
smashing bombs beneath the street.

        Lately, manhole covers have seen more and
more criminal exploitation, especially in New York
City.  Recently, a telco in New York City discovered
that a cable television service had been sneaking
into telco manholes and installing cable service
alongside the phone-lines -- *without paying
royalties.*   New York companies have also suffered
a general plague of (a) underground copper cable
theft; (b) dumping of garbage, including toxic waste,
and (c) hasty dumping of murder victims.

        Industry complaints reached the ears of an
innovative New England industrial-security
company, and the result was a new product known
as "the Intimidator," a thick titanium-steel bolt with
a precisely machined head that requires a special
device to unscrew.  All these "keys" have registered
serial numbers kept on file with the manufacturer.
There are now some thousands of these
"Intimidator" bolts being sunk into American
pavements wherever our President passes, like
some macabre parody of strewn roses.   They are
also spreading as fast as steel dandelions around US
military bases and many centers of private industry.

        Quite likely it has never occurred to you to  peer
under a manhole cover, perhaps climb down and
walk around down there with a flashlight, just to see
what it's like.  Formally speaking, this might be
trespassing, but if you didn't hurt anything, and
didn't make an absolute habit of it, nobody would
really care.  The freedom to sneak under manholes
was likely a freedom you never intended to exercise.

        You now are rather less likely to have that
freedom at all.  You may never even have missed it
until you read about it here, but if you're in New
York City it's gone, and elsewhere it's likely going.
This is one of the things that crime, and the reaction
to crime,  does to us.

        The tenor of the meeting now changed as the
Electronic Frontier Foundation arrived.  The EFF,
whose personnel and history will be examined in
detail in the next chapter, are a pioneering civil
liberties group who arose in direct response to the
Hacker Crackdown of 1990.

        Now Mitchell Kapor, the Foundation's
president, and Michael Godwin, its chief attorney,
were confronting federal law enforcement *mano a
mano* for the first time ever.  Ever alert to the
manifold uses of publicity, Mitch Kapor and Mike
Godwin had brought their own journalist in tow:
Robert Draper, from Austin, whose recent well-
received book about ROLLING STONE magazine
was still on the stands.  Draper was on assignment

        The Steve Jackson/EFF civil lawsuit against the
Chicago Computer Fraud and Abuse Task Force was
a matter of considerable regional interest in Texas.
There were now two Austinite journalists here on the
case.  In fact, counting Godwin (a former Austinite
and former journalist) there were three of us.  Lunch
was like Old Home Week.

        Later, I took Draper up to my hotel room.  We
had a long frank talk about the case, networking
earnestly like a miniature freelance-journo version
of the FCIC:  privately confessing the numerous
blunders of journalists covering the story, and trying
hard to figure out who was who and what the hell was
really going on out there.  I showed Draper
everything I had dug out of the Hilton trashcan.  We
pondered the ethics of "trashing" for a while, and
agreed that they were dismal.  We also agreed that
finding a SPRINT bill on your first time out was a
heck of a coincidence.

        First I'd "trashed" -- and now, mere hours later,
I'd bragged to someone else.   Having entered the
lifestyle of hackerdom, I was now, unsurprisingly,
following  its logic.  Having discovered something
remarkable through a surreptitious action, I of
course *had*  to "brag," and to drag the passing
Draper into my iniquities.  I felt I needed a witness.
Otherwise nobody would have believed what I'd

        Back at the meeting, Thackeray cordially, if
rather tentatively, introduced Kapor and Godwin to
her colleagues.  Papers were distributed.  Kapor took
center stage.  The brilliant Bostonian high-tech
entrepreneur, normally the hawk in his own
administration and quite an effective public
speaker, seemed visibly nervous, and frankly
admitted as much.   He began by saying he
consided computer-intrusion to be morally wrong,
and that the EFF was not a "hacker defense fund,"
despite what had appeared in print.    Kapor chatted
a bit about the basic motivations of his group,
emphasizing their good faith and willingness to
listen and seek common ground with law
enforcement -- when, er,  possible.

         Then, at Godwin's urging, Kapor suddenly
remarked that EFF's own Internet machine had
been "hacked" recently, and that EFF did not
consider this incident amusing.

        After this surprising confession, things began to
loosen up quite rapidly.  Soon Kapor was fielding
questions, parrying objections, challenging
definitions, and juggling paradigms with something
akin to his usual gusto.

        Kapor seemed to score quite an effect with his
shrewd and skeptical analysis of the merits of telco
"Caller-ID" services.  (On this topic, FCIC and EFF
have never been at loggerheads, and have no
particular established earthworks to defend.)
Caller-ID has generally been promoted as a privacy
service for consumers, a presentation Kapor
described as a "smokescreen,"  the real point of
Caller-ID being to *allow corporate customers to
build extensive commercial databases  on
everybody who phones or faxes them.*  Clearly, few
people in the room had considered this possibility,
except perhaps for two late-arrivals from  US WEST
RBOC security, who chuckled nervously.

        Mike Godwin then made an extensive
presentation on "Civil Liberties Implications of
Computer Searches and Seizures."  Now, at last, we
were getting to the real nitty-gritty here, real political
horse-trading.  The audience listened with close
attention, angry mutters rising occasionally:  "He's
trying to teach us our jobs!"  "We've been thinking
about this for years!  We think about these issues
every day!"  "If I didn't seize the works, I'd be sued by
the guy's victims!"   "I'm violating the law if I leave
ten thousand disks full of illegal *pirated software*
and *stolen codes!*"   "It's our job to make sure
people don't trash the Constitution -- we're the
*defenders*  of the Constitution!"  "We seize stuff
when we know it will be forfeited anyway as
restitution for the victim!"

        "If it's forfeitable, then don't get a search
warrant, get a forfeiture warrant,"  Godwin suggested
coolly.  He further remarked that most suspects in
computer crime don't *want*  to see their computers
vanish out the door, headed God knew where, for
who knows how long.  They might not mind a search,
even an extensive search, but they want their
machines searched on-site.

        "Are they gonna feed us?"  somebody asked

        "How about if you take copies of the data?"
Godwin parried.

        "That'll never stand up in court."

        "Okay, you make copies, give *them*  the
copies, and take the originals."


        Godwin championed bulletin-board systems as
repositories of First Amendment protected free
speech.  He complained that federal computer-
crime training manuals gave boards a bad press,
suggesting that they are hotbeds of crime haunted
by pedophiles and crooks, whereas the vast majority
of the nation's thousands of boards are completely
innocuous, and nowhere near so romantically

          People who run boards violently resent it when
their systems are seized, and their dozens (or
hundreds) of users look on in abject horror.   Their
rights of free expression are cut short.  Their right to
associate with other people is infringed.  And their
privacy is violated as their private electronic mail
becomes police property.

        Not a soul spoke up to defend the practice of
seizing boards.   The issue passed in chastened
silence.   Legal principles aside -- (and those
principles cannot be settled without laws passed or
court precedents) -- seizing bulletin boards has
become public-relations poison for American
computer police.

        And anyway, it's not entirely necessary.  If you're
a cop, you can get 'most everything you need from a
pirate board, just by using an inside informant.
Plenty of vigilantes -- well, *concerned citizens* --
will inform police the moment they see a pirate
board hit their area  (and will tell the police all about
it, in such technical detail, actually, that you kinda
wish they'd shut up).   They will happily supply police
with extensive downloads or printouts.  It's
*impossible* to keep this fluid electronic
information out of the hands of police.

        Some people in the electronic community
become enraged at the prospect of cops
"monitoring" bulletin boards.   This does have
touchy aspects, as Secret Service people in
particular examine bulletin boards with some
regularity.    But to expect electronic police to be
deaf dumb and blind in regard to this particular
medium rather flies in the face of common sense.
Police watch television, listen to radio, read
newspapers and magazines; why should the new
medium of boards be different?   Cops can exercise
the same access to electronic information as
everybody else.   As we have seen, quite a few
computer police maintain *their own*  bulletin
boards, including anti-hacker "sting" boards, which
have generally proven quite effective.

        As a final clincher, their Mountie friends in
Canada (and colleagues in Ireland and Taiwan)
don't have First Amendment or American
constitutional restrictions, but they do have phone
lines, and can call any bulletin board in America
whenever they please.  The same technological
determinants that play into the hands of hackers,
phone phreaks and software pirates can play into
the hands of police.  "Technological determinants"
don't have *any*  human allegiances.  They're not
black or white, or Establishment or Underground, or
pro-or-anti anything.

        Godwin  complained at length about what he
called "the Clever Hobbyist hypothesis"  -- the
assumption that the "hacker" you're busting is
clearly a technical genius, and must therefore by
searched with extreme thoroughness.  So:  from the
law's point of view, why risk missing anything?  Take
the works.  Take the guy's computer.  Take his books.
Take his notebooks.  Take the electronic drafts of his
love letters. Take his Walkman.  Take his wife's
computer.  Take his dad's computer.  Take his kid
sister's computer.   Take his employer's computer.
Take his compact disks -- they *might* be CD-ROM
disks, cunningly disguised as pop music.  Take his
laser printer -- he might have hidden something
vital in the printer's 5meg of memory.  Take his
software manuals and hardware documentation.
Take his science-fiction novels and his simulation-
gaming books.  Take his Nintendo Game-Boy and
his Pac-Man arcade game.  Take his answering
machine, take his telephone out of the wall.  Take
anything remotely suspicious.

        Godwin pointed out that most "hackers" are not,
in fact, clever genius hobbyists.  Quite a few are
crooks and grifters who don't have much in the way
of technical sophistication; just some rule-of-thumb
rip-off techniques.  The same goes for most fifteen-
year-olds who've downloaded a code-scanning
program from a pirate board.   There's no real need
to seize everything in sight.  It doesn't require an
entire computer system and ten thousand disks to
prove a case in court.

        What if the computer is the instrumentality of a
crime? someone demanded.

        Godwin admitted quietly that the doctrine of
seizing the instrumentality of a crime was pretty well
established in the American legal system.

        The meeting broke up.  Godwin and Kapor had
to leave.  Kapor was testifying next morning before
the Massachusetts Department Of Public Utility,
about ISDN narrowband wide-area networking.

        As soon as they were gone, Thackeray seemed
elated.   She had taken a great risk with this.  Her
colleagues had not, in fact, torn Kapor and Godwin's
heads off.  She was very proud of them, and told
them so.

        "Did you hear what Godwin said about
*instrumentality of a crime?*"  she exulted, to
nobody in particular.  "Wow, that means *Mitch isn't
going to sue me.*"


        America's computer police are an interesting
group.  As a social phenomenon they are far more
interesting, and far more important, than teenage
phone phreaks and computer hackers.  First, they're
older and wiser; not dizzy hobbyists with leaky
morals, but  seasoned adult professionals with all the
responsibilities of public service.  And, unlike
hackers, they possess not merely *technical* power
alone, but heavy-duty legal and social authority.

        And, very interestingly, they are just as much at
sea in cyberspace as everyone else.  They are not
happy about this.  Police are authoritarian by nature,
and prefer to obey rules and precedents.   (Even
those police who secretly enjoy a fast ride in rough
territory will soberly disclaim any "cowboy" attitude.)
But in cyberspace there *are*  no rules and
precedents.  They are groundbreaking pioneers,
Cyberspace Rangers, whether they like it or not.

        In my opinion, any teenager enthralled by
computers, fascinated by the ins and outs of
computer security, and attracted by the lure of
specialized forms of knowledge and power, would do
well to forget all about "hacking" and set his (or her)
sights on becoming a fed.   Feds can trump hackers
at almost every single thing hackers do, including
gathering intelligence, undercover disguise,
trashing, phone-tapping,  building dossiers,
networking, and infiltrating computer systems --
*criminal* computer systems.   Secret Service agents
know more about phreaking, coding and carding
than most phreaks can find out in years, and when it
comes to viruses, break-ins, software bombs and
trojan horses, Feds have direct access to red-hot
confidential information that is only vague rumor in
the underground.

        And if it's an impressive public rep you're after,
there are few people in the world who can be so
chillingly impressive as a well-trained, well-armed
United States Secret Service agent.

         Of course, a few personal sacrifices are
necessary in order to obtain that power and
knowledge.  First, you'll have the galling discipline of
belonging to a large organization;  but the world of
computer crime is still so small, and so amazingly
fast-moving, that it will remain spectacularly fluid for
years to come.   The second sacrifice is that you'll
have to give up ripping people off.  This is not a great
loss.  Abstaining from the use of illegal drugs, also
necessary, will be a boon to your health.

        A career in computer security is not a bad
choice for a young man or woman today.  The field
will almost certainly expand drastically in years to
come.  If you are a teenager today, by the time you
become a professional, the pioneers you have read
about in this book will be the grand old men and
women of the field, swamped by their many
disciples and successors.   Of course, some of them,
like William P. Wood of the 1865 Secret Service,
may well be mangled in the whirring machinery of
legal controversy; but by the time you enter the
computer-crime field, it may have stabilized
somewhat, while remaining entertainingly

        But you can't just have a badge.  You have to win
it.  First, there's the federal law enforcement
training.  And it's hard -- it's a challenge.  A real
challenge -- not for wimps and rodents.

        Every Secret Service agent must complete
gruelling courses at the Federal Law Enforcement
Training Center.  (In fact, Secret Service agents are
periodically re-trained during their entire careers.)

        In order to get a glimpse of what this might be
like, I myself travelled to FLETC.


        The Federal Law Enforcement Training Center
is a 1500-acre facility on Georgia's Atlantic coast.   It's
a milieu of marshgrass, seabirds,  damp, clinging
sea-breezes, palmettos, mosquitos, and bats.   Until
1974, it was a  Navy Air Base, and still features a
working runway, and some WWII vintage
blockhouses and officers' quarters.  The Center has
since benefitted by a forty-million-dollar retrofit, but
there's still enough forest and swamp on the facility
for the Border Patrol to put in tracking practice.

        As a town, "Glynco" scarcely exists.  The nearest
real town is Brunswick, a few miles down Highway 17,
where I stayed at the aptly named Marshview
Holiday Inn.   I had Sunday dinner at a seafood
restaurant called "Jinright's," where I feasted on
deep-fried alligator tail.  This local favorite was a
heaped basket of bite-sized chunks of white, tender,
almost fluffy reptile meat, steaming in a peppered
batter crust.  Alligator makes a culinary experience
that's hard to forget, especially when liberally basted
with homemade cocktail sauce from a Jinright

        The crowded clientele were tourists, fishermen,
local black folks in their Sunday best, and white
Georgian locals who all seemed to bear an uncanny
resemblance to Georgia humorist Lewis Grizzard.

        The 2,400 students from 75 federal agencies who
make up the FLETC population scarcely seem to
make a dent in the low-key local scene.   The
students look like tourists, and the teachers seem to
have taken on much of the relaxed air of the Deep
South.   My host was Mr. Carlton Fitzpatrick, the
Program Coordinator of the Financial Fraud
Institute.  Carlton Fitzpatrick is a mustached, sinewy,
well-tanned Alabama native somewhere near his
late forties, with a fondness for chewing tobacco,
powerful computers, and salty, down-home homilies.
We'd met before, at FCIC in Arizona.

        The Financial Fraud Institute is one of the nine
divisions at FLETC. Besides Financial Fraud, there's
Driver & Marine, Firearms, and Physical Training.
These are specialized pursuits.  There are also five
general training divisions:  Basic Training,
Operations, Enforcement Techniques, Legal
Division, and Behavioral Science.

        Somewhere in this curriculum is everything
necessary to turn green college graduates into
federal agents.  First they're given ID cards. Then
they get the rather miserable-looking blue coveralls
known as "smurf suits."  The trainees are assigned a
barracks and a cafeteria, and immediately set on
FLETC's bone-grinding physical training routine.
Besides the obligatory  daily jogging -- (the trainers
run up danger flags beside the track when the
humidity rises high enough to threaten heat stroke) -
- there's the Nautilus machines, the martial arts, the
survival skills....

        The eighteen federal agencies who maintain on-
site academies at FLETC employ a wide variety of
specialized law enforcement units, some of them
rather arcane.   There's Border Patrol, IRS Criminal
Investigation Division, Park Service, Fish and
Wildlife, Customs, Immigration, Secret Service and
the Treasury's uniformed subdivisions....  If you're a
federal cop and you don't work for the FBI, you train
at FLETC.   This includes people as apparently
obscure as the agents of the Railroad Retirement
Board Inspector General.  Or the Tennessee Valley
Authority Police, who are in fact federal police
officers, and can and do arrest criminals on the
federal property of the Tennessee Valley Authority.

        And then there are the computer-crime people.
All sorts, all backgrounds.  Mr. Fitzpatrick  is not
jealous of his specialized knowledge.   Cops all over,
in every branch of service, may feel a need to learn
what he can teach.   Backgrounds don't matter
much.  Fitzpatrick himself  was originally a Border
Patrol veteran, then became a Border Patrol
instructor at FLETC.  His Spanish is still fluent -- but
he found himself strangely fascinated when the first
computers showed up at the Training Center.
Fitzpatrick did have a background in electrical
engineering, and though he never considered
himself a computer hacker, he somehow found
himself writing useful little programs for this new
and promising gizmo.

        He began looking into the general subject of
computers and crime, reading Donn Parker's books
and articles, keeping an ear cocked for war stories,
useful insights from the field, the up-and-coming
people of the local computer-crime and high-
technology units....  Soon he got a reputation around
FLETC as the resident "computer expert," and that
reputation alone brought him more exposure, more
experience -- until one day he looked around, and
sure enough he *was*  a federal computer-crime

        In fact, this unassuming, genial man may be
*the*  federal computer-crime expert.   There are
plenty of very good computer people, and plenty of
very good federal investigators, but the area where
these worlds of expertise overlap is very slim.  And
Carlton Fitzpatrick has been right at the center of
that since 1985, the first year of the Colluquy, a group
which owes much to his influence.

        He seems quite at home in his modest,
acoustic-tiled office, with its Ansel Adams-style
Western photographic art, a gold-framed Senior
Instructor Certificate, and a towering bookcase
crammed with three-ring binders with ominous titles
such as *Datapro Reports on Information Security*
and *CFCA Telecom Security '90.*

         The phone rings every ten minutes; colleagues
show up at the door to chat about new developments
in locksmithing or to shake their heads over the
latest dismal developments in the BCCI global
banking scandal.

        Carlton Fitzpatrick is a fount of computer-crime
war-stories, related in an acerbic drawl.  He tells me
the colorful tale of a hacker caught in California
some years back.   He'd been raiding systems,
typing code without a detectable break, for twenty,
twenty-four, thirty-six hours straight.  Not just logged
on -- *typing.*   Investigators were baffled.  Nobody
could do that.  Didn't he have to go to the bathroom?
Was it some kind of automatic keyboard-whacking
device that could actually type code?

        A raid on the suspect's home revealed a
situation of astonishing squalor.  The hacker turned
out to be a Pakistani computer-science student who
had flunked out of a California university.  He'd
gone completely underground as an illegal
electronic immigrant,  and was selling stolen phone-
service to stay alive.  The place was not merely
messy and dirty, but in a state of psychotic disorder.
Powered by some weird mix of culture shock,
computer addiction, and amphetamines, the
suspect had in fact been sitting in front of his
computer for a day and a half straight, with snacks
and drugs at hand on the edge of his desk and a
chamber-pot under his chair.

        Word about stuff like this gets around in the
hacker-tracker community.

        Carlton Fitzpatrick takes me for a guided tour
by car around the FLETC grounds.   One of our first
sights is the biggest indoor firing range in the world.
There are federal trainees in there, Fitzpatrick
assures me politely, blasting away with a wide variety
of automatic weapons: Uzis, Glocks, AK-47s....   He's
willing to take me inside.   I tell him I'm sure that's
really interesting, but I'd rather see his computers.
Carlton Fitzpatrick seems quite surprised and
pleased.  I'm apparently the first journalist he's ever
seen who has turned down the shooting gallery in
favor of microchips.

        Our next stop is a favorite with touring
Congressmen:  the three-mile long FLETC driving
range.  Here trainees of the Driver & Marine
Division are taught high-speed pursuit skills, setting
and breaking road-blocks, diplomatic security
driving for VIP limousines....  A favorite FLETC
pastime is to strap a passing Senator into the
passenger seat beside a Driver & Marine trainer, hit
a hundred miles an hour, then take it right into "the
skid-pan," a section of greased track  where two tons
of Detroit iron can whip and spin like a hockey puck.

        Cars don't fare well at FLETC.   First they're
rifled again and again for search practice.  Then they
do  25,000 miles of high-speed pursuit training; they
get about seventy miles per set of steel-belted
radials.   Then it's off to the skid pan, where
sometimes they roll and tumble headlong in the
grease.   When they're sufficiently grease-stained,
dented, and creaky, they're sent to the roadblock
unit, where they're battered without pity.  And finally
then they're sacrificed to the Bureau of Alcohol,
Tobacco and Firearms, whose trainees learn the ins
and outs of car-bomb work by blowing them into
smoking wreckage.

        There's a railroad box-car on the FLETC
grounds, and a large grounded boat, and a propless
plane; all training-grounds for searches.   The plane
sits forlornly on a patch of weedy tarmac next to an
eerie blockhouse known as the "ninja compound,"
where anti-terrorism specialists practice hostage
rescues.  As I gaze on this creepy paragon of modern
low-intensity warfare, my nerves are jangled by a
sudden staccato outburst of automatic weapons fire,
somewhere in the woods to my right.  "Nine-
millimeter," Fitzpatrick judges calmly.

        Even the eldritch ninja compound pales
somewhat compared to the truly surreal area known
as "the raid-houses."   This is a street lined on both
sides with nondescript concrete-block houses with
flat pebbled roofs.  They were once officers' quarters.
Now they are training grounds.   The first one to our
left, Fitzpatrick tells me, has been specially adapted
for computer search-and-seizure practice.  Inside it
has been wired for video from top to bottom, with
eighteen pan-and-tilt remotely controlled
videocams mounted on walls and in corners.  Every
movement of the trainee agent is recorded live by
teachers, for later taped analysis.  Wasted
movements, hesitations, possibly lethal tactical
mistakes -- all are gone over in detail.

        Perhaps the weirdest single aspect of this
building is its front door, scarred and scuffed all
along the bottom, from the repeated impact, day
after day, of federal shoe-leather.

        Down at the far end of the row of raid-houses
some people are practicing a murder.   We drive by
slowly as some very young and rather nervous-
looking federal trainees interview a heavyset bald
man on the raid-house lawn.  Dealing with murder
takes a lot of practice; first you have to learn to
control your own instinctive disgust and panic,  then
you have to learn to control the reactions of a nerve-
shredded crowd of civilians, some of whom may
have just lost a loved one, some of whom may be
murderers -- quite possibly both at once.

        A dummy plays the corpse.  The roles of the
bereaved, the morbidly curious, and the homicidal
are played, for pay, by local Georgians:  waitresses,
musicians, most anybody who needs to moonlight
and can learn a script.   These people, some of whom
are FLETC regulars year after year, must surely have
one of the strangest jobs in the world.

        Something about the scene:  "normal" people in
a weird situation, standing around talking in bright
Georgia sunshine, unsuccessfully pretending that
something dreadful has gone on, while a dummy lies
inside on faked bloodstains....  While behind this
weird masquerade, like a nested set of Russian dolls,
are grim future realities of real death, real violence,
real murders of real people, that these young agents
will really investigate, many times during their
careers....  Over and over....  Will those anticipated
murders look like this, feel like this -- not as "real" as
these amateur actors are trying to make it seem, but
both as "real," and as numbingly unreal, as watching
fake people standing around on a fake lawn?
Something about this scene unhinges me.  It seems
nightmarish to me,  Kafkaesque.   I simply don't
know how to take it; my head is turned around; I
don't know whether to laugh, cry, or just shudder.

        When the tour is over, Carlton Fitzpatrick and I
talk about computers.  For the first time cyberspace
seems like quite a comfortable place.  It seems very
real to me suddenly, a place where I know what I'm
talking about, a place I'm used to.   It's real.  "Real."

        Carlton Fitzpatrick is the only person I've met in
cyberspace circles who is happy with his present
equipment.  He's got a 5 Meg RAM PC with a 112
meg hard disk; a 660 meg's on the way.  He's got a
Compaq 386 desktop, and a Zenith 386 laptop with
120 meg.  Down the hall is a NEC Multi-Sync 2A with
a CD-ROM drive and a 9600 baud modem with four
com-lines.  There's a training minicomputer, and a
10-meg local mini just for the Center, and a lab-full
of student PC clones and half-a-dozen Macs or so.
There's a Data General MV 2500 with 8 meg on
board and a 370 meg disk.

        Fitzpatrick plans to run a UNIX board on the
Data General when he's finished beta-testing the
software for it, which he wrote himself.  It'll have E-
mail features, massive files on all manner of
computer-crime and investigation procedures, and
will follow the computer-security specifics of the
Department of Defense "Orange Book."  He thinks
it will be the biggest BBS in the federal government.

         Will it have *Phrack* on it?  I ask wryly.

        Sure, he tells me.  *Phrack,* *TAP,*  *Computer
Underground Digest,* all that stuff.  With  proper
disclaimers, of course.

        I ask him if he plans to be the sysop.  Running a
system that size is very time-consuming, and
Fitzpatrick teaches two three-hour courses every

        No, he says seriously,  FLETC has to get its
money worth out of the instructors.  He thinks he
can get a local volunteer to do it, a high-school

        He says a bit more, something I think about an
Eagle Scout law-enforcement liaison program, but
my mind has rocketed off in disbelief.

        "You're going to put a *teenager* in charge of a
federal security BBS?"  I'm speechless.  It hasn't
escaped my notice that the FLETC Financial Fraud
Institute is the *ultimate* hacker-trashing target;
there is stuff in here, stuff of such utter and
consummate cool by every standard of the digital
underground.... I imagine the hackers of my
acquaintance, fainting dead-away from forbidden-
knowledge greed-fits, at the mere prospect of
cracking the superultra top-secret computers used
to train the Secret Service in computer-crime....

        "Uhm, Carlton," I babble, "I'm sure he's a really
nice kid and all, but that's a terrible temptation to
set in front of somebody who's, you know, into
computers and just starting out..."

        "Yeah," he says, "that did occur to me."  For the
first time I begin to suspect that he's pulling my leg.

        He seems proudest when he shows me an
ongoing project called JICC, Joint Intelligence
Control Council.  It's based on the services provided
by EPIC, the El Paso Intelligence Center, which
supplies data and intelligence to the Drug
Enforcement Administration, the Customs Service,
the Coast Guard, and the state police of the four
southern border states.  Certain EPIC files can now
be accessed by drug-enforcement police of Central
America, South America and the Caribbean, who
can also trade information among themselves.
Using a telecom program called "White Hat,"
written by two brothers named Lopez from the
Dominican Republic, police can now network
internationally on inexpensive PCs.   Carlton
Fitzpatrick is teaching a class of drug-war agents
from the Third World, and he's very proud of their
progress.   Perhaps soon the sophisticated
smuggling networks of the Medellin Cartel will be
matched by a sophisticated computer network of the
Medellin Cartel's sworn enemies.   They'll track
boats, track contraband, track the international
drug-lords who now leap over borders with great
ease, defeating the police through the clever use of
fragmented national jurisdictions.

        JICC and EPIC must remain beyond the scope
of this book.   They seem to me to be very large
topics fraught with complications that I am not fit to
judge.   I do know, however, that the international,
computer-assisted networking of police, across
national boundaries, is something that Carlton
Fitzpatrick considers very important, a harbinger of
a desirable future.  I also know that networks by their
nature ignore physical boundaries.  And I also know
that where you put communications you put a
community, and that when those communities
become self-aware they will fight to preserve
themselves and to expand their influence.   I make
no judgements whether this is good or bad.  It's just
cyberspace; it's just the way things are.

        I asked Carlton Fitzpatrick what advice he
would have for a twenty-year-old who wanted to
shine someday in the world of electronic law

        He told me that the number one rule was
simply not to be scared of computers.   You don't
need to be an obsessive "computer weenie," but you
mustn't be buffaloed just because some machine
looks fancy.  The advantages computers give smart
crooks are matched by the advantages they give
smart cops.  Cops in the future will have to enforce
the law "with their heads, not their holsters."   Today
you can make good cases without ever leaving your
office.  In the future, cops who resist the computer
revolution will never get far beyond walking a beat.

        I asked Carlton Fitzpatrick if he had some single
message for the public; some single thing that he
would most like the American public to know about
his work.

        He thought about it while.  "Yes," he said finally.
"*Tell* me the rules, and I'll *teach* those rules!"  He
looked me straight in the eye.  "I do the best that I
Bruce Sterling

Literary Freeware:  Not for Commercial Use

                            THE HACKER CRACKDOWN

                   Law and Disorder on the Electronic Frontier


        The story of the Hacker Crackdown, as we have
followed it thus far, has been technological, subcultural,
criminal and legal.  The story of the Civil Libertarians,
though it partakes of all those other aspects, is profoundly
and thoroughly *political.*

         In 1990, the obscure, long-simmering struggle over
the ownership and nature of cyberspace became loudly
and irretrievably public.  People from some of the oddest
corners of American society suddenly found themselves
public figures.   Some of these people found this situation
much more than they had ever bargained for.  They
backpedalled, and tried to retreat back to the mandarin
obscurity of their cozy subcultural niches.   This was
generally to prove a mistake.

        But the civil libertarians seized the day in 1990.  They
found themselves organizing, propagandizing, podium-
pounding, persuading, touring, negotiating, posing for
publicity photos, submitting to interviews, squinting in the
limelight as they tried a tentative, but growingly
sophisticated, buck-and-wing upon the public stage.

        It's not hard to see why the civil libertarians should
have this competitive advantage.

        The  hackers  of the digital underground are an
hermetic elite.  They find it hard to make any remotely
convincing case for their actions in front of the general
public.   Actually, hackers roundly despise the "ignorant"
public, and have never trusted the judgement of "the
system."  Hackers do propagandize, but only among
themselves, mostly in giddy, badly spelled manifestos of
class warfare, youth rebellion or naive techie utopianism.
Hackers must strut and boast in order to establish and
preserve their underground reputations.  But if they speak
out too loudly and publicly, they will break the fragile
surface-tension of the underground, and they will be
harrassed or arrested.   Over the longer term, most
hackers stumble, get busted, get betrayed, or simply give
up.   As a political force, the digital underground is

        The telcos, for their part, are an ivory tower under
protracted seige.  They have plenty of money with which to
push their calculated public image, but they waste much
energy and goodwill attacking one another with
slanderous and demeaning ad campaigns.   The telcos
have suffered at the hands of politicians, and, like hackers,
they don't trust the public's judgement.  And this distrust
may be well-founded.  Should the general public of the
high-tech 1990s come to understand its own best interests
in telecommunications, that might well pose a grave
threat to the specialized technical power and authority
that the telcos have relished for over a century.   The telcos
do have strong advantages: loyal employees, specialized
expertise,  influence in the halls of power, tactical allies in
law enforcement, and unbelievably vast amounts of
money.  But politically speaking, they lack genuine
grassroots support; they simply don't seem to have many

        Cops know a lot of things other people don't know.
But cops willingly reveal only those aspects of their
knowledge that they feel will meet their institutional
purposes and further public order.   Cops have respect,
they have responsibilities, they have power in the streets
and even power in the home, but cops don't do
particularly well in limelight.   When pressed, they will
step out in the public gaze to threaten bad-guys, or to
cajole prominent citizens, or perhaps to sternly lecture the
naive and misguided.   But then they go back within their
time-honored fortress of the station-house, the courtroom
and the rule-book.

        The electronic civil libertarians, however, have
proven to be born political animals.   They seemed to
grasp very early on the postmodern truism that
communication is power.   Publicity is power.  Soundbites
are power.  The ability to shove one's issue onto the public
agenda -- and *keep it there* -- is power.  Fame is power.
Simple personal fluency and eloquence can be power, if
you can somehow catch the public's eye and ear.

        The civil libertarians had no monopoly on "technical
power" -- though they all owned computers, most were not
particularly advanced computer experts.  They had a good
deal of money, but nowhere near the earthshaking wealth
and the galaxy of resources possessed by telcos or federal
agencies.   They had no ability to arrest people.   They
carried out no phreak and hacker covert dirty-tricks.

        But they really knew how to network.

        Unlike the other groups in this book, the civil
libertarians have operated very much in the open, more or
less right in the public hurly-burly.  They have lectured
audiences galore and talked to countless journalists, and
have learned to refine their spiels.   They've kept the
cameras clicking, kept those faxes humming, swapped
that email, run those photocopiers on overtime, licked
envelopes and spent small fortunes on airfare and long-
distance.  In an information society, this open, overt,
obvious activity has proven to be a profound advantage.

        In 1990, the civil libertarians of cyberspace
assembled out of nowhere in particular, at warp speed.
This "group" (actually, a networking gaggle of interested
parties which scarcely deserves even that loose term)  has
almost nothing in the way of formal organization.   Those
formal civil libertarian organizations which did take an
interest in cyberspace issues, mainly the Computer
Professionals for Social Responsibility and the American
Civil Liberties Union, were carried along by events in 1990,
and acted mostly as adjuncts, underwriters or launching-

        The civil libertarians nevertheless enjoyed the
greatest success of any of the groups in the Crackdown of
1990.  At this writing, their future looks rosy and the
political initiative is firmly in their hands.   This should be
kept in mind as we study the highly unlikely lives and
lifestyles of the people who actually made this happen.


        In June 1989, Apple Computer, Inc., of Cupertino,
California, had a problem.   Someone had illicitly copied a
small piece of Apple's proprietary software, software which
controlled an internal chip driving the Macintosh screen
display.   This Color QuickDraw source code was a closely
guarded piece of Apple's intellectual property.  Only
trusted Apple insiders were supposed to possess it.

        But the "NuPrometheus League" wanted things
otherwise.  This person (or persons) made several illicit
copies of this source code, perhaps as many as two dozen.
He (or she, or they)  then put those illicit floppy disks into
envelopes and mailed them to people all over America:
people in the computer industry who were associated with,
but not directly employed by, Apple Computer.

        The NuPrometheus caper was a complex, highly
ideological, and very hacker-like crime.  Prometheus, it
will be recalled, stole the fire of the Gods and gave this
potent gift to the general ranks of downtrodden mankind.
A similar god-in-the-manger attitude was implied for the
corporate elite of Apple Computer, while the "Nu"
Prometheus had himself cast in the role of rebel demigod.
The illicitly copied data was given away for free.

        The  new Prometheus, whoever he was, escaped the
fate of the ancient Greek Prometheus, who was chained to
a rock for centuries by the vengeful gods while an eagle
tore and ate his liver.   On the other hand, NuPrometheus
chickened out somewhat by comparison with his role
model.  The small chunk of Color QuickDraw code he had
filched and replicated was more or less useless to Apple's
industrial rivals (or, in fact, to anyone else).   Instead of
giving fire to mankind, it was more as if NuPrometheus
had photocopied the schematics for part of a Bic lighter.
The act was not a genuine work of industrial espionage.  It
was best interpreted as a symbolic, deliberate slap in the
face for the Apple corporate heirarchy.

        Apple's internal struggles were well-known in the
industry.  Apple's founders, Jobs and Wozniak, had both
taken their leave long since.  Their raucous core of senior
employees had been a barnstorming crew of 1960s
Californians, many of them markedly less than happy with
the new button-down multimillion dollar regime at Apple.
Many of the programmers and developers who had
invented the Macintosh model in the early 1980s had also
taken their leave of the company.  It was they, not the
current masters of Apple's corporate fate, who had
invented the stolen Color QuickDraw code.  The
NuPrometheus stunt was well-calculated to wound
company morale.

        Apple called the FBI.  The Bureau takes an interest in
high-profile intellectual-property theft cases, industrial
espionage and theft of trade secrets.   These were likely
the right people to call, and rumor has it that the entities
responsible were in fact discovered by the FBI, and then
quietly squelched by Apple management.  NuPrometheus
was never publicly charged with a crime, or prosecuted, or
jailed.  But there were no further illicit releases of
Macintosh internal software.  Eventually the painful issue
of NuPrometheus was allowed to fade.

        In the meantime, however, a large number of puzzled
bystanders found themselves entertaining surprise guests
from the FBI.

        One of these people was John Perry Barlow.    Barlow
is a most unusual man, difficult to describe in
conventional terms.   He is perhaps best known as a
songwriter for the Grateful Dead, for he composed lyrics
for "Hell in a Bucket,"  "Picasso Moon,"  "Mexicali Blues,"
"I Need a Miracle," and many more; he has been writing
for the band since 1970.

        Before we tackle the vexing question as to why a rock
lyricist should be interviewed by the FBI in a computer-
crime case, it might be well to say a word or two about the
Grateful Dead.   The Grateful Dead are perhaps the most
successful and long-lasting of the numerous cultural
emanations from the Haight-Ashbury district of San
Francisco, in the glory days of Movement politics and
lysergic transcendance.   The Grateful Dead are a nexus, a
veritable whirlwind, of  applique decals, psychedelic vans,
tie-dyed T-shirts, earth-color denim, frenzied dancing and
open and unashamed drug use.  The symbols, and the
realities, of Californian freak power surround the Grateful
Dead like knotted macrame.

        The Grateful Dead and their thousands of Deadhead
devotees are radical Bohemians.   This much is widely
understood.   Exactly what this implies in the 1990s is
rather more problematic.

        The Grateful Dead are among the world's most
popular and wealthy entertainers: number 20,  according
to *Forbes* magazine, right between M.C. Hammer and
Sean Connery.  In 1990, this jeans-clad group of purported
raffish outcasts earned seventeen million dollars.  They
have been earning sums much along this line for quite
some time now.

        And while the Dead are not investment bankers or
three-piece-suit tax specialists -- they are, in point of fact,
hippie musicians -- this money has not been squandered
in senseless Bohemian excess.   The Dead have been
quietly active for many years, funding various worthy
activities in their  extensive and widespread cultural

        The Grateful Dead are not conventional players in
the American power establishment.  They nevertheless
are something of a force to be reckoned with.  They have a
lot of money and a lot of friends in many places, both
likely and unlikely.

        The Dead may be known for back-to-the-earth
environmentalist rhetoric, but this hardly makes them
anti-technological Luddites.  On the contrary, like most
rock musicians, the Grateful Dead have spent their entire
adult lives in the company of complex electronic
equipment.  They have funds to burn on any sophisticated
tool and toy that might happen to catch their fancy.   And
their fancy is quite extensive.

        The Deadhead community boasts any number of
recording engineers, lighting experts, rock video mavens,
electronic technicians of all descriptions.  And the drift
goes both ways.  Steve Wozniak, Apple's co-founder, used
to throw rock festivals.   Silicon Valley rocks out.

        These are the 1990s, not the 1960s.  Today, for a
surprising number of people all over America, the
supposed dividing line between Bohemian and technician
simply no longer exists.  People of this sort may have a set
of windchimes and a dog with a knotted kerchief 'round its
neck, but they're also quite likely to own a multimegabyte
Macintosh running MIDI synthesizer software and trippy
fractal simulations.   These days, even Timothy Leary
himself, prophet of LSD, does virtual-reality computer-
graphics demos in his lecture tours.

        John Perry Barlow is not a member of the Grateful
Dead.  He is, however, a ranking Deadhead.

        Barlow describes himself as a "techno-crank."   A
vague term like "social activist" might not be far from the
mark, either.  But Barlow might be better described as a
"poet" -- if one keeps in mind  Percy Shelley's archaic
definition of poets as "unacknowledged legislators of the

        Barlow once made a stab at acknowledged legislator
status.  In 1987, he narrowly missed the Republican
nomination for a seat in the Wyoming State Senate.
Barlow is a Wyoming native, the third-generation scion of
a well-to-do cattle-ranching family.   He is in his early
forties, married and the father of three daughters.

        Barlow is not much troubled by other people's narrow
notions of consistency.  In the late 1980s, this Republican
rock lyricist cattle rancher sold his ranch and became a
computer telecommunications devotee.

        The free-spirited Barlow made this transition with
ease.  He genuinely enjoyed computers.   With a beep of
his modem, he leapt from small-town Pinedale, Wyoming,
into electronic contact with a large and lively crowd of
bright, inventive, technological sophisticates from all over
the world.   Barlow found the social milieu of computing
attractive: its fast-lane pace, its blue-sky rhetoric, its open-
endedness.   Barlow began dabbling in computer
journalism, with marked success, as he was a quick study,
and both shrewd and eloquent.  He frequently travelled to
San Francisco to network with Deadhead friends.  There
Barlow made extensive contacts throughout the
Californian computer community, including friendships
among the wilder spirits at Apple.

        In May 1990, Barlow received a visit from a local
Wyoming agent of the FBI.  The NuPrometheus case had
reached Wyoming.

        Barlow was troubled to find himself under
investigation in an area of his interests once quite free of
federal attention.   He had to struggle to explain the very
nature of computer-crime to a headscratching local FBI
man who specialized in cattle-rustling.   Barlow, chatting
helpfully and demonstrating the wonders of his modem to
the puzzled fed, was alarmed to find all "hackers"
generally under FBI suspicion as an evil influence in the
electronic community.   The FBI, in pursuit of a hacker
called "NuPrometheus," were tracing attendees of a
suspect group called the Hackers Conference.

        The Hackers Conference, which had been started in
1984,  was a yearly Californian meeting of digital pioneers
and enthusiasts.  The hackers of the Hackers Conference
had little if anything to do with the hackers of the digital
underground.   On the contrary, the hackers of this
conference were mostly well-to-do Californian high-tech
CEOs, consultants, journalists and entrepreneurs.   (This
group of hackers were the exact sort of "hackers" most
likely to react with militant fury at any criminal
degradation of the term "hacker.")

        Barlow, though he was not arrested or accused of a
crime, and though his computer had certainly not gone
out the door, was very troubled by this anomaly.  He
carried the word to the Well.

         Like the Hackers Conference,  "the Well" was an
emanation of the Point Foundation.   Point Foundation,
the inspiration of a wealthy Californian 60s radical named
Stewart Brand, was to be a major launch-pad of the civil
libertarian effort.

        Point Foundation's cultural efforts, like those of their
fellow Bay Area Californians the Grateful Dead, were
multifaceted and multitudinous.  Rigid ideological
consistency had never been a strong suit of the *Whole
Earth Catalog.*   This Point publication had enjoyed a
strong vogue during the late 60s and early 70s, when it
offered hundreds of practical (and not so practical) tips on
communitarian living, environmentalism, and getting
back-to-the-land.   The *Whole Earth Catalog,* and its
sequels, sold two and half million copies and won a
National Book Award.

        With the slow collapse of American radical dissent,
the *Whole Earth Catalog* had slipped to a more modest
corner of the cultural radar; but in its magazine
incarnation, *CoEvolution Quarterly,*  the Point
Foundation continued to offer a magpie potpourri of
"access to tools and ideas."

        *CoEvolution Quarterly,*  which started in 1974, was
never a widely popular magazine.  Despite periodic
outbreaks of millenarian fervor, *CoEvolution Quarterly*
failed to revolutionize Western civilization and replace
leaden centuries of history with bright new Californian
paradigms.  Instead, this propaganda arm of Point
Foundation cakewalked a fine line between impressive
brilliance and New Age flakiness.  *CoEvolution
Quarterly*  carried no advertising, cost a lot, and came out
on cheap newsprint with modest black-and-white
graphics.  It was poorly distributed, and spread mostly by
subscription and word of mouth.

        It could not seem to grow beyond 30,000 subscribers.
And yet -- it never seemed to shrink much, either.  Year in,
year out, decade in, decade out, some strange
demographic minority accreted to support the magazine.
The enthusiastic readership did not seem to have much in
the way of coherent politics or  ideals.  It was sometimes
hard to understand what held them together (if the often
bitter debate in the letter-columns could be described as

        But if the magazine did not flourish, it was resilient; it
got by.  Then, in 1984, the birth-year of the Macintosh
computer, *CoEvolution Quarterly* suddenly hit the
rapids.  Point Foundation had discovered the computer
revolution.  Out came the *Whole Earth Software Catalog*
of 1984,  arousing headscratching doubts among the tie-
dyed faithful, and rabid enthusiasm among the nascent
"cyberpunk" milieu, present company included.  Point
Foundation started its yearly Hackers Conference, and
began to take an extensive interest in the strange new
possibilities of digital counterculture.  *CoEvolution
Quarterly* folded its teepee, replaced by *Whole Earth
Software Review*  and eventually by *Whole Earth
Review*  (the magazine's present incarnation, currently
under the editorship of virtual-reality maven Howard

        1985 saw the birth of the "WELL" -- the "Whole Earth
'Lectronic Link."  The Well was Point Foundation's
bulletin board system.

        As boards went, the Well was an anomaly from the
beginning, and remained one.   It was local to San
Francisco.  It was huge, with multiple phonelines and
enormous files of commentary.  Its complex UNIX-based
software might be most charitably described as "user-
opaque."  It was run on a mainframe out of the rambling
offices of a non-profit cultural foundation in Sausalito.
And it was crammed with fans of the Grateful Dead.

        Though the Well was peopled by chattering hipsters
of the Bay Area counterculture, it was by no means a
"digital underground" board.   Teenagers were fairly
scarce; most Well users (known as "Wellbeings") were
thirty- and forty-something Baby Boomers.   They tended
to work in the information industry: hardware, software,
telecommunications, media, entertainment.  Librarians,
academics, and journalists were especially common on
the Well, attracted by Point Foundation's open-handed
distribution of "tools and ideas."

        There were no anarchy files on the Well, scarcely a
dropped hint about access codes or credit-card theft.   No
one used handles.  Vicious "flame-wars" were held to a
comparatively civilized rumble.   Debates were sometimes
sharp, but no Wellbeing ever claimed that a rival had
disconnected his phone, trashed his house, or posted his
credit card numbers.

        The Well grew slowly as the 1980s advanced.  It
charged a modest sum for access and storage, and lost
money for years -- but not enough to hamper the Point
Foundation, which was nonprofit anyway.   By 1990, the
Well had about five thousand users.  These users
wandered about a gigantic cyberspace smorgasbord of
"Conferences", each conference itself consisting of a
welter of "topics," each topic containing dozens,
sometimes hundreds of comments, in a tumbling,
multiperson debate that could last for months or years on

        In 1991, the Well's list of conferences looked like this:

                      CONFERENCES ON THE WELL

                    WELL "Screenzine" Digest    (g zine)

                    Best of the WELL - vintage material -     (g best)

 Index listing of new topics in all conferences -  (g newtops)

                        Business - Education

Apple Library Users Group(g alug)      Agriculture  (g agri)
Brainstorming          (g brain)             Classifieds       (g cla)
Computer Journalism    (g cj)  Consultants       (g consult)
Consumers              (g cons)                Design            (g design)
Desktop Publishing     (g desk)  Disability        (g disability)
Education              (g ed)                Energy            (g energy91)
Entrepreneurs   (g entre)               Homeowners        (g home)
Indexing        (g indexing)     Investments       (g invest)
Kids91                 (g kids)                    Legal             (g legal)
One Person Business    (g one)
Periodical/newsletter(g per)
Telecomm Law           (g tcl)               The Future        (g fut)
Translators            (g trans)               Travel            (g tra)

Work                   (g work)

                Electronic Frontier Foundation    (g eff)
                Computers, Freedom & Privacy      (g cfp)
  Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility  (g cpsr)

                   Social - Political - Humanities

Aging                  (g gray)                      AIDS              (g aids)

Amnesty International  (g amnesty)     Archives          (g arc)
Berkeley               (g berk)     Buddhist          (g wonderland)
Christian              (g cross)                  Couples           (g couples)

Current Events         (g curr)        Dreams            (g dream)
Drugs                  (g dru)                       East Coast        (g east)

Emotional Health****   (g private)      Erotica           (g eros)
Environment            (g env)     Firearms          (g firearms)
First Amendment (g first)    Fringes of Reason (g fringes)
Gay                    (g gay)              Gay (Private)#    (g gaypriv)
Geography              (g geo)             German            (g german)
Gulf War               (g gulf)                    Hawaii            (g aloha)
Health                 (g heal)                     History           (g hist)

Holistic               (g holi)                     Interview         (g inter)

Italian                (g ital)                      Jewish            (g jew)

Liberty                (g liberty)                Mind              (g mind)
Miscellaneous          (g misc) Men on the WELL** (g mow)
Network Integration    (g origin)         Nonprofits        (g non)
North Bay              (g north)                 Northwest         (g nw)
Pacific Rim            (g pacrim)             Parenting         (g par)
Peace                  (g pea)                     Peninsula         (g pen)
Poetry                 (g poetry)                Philosophy        (g phi)
Politics               (g pol)                     Psychology        (g psy)

Psychotherapy   (g therapy)  Recovery##        (g recovery)
San Francisco          (g sanfran)           Scams             (g scam)
Sexuality              (g sex)                    Singles           (g singles)

Southern               (g south)                Spanish           (g spanish)

Spirituality           (g spirit)               Tibet             (g tibet)

Transportation  (g transport)      True Confessions  (g tru)
Unclear (g unclear)   WELL Writer's Workshop***(g www)
Whole Earth (g we)           Women on the WELL*(g wow)
Words                  (g words)                 Writers           (g wri)

**** Private Conference - mail wooly for entry
***Private conference - mail sonia for entry
** Private conference - mail flash for entry
*  Private conference - mail reva for entry
#  Private Conference - mail hudu for entry
## Private Conference - mail dhawk for entry

                  Arts - Recreation - Entertainment
ArtCom Electronic Net  (g acen)
Audio-Videophilia (g aud)
Bicycles               (g bike)                  Bay Area Tonight**(g bat)
Boating                (g wet)                  Books             (g books)

CD's                   (g cd)                        Comics            (g comic
Cooking                (g cook)                 Flying            (g flying)

Fun                    (g fun)                     Games             (g games)

Gardening              (g gard)               Kids              (g kids)
Nightowls*             (g owl)              Jokes             (g jokes)
MIDI                   (g midi)                   Movies            (g movies)

Motorcycling           (g ride)              Motoring          (g car)
Music                  (g mus)                  On Stage          (g onstage)

Pets                   (g pets)                  Radio             (g rad)

Restaurant             (g rest)              Science Fiction   (g sf)
Sports                 (g spo)                  Star Trek         (g trek)

Television             (g tv)                  Theater           (g theater)

Weird                  (g weird)              Zines/Factsheet Five(g f5)
* Open from midnight to 6am
** Updated daily

                             Grateful Dead
Grateful Dead          (g gd)          Deadplan*         (g dp)
Deadlit                (g deadlit)       Feedback          (g feedback)
GD Hour                (g gdh)            Tapes             (g tapes)
Tickets                (g tix)              Tours             (g tours)

* Private conference - mail tnf for entry

AI/Forth/Realtime      (g realtime)    Amiga             (g amiga)
Apple                  (g app)       Computer Books    (g cbook)
Art & Graphics         (g gra)                Hacking           (g hack)

HyperCard              (g hype)                IBM PC            (g ibm)
LANs                   (g lan)                      Laptop            (g lap)

Macintosh              (g mac)    Mactech           (g mactech)
Microtimes   (g microx)            Muchomedia        (g mucho)
NeXt                   (g next)                     OS/2              (g os2)

Printers               (g print)                 Programmer's Net  (g net)
Siggraph               (g siggraph)           Software Design   (g sdc)
Software/Programming (software)
Software Support  (g ssc)
Unix                   (g unix)                     Windows           (g window
Word Processing        (g word)

                        Technical - Communications
Bioinfo                (g bioinfo)           Info              (g boing)
Media                  (g media)             NAPLPS            (g naplps)
Netweaver              (g netweaver)   Networld (g networld)
Packet Radio           (g packet)         Photography       (g pho)
Radio                  (g rad)                  Science           (g science)

Technical Writers   (g tec) Telecommunications(g tele)
Usenet                 (g usenet)           Video             (g vid)
Virtual Reality        (g vr)

                              The WELL Itself
Deeper                 (g deeper)           Entry                  (g ent)

General                (g gentech)         Help                   (g help)

Hosts                  (g hosts)              Policy                 (g policy)
System News            (g news)        Test                   (g test)

           The list itself is dazzling, bringing to the untutored
eye a dizzying impression of a bizarre milieu of mountain-
climbing Hawaiian holistic photographers trading true-life
confessions with bisexual word-processing Tibetans.

        But this confusion is more apparent than real.  Each
of these conferences was a little cyberspace world in itself,
comprising dozens and perhaps hundreds of sub-topics.
Each conference was commonly frequented by a fairly
small, fairly like-minded community of perhaps a few
dozen people.   It was  humanly impossible to encompass
the entire Well (especially since access to the Well's
mainframe computer was billed by the hour).  Most long-
time users contented themselves with a few favorite
topical neighborhoods, with the occasional foray
elsewhere for a taste of exotica.   But especially important
news items, and hot topical debates, could catch the
attention of the entire Well community.

        Like any community, the Well had its celebrities, and
John Perry Barlow, the silver-tongued and silver-
modemed lyricist of the Grateful Dead, ranked
prominently among them.  It was here on the Well that
Barlow posted his true-life tale of computer-crime
encounter with the FBI.

        The story, as might be expected, created a great stir.
The Well was already primed for hacker controversy.  In
December 1989, *Harper's* magazine had hosted a
debate on the Well about the ethics of illicit computer
intrusion.   While over forty various computer-mavens
took part,  Barlow proved a star in the debate.   So did
"Acid Phreak" and "Phiber Optik," a pair of young New
York hacker-phreaks whose skills at telco switching-station
intrusion were matched only by their apparently limitless
hunger for fame.   The advent of these two boldly
swaggering outlaws in the precincts of the Well created a
sensation akin to that of Black Panthers at a cocktail party
for the radically chic.

        Phiber Optik in particular was to seize the day in 1990.
A devotee of the *2600* circle and stalwart of the New York
hackers' group "Masters of Deception,"  Phiber Optik was
a splendid exemplar of the computer intruder as
committed dissident.   The eighteen-year-old Optik, a
high-school dropout and part-time computer repairman,
was young, smart, and ruthlessly obsessive, a sharp-
dressing, sharp-talking digital dude who was utterly and
airily contemptuous of anyone's rules but his own.    By
late 1991, Phiber Optik had appeared in *Harper's,*
*Esquire,*  *The New York Times,* in countless public
debates and conventions, even on a television show
hosted by Geraldo Rivera.

        Treated with gingerly respect by Barlow and other
Well mavens,   Phiber Optik swiftly became a Well
celebrity.   Strangely, despite his thorny attitude and utter
single-mindedness, Phiber Optik seemed to arouse strong
protective instincts in most of the people who met him.
He was great copy for journalists, always fearlessly ready
to swagger, and, better yet, to actually *demonstrate*
some off-the-wall digital stunt.   He was a born media

        Even cops seemed to recognize that there was
something peculiarly unworldly and uncriminal about this
particular troublemaker.   He was so bold, so flagrant, so
young, and so obviously doomed, that even those who
strongly disapproved of his actions grew anxious for his
welfare, and began to flutter about him as if he were an
endangered seal pup.

        In January 24, 1990 (nine days after the Martin Luther
King Day Crash), Phiber Optik, Acid Phreak, and a third
NYC scofflaw named Scorpion were raided by the Secret
Service.   Their computers went out the door, along with
the usual blizzard of papers, notebooks, compact disks,
answering machines, Sony Walkmans, etc.  Both Acid
Phreak and Phiber Optik were accused of having caused
the Crash.

        The mills of justice ground slowly.  The case
eventually fell into the hands of the New York State Police.
Phiber had lost his machinery in the raid,  but there were
no charges  filed against him for over a year.   His
predicament was extensively publicized on the Well,
where it caused much resentment for police tactics.  It's
one thing to merely hear about a hacker raided or busted;
it's another to see the police attacking someone you've
come to know personally, and who has explained his
motives at length.   Through the *Harper's* debate on the
Well, it had become clear to the Wellbeings that Phiber
Optik was not in fact going to "hurt anything."   In their
own salad days, many Wellbeings had tasted tear-gas in
pitched street-battles with police.  They were inclined to
indulgence for acts of civil disobedience.

        Wellbeings were also startled to learn of the
draconian thoroughness of a typical hacker search-and-
seizure.   It took no great stretch of imagination for them to
envision themselves suffering much the same treatment.

        As early as January 1990, sentiment on the Well had
already begun to sour, and people had begun to grumble
that "hackers" were getting a raw deal from the ham-
handed powers-that-be.   The resultant issue of *Harper's*
magazine posed the question as to whether computer-
intrusion was a "crime" at all.   As Barlow put it later: "I've
begun to wonder if we wouldn't also regard spelunkers as
desperate criminals if AT&T owned all the caves."

        In February 1991, more than a year after the raid on
his home, Phiber Optik was finally arrested, and was
charged with first-degree Computer Tampering and
Computer Trespass, New York state offenses.   He was also
charged with a theft-of-service misdemeanor, involving a
complex free-call scam to a 900 number.  Phiber Optik
pled guilty to the misdemeanor charge, and was
sentenced to  35 hours of community service.

        This passing harassment from the unfathomable
world of straight people seemed to bother Optik himself
little if at all.  Deprived of his computer by the  January
search-and-seizure, he simply bought himself a portable
computer so the cops could no longer monitor the phone
where he lived with his Mom, and he went right on with his
depredations, sometimes on live radio or in front of
television cameras.

        The crackdown raid may have done little to dissuade
Phiber Optik, but its  galling affect on the Wellbeings was
profound.  As 1990 rolled on, the slings and arrows
mounted:  the Knight Lightning raid, the Steve Jackson
raid, the nation-spanning Operation Sundevil.   The
rhetoric of law enforcement made it clear that there was,
in fact, a concerted crackdown on hackers in progress.

        The hackers of the Hackers Conference, the
Wellbeings, and their ilk, did not really mind the
occasional public misapprehension of "hacking"; if
anything, this membrane of differentiation from straight
society made the "computer community" feel different,
smarter, better.   They had never before been confronted,
however, by a concerted vilification campaign.

        Barlow's central role in the counter-struggle was one
of the major anomalies of 1990.   Journalists investigating
the controversy often stumbled over the truth about
Barlow, but they commonly dusted themselves off and
hurried on as if nothing had happened.   It was as if it were
*too much to believe*  that a  1960s freak from the Grateful
Dead had taken on a federal law enforcement operation
head-to-head and *actually seemed to be winning!*

        Barlow had no easily detectable power-base for a
political struggle of this kind.  He had no formal legal or
technical credentials.   Barlow was, however, a computer
networker of truly stellar brilliance.   He had a poet's gift of
concise, colorful phrasing.  He also had a journalist's
shrewdness, an off-the-wall, self-deprecating wit, and a
phenomenal wealth of simple personal charm.

        The kind of influence Barlow possessed is fairly
common currency in literary, artistic, or musical circles.  A
gifted critic can wield great artistic influence simply
through defining the temper of the times,  by coining the
catch-phrases and the terms of debate that become the
common currency of the period.  (And as it happened,
Barlow *was*  a part-time art critic, with a special fondness
for the Western art of Frederic Remington.)

        Barlow was the first  commentator to adopt William
Gibson's striking science-fictional term "cyberspace" as a
synonym for the present-day nexus of computer and
telecommunications networks.   Barlow was insistent that
cyberspace should be regarded as a  qualitatively new
world, a "frontier."   According to Barlow, the world of
electronic communications, now made visible through the
computer screen, could no longer be usefully regarded as
just a tangle of high-tech wiring.  Instead, it had become a
*place,*   cyberspace, which demanded a new set of
metaphors, a new set of rules and behaviors.  The term, as
Barlow employed it, struck a useful chord, and this
concept of cyberspace was picked up by *Time,*
*Scientific American,*  computer police, hackers, and
even Constitutional scholars.   "Cyberspace" now seems
likely to become a permanent fixture of the language.

        Barlow was very striking in person: a tall, craggy-
faced, bearded, deep-voiced Wyomingan in a dashing
Western ensemble of jeans, jacket, cowboy boots, a
knotted throat-kerchief and an ever-present Grateful
Dead cloisonne lapel pin.

        Armed with a modem, however, Barlow was truly in
his element.  Formal hierarchies were not Barlow's strong
suit; he rarely missed a chance to belittle the "large
organizations and their drones," with their uptight,
institutional mindset.   Barlow was very much of the free-
spirit persuasion, deeply unimpressed by brass-hats and
jacks-in-office.  But when it came to the digital grapevine,
Barlow was a cyberspace ad-hocrat par excellence.

        There was not a mighty army of Barlows.  There was
only one Barlow, and he was a fairly anomolous individual.
However, the situation only seemed to *require*  a single
Barlow.   In fact, after 1990, many people must have
concluded that a single Barlow was far more than they'd
ever bargained for.

        Barlow's  querulous mini-essay about his encounter
with the FBI struck a strong chord on the Well.   A number
of other free spirits on the fringes of Apple Computing had
come under suspicion, and they liked it not one whit better
than he did.

        One of these was Mitchell Kapor, the co-inventor of
the spreadsheet program "Lotus 1-2-3" and the founder of
Lotus Development Corporation.   Kapor had written-off
the passing indignity of being fingerprinted down at his
own local Boston FBI headquarters, but Barlow's post
made the full national scope of the FBI's dragnet clear to
Kapor.   The issue now had Kapor's full attention.   As the
Secret Service swung into anti-hacker operation
nationwide in 1990, Kapor watched every move with deep
skepticism and growing alarm.

        As it happened, Kapor had already met Barlow, who
had interviewed Kapor for a California computer journal.
Like most people who met Barlow, Kapor had been very
taken with him.   Now Kapor took it upon himself to drop
in on Barlow for a heart-to-heart talk about the situation.

        Kapor was a regular on the Well.  Kapor had been a
devotee of the *Whole Earth Catalog* since the
beginning, and treasured a complete run of the magazine.
And Kapor not only had a modem, but a private jet.   In
pursuit of the scattered high-tech investments of Kapor
Enterprises Inc., his personal, multi-million dollar holding
company, Kapor commonly crossed state lines with about
as much thought as one might give to faxing a letter.

         The Kapor-Barlow council of June 1990, in Pinedale,
Wyoming, was the start of the Electronic Frontier
Foundation.   Barlow swiftly wrote a manifesto, "Crime and
Puzzlement,"  which announced his, and Kapor's,
intention to form a political organization to "raise and
disburse funds for education, lobbying, and litigation in
the areas relating to digital speech and the extension of
the Constitution into Cyberspace."

        Furthermore, proclaimed the manifesto, the
foundation would "fund, conduct, and support legal efforts
to demonstrate that the Secret Service has exercised prior
restraint on publications, limited free speech, conducted
improper seizure of equipment and data, used undue
force, and generally conducted itself in a fashion which is
arbitrary, oppressive, and unconstitutional."

        "Crime and Puzzlement" was distributed far and wide
through computer networking channels, and also printed
in the *Whole Earth Review.*  The sudden declaration of a
coherent, politicized counter-strike from the ranks of
hackerdom electrified the community.   Steve Wozniak
(perhaps a bit stung by the  NuPrometheus scandal)
swiftly offered to match any funds Kapor offered the

        John Gilmore, one of the pioneers of Sun
Microsystems, immediately offered his own extensive
financial and personal support.   Gilmore, an ardent
libertarian, was to prove an eloquent advocate of
electronic privacy issues, especially freedom from
governmental and corporate computer-assisted
surveillance of private citizens.

        A second meeting in San Francisco rounded up
further allies:  Stewart Brand of the Point Foundation,
virtual-reality pioneers Jaron Lanier and Chuck
Blanchard,  network entrepreneur and venture capitalist
Nat Goldhaber.  At this dinner meeting, the activists
settled on a formal title: the Electronic Frontier
Foundation, Incorporated.  Kapor became its president.
A new EFF Conference was opened on the Point
Foundation's Well, and the Well was declared "the home
of the Electronic Frontier Foundation."

        Press coverage was immediate and intense.   Like
their nineteenth-century spiritual ancestors, Alexander
Graham Bell and Thomas Watson, the high-tech
computer entrepreneurs of the 1970s and 1980s -- people
such as Wozniak, Jobs, Kapor, Gates, and H. Ross Perot,
who had raised themselves by their bootstraps to
dominate a glittering new industry -- had always made
very good copy.

        But while the Wellbeings rejoiced, the press in
general seemed nonplussed by the self-declared
"civilizers of cyberspace."   EFF's insistence that the war
against "hackers" involved grave Constitutional civil
liberties issues seemed somewhat farfetched, especially
since none of EFF's organizers were lawyers or established
politicians.    The business press in particular found it
easier to seize on the apparent core of the story -- that
high-tech entrepreneur Mitchell Kapor had established a
"defense fund for hackers."   Was EFF a genuinely
important  political development -- or merely a clique of
wealthy eccentrics, dabbling in matters better left to the
proper authorities?  The jury was still out.

        But the stage was now set for open confrontation.
And the first and the most critical battle was the hacker
show-trial of "Knight Lightning."


        It has been my practice throughout this book to refer
to hackers only by their "handles."   There is little to gain
by giving the real names of these people, many of whom
are juveniles, many of whom have never been convicted of
any crime, and many of whom had unsuspecting parents
who have already suffered enough.

        But the  trial of Knight Lightning on July 24-27, 1990,
made this particular "hacker" a nationally known public
figure.  It can do no particular harm to himself or his
family if I repeat the long-established fact that his name is
Craig Neidorf (pronounced NYE-dorf).

        Neidorf's jury trial took place in the United States
District Court, Northern District of Illinois, Eastern
Division, with the Honorable Nicholas J. Bua presiding.
The United States of America was the plaintiff, the
defendant Mr.  Neidorf.   The defendant's attorney was
Sheldon T. Zenner of the Chicago firm of Katten, Muchin
and Zavis.

        The prosecution was led by the stalwarts of the
Chicago Computer Fraud and Abuse Task Force: William
J. Cook, Colleen D. Coughlin, and David A. Glockner, all
Assistant United States Attorneys.   The Secret Service
Case Agent was Timothy M. Foley.

        It will be recalled that Neidorf was the co-editor of an
underground hacker "magazine" called *Phrack*.
*Phrack*  was an entirely electronic publication,
distributed through bulletin boards and over electronic
networks.  It was amateur publication given away for free.
Neidorf had never made any money for his work in
*Phrack.*  Neither had his unindicted co-editor "Taran
King" or any of the numerous *Phrack* contributors.

        The Chicago Computer Fraud and Abuse Task Force,
however, had decided to prosecute Neidorf as a fraudster.
To formally admit that *Phrack* was a "magazine" and
Neidorf a "publisher" was to open a prosecutorial
Pandora's Box of First Amendment issues.   To do this was
to play into the hands of Zenner and his EFF advisers,
which now included a phalanx of prominent New York civil
rights lawyers as well as the formidable legal staff of
Katten, Muchin and Zavis.  Instead, the prosecution relied
heavily on the issue of access device fraud:  Section 1029 of
Title 18, the section from which the Secret Service drew its
most direct jurisdiction over computer crime.

        Neidorf's alleged crimes centered around the E911
Document.   He was accused of having entered into a
fraudulent scheme with the Prophet, who, it will be
recalled, was the Atlanta LoD member who had illicitly
copied  the E911 Document from the BellSouth AIMSX

        The Prophet himself was also a co-defendant in the
Neidorf case, part-and-parcel of the alleged "fraud
scheme" to "steal" BellSouth's E911 Document (and to
pass the Document across state lines, which helped
establish the Neidorf trial as a federal case).  The Prophet,
in the spirit of full co-operation, had agreed to testify
against Neidorf.

        In fact, all three of the Atlanta crew stood ready to
testify against Neidorf.   Their own federal prosecutors in
Atlanta had charged the Atlanta Three with:  (a)
conspiracy,  (b) computer fraud, (c) wire fraud, (d) access
device fraud, and (e) interstate transportation of stolen
property (Title 18, Sections 371, 1030, 1343, 1029, and 2314).

        Faced with this blizzard of trouble, Prophet and
Leftist had ducked any public trial and  had pled guilty to
reduced charges -- one conspiracy count apiece.   Urvile
had pled guilty to that odd bit of Section 1029 which makes
it illegal to possess "fifteen or more" illegal access devices
(in his case, computer passwords).   And their sentences
were scheduled for September 14, 1990 -- well after the
Neidorf trial.   As witnesses, they could presumably be
relied upon to behave.

        Neidorf, however,  was pleading innocent.   Most
everyone else caught up in the crackdown had
"cooperated fully" and pled guilty in hope of reduced
sentences.   (Steve Jackson was a notable exception, of
course, and had strongly protested his innocence from the
very beginning.  But Steve Jackson could not get a day in
court -- Steve Jackson had never been charged with any
crime in the first place.)

        Neidorf had been urged to plead guilty.  But Neidorf
was a political science major and was disinclined to go to
jail for  "fraud" when he had not made any money, had not
broken into any computer, and had been publishing a
magazine that he considered protected under the First

        Neidorf's trial was the *only*  legal action of the
entire Crackdown that actually involved bringing the
issues at hand out for a public test in front of a jury of
American citizens.

        Neidorf, too, had cooperated with investigators.  He
had voluntarily handed over much of the evidence that
had led to his own indictment.  He had already admitted
in writing that he knew that the E911 Document had been
stolen before he had "published" it in *Phrack* -- or, from
the prosecution's point of view, illegally transported stolen
property by wire  in something purporting to be a

        But even if the "publication" of the E911 Document
was not held to be a crime,  that wouldn't let Neidorf off
the hook.  Neidorf  had still received  the E911 Document
when Prophet had transferred it to him from Rich
Andrews' Jolnet node.  On that  occasion, it certainly
hadn't been "published" -- it was hacker booty, pure and
simple, transported across state lines.

        The Chicago Task Force led a Chicago grand jury to
indict  Neidorf on a set of charges that could have put him
in jail for thirty years.  When some of these charges were
successfully challenged before Neidorf actually went to
trial, the Chicago Task Force rearranged his indictment so
that he faced a possible jail term of over sixty years!   As a
first offender, it was very unlikely that Neidorf would in
fact receive a sentence so drastic;  but the Chicago Task
Force clearly intended to see Neidorf put in prison, and
his conspiratorial "magazine" put permanently out of
commission.  This was a federal case, and Neidorf was
charged with the fraudulent theft of property worth almost
eighty thousand dollars.

        William Cook was a strong believer in high-profile
prosecutions with symbolic overtones.  He often published
articles on his work in the security trade press, arguing
that "a clear message had to be sent to the public at large
and the computer community in particular that
unauthorized attacks on computers and the theft of
computerized information would not be tolerated by the

        The issues were complex, the prosecution's tactics
somewhat unorthodox, but the Chicago Task Force had
proved sure-footed to date.  "Shadowhawk"  had been
bagged on the wing in 1989 by the Task Force, and
sentenced to nine months in prison, and a $10,000 fine.
The Shadowhawk case involved charges under Section
1030, the "federal interest computer" section.

        Shadowhawk had not in fact been a devotee of
"federal-interest" computers per se.  On the contrary,
Shadowhawk, who owned an AT&T home computer,
seemed to cherish a special aggression toward AT&T.  He
had bragged on the underground boards "Phreak Klass
2600" and "Dr. Ripco"  of his skills at raiding AT&T, and of
his intention to crash AT&T's national phone system.
Shadowhawk's brags were noticed by Henry Kluepfel of
Bellcore Security, scourge of the outlaw boards, whose
relations with the Chicago Task Force were long and

        The Task Force successfully established that Section
1030 applied to the teenage Shadowhawk, despite the
objections of his defense attorney.  Shadowhawk had
entered a computer "owned" by U.S. Missile Command
and merely "managed" by AT&T.   He had also entered an
AT&T computer located at Robbins Air Force Base in
Georgia.   Attacking AT&T was of "federal interest"
whether Shadowhawk had intended it or not.

        The Task Force also convinced the court that a piece
of AT&T software that Shadowhawk had illicitly copied
from Bell Labs, the "Artificial Intelligence C5 Expert
System," was worth a cool one million dollars.
Shadowhawk's attorney had argued that Shadowhawk had
not sold the program and had made no profit from the
illicit copying.  And in point of fact, the C5 Expert System
was experimental software, and had no established
market value because it had never been on the market in
the first place.   AT&T's own assessment of a "one million
dollar" figure for its own  intangible property was accepted
without challenge by the court, however.  And the court
concurred with the government prosecutors that
Shadowhawk showed clear "intent to defraud" whether
he'd gotten any money or not.   Shadowhawk went to jail.

        The Task Force's other best-known triumph had been
the conviction and jailing of "Kyrie."  Kyrie, a true denizen
of the digital criminal underground, was a 36-year-old
Canadian woman, convicted and jailed for
telecommunications fraud in Canada.   After her release
from prison, she had fled the wrath of Canada Bell and the
Royal Canadian Mounted Police, and eventually settled,
very unwisely, in Chicago.

        "Kyrie," who also called herself "Long Distance
Information," specialized in voice-mail abuse.   She
assembled large numbers of hot long-distance codes, then
read them aloud into a series of corporate voice-mail
systems.   Kyrie and her friends were electronic squatters
in corporate voice-mail systems, using them much as if
they were pirate bulletin boards, then moving on when
their vocal chatter clogged the system and the owners
necessarily wised up.   Kyrie's camp followers were a loose
tribe of some hundred and fifty phone-phreaks, who
followed her trail of piracy from machine to machine,
ardently begging for her services and expertise.

        Kyrie's disciples passed her stolen credit-card
numbers, in exchange for her stolen "long distance
information."  Some of Kyrie's clients paid her off in cash,
by scamming credit-card cash advances from Western

        Kyrie travelled incessantly, mostly through airline
tickets and hotel rooms that she scammed through stolen
credit cards.  Tiring of this, she found refuge with a fellow
female phone phreak in Chicago.  Kyrie's hostess, like a
surprising number of phone phreaks, was blind.  She was
also physically disabled.   Kyrie allegedly made the best of
her new situation by applying for, and receiving, state
welfare funds under a false identity as a qualified
caretaker for the handicapped.

        Sadly, Kyrie's two children by a former marriage had
also vanished underground with her; these pre-teen digital
refugees had no legal American identity, and had never
spent a day in school.

        Kyrie was addicted to technical mastery and
enthralled by her own cleverness and the ardent worship
of her teenage followers.  This  foolishly led her to phone
up Gail Thackeray in Arizona, to boast, brag, strut, and
offer to play informant.   Thackeray, however, had already
learned far more than enough about Kyrie, whom she
roundly despised as an adult criminal corrupting minors, a
"female Fagin."   Thackeray passed her tapes of Kyrie's
boasts to the Secret Service.

        Kyrie was raided and arrested in Chicago in May
1989.  She confessed at great length and pled guilty.

        In August 1990, Cook and his Task Force colleague
Colleen Coughlin sent Kyrie to jail for 27 months, for
computer and telecommunications fraud.  This was a
markedly severe sentence by the usual wrist-slapping
standards of "hacker" busts.  Seven of Kyrie's foremost
teenage disciples were also indicted and convicted.   The
Kyrie "high-tech street gang," as Cook described it,  had
been crushed.   Cook and his colleagues had been the first
ever to put someone in prison for voice-mail abuse.   Their
pioneering efforts had won them attention and kudos.

        In his article on Kyrie, Cook drove the message home
to the readers of *Security Management* magazine, a
trade journal for corporate security professionals.  The
case, Cook said, and Kyrie's stiff sentence,  "reflect a new
reality for hackers and computer crime victims in the
'90s....  Individuals and corporations who report computer
and telecommunications crimes can now expect that their
cooperation with federal law enforcement will result in
meaningful punishment.  Companies and the public at
large must report computer-enhanced crimes if they want
prosecutors and the course to protect their rights to the
tangible and intangible property developed and stored on

        Cook had made it his business to construct this "new
reality for hackers."  He'd also made it his business to
police corporate property rights to the intangible.

        Had the Electronic Frontier Foundation been a
"hacker defense fund" as that term was generally
understood, they presumably would have stood up for
Kyrie.   Her 1990 sentence did indeed send a "message"
that federal heat was coming down on "hackers."   But
Kyrie found no defenders at EFF, or anywhere else, for
that matter.  EFF was not a bail-out fund for electronic

        The Neidorf case paralleled the Shadowhawk case in
certain ways.  The victim once again was allowed to set the
value of the "stolen" property.  Once again Kluepfel was
both investigator and technical advisor.  Once again no
money had changed hands, but the "intent to defraud"
was central.

        The prosecution's case showed signs of weakness
early on.  The Task Force had originally hoped to prove
Neidorf the center of a nationwide Legion of Doom
criminal conspiracy.   The *Phrack* editors threw physical
get-togethers every summer, which attracted hackers
from across the country; generally two dozen or so of the
magazine's favorite contributors and readers.  (Such
conventions were common in the hacker community; 2600
Magazine, for instance, held public meetings of hackers in
New York, every month.)   LoD heavy-dudes were always a
strong presence at these *Phrack*-sponsored

        In July 1988, an Arizona hacker named "Dictator"
attended Summercon in Neidorf's home town of St. Louis.
Dictator was one of Gail Thackeray's underground
informants; Dictator's underground board in Phoenix was
a sting operation for the Secret Service.   Dictator brought
an undercover crew of Secret Service agents to
Summercon.  The agents bored spyholes through the wall
of Dictator's hotel room in St Louis, and videotaped the
frolicking hackers through a one-way mirror.   As it
happened, however, nothing illegal had occurred on
videotape, other than the guzzling of beer by a couple of
minors.   Summercons were social events, not sinister
cabals.  The tapes showed fifteen hours of raucous
laughter, pizza-gobbling, in-jokes and back-slapping.

        Neidorf's lawyer, Sheldon Zenner, saw the Secret
Service tapes before the trial.  Zenner was shocked by the
complete harmlessness of this meeting, which Cook had
earlier characterized as a sinister interstate conspiracy to
commit fraud.   Zenner wanted to show the Summercon
tapes to the jury.  It took protracted maneuverings by the
Task Force to keep the tapes from the jury as "irrelevant."

        The E911 Document was also proving a weak reed.  It
had originally been valued at $79,449.   Unlike
Shadowhawk's arcane Artificial Intelligence booty, the
E911 Document  was not software -- it was written in
English.  Computer-knowledgeable people found this
value -- for a twelve-page bureaucratic document --
frankly incredible.   In his "Crime and Puzzlement"
manifesto for EFF, Barlow commented:  "We will probably
never know how this figure was reached or by whom,
though I like to imagine an appraisal team consisting of
Franz Kafka, Joseph Heller, and Thomas Pynchon."

        As it happened, Barlow was unduly pessimistic.  The
EFF did, in fact, eventually discover exactly  how this figure
was reached, and by whom -- but only in 1991, long after
the Neidorf trial was over.

          Kim Megahee, a Southern Bell security manager,
had arrived at the document's value by simply adding up
the "costs associated with the production" of the E911
Document.  Those "costs" were as follows:

        1.  A technical writer had been hired to research and
write the E911 Document.  200 hours of work, at $35 an
hour, cost : $7,000.  A Project Manager had overseen the
technical writer.  200 hours, at $31 an hour, made: $6,200.

        2.  A week of typing had cost $721 dollars.  A week of
formatting had cost $721.  A week of graphics formatting
had cost $742.

        3.  Two days of editing cost $367.

`       4.  A box of order labels cost five dollars.

        5.  Preparing a purchase order for the Document,
including typing and the obtaining of an authorizing
signature from within the BellSouth bureaucracy, cost

        6.  Printing cost $313.  Mailing the Document to fifty
people took fifty hours by a clerk, and cost $858.

        7.  Placing the Document in an index took two clerks
an hour each, totalling $43.

        Bureaucratic overhead alone, therefore, was alleged
to have cost a whopping $17,099.   According to Mr.
Megahee, the typing of a twelve-page document had
taken a full week.   Writing it had taken five weeks,
including an overseer who apparently did nothing else but
watch the author for five weeks.  Editing twelve pages had
taken two days.  Printing and mailing an electronic
document (which was already available on the Southern
Bell Data Network to any telco employee who needed it),
had cost over a thousand dollars.

        But this was just the beginning.  There were also the
*hardware expenses.*   Eight hundred fifty dollars for a
VT220 computer monitor.  *Thirty-one thousand dollars*
for a sophisticated VAXstation II computer.  Six thousand
dollars for a computer printer.  *Twenty-two thousand
dollars*  for a copy of "Interleaf" software.  Two thousand
five hundred dollars for VMS software.  All this to create
the twelve-page Document.

        Plus ten percent of the cost of the software and the
hardware, for maintenance.  (Actually, the ten percent
maintenance costs, though mentioned, had been left off
the final $79,449 total, apparently through a merciful

        Mr. Megahee's letter had been mailed directly to
William Cook himself, at the office of the Chicago federal
attorneys.  The United States Government accepted these
telco figures without question.

        As incredulity mounted, the value of the E911
Document was officially revised downward.  This time,
Robert Kibler of BellSouth Security estimated the value of
the twelve pages as a mere $24,639.05 -- based,
purportedly, on "R&D costs."   But this specific estimate,
right down to the nickel, did not move the skeptics at all; in
fact it provoked open scorn and a torrent of sarcasm.

        The financial issues concerning theft of proprietary
information have always been peculiar.  It could be
argued that BellSouth had not "lost" its E911 Document at
all in the first place, and therefore had not suffered any
monetary damage from this "theft."  And Sheldon Zenner
did in fact argue this at Neidorf's trial -- that Prophet's raid
had not been "theft," but was better understood as illicit

        The money, however, was not central to anyone's true
purposes in this trial.   It was not Cook's strategy to
convince the jury that the E911 Document was a major act
of theft and should be punished for that reason alone.
His strategy was to argue that the E911 Document was
*dangerous.*   It was his intention to establish that the
E911 Document was "a road-map" to the Enhanced 911
System.   Neidorf had deliberately and recklessly
distributed a dangerous weapon.   Neidorf and the
Prophet did not care (or perhaps even gloated at the
sinister idea) that the E911 Document could be used by
hackers to disrupt 911 service, "a life line for every person
certainly in the Southern Bell region of the United States,
and indeed, in many communities throughout the United
States," in Cook's own words.  Neidorf had put people's
lives in danger.

        In pre-trial maneuverings, Cook had established that
the E911 Document was too hot to appear in the public
proceedings of the Neidorf trial.  The *jury itself*  would
not be allowed to ever see this Document, lest it slip into
the official court records, and thus into the hands of the
general public, and, thus, somehow, to malicious hackers
who might lethally abuse it.

        Hiding the E911 Document from the jury may have
been a clever legal maneuver, but it had a severe flaw.
There were, in point of fact, hundreds, perhaps thousands,
of people, already in possession of the E911 Document,
just as *Phrack* had published it.   Its true nature was
already obvious to a wide section of the interested public
(all of whom, by the way, were, at least theoretically, party
to a gigantic wire-fraud conspiracy).   Most everyone in the
electronic community who had a modem and any interest
in the Neidorf case already  had a copy of the Document.
It had already been available in *Phrack* for over a year.

        People, even quite normal people without any
particular prurient interest in forbidden knowledge, did
not shut their eyes in terror at the thought of beholding a
"dangerous" document from a telephone company.   On
the contrary, they tended to trust their own judgement and
simply read the Document for themselves.  And they were
not impressed.

        One such person was John Nagle.  Nagle was a  forty-
one-year-old professional programmer with a masters'
degree in computer science from Stanford.  He had
worked for Ford Aerospace, where he had invented a
computer-networking technique known as the "Nagle
Algorithm," and for the prominent Californian computer-
graphics firm "Autodesk," where he was a major

        Nagle was also a prominent figure on the Well, much
respected for his technical knowledgeability.

        Nagle had followed the civil-liberties debate closely,
for he was an ardent telecommunicator.  He was no
particular friend of computer intruders, but he believed
electronic publishing had a great deal to offer society at
large, and attempts to restrain its growth, or to censor free
electronic expression, strongly roused his ire.

        The Neidorf case, and the E911 Document, were both
being discussed  in detail on the Internet, in an electronic
publication called *Telecom Digest.*  Nagle, a longtime
Internet maven, was a regular reader of  *Telecom
Digest.*    Nagle had never seen a copy of *Phrack,*  but
the implications of the case disturbed him.

        While in a Stanford bookstore hunting books on
robotics, Nagle happened across a book called *The
Intelligent Network.*   Thumbing through it at random,
Nagle came across an entire chapter meticulously
detailing the workings of E911 police emergency systems.
This extensive text was being sold openly, and yet in
Illinois a young man was in danger of going to prison for
publishing a thin six-page document about 911 service.

        Nagle made an ironic comment to this effect in
*Telecom Digest.*   From there, Nagle was put in touch
with Mitch Kapor,  and then with Neidorf's lawyers.

        Sheldon Zenner was delighted to find a computer
telecommunications expert willing to speak up for
Neidorf,  one who was not a wacky teenage "hacker."
Nagle was fluent, mature, and respectable; he'd once had
a federal security clearance.

        Nagle was asked to fly to  Illinois to join the defense

        Having joined the defense as an expert witness,
Nagle read the entire E911 Document for himself.  He
made his own judgement about its potential for menace.

        The time has now come for you yourself, the reader,
to have a look at the E911 Document.   This six-page piece
of work was the pretext for a federal prosecution that could
have sent an electronic publisher to prison for thirty, or
even sixty,  years.  It was the pretext for the search and
seizure of Steve Jackson Games, a legitimate publisher of
printed books.  It was also the formal pretext for the search
and seizure of the Mentor's bulletin board, "Phoenix
Project," and for the raid on the home of Erik Bloodaxe.  It
also had much to do with the seizure of Richard Andrews'
Jolnet node and the shutdown of Charles Boykin's AT&T
node.  The E911 Document was the single most important
piece of evidence in the Hacker Crackdown.   There can
be no real and legitimate substitute for the Document

                                ==Phrack Inc.==

                      Volume Two, Issue 24, File 5 of 13

        Control Office Administration
        Of Enhanced 911 Services For
        Special Services and Account Centers

                by the Eavesdropper

                        March, 1988

Description of Service
The control office for Emergency 911 service is assigned in
accordance with the existing standard guidelines to one of
the following centers:

     o  Special Services Center (SSC)
     o  Major Accounts Center (MAC)
     o  Serving Test Center (STC)
     o  Toll Control Center (TCC)

The SSC/MAC designation is used in this document
interchangeably for any of these four centers.  The Special
Services Centers (SSCs) or Major Account Centers
(MACs) have been designated as the trouble reporting
contact for all E911 customer (PSAP) reported troubles.
Subscribers who have trouble on an E911 call will continue
to contact local repair service (CRSAB) who will refer the
trouble to the SSC/MAC, when appropriate.

Due to the critical nature of E911 service, the control and
timely repair of troubles is demanded.  As the primary
E911 customer contact, the SSC/MAC is in the unique
position to monitor the status of the trouble and insure its

System Overview
The number 911 is intended as a nationwide universal
telephone number which provides the public with direct
access to a Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP).  A PSAP
is also referred to as an Emergency Service Bureau (ESB).
A PSAP is an agency or facility which is authorized by a
municipality to receive and respond to police, fire and/or
ambulance services.  One or more attendants are located
at the PSAP facilities to receive and handle calls of an
emergency nature in accordance with the local municipal

An important advantage of E911 emergency service is
improved (reduced) response times for emergency
services.  Also close coordination among agencies
providing various emergency services is a valuable
capability provided by E911 service.

1A ESS is used as the tandem office for the E911 network to
route all 911 calls to the correct (primary) PSAP designated
to serve the calling station.  The E911 feature was
developed primarily to provide routing to the correct PSAP
for all 911 calls.  Selective routing allows a 911 call
originated from a particular station located in a particular
district, zone, or town, to be routed to the primary PSAP
designated to serve that customer station regardless of
wire center boundaries.  Thus, selective routing eliminates
the problem of wire center boundaries not coinciding with
district or other political boundaries.

The services available with the E911 feature include:

       Forced Disconnect         Default Routing
       Alternative Routing       Night Service
       Selective Routing         Automatic Number
Identification (ANI)
       Selective Transfer        Automatic Location
Identification (ALI)

Preservice/Installation Guidelines
When a contract for an E911 system has been signed, it is
the responsibility of Network Marketing to establish an
implementation/cutover committee which should include
a representative from the SSC/MAC.  Duties of the E911
Implementation Team include coordination of all phases
of the E911 system deployment and the formation of an
on-going E911 maintenance subcommittee.

Marketing is responsible for providing the following
customer specific information to the SSC/MAC prior to
the start of call through testing:

o  All PSAP's (name, address, local contact)
o  All PSAP circuit ID's
o  1004 911 service request including PSAP details on each
   (1004 Section K, L, M)
o  Network configuration
o  Any vendor information (name, telephone number,

The SSC/MAC needs to know if the equipment and sets at
the PSAP are maintained by the BOCs, an independent
company, or an outside vendor, or any combination. This
information is then entered on the PSAP profile sheets
and reviewed quarterly for changes, additions and

Marketing will secure the Major Account Number (MAN)
and provide this number to Corporate Communications
so that the initial issue of the service orders carry the
MAN and can be tracked by the SSC/MAC via
CORDNET.  PSAP circuits are official services by

All service orders required for the installation of the E911
system should include the MAN assigned to the
city/county which has purchased the system.

In accordance with the basic SSC/MAC strategy for
provisioning, the SSC/MAC will be Overall Control Office
(OCO) for all Node to PSAP circuits (official services) and
any other services for this customer.  Training must be
scheduled for all SSC/MAC involved personnel during the
pre-service stage of the project.

The E911 Implementation Team will form the on-going
maintenance subcommittee prior to the initial
implementation of the E911 system.  This sub-committee
will establish post implementation quality assurance
procedures to ensure that the E911 system continues to
provide quality service to the customer.
Customer/Company training, trouble reporting interfaces
for the customer, telephone company and any involved
independent telephone companies needs to be addressed
and implemented prior to E911 cutover.  These functions
can be best addressed by the formation of a sub-
committee of the E911 Implementation Team to set up
guidelines for and to secure service commitments of
interfacing organizations.  A SSC/MAC supervisor should
chair this subcommittee and include the following

1) Switching Control Center
        - E911 translations
        - Trunking
        - End office and Tandem office hardware/software
2) Recent Change Memory Administration Center
        - Daily RC update activity for TN/ESN translations
        - Processes validity errors and rejects
3) Line and Number Administration
        - Verification of TN/ESN translations
4) Special Service Center/Major Account Center
        - Single point of contact for all PSAP and Node to host
        - Logs, tracks & statusing of all trouble reports
        - Trouble referral, follow up, and escalation
        - Customer notification of status and restoration
        - Analyzation of "chronic" troubles
        - Testing, installation and maintenance of E911 circuits
5) Installation and Maintenance (SSIM/I&M)
        - Repair and maintenance of PSAP equipment and
Telco owned sets
6) Minicomputer Maintenance Operations Center
        - E911 circuit maintenance (where applicable)
7) Area Maintenance Engineer
        - Technical assistance on voice (CO-PSAP) network
related E911 troubles

Maintenance Guidelines
The CCNC will test the Node circuit from the 202T at the
Host site to the 202T at the Node site.  Since Host to Node
(CCNC to MMOC) circuits are official company services,
the CCNC will refer all Node circuit troubles to the
SSC/MAC. The SSC/MAC is responsible for the testing
and follow up to restoration of these circuit troubles.

Although Node to PSAP circuit are official services, the
MMOC will refer PSAP circuit troubles to the appropriate
SSC/MAC.  The SSC/MAC is responsible for testing and
follow up to restoration of PSAP circuit troubles.

The SSC/MAC will also receive reports from
CRSAB/IMC(s) on subscriber 911 troubles when they are
not line troubles.  The SSC/MAC is responsible for testing
and restoration of these troubles.

Maintenance responsibilities are as follows:

SCC*            Voice Network (ANI to PSAP)
                *SCC responsible for tandem switch
SSIM/I&M        PSAP Equipment (Modems, CIU's, sets)
Vendor          PSAP Equipment (when CPE)
SSC/MAC         PSAP to Node circuits, and tandem to
PSAP voice circuits (EMNT)
MMOC            Node site (Modems, cables, etc)

Note:  All above work groups are required to resolve
troubles by interfacing with appropriate work groups for

The Switching Control Center (SCC) is responsible for
E911/1AESS translations in tandem central offices.  These
translations route E911 calls, selective transfer, default
routing, speed calling, etc., for each PSAP.  The SCC is also
responsible for troubleshooting on the voice network (call
originating to end office tandem equipment).

For example, ANI failures in the originating offices would
be a responsibility of the SCC.

Recent Change Memory Administration Center
(RCMAC) performs the daily tandem translation updates
(recent change) for routing of individual telephone

Recent changes are generated from service order activity
(new service, address changes, etc.) and compiled into a
daily file by the E911 Center (ALI/DMS E911 Computer).

SSIM/I&M is responsible for the installation and repair of
PSAP equipment. PSAP equipment includes ANI
Controller, ALI Controller, data sets, cables, sets, and
other peripheral equipment that is not vendor owned.
SSIM/I&M is responsible for establishing maintenance
test kits, complete with spare parts for PSAP maintenance.
This includes test gear, data sets, and ANI/ALI Controller

Special Services Center (SSC) or Major Account Center
(MAC) serves as the trouble reporting contact for all
(PSAP) troubles reported by customer.  The SSC/MAC
refers troubles to proper organizations for handling and
tracks status of troubles, escalating when necessary.  The
SSC/MAC will close out troubles with customer.  The
SSC/MAC will analyze all troubles and tracks "chronic"
PSAP troubles.

Corporate Communications Network Center (CCNC) will
test and refer troubles on all node to host circuits.  All E911
circuits are classified as official company property.

The Minicomputer Maintenance Operations Center
(MMOC) maintains the E911 (ALI/DMS) computer
hardware at the Host site.  This MMOC is also responsible
for monitoring the system and reporting certain PSAP and
system problems to the local MMOC's, SCC's or
SSC/MAC's.  The MMOC personnel also operate software
programs that maintain the TN data base under the
direction of the E911 Center. The maintenance of the
NODE computer (the interface between the PSAP and the
ALI/DMS computer) is a function of the MMOC at the
NODE site.  The MMOC's at the NODE sites may also be
involved in the testing of NODE to Host circuits. The
MMOC will also assist on Host to PSAP and data network
related troubles not resolved through standard trouble
clearing procedures.

Installation And Maintenance Center (IMC) is
responsible for referral of E911 subscriber troubles that
are not subscriber line problems.

E911 Center - Performs the role of System Administration
and is responsible for overall operation of the E911
computer software.  The E911 Center does A-Z trouble
analysis and provides statistical information on the
performance of the system.

This analysis includes processing PSAP inquiries (trouble
reports) and referral of network troubles.  The E911 Center
also performs daily processing of tandem recent change
and provides information to the RCMAC for tandem
input.  The E911 Center is responsible for daily processing
of the ALI/DMS computer data base and provides error
files, etc. to the Customer Services department for
investigation and correction.  The E911 Center participates
in all system implementations and on-going maintenance
effort and assists in the development of procedures,
training and education of information to all groups.

Any group receiving a 911 trouble from the SSC/MAC
should close out the trouble with the SSC/MAC or provide
a status if the trouble has been referred to another group.
This will allow the SSC/MAC to provide a status back to
the customer or escalate as appropriate.

Any group receiving a trouble from the Host site (MMOC
or CCNC) should close the trouble back to that group.

The MMOC should notify the appropriate SSC/MAC
when the Host, Node, or all Node circuits are down so that
the SSC/MAC can reply to customer reports that may be
called in by the PSAPs.  This will eliminate duplicate
reporting of troubles. On complete outages the MMOC
will follow escalation procedures for a Node after two (2)
hours and for a PSAP after four (4) hours.  Additionally the
MMOC will notify the appropriate SSC/MAC when the
Host, Node, or all Node circuits are down.

The PSAP will call the SSC/MAC to report E911 troubles.
The person reporting the E911 trouble may not have a
circuit I.D. and will therefore report the PSAP name and
address.  Many PSAP troubles are not circuit specific.  In
those instances where the caller cannot provide a circuit
I.D., the SSC/MAC will be required to determine the
circuit I.D. using the PSAP profile.  Under no
circumstances will the SSC/MAC Center refuse to take
the trouble.  The E911 trouble should be handled as
quickly as possible, with the SSC/MAC providing as much
assistance as possible while taking the trouble report from
the caller.

The SSC/MAC will screen/test the trouble to determine
the appropriate handoff organization based on the
following criteria:

    PSAP equipment problem:  SSIM/I&M
    Circuit problem:  SSC/MAC
    Voice network problem:  SCC (report trunk group
    Problem affecting multiple PSAPs (No ALI report from
all PSAPs):  Contact the MMOC to check for NODE or
Host computer problems before further testing.

The SSC/MAC will track the status of reported troubles
and escalate as appropriate.  The SSC/MAC will close out
customer/company reports with the initiating contact.
Groups with specific maintenance responsibilities,
defined above, will investigate "chronic" troubles upon
request from the SSC/MAC and the ongoing maintenance

All "out of service" E911 troubles are priority one type
reports.  One link down to a PSAP is considered a priority
one trouble and should be handled as if the PSAP was

The PSAP will report troubles with the ANI controller, ALI
controller or set equipment to the SSC/MAC.

NO ANI:  Where the PSAP reports NO ANI (digital
display screen is blank) ask if this condition exists on all
screens and on all calls.  It is important to differentiate
between blank screens and screens displaying 911-00XX,
or all zeroes.

When the PSAP reports all screens on all calls, ask if there
is any voice contact with callers.  If there is no voice
contact the trouble should be referred to the SCC
immediately since 911 calls are not getting through which
may require alternate routing of calls to another PSAP.

When the PSAP reports this condition on all screens but
not all calls and has voice contact with callers, the report
should be referred to SSIM/I&M for dispatch.  The
SSC/MAC should verify with the SCC that ANI is pulsing
before dispatching SSIM.

When the PSAP reports this condition on one screen for
all calls (others work fine) the trouble should be referred to
SSIM/I&M for dispatch, because the trouble is isolated to
one piece of equipment at the customer premise.

An ANI failure (i.e. all zeroes) indicates that the ANI has
not been received by the PSAP from the tandem office or
was lost by the PSAP ANI controller.  The PSAP may
receive "02" alarms which can be caused by the ANI
controller logging more than three all zero failures on the
same trunk.  The PSAP has been instructed to report this
condition to the SSC/MAC since it could indicate an
equipment trouble at the PSAP which might be affecting
all subscribers calling into the PSAP.  When all zeroes are
being received on all calls or "02" alarms continue, a tester
should analyze the condition to determine the appropriate
action to be taken.  The tester must perform cooperative
testing with the SCC when there appears to be a problem
on the Tandem-PSAP trunks before requesting dispatch.

When an occasional all zero condition is reported, the
SSC/MAC should dispatch SSIM/I&M to routine
equipment on a "chronic" troublesweep.

The PSAPs are instructed to report incidental ANI failures
to the BOC on a PSAP inquiry trouble ticket (paper) that is
sent to the Customer Services E911 group and forwarded
to E911 center when required.  This usually involves only a
particular telephone number and is not a condition that
would require a report to the SSC/MAC.  Multiple ANI
failures which our from the same end office (XX denotes
end office), indicate a hard trouble condition may exist in
the end office or end office tandem trunks.  The PSAP will
report this type of condition to the SSC/MAC and the
SSC/MAC should refer the report to the SCC responsible
for the tandem office.  NOTE: XX is the ESCO (Emergency
Service Number) associated with the incoming 911 trunks
into the tandem.  It is important that the C/MAC tell the
SCC what is displayed at the PSAP (i.e. 911-0011) which
indicates to the SCC which end office is in trouble.

Note:  It is essential that the PSAP fill out inquiry form on
every ANI failure.

The PSAP will report a trouble any time an address is not
received on an address display (screen blank) E911 call.
(If a record is not in the 911 data base or an ANI failure is
encountered, the screen will provide a display noticing
such condition).  The SSC/MAC should verify with the
PSAP whether the NO ALI condition is on one screen or all

When the condition is on one screen (other screens
receive ALI information) the SSC/MAC will request
SSIM/I&M to dispatch.

If no screens are receiving ALI information, there is
usually a circuit trouble between the PSAP and the Host
computer.  The SSC/MAC should test the trouble and
refer for restoral.

Note:  If the SSC/MAC receives calls from multiple
PSAP's, all of which are receiving NO ALI, there is a
problem with the Node or Node to Host circuits or the
Host computer itself.  Before referring the trouble the
SSC/MAC should call the MMOC to inquire if the Node
or Host is in trouble.

Alarm conditions on the ANI controller digital display at
the PSAP are to be reported by the PSAP's.  These alarms
can indicate various trouble conditions so the SSC/MAC
should ask the PSAP if any portion of the E911 system is
not functioning properly.

The SSC/MAC should verify with the PSAP attendant that
the equipment's primary function is answering E911 calls.
If it is, the SSC/MAC should request a dispatch
SSIM/I&M.  If the equipment is not primarily used for
E911, then the SSC/MAC should advise PSAP to contact
their CPE vendor.

Note:  These troubles can be quite confusing when the
PSAP has vendor equipment mixed in with equipment
that the BOC maintains.  The Marketing representative
should provide the SSC/MAC information concerning any
unusual or exception items where the PSAP should
contact their vendor.  This information should be included
in the PSAP profile sheets.

ANI or ALI controller down:  When the host computer
sees the PSAP equipment down and it does not come back
up, the MMOC will report the trouble to the SSC/MAC;
the equipment is down at the PSAP, a dispatch will be

PSAP link (circuit) down:  The MMOC will provide the
SSC/MAC with the circuit ID that the Host computer
indicates in trouble.  Although each PSAP has two circuits,
when either circuit is down the condition must be treated
as an emergency since failure of the second circuit will
cause the PSAP to be isolated.

Any problems that the MMOC identifies from the Node
location to the Host computer will be handled directly with
the appropriate MMOC(s)/CCNC.

Note:  The customer will call only when a problem is
apparent to the PSAP. When only one circuit is down to
the PSAP, the customer may not be aware there is a
trouble, even though there is one link down, notification
should appear on the PSAP screen.  Troubles called into
the SSC/MAC from the MMOC or other company
employee should not be closed out by calling the PSAP
since it may result in the customer responding that they
do not have a trouble.  These reports can only be closed
out by receiving  information that the trouble was fixed
and by checking with the company employee that
reported the trouble.  The MMOC personnel will be able
to verify that the trouble has cleared by reviewing a
printout from the host.

When the CRSAB receives a subscriber complaint (i.e.,
cannot dial 911) the RSA should obtain as much
information as possible while the customer is on the line.

For example, what happened when the subscriber dialed
911?  The report is automatically directed to the IMC for
subscriber line testing.  When no line trouble is found, the
IMC will refer the trouble condition to the SSC/MAC.  The
SSC/MAC will contact Customer Services E911 Group and
verify that the subscriber should be able to call 911 and
obtain the ESN.  The SSC/MAC will verify the ESN via
2SCCS.  When both verifications match, the SSC/MAC
will refer the report to the SCC responsible for the 911
tandem office for investigation and resolution.  The MAC
is responsible for tracking the trouble and informing the
IMC when it is resolved.

For more information, please refer to E911 Glossary of
                            End of Phrack File

        The reader is forgiven if he or she was entirely unable
to read this document.   John Perry Barlow had a great
deal of fun at its expense, in "Crime and Puzzlement:"
"Bureaucrat-ese of surpassing opacity.... To read the whole
thing straight through without entering coma requires
either a machine or a human who has too much practice
thinking like one.  Anyone who can understand it fully and
fluidly had altered his consciousness beyone the ability to
ever again read Blake, Whitman, or Tolstoy.... the
document contains little of interest to anyone who is not a
student of advanced organizational sclerosis."

        With the Document itself to hand, however, exactly
as it was published (in its six-page edited form) in
*Phrack,*  the reader may be able to verify a few
statements of fact about its nature.   First, there is no
software, no computer code, in the Document.  It is not
computer-programming language like FORTRAN or C++,
it is English; all the sentences have nouns and verbs and
punctuation.  It does not explain how to break into the
E911 system.  It does not suggest ways to destroy or
damage the E911 system.

        There are no access codes in the Document.  There
are no computer passwords.  It does not explain how to
steal long distance service.  It does not explain how to
break in to telco switching stations.  There is nothing in it
about using a personal computer or a modem for any
purpose at all, good or bad.

        Close study will reveal that this document is not
about machinery.  The E911 Document is about
*administration.*  It describes how one creates and
administers certain units of telco bureaucracy:  Special
Service Centers and Major Account Centers (SSC/MAC).
It describes how these centers should distribute
responsibility for the E911 service, to other units of telco
bureaucracy, in a chain of command, a formal hierarchy.
It describes who answers customer complaints, who
screens calls, who reports equipment failures, who answers
those reports, who handles maintenance, who chairs
subcommittees, who gives orders, who follows orders,
*who*  tells *whom*  what to do.   The Document is not a
"roadmap" to computers.  The Document is a roadmap to

         As an aid to breaking into computer systems, the
Document is *useless.*   As an aid to harassing and
deceiving telco people, however, the Document might
prove handy (especially with its Glossary, which I have not
included).   An intense and protracted study of this
Document and its Glossary, combined with many other
such documents, might teach one to speak like a telco
employee.   And telco people live by *speech* --  they live
by phone communication.  If you can mimic their
language over the phone, you can "social-engineer" them.
If you can con telco people, you can wreak havoc among
them.  You can force them to no longer trust one another;
you can break the telephonic ties that bind their
community; you can make them paranoid.   And people
will fight harder to defend their community than they will
fight to defend their individual selves.

        This was the genuine, gut-level threat posed by
*Phrack* magazine.  The real struggle was over the control
of telco language, the control of telco knowledge.  It was a
struggle to defend the social "membrane of
differentiation" that forms the walls of the telco
community's ivory tower  -- the special jargon that allows
telco professionals to recognize one another, and to
exclude charlatans, thieves, and upstarts.  And the
prosecution brought out this fact.  They repeatedly made
reference to the threat posed to telco professionals by
hackers using "social engineering."

        However, Craig Neidorf was not on trial for learning
to speak like a professional telecommunications expert.
Craig Neidorf was on trial for access device fraud and
transportation of stolen property.  He was on trial for
stealing a document that was purportedly highly sensitive
and purportedly worth tens of thousands of dollars.


        John Nagle read the E911 Document.   He drew his
own conclusions.  And he  presented Zenner and his
defense team with an overflowing box of similar material,
drawn mostly from Stanford University's engineering
libraries.   During the trial, the defense team -- Zenner,
half-a-dozen other attorneys, Nagle, Neidorf, and
computer-security expert Dorothy Denning, all pored
over the E911 Document line-by-line.

         On the afternoon of July 25, 1990, Zenner began to
cross-examine a woman named Billie Williams, a service
manager for Southern Bell in Atlanta.  Ms. Williams had
been responsible for the E911 Document.  (She was not its
author -- its original "author" was a Southern Bell staff
manager named Richard Helms.  However, Mr. Helms
should not bear the entire blame; many telco staff people
and maintenance personnel had amended the
Document.  It had not been so much "written" by a single
author, as built by committee out of concrete-blocks of

        Ms. Williams had been called as a witness for the
prosecution, and had gamely tried to explain the basic
technical structure of the E911 system, aided by charts.

        Now it was Zenner's turn.  He first established that
the "proprietary stamp" that BellSouth had used on the
E911 Document was stamped on *every single document*
that BellSouth wrote -- *thousands*  of documents.  "We
do not publish anything other than for our own company,"
Ms. Williams explained.  "Any company document of this
nature is considered proprietary."  Nobody was in charge
of singling out special high-security publications for
special high-security protection.  They were *all*  special,
no matter how trivial, no matter what their subject matter -
- the stamp was put on as soon as any document was
written, and the stamp was never removed.

        Zenner now asked whether the charts she had been
using to explain the  mechanics of E911 system were
"proprietary," too.  Were they *public information,*  these
charts, all about PSAPs, ALIs, nodes, local end switches?
Could he take the charts out in the street and show them
to anybody, "without violating some proprietary notion
that BellSouth has?"

        Ms Williams showed some confusion, but finally
agreed that the charts were, in fact, public.

        "But isn't this what you said was basically what
appeared in *Phrack?*"

        Ms. Williams denied this.

        Zenner now pointed out that the E911 Document as
published in Phrack was only half the size of the original
E911 Document (as Prophet had purloined it).  Half of it
had been deleted -- edited by Neidorf.

        Ms. Williams countered that "Most of the
information that is in the text file is redundant."

        Zenner continued to probe.  Exactly what bits of
knowledge in the Document were, in fact, unknown to the
public?  Locations of E911 computers?  Phone numbers for
telco personnel?  Ongoing maintenance subcommittees?
Hadn't Neidorf removed much of this?

        Then he pounced.  "Are you familiar with Bellcore
Technical Reference Document TR-TSY-000350?"  It was,
Zenner explained, officially titled "E911 Public Safety
Answering Point Interface Between 1-1AESS Switch and
Customer Premises Equipment."  It contained highly
detailed and specific technical information about the E911
System.  It was published by Bellcore and publicly
available for about $20.

        He showed the witness a Bellcore catalog which listed
thousands of documents from Bellcore and from all the
Baby Bells, BellSouth included.   The catalog, Zenner
pointed out, was free.  Anyone with a credit card could call
the Bellcore toll-free 800 number and simply order any of
these documents, which would be shipped to any
customer without question.  Including, for instance,
"BellSouth E911 Service Interfaces to Customer Premises
Equipment at a Public Safety Answering Point."

        Zenner gave the witness a copy of "BellSouth E911
Service Interfaces," which cost, as he pointed out, $13,
straight from the catalog.  "Look at it carefully," he urged
Ms. Williams, "and tell me if it doesn't contain about twice
as much detailed information about the E911 system of
BellSouth than appeared anywhere in *Phrack.*"

        "You want me to...."  Ms. Williams trailed off.  "I don't

        "Take a careful look," Zenner persisted.  "Take a look
at that document, and tell me when you're done looking at
it if, indeed, it doesn't contain much more detailed
information about the E911 system than appeared in

        "*Phrack* wasn't taken from this," Ms. Williams said.

        "Excuse me?" said Zenner.

        "*Phrack* wasn't taken from this."

        "I can't hear you," Zenner said.

        "*Phrack* was not taken from this document.  I don't
understand your question to me."

        "I guess you don't," Zenner said.

        At this point, the prosecution's case had been
gutshot.  Ms. Williams was distressed.  Her confusion was
quite genuine.  *Phrack* had not been taken from any
publicly available Bellcore document.  *Phrack*'s  E911
Document had been stolen from her own company's
computers, from her own company's text files, that her
own colleagues had written, and revised, with much labor.

        But the "value" of the Document had been blown to
smithereens.  It wasn't worth eighty grand.  According to
Bellcore it was worth thirteen bucks.  And the looming
menace that it supposedly posed had been reduced in
instants to a scarecrow.  Bellcore itself was selling material
far more detailed and "dangerous," to anybody with a
credit card and a phone.

        Actually, Bellcore was not giving this information to
just anybody.  They gave it to *anybody who asked,* but
not many did ask.   Not many people knew that Bellcore
had a free catalog and an 800 number.  John Nagle knew,
but certainly the average teenage phreak didn't know.
"Tuc," a friend of Neidorf's and sometime *Phrack*
contributor, knew, and Tuc had been very helpful to the
defense, behind the scenes.  But the Legion of Doom
didn't know -- otherwise, they would never have wasted so
much time raiding dumpsters.  Cook didn't know.  Foley
didn't know.  Kluepfel didn't know.   The right hand of
Bellcore knew not what the left hand was doing.  The right
hand was battering hackers without mercy, while the left
hand was distributing Bellcore's intellectual property to
anybody who was interested in telephone technical trivia --
apparently, a pathetic few.

        The digital underground was so amateurish and
poorly organized that they had never discovered this heap
of unguarded riches.  The ivory tower of the telcos was so
wrapped-up in the fog of its own technical obscurity that it
had left all the windows open and flung open the doors.
No one had even noticed.

        Zenner sank another nail in the coffin.  He produced
a printed issue of *Telephone Engineer & Management,*
a prominent industry journal that comes out twice a
month and costs $27 a year.  This particular issue of
*TE&M,* called "Update on 911," featured a galaxy of
technical details on 911 service and a glossary far more
extensive than *Phrack*'s.

        The trial rumbled on, somehow, through its own
momentum.  Tim Foley testified about his interrogations
of Neidorf.  Neidorf's written admission that he had known
the E911 Document was pilfered was officially read into
the court record.

        An interesting side issue came up:  "Terminus" had
once passed Neidorf a piece of UNIX AT&T software, a
log-in sequence, that had been cunningly altered so that it
could trap passwords.   The UNIX software itself was
illegally copied AT&T property,  and the alterations
"Terminus" had made to it, had transformed it into a
device for facilitating computer break-ins.  Terminus
himself would eventually plead guilty to theft of this piece
of software, and the Chicago group would send Terminus
to prison for it.  But it was of dubious relevance in the
Neidorf case.  Neidorf hadn't written the program.  He
wasn't accused of ever having used it.  And Neidorf wasn't
being charged with  software theft or owning a password

        On the next day, Zenner took the offensive.  The civil
libertarians now had their own arcane, untried legal
weaponry to launch into action  -- the Electronic
Communications Privacy Act of 1986, 18 US Code, Section
2701 et seq.   Section 2701 makes it a crime to intentionally
access without authorization a facility in which an
electronic communication service is provided -- it is, at
heart, an anti-bugging and anti-tapping law, intended to
carry the traditional protections of telephones into other
electronic channels of communication.   While providing
penalties for amateur snoops, however, Section 2703 of the
ECPA also lays some formal difficulties on the bugging
and tapping activities of police.

        The Secret Service, in the person of Tim Foley, had
served Richard Andrews with a federal grand jury
subpoena, in their pursuit of Prophet, the E911 Document,
and the Terminus software ring.  But according to the
Electronic Communications Privacy Act, a "provider of
remote computing service" was legally entitled to "prior
notice" from the government if a subpoena was used.
Richard Andrews and his basement UNIX node, Jolnet,
had not received any "prior notice."  Tim Foley had
purportedly violated the ECPA and committed an
electronic crime!  Zenner now sought the judge's
permission to cross-examine Foley on the topic of Foley's
own electronic misdeeds.

        Cook argued that Richard Andrews' Jolnet was a
privately owned bulletin board, and not within the purview
of ECPA.   Judge Bua granted the motion of the
government to prevent cross-examination on that point,
and Zenner's offensive fizzled.   This, however, was the first
direct assault on the legality of the actions of the
Computer Fraud and Abuse Task Force itself -- the first
suggestion that they themselves had broken the law, and
might, perhaps, be called to account.

        Zenner, in any case, did not really need the ECPA.
Instead, he grilled Foley on the glaring contradictions in
the supposed value of the E911 Document.  He also
brought up the embarrassing fact that the supposedly red-
hot E911 Document had been sitting around for months,
in Jolnet, with Kluepfel's knowledge, while Kluepfel had
done nothing about it.

        In the afternoon, the Prophet was brought in to testify
for the prosecution.  (The Prophet, it will be recalled, had
also been indicted in the case as partner in a fraud
scheme with Neidorf.)   In Atlanta, the Prophet had
already pled guilty to one charge of conspiracy, one
charge of wire fraud and one charge of interstate
transportation of stolen property.   The wire fraud charge,
and the stolen property charge, were both directly based
on the E911 Document.

        The twenty-year-old Prophet proved a sorry
customer, answering questions politely but in a barely
audible mumble, his voice trailing off at the ends of
sentences.   He was constantly urged to speak up.

         Cook, examining Prophet, forced him to admit that
he had once had a "drug problem," abusing
amphetamines, marijuana, cocaine, and LSD.  This may
have established to the jury that "hackers" are, or can be,
seedy lowlife characters, but it may have damaged
Prophet's credibility somewhat.  Zenner later suggested
that drugs might have damaged Prophet's memory.   The
interesting fact also surfaced that Prophet had never
physically met Craig Neidorf.  He didn't even know
Neidorf's last name -- at least, not until the trial.

        Prophet confirmed the basic facts of his hacker
career.  He was a member of the Legion of Doom.  He had
abused codes, he had broken into switching stations and
re-routed calls, he had hung out on pirate bulletin boards.
He had raided the BellSouth AIMSX computer, copied
the E911 Document, stored it on Jolnet, mailed it to
Neidorf.  He and Neidorf had edited it, and Neidorf had
known where it came from.

        Zenner, however, had Prophet confirm that Neidorf
was not a member of the Legion of Doom, and had not
urged Prophet to break into BellSouth computers.
Neidorf had never urged Prophet to defraud anyone, or to
steal anything.  Prophet also admitted that he had never
known Neidorf to break in to any computer.  Prophet said
that no one in the Legion of Doom considered Craig
Neidorf a "hacker" at all.   Neidorf was not a UNIX maven,
and simply lacked the necessary skill and ability to break
into computers.  Neidorf just published a magazine.

        On Friday, July 27, 1990, the case against Neidorf
collapsed.  Cook moved to dismiss the indictment, citing
"information currently available to us that was not
available to us at the inception of the trial."  Judge Bua
praised the prosecution for this action, which he described
as "very responsible," then dismissed a juror and declared
a mistrial.

        Neidorf was a free man.  His defense, however, had
cost himself and his family dearly.  Months of his life had
been consumed in anguish; he had seen his closest
friends shun him as a federal criminal.  He owed his
lawyers over a hundred thousand dollars, despite a
generous payment to the defense by Mitch Kapor.

        Neidorf was not found innocent.  The trial was simply
dropped.  Nevertheless, on September 9, 1991, Judge Bua
granted Neidorf's motion for the "expungement and
sealing" of his indictment record.  The United States
Secret Service was ordered to delete and destroy all
fingerprints, photographs, and other records of arrest or
processing relating to Neidorf's indictment, including
their paper documents and their computer records.

        Neidorf went back to school, blazingly determined to
become a lawyer.   Having seen the justice system at work,
Neidorf lost much of his enthusiasm for merely technical
power.  At this writing, Craig Neidorf is working in
Washington as a salaried researcher for the American
Civil Liberties Union.


          The outcome of the Neidorf trial changed the EFF
from voices-in-the-wilderness to the media darlings of the
new frontier.

        Legally speaking, the Neidorf case was not a
sweeping triumph for anyone concerned.  No
constitutional principles had been established.  The issues
of "freedom of the press" for electronic publishers
remained in legal limbo.  There were public
misconceptions about the case.  Many people thought
Neidorf had been found innocent and relieved of all his
legal debts by Kapor.  The truth was that the government
had simply dropped the case, and Neidorf's family had
gone deeply into hock to support him.

        But the Neidorf case did provide a single,
devastating, public sound-bite:  *The feds said it was worth
eighty grand, and it was only worth thirteen bucks.*

        This is the Neidorf case's single most memorable
element.  No serious report of the case missed this
particular element.  Even cops could not read this without
a wince and a shake of the head.  It left the public
credibility of the crackdown agents in tatters.

        The crackdown, in fact, continued, however.   Those
two charges against Prophet, which had been based on the
E911 Document, were quietly forgotten at his sentencing --
even though Prophet had already pled guilty to them.
Georgia federal prosecutors strongly argued for jail time
for the Atlanta Three, insisting on "the need to send a
message to the community,"  "the message that hackers
around the country need to hear."

        There was a great deal in their sentencing
memorandum about the awful things that various other
hackers had done  (though the Atlanta Three themselves
had not, in fact, actually committed these crimes).  There
was also much speculation about the awful things that the
Atlanta Three *might*  have done and *were capable*  of
doing  (even though they had not, in fact, actually done
them).  The prosecution's argument carried the day.  The
Atlanta Three were sent to prison:  Urvile and Leftist both
got 14 months each, while Prophet (a second offender) got
21 months.

        The Atlanta Three were also assessed staggering
fines as "restitution":  $233,000 each.  BellSouth claimed
that the defendants had "stolen" "approximately $233,880
worth"  of "proprietary computer access information" --
specifically,  $233,880 worth of computer passwords and
connect addresses.  BellSouth's astonishing claim of the
extreme value of its own computer passwords and
addresses was accepted at face value by the Georgia
court.   Furthermore (as if to emphasize its theoretical
nature)  this enormous sum was not divvied up among the
Atlanta Three, but each of them had to pay all of it.

         A striking aspect of the sentence was that the Atlanta
Three were specifically forbidden to use computers,
except for work or under supervision.  Depriving hackers
of home computers and modems makes some sense if
one considers hackers as "computer addicts," but EFF,
filing an amicus brief in the case, protested that this
punishment was unconstitutional --  it deprived the
Atlanta Three of their rights of free association and free
expression through electronic media.

        Terminus, the "ultimate hacker,"  was finally sent to
prison for a year through the dogged efforts of the Chicago
Task Force.   His crime, to which he pled guilty,  was the
transfer of the UNIX password trapper, which was
officially valued by AT&T at $77,000, a figure which
aroused intense skepticism among those familiar with
UNIX "login.c"  programs.

        The jailing of Terminus and the Atlanta Legionnaires
of Doom, however, did not cause the EFF any sense of
embarrassment or defeat.   On the contrary, the civil
libertarians were rapidly gathering strength.

        An early and potent supporter was Senator Patrick
Leahy, Democrat from Vermont, who had been a Senate
sponsor of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act.
Even before the Neidorf trial, Leahy had spoken out in
defense of hacker-power and freedom of the keyboard:
"We cannot unduly inhibit the inquisitive 13-year-old who,
if left to experiment today, may tomorrow develop the
telecommunications or computer technology to lead the
United States into the 21st century.  He represents our
future and our best hope to remain a technologically
competitive nation."

        It was a handsome statement, rendered perhaps
rather more effective by the fact that the crackdown
raiders *did not have*  any Senators speaking out for
*them.*   On the contrary, their highly secretive actions
and tactics, all "sealed search warrants" here and
"confidential ongoing investigations" there, might have
won them a burst of glamorous publicity at first, but were
crippling them in the on-going propaganda war.   Gail
Thackeray was reduced to unsupported bluster:  "Some of
these people who are loudest on the bandwagon may just
slink into the background," she predicted in *Newsweek*  -
- when all the facts came out, and the cops were

        But all the facts did not come out.  Those facts that
did, were not very flattering.  And the cops were not
vindicated.  And Gail Thackeray lost her job.  By the end of
1991, William Cook had also left public employment.

        1990 had belonged to the crackdown, but by '91 its
agents were in severe disarray, and the libertarians were
on a roll.   People were flocking to the cause.

        A particularly interesting ally had been Mike Godwin
of Austin, Texas.  Godwin was an individual almost as
difficult to describe as Barlow; he had been editor of the
student newspaper of the University of Texas, and a
computer salesman, and a programmer, and in 1990 was
back in law school, looking for a law degree.

        Godwin was also a bulletin board maven.   He was
very well-known in the Austin board community under his
handle "Johnny Mnemonic," which he adopted from a
cyberpunk science fiction story by William Gibson.
Godwin was an ardent cyberpunk science fiction fan.   As a
fellow Austinite of similar age and similar interests, I
myself had known Godwin socially for many years.   When
William Gibson and myself had been writing our
collaborative SF novel,  *The Difference Engine,*  Godwin
had been our technical advisor in our effort to link our
Apple word-processors from Austin to Vancouver.  Gibson
and I were so pleased by his generous expert help that we
named a character in the novel "Michael Godwin" in his

        The handle "Mnemonic" suited Godwin very well.
His erudition and his mastery of trivia were impressive to
the point of stupor; his ardent curiosity seemed insatiable,
and his desire to debate and argue seemed the central
drive of his life.  Godwin had even started his own Austin
debating society, wryly known as the "Dull Men's Club."
In person, Godwin could be overwhelming; a flypaper-
brained polymath  who could not seem to let any idea go.
On bulletin boards, however, Godwin's closely reasoned,
highly grammatical, erudite posts suited the medium well,
and he became a local board celebrity.

        Mike Godwin was the man most responsible for the
public national exposure of the Steve Jackson case.   The
Izenberg seizure in Austin had received no press coverage
at all.  The March 1 raids on Mentor, Bloodaxe, and Steve
Jackson Games had received a  brief front-page splash in
the front page of the *Austin American-Statesman,*  but it
was confused and ill-informed:  the warrants were sealed,
and the Secret Service wasn't talking.  Steve Jackson
seemed doomed to obscurity.   Jackson had not been
arrested; he was not charged with any crime; he was not on
trial.   He had lost some computers in an ongoing
investigation -- so what?  Jackson tried hard to attract
attention to the true extent of his plight, but he was
drawing a blank; no one in a position to help him seemed
able to get a mental grip on the issues.

        Godwin, however, was uniquely, almost magically,
qualified to carry Jackson's case to the outside world.
Godwin was a board enthusiast, a science fiction fan, a
former journalist, a computer salesman, a lawyer-to-be,
and an Austinite.   Through a coincidence yet more
amazing, in his last year of law school Godwin had
specialized in federal prosecutions and criminal
procedure.  Acting entirely on his own, Godwin made up a
press packet which summarized the issues and provided
useful contacts for reporters.  Godwin's behind-the-scenes
effort (which he carried out mostly to prove a point in a
local board debate) broke the story again in the *Austin
American-Statesman*  and then in *Newsweek.*

        Life was never the same for Mike Godwin after that.
As he joined the growing civil liberties debate on the
Internet, it was obvious to all parties involved that here
was one guy who, in the midst of complete murk and
confusion, *genuinely understood everything he was
talking about.*   The disparate elements of Godwin's
dilettantish existence suddenly fell together as neatly as
the facets of a Rubik's cube.

        When the time came to hire a full-time EFF staff
attorney, Godwin was the obvious choice.  He took the
Texas bar exam, left Austin, moved to Cambridge,
became a full-time, professional, computer civil
libertarian, and was soon touring the nation on behalf of
EFF, delivering well-received addresses on the issues to
crowds as disparate as academics, industrialists, science
fiction fans, and federal cops.

        Michael Godwin is currently the chief legal counsel of
the Electronic Frontier Foundation in Cambridge,


        Another early and influential participant in the
controversy was Dorothy Denning.   Dr. Denning was
unique among investigators of the computer underground
in that she did not enter the debate with any set of
politicized motives.  She was a professional cryptographer
and computer security expert whose primary interest in
hackers was *scholarly.*   She had a B.A. and M.A. in
mathematics,  and  a Ph.D. in computer science from
Purdue.  She had worked for SRI International, the
California think-tank that was also the home of computer-
security maven Donn Parker, and had authored an
influential text called  *Cryptography and Data Security.*
In 1990, Dr. Denning was working for  Digital Equipment
Corporation in their Systems Reseach Center.   Her
husband, Peter Denning, was also  a computer security
expert, working for NASA's Research Institute for
Advanced Computer Science.  He had edited the well-
received *Computers Under Attack:  Intruders, Worms
and Viruses.*

         Dr. Denning took it upon herself to contact the
digital underground, more or less with an anthropological
interest.  There she discovered that these computer-
intruding hackers, who had been characterized as
unethical, irresponsible, and a serious danger to society,
did in fact have their own subculture and their own rules.
They were not particularly well-considered rules, but they
were, in fact, rules.   Basically, they didn't take money and
they didn't break anything.

        Her dispassionate reports on her researches did a
great deal to influence serious-minded computer
professionals -- the sort of people who merely rolled their
eyes at the cyberspace rhapsodies of a John Perry Barlow.

        For young hackers of the digital underground,
meeting Dorothy Denning was a genuinely mind-boggling
experience.   Here was this neatly coiffed, conservatively
dressed, dainty little personage, who reminded most
hackers of their moms or their aunts.  And yet she was an
IBM systems programmer with profound expertise in
computer architectures and high-security information
flow, who had personal friends in the FBI and the National
Security Agency.

        Dorothy Denning was a shining example of the
American mathematical intelligentsia, a genuinely
brilliant person from the central ranks of the computer-
science elite.  And here she was, gently questioning
twenty-year-old hairy-eyed phone-phreaks over the
deeper ethical implications of their behavior.

        Confronted by this genuinely nice lady, most hackers
sat up very straight and did their best to keep the anarchy-
file stuff down to a faint whiff of brimstone.   Nevertheless,
the hackers *were*  in fact prepared to seriously discuss
serious issues with Dorothy Denning.  They were willing to
speak the unspeakable and defend the indefensible,  to
blurt out their convictions that information cannot be
owned, that the databases of governments and large
corporations were a threat to the rights and privacy of

        Denning's articles made it clear to many that
"hacking" was not simple vandalism by some evil clique of
psychotics.   "Hacking" was not an aberrant menace that
could be charmed away by ignoring it, or swept out of
existence by jailing a few ringleaders.   Instead, "hacking"
was symptomatic of a growing, primal struggle over
knowledge and power in the  age of information.

        Denning pointed out that the attitude of hackers
were at least partially  shared by forward-looking
management theorists in the business community: people
like Peter Drucker and Tom Peters.  Peter Drucker, in his
book *The New Realities,*  had stated that "control of
information by the government is no longer possible.
Indeed, information is now transnational.  Like money, it
has no 'fatherland.'"

        And management maven Tom Peters had chided
large corporations for uptight, proprietary attitudes in his
bestseller, *Thriving on Chaos:*   "Information hoarding,
especially by politically motivated, power-seeking staffs,
had been commonplace throughout American industry,
service and manufacturing alike. It will be an impossible
millstone aroung the neck of tomorrow's organizations."

        Dorothy Denning had shattered the social
membrane of the digital underground.   She attended the
Neidorf trial, where she was prepared to testify for the
defense as an expert witness.   She was a behind-the-
scenes organizer of two of the most important national
meetings of the computer civil libertarians.   Though not a
zealot of any description, she brought disparate elements
of the electronic community into a surprising and fruitful

        Dorothy Denning is currently the Chair of the
Computer Science Department at Georgetown University
in Washington, DC.


        There were many stellar figures in the civil libertarian
community.   There's no question, however, that its single
most influential figure was Mitchell D. Kapor.  Other
people might have formal titles, or governmental
positions, have more experience with crime, or with the
law, or with the arcanities of computer security or
constitutional theory.  But by 1991 Kapor had transcended
any such narrow role.  Kapor had become "Mitch."

        Mitch had become the central civil-libertarian ad-
hocrat.   Mitch had stood up first, he had spoken out
loudly, directly, vigorously and angrily, he had put his own
reputation, and his very considerable personal fortune, on
the line.   By mid-'91 Kapor was the best-known advocate
of his cause and was known *personally* by almost every
single human being in America with any direct influence
on the question of civil liberties in cyberspace.   Mitch had
built bridges, crossed voids, changed paradigms, forged
metaphors, made phone-calls and swapped business
cards to such spectacular effect that it had become
impossible for anyone to take any action in the "hacker
question" without wondering what Mitch might think --
and say -- and tell his friends.

         The EFF had simply *networked*  the situation into
an entirely new status quo.  And in fact this had been EFF's
deliberate strategy from the beginning.  Both Barlow and
Kapor loathed bureaucracies and had deliberately chosen
to work almost entirely through the electronic spiderweb
of "valuable personal contacts."

        After a year of EFF, both Barlow and Kapor had every
reason to look back with satisfaction.   EFF had established
its own Internet node, ","  with a well-stocked
electronic archive of documents on electronic civil rights,
privacy issues, and academic freedom.   EFF was also
publishing  *EFFector,*  a quarterly printed journal, as well
as *EFFector Online,*  an electronic  newsletter with over
1,200 subscribers.  And EFF was thriving on the Well.

          EFF had a national headquarters in Cambridge and
a full-time staff.  It had become a membership
organization and was attracting grass-roots support.   It
had also attracted the support of some thirty civil-rights
lawyers, ready and eager to do pro bono work in defense of
the Constitution in Cyberspace.

        EFF had lobbied successfully in Washington and in
Massachusetts to change state and federal legislation on
computer networking.   Kapor in particular had become a
veteran expert witness, and had joined the Computer
Science and Telecommunications Board of the National
Academy of Science and Engineering.

        EFF had sponsored meetings such as "Computers,
Freedom and Privacy" and the CPSR Roundtable.   It had
carried out a press offensive that, in the words of
*EFFector,*  "has affected the climate of opinion about
computer networking and begun to reverse the slide into
'hacker hysteria' that was beginning to grip the nation."

        It had helped Craig Neidorf avoid prison.

        And, last but certainly not least, the Electronic
Frontier Foundation had filed a federal lawsuit in the
name of Steve Jackson, Steve Jackson Games Inc., and
three users of the Illuminati bulletin board system.  The
defendants were, and are, the United States Secret
Service, William Cook, Tim Foley, Barbara Golden and
Henry Kleupfel.

        The case, which is in pre-trial procedures in an Austin
federal court as of this writing, is a civil action for damages
to redress alleged violations of the First and Fourth
Amendments to the United States Constitution, as well as
the Privacy Protection Act of 1980 (42 USC 2000aa et seq.),
and the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (18 USC
2510 et seq and 2701 et seq).

        EFF had established that it had credibility.  It had
also established that it had teeth.

        In the fall of 1991 I travelled to Massachusetts to
speak personally with Mitch Kapor.  It was my final
interview for this book.


        The city of Boston has always been one of the major
intellectual centers of the American republic.  It is a very
old city by American standards, a place of skyscrapers
overshadowing seventeenth-century graveyards, where
the high-tech start-up companies of Route 128 co-exist
with the hand-wrought pre-industrial grace of "Old
Ironsides," the USS *Constitution.*

        The Battle of Bunker Hill, one of the first and
bitterest armed clashes of the American Revolution, was
fought in Boston's environs.   Today there is a
monumental spire on Bunker Hill, visible throughout
much of the city.    The willingness of the republican
revolutionaries to take up arms and fire on their
oppressors has left a  cultural legacy that two full centuries
have not effaced.   Bunker Hill is still a potent center of
American political symbolism, and the Spirit of '76  is still a
potent image for those who seek to mold public opinion.

        Of course, not everyone who wraps himself in the flag
is necessarily a patriot.  When I visited the spire in
September 1991, it bore a huge, badly-erased, spray-can
grafitto around its bottom reading "BRITS OUT -- IRA
PROVOS."   Inside this hallowed edifice was a glass-cased
diorama of thousands of tiny toy soldiers, rebels and
redcoats, fighting and dying over the green hill, the
riverside marshes, the rebel trenchworks.   Plaques
indicated the movement of troops, the shiftings of
strategy.  The Bunker Hill Monument is occupied at its
very center by the toy soldiers of a military war-game

        The Boston metroplex is a place of great universities,
prominent among the Massachusetts Institute of
Technology, where the term "computer hacker" was first
coined.  The Hacker Crackdown of 1990 might be
interpreted as a political struggle among American cities:
traditional strongholds of longhair intellectual liberalism,
such as Boston, San Francisco, and Austin, versus the
bare-knuckle industrial pragmatism of Chicago and
Phoenix  (with Atlanta and New York wrapped in internal

        The headquarters of the Electronic Frontier
Foundation is on 155 Second Street in Cambridge, a
Bostonian suburb north of the River Charles.  Second
Street has weedy sidewalks of dented, sagging brick and
elderly cracked asphalt; large street-signs warn "NO
EMERGENCY."   This is an old area of modest
manufacturing industries; the EFF is catecorner from the
Greene Rubber Company.   EFF's building is two stories of
red brick; its large wooden windows feature gracefully
arched tops and stone sills.

        The glass window beside the Second Street entrance
bears three sheets of neatly laser-printed paper, taped
against the glass.  They read:  ON Technology.  EFF.  KEI.

        "ON Technology" is Kapor's software company, which
currently specializes in "groupware" for the Apple
Macintosh computer.  "Groupware" is intended to
promote efficient social interaction among office-workers
linked by computers.  ON Technology's most successful
software products to date are "Meeting Maker" and
"Instant Update."

        "KEI" is Kapor Enterprises Inc., Kapor's personal
holding company, the commercial entity that formally
controls his extensive investments in other hardware and
software corporations.

        "EFF" is a political action group -- of a special sort.

        Inside, someone's bike has been chained to the
handrails of a modest flight of stairs.  A wall of modish
glass brick separates this anteroom from the offices.
Beyond the brick, there's an alarm system mounted on
the wall, a sleek, complex little number that resembles a
cross between a thermostat and a CD player.  Piled
against the wall are box after box of a recent special issue
of *Scientific American,* "How to Work, Play, and Thrive
in Cyberspace," with extensive coverage of electronic
networking techniques and political issues, including an
article by Kapor himself.   These boxes are addressed to
Gerard Van der Leun, EFF's Director of Communications,
who will shortly mail those magazines to every member of
the EFF.

        The joint headquarters of EFF, KEI, and ON
Technology, which Kapor currently rents, is a modestly
bustling place.   It's very much the same physical size as
Steve Jackson's gaming company.  It's certainly a far cry
from the gigantic gray steel-sided railway shipping barn,
on the Monsignor O'Brien Highway, that is owned by
Lotus Development Corporation.

        Lotus is, of course, the software giant that Mitchell
Kapor founded in the late 70s.  The software program
Kapor co-authored, "Lotus 1-2-3," is still that company's
most profitable product.  "Lotus 1-2-3" also bears a
singular distinction in the digital underground: it's
probably the most pirated piece of application software in
world history.

        Kapor greets me cordially in his own office, down a
hall.   Kapor, whose name is pronounced KAY-por, is in his
early forties, married and the father of two.   He has a
round face, high forehead, straight nose, a slightly tousled
mop of black hair peppered with gray.  His large brown
eyes are wideset,  reflective, one might almost say soulful.
He disdains ties, and commonly wears Hawaiian shirts
and tropical prints, not so much garish as simply  cheerful
and just that little bit anomalous.

        There is just the whiff of hacker brimstone about
Mitch Kapor.  He may not have the hard-riding, hell-for-
leather, guitar-strumming charisma of his Wyoming
colleague John Perry Barlow, but there's something about
the guy that still stops one short.   He has the air of the
Eastern city dude in the bowler hat, the dreamy,
Longfellow-quoting poker shark who only *happens*  to
know the exact mathematical odds against drawing to an
inside straight.  Even among his computer-community
colleagues, who are hardly known for mental sluggishness,
Kapor strikes one forcefully as a very intelligent man.  He
speaks rapidly, with vigorous gestures, his Boston accent
sometimes slipping to the sharp nasal tang of his youth in
Long Island.

        Kapor, whose Kapor Family Foundation does much
of his philanthropic work, is a strong supporter of Boston's
Computer Museum.   Kapor's interest in the history of his
industry has brought him some remarkable curios, such
as the "byte" just outside his office door.  This "byte"  --
eight digital bits -- has been salvaged from the wreck of an
electronic computer of the pre-transistor age.  It's a
standing gunmetal rack about the size of a small toaster-
oven:  with eight slots of hand-soldered breadboarding
featuring thumb-sized vacuum tubes.  If it fell off a table it
could easily break your foot, but it was state-of-the-art
computation in the 1940s.   (It would take exactly 157,184 of
these primordial toasters to hold the first part of this

        There's also a coiling, multicolored, scaly dragon that
some inspired techno-punk artist has cobbled up entirely
out of transistors, capacitors, and brightly plastic-coated

        Inside the office, Kapor excuses himself briefly to do
a little mouse-whizzing housekeeping on his personal
Macintosh IIfx.  If its giant  screen were an open window,
an agile person could climb through it without much
trouble at all.  There's a coffee-cup at Kapor's elbow, a
memento of his recent trip to Eastern Europe, which has a
black-and-white stencilled photo and the legend
CAPITALIST FOOLS TOUR.   It's Kapor, Barlow, and two
California venture-capitalist luminaries of their
acquaintance, four windblown, grinning Baby Boomer
dudes in leather jackets, boots, denim, travel bags,
standing on airport tarmac somewhere behind the
formerly Iron Curtain.  They look as if they're having the
absolute time of their lives.

        Kapor is in a reminiscent mood.  We talk a bit about
his youth -- high school days as a "math nerd,"  Saturdays
attending Columbia University's high-school science
honors program, where he had his first experience
programming computers.  IBM 1620s, in 1965 and '66.   "I
was very interested," says Kapor, "and then I went off to
college and got distracted by drugs sex and rock and roll,
like anybody with half a brain would have then!"  After
college he was a progressive-rock DJ in Hartford,
Connecticut, for a couple of years.

        I ask him if he ever misses his rock and roll days -- if
he ever wished he could go back to radio work.

        He shakes his head flatly.  "I stopped thinking about
going back to be a DJ the day after Altamont."

        Kapor moved to Boston in 1974 and got a job
programming mainframes in COBOL.  He hated it.  He
quit and became a teacher of transcendental meditation.
(It was Kapor's long flirtation with Eastern mysticism that
gave the world "Lotus.")

        In 1976 Kapor went to Switzerland, where the
Transcendental Meditation movement had rented a
gigantic Victorian hotel in St-Moritz.  It was an all-male
group -- a hundred and twenty of them -- determined
upon Enlightenment or Bust.   Kapor had given the
transcendant his best shot.  He was becoming
disenchanted by "the nuttiness in the organization."  "They
were teaching people to levitate," he says, staring at the
floor.  His voice drops an octave, becomes flat.  "*They
don't levitate.*"

         Kapor chose Bust.  He went back to the States and
acquired a degree in counselling psychology.  He worked a
while in a hospital, couldn't stand that either.  "My rep
was," he says  "a very bright kid with a lot of potential who
hasn't found himself.  Almost thirty.  Sort of lost."

        Kapor was unemployed when he bought his first
personal computer -- an Apple II.  He sold his stereo to
raise cash and drove to New Hampshire to avoid the sales

        "The day after I purchased it," Kapor tells me,  "I was
hanging out in a computer store and I saw another guy, a
man in his forties, well-dressed guy, and eavesdropped on
his conversation with the salesman.  He didn't know
anything  about computers.  I'd had a year programming.
And I could program in BASIC.  I'd taught myself.  So I
went up to him, and I actually sold myself to him as a
consultant."  He pauses.  "I don't know where I got the
nerve to do this.  It was uncharacteristic.  I just said, 'I think
I can help you, I've been listening, this is what you need to
do and I think I can do it for you.'  And he took me on!  He
was my first client!  I became a computer consultant the
first day after I bought the Apple II."

        Kapor had found his true vocation.  He attracted
more clients for his consultant service, and started an
Apple users' group.

        A friend of Kapor's, Eric Rosenfeld, a graduate
student at MIT, had a problem.  He was doing a thesis on
an arcane form of financial statistics, but could not wedge
himself into the crowded queue for time on MIT's
mainframes.  (One might note at this point that if Mr.
Rosenfeld had dishonestly broken into the MIT
mainframes, Kapor himself might have never invented
Lotus 1-2-3 and the PC business might have been set back
for years!)   Eric Rosenfeld did have an Apple II, however,
and he thought it might be possible to scale the problem
down.  Kapor, as favor, wrote a program for him in BASIC
that did the job.

        It then occurred to the two of them, out of the blue,
that it might be possible to *sell*  this program.  They
marketed it themselves, in plastic baggies, for about a
hundred bucks a pop, mail order.    "This was a total
cottage industry by a marginal consultant," Kapor says
proudly.  "That's how I got started, honest to God."

        Rosenfeld, who later became a very prominent figure
on Wall Street, urged Kapor to go to MIT's business
school for an MBA.   Kapor  did seven months there, but
never got his MBA.  He picked up some useful tools --
mainly a firm grasp of the principles of accounting -- and,
in his own words, "learned to talk MBA."   Then he
dropped out and went to Silicon Valley.

        The inventors of VisiCalc, the Apple computer's
premier business program, had shown an interest in
Mitch Kapor.   Kapor worked diligently for them for six
months, got tired of California, and went back to Boston
where they had better bookstores.   The VisiCalc group
had made the critical error of bringing in "professional
management."  "That drove them into the ground," Kapor

        "Yeah, you don't hear a lot about VisiCalc these days,"
I muse.

        Kapor looks surprised.  "Well, Lotus.... we *bought*

        "Oh.  You *bought*  it?"


        "Sort of like the Bell System buying Western Union?"

        Kapor grins.  "Yep!  Yep!  Yeah, exactly!"

        Mitch Kapor was not in full command of the destiny
of himself or his industry.  The hottest software
commodities of the early 1980s were *computer games*  --
the Atari seemed destined to enter every teenage home in
America.  Kapor got into business software simply
because he didn't have any particular feeling for
computer games.  But he was supremely fast on his feet,
open to new ideas and inclined to trust his instincts.   And
his instincts were good.  He chose good people to deal with
-- gifted programmer Jonathan Sachs (the co-author of
Lotus 1-2-3).   Financial wizard Eric Rosenfeld, canny Wall
Street analyst and venture capitalist Ben Rosen.  Kapor
was the founder and CEO of Lotus, one of the most
spectacularly successful business ventures of the later
twentieth century.

        He is now an extremely wealthy man.  I ask him if he
actually knows how much money he has.

        "Yeah," he says.  "Within a percent or two."

        How much does he actually have, then?

        He shakes his head.  "A lot.  A lot.  Not something I
talk about.  Issues of money and class are  things that cut
pretty close to the bone."

        I don't pry.  It's beside the point.  One might
presume, impolitely, that Kapor has at least forty million --
that's what he got the year he left Lotus.  People who ought
to know claim Kapor has about a hundred and fifty
million, give or take a market swing in his stock holdings.
If Kapor had stuck with Lotus, as his colleague friend and
rival Bill Gates has stuck with his own software start-up,
Microsoft, then Kapor would likely have much the same
fortune Gates has -- somewhere in the neighborhood of
three billion, give or take a few hundred million.   Mitch
Kapor has all the money he wants.  Money has lost
whatever charm it ever held for him -- probably not much
in the first place.    When Lotus became too uptight, too
bureaucratic, too far from the true sources of his own
satisfaction, Kapor walked.   He simply severed all
connections with the company and went out the door.  It
stunned everyone -- except those who knew him best.

        Kapor has not had to strain his resources to wreak a
thorough transformation in cyberspace politics.  In its first
year, EFF's budget was about a quarter of a million dollars.
Kapor is running EFF out of his pocket change.

        Kapor takes pains to tell me that he does not
consider himself a civil libertarian per se.  He has spent
quite some time with true-blue civil libertarians lately, and
there's a political-correctness to them that bugs him.  They
seem to him to spend entirely too much time in legal
nitpicking and not enough vigorously exercising civil
rights in the everyday real world.

         Kapor is an entrepreneur.  Like all hackers, he
prefers his involvements  direct, personal, and hands-on.
"The fact that EFF has a node on the Internet is a great
thing.  We're a publisher.  We're a distributor of
information."  Among the items the Internet node
carries is back issues of *Phrack.*  They had an internal
debate about that in EFF, and finally decided to take the
plunge.  They might carry other digital underground
publications -- but if they do, he says, "we'll certainly carry
Donn Parker, and anything Gail Thackeray wants to put
up.  We'll turn it into a public library, that has the whole
spectrum of use.  Evolve in the direction of people making
up their own minds."  He grins.  "We'll try to label all the

        Kapor is determined to tackle the technicalities of
the Internet in the service of the public interest.   "The
problem with being a node on the Net today is that you've
got to have a captive technical specialist.  We have Chris
Davis around, for the care and feeding of the balky beast!
We couldn't do it ourselves!"

        He pauses.  "So one direction in which technology has
to evolve is much more standardized units, that a non-
technical person can feel comfortable with.  It's the same
shift as from minicomputers to PCs.  I can see a future in
which any person can have a Node on the Net.  Any
person can be a publisher.  It's better than the media we
now have.  It's possible.  We're working actively."

        Kapor is in his element now, fluent, thoroughly in
command in his material.   "You go tell a hardware
Internet hacker that everyone should have a node on the
Net," he says, "and the first thing they're going to say is, 'IP
doesn't scale!'"  ("IP" is the interface protocol for the
Internet.  As it currently exists, the IP software is simply
not capable of indefinite expansion; it will run out of
usable addresses, it will saturate.)   "The answer," Kapor
says,  "is:  evolve the protocol!  Get the smart people
together and figure out what to do.  Do we add ID?  Do we
add new protocol?  Don't just say, *we can't do it.*"

        Getting smart people together to figure out what to
do is a skill at which Kapor clearly excels.   I counter that
people on the Internet rather enjoy their elite technical
status, and don't seem particularly anxious to democratize
the Net.

        Kapor agrees, with a show of scorn.  "I tell them that
this is the snobbery of the people on the *Mayflower*
looking down their noses at the people who came over *on
the second boat!*   Just because they got here a year, or
five years, or ten years before everybody else, that doesn't
give them ownership of cyberspace!  By what right?"

        I remark that the telcos are an electronic network,
too, and they seem to guard their specialized knowledge
pretty closely.

        Kapor ripostes that the telcos and the Internet are
entirely different animals.  "The Internet is an open
system, everything is published, everything gets argued
about, basically by anybody who can get in.  Mostly, it's
exclusive and elitist just because it's so difficult.  Let's
make it easier to use."

        On the other hand, he allows with a swift change of
emphasis, the so-called elitists do have a point as well.
"Before people start coming in, who are new, who want to
make suggestions, and criticize the Net as 'all screwed
up'....  They should at least take the time to understand the
culture on its own terms.  It has its own history -- show
some respect for it.  I'm a conservative, to that extent."

        The Internet is Kapor's paradigm for the future of
telecommunications.  The Internet is decentralized, non-
heirarchical, almost anarchic.  There are no bosses, no
chain of command, no secret data.  If each node obeys the
general interface standards, there's simply no need for
any central network authority.

        Wouldn't that spell the doom of AT&T as an
institution?  I ask.

        That prospect doesn't faze Kapor for a moment.
"Their  big advantage, that they have now, is that they have
all of the wiring.  But two things are happening.  Anyone
with right-of-way is putting down fiber -- Southern Pacific
Railroad, people like that -- there's enormous 'dark fiber'
laid in."  ("Dark Fiber" is fiber-optic cable, whose
enormous capacity so exceeds the demands of current
usage that much of the fiber still has no light-signals on it -
- it's still 'dark,' awaiting future use.)

        "The other thing that's happening is the local-loop
stuff is going to go wireless.  Everyone from Bellcore to the
cable TV companies to AT&T wants to put in these things
called 'personal communication systems.'  So you could
have local competition -- you could have multiplicity of
people, a bunch of neighborhoods, sticking stuff up on
poles.  And a bunch of other people laying in dark fiber.
So what happens to the telephone companies?  There's
enormous pressure on them from both sides.

        "The more I look at this, the more I believe that in a
post-industrial, digital world, the idea of regulated
monopolies is bad.  People will look back on it and say that
in the 19th and 20th centuries the idea of public utilities
was an okay compromise.  You needed one set of wires in
the ground.  It was too economically inefficient, otherwise.
And that meant one entity running it.  But now, with pieces
being wireless -- the connections are going to be via high-
level interfaces, not via wires.  I mean, *ultimately*  there
are going to be wires -- but the wires are just a commodity.
Fiber, wireless.  You no longer *need*  a utility."

        Water utilities?  Gas utilities?

        Of course we still need those, he agrees.   "But when
what you're moving is information, instead of physical
substances, then you can play by a different set of rules.
We're evolving those rules now!   Hopefully you can have
a much more decentralized system, and one in which
there's more competition in the marketplace.

        "The role of government will be to make sure that
nobody cheats.  The proverbial 'level playing field.'   A
policy that prevents monopolization.  It should result in
better service, lower prices, more choices, and local
empowerment."  He smiles.  "I'm very big on local

        Kapor is a man with a vision.  It's a very novel vision
which he and his allies are working out in considerable
detail and with great energy.  Dark, cynical, morbid
cyberpunk that I am, I cannot avoid considering some of
the darker implications of "decentralized, nonhierarchical,
locally empowered" networking.

        I remark that some pundits have suggested that
electronic networking -- faxes, phones, small-scale
photocopiers -- played a strong role in dissolving the
power of centralized communism and causing the
collapse of the Warsaw Pact.

        Socialism is totally discredited, says Kapor, fresh
back from the Eastern Bloc.  The idea that faxes did it, all
by themselves, is rather wishful thinking.

        Has it occurred to him that electronic networking
might corrode America's industrial and political
infrastructure to the point where the whole thing becomes
untenable, unworkable -- and the old order just collapses
headlong, like in Eastern Europe?

        "No," Kapor says flatly.  "I think that's extraordinarily
unlikely.  In part, because ten or fifteen years ago, I had
similar hopes about personal computers -- which utterly
failed to materialize." He grins wryly, then his eyes narrow.
"I'm *very* opposed to techno-utopias.  Every time I see
one, I either run away, or try to kill it."

        It dawns on me then that Mitch Kapor is not trying to
make the world safe for democracy.  He certainly is not
trying to make it safe for anarchists or utopians -- least of
all for computer intruders or electronic rip-off artists.
What he really hopes to do is make the world safe for
future Mitch Kapors.  This world of decentralized, small-
scale nodes, with instant global access for the best and
brightest, would be a perfect milieu for the shoestring attic
capitalism that made Mitch Kapor what he is today.

        Kapor is a very bright man.  He has a rare
combination of visionary intensity with a strong practical
streak.  The Board of the EFF:  John Barlow, Jerry Berman
of the ACLU, Stewart Brand, John Gilmore, Steve
Wozniak, and Esther Dyson, the doyenne of East-West
computer entrepreneurism -- share his gift, his vision, and
his formidable networking talents.   They are people of the
1960s,  winnowed-out by its turbulence and rewarded with
wealth and influence.   They are some of the best and the
brightest that the electronic community has to offer.  But
can they do it, in the real world?  Or are they only
dreaming?   They are so few.  And there is so much against

        I leave Kapor and his networking employees
struggling cheerfully with the promising intricacies of their
newly installed Macintosh System 7 software.  The next
day is Saturday.  EFF is closed.  I pay a few visits to points
of interest downtown.

        One of them is the birthplace of the telephone.

        It's marked by a bronze plaque in a plinth of black-
and-white speckled granite.  It sits in the plaza of the John
F. Kennedy Federal Building, the very place where Kapor
was once fingerprinted by the FBI.

        The plaque has a bas-relief picture of Bell's original
reads.  "Here, on June 2, 1875, Alexander Graham Bell and
Thomas A. Watson first transmitted sound over wires.

        "This successful experiment was completed in a fifth
floor garret at what was then 109 Court Street and marked
the beginning of world-wide telephone service."

        109 Court Street is long gone.  Within sight of Bell's
plaque, across a street, is one of the central offices of
NYNEX, the local  Bell RBOC, on 6 Bowdoin Square.

        I cross the street and circle the telco building, slowly,
hands in my jacket pockets.  It's a bright, windy, New
England autumn day.   The central office is a handsome
1940s-era megalith in late Art Deco, eight stories high.

        Parked outside the back is a power-generation truck.
The generator strikes me as rather anomalous.  Don't they
already have their own generators in this eight-story
monster?  Then the suspicion strikes me that NYNEX
must have heard of the September 17 AT&T power-outage
which crashed New York City.  Belt-and-suspenders, this
generator.  Very telco.

        Over the glass doors of the front entrance is a
handsome bronze bas-relief of Art Deco vines, sunflowers,
and birds, entwining the Bell logo and the legend NEW
-- an entity which no longer officially exists.

        The doors are locked securely.  I peer through the
shadowed glass.  Inside is an official poster reading:

        "New England Telephone a NYNEX Company


        "All persons while on New England Telephone
Company premises are required to visibly wear their
identification cards (C.C.P. Section 2, Page 1).

        "Visitors, vendors, contractors, and all others are
required to visibly wear a daily pass.
                                "Thank you.
                                Kevin C. Stanton.
                                Building Security Coordinator."

        Outside, around the corner, is a pull-down ribbed
metal security door, a locked delivery entrance.  Some
passing stranger has grafitti-tagged this door, with a single
word in red spray-painted cursive:


        My book on the Hacker Crackdown is almost over
now.  I have deliberately saved the best for last.

        In February 1991, I attended the CPSR Public Policy
Roundtable, in Washington, DC.   CPSR, Computer
Professionals for Social Responsibility, was a sister
organization of EFF, or perhaps its aunt, being older and
perhaps somewhat wiser in the ways of the world of

        Computer Professionals for  Social Responsibility
began in 1981 in Palo Alto, as an informal discussion group
of Californian computer scientists and technicians, united
by nothing more than an electronic mailing list.   This
typical high-tech ad-hocracy received the dignity of its
own acronym in 1982, and was formally incorporated in

        CPSR lobbied government and public alike with an
educational outreach effort, sternly warning against any
foolish and unthinking trust in complex computer
systems.  CPSR insisted that mere computers should
never be considered a magic panacea for humanity's
social, ethical or political problems.  CPSR members were
especially troubled about the stability, safety, and
dependability of military computer systems, and very
especially troubled by those systems controlling nuclear
arsenals.  CPSR was best-known for its persistent and well-
publicized attacks on the scientific credibility of the
Strategic Defense Initiative ("Star Wars").

        In 1990, CPSR was the nation's veteran cyber-political
activist group, with over two thousand members in twenty-
one local chapters across the US.  It was especially active
in Boston, Silicon Valley, and Washington DC, where its
Washington office sponsored the Public Policy

        The Roundtable, however, had been funded by EFF,
which had passed CPSR an extensive grant for operations.
This was the first large-scale, official meeting of what was
to become the electronic civil libertarian community.

        Sixty people attended, myself included -- in this
instance, not so much as a journalist as a cyberpunk
author.   Many of the luminaries of the field took part:
Kapor and Godwin as a matter of course.  Richard Civille
and Marc Rotenberg of CPSR.  Jerry Berman of the ACLU.
John Quarterman, author of *The Matrix.*  Steven Levy,
author of *Hackers.*   George Perry and Sandy Weiss of
Prodigy Services, there to network about the civil-liberties
troubles their young commercial network was
experiencing.  Dr. Dorothy Denning.  Cliff Figallo,
manager of the Well.  Steve Jackson was there, having
finally found his ideal target audience, and so was Craig
Neidorf, "Knight Lightning" himself, with his attorney,
Sheldon Zenner.  Katie Hafner, science journalist, and co-
author of *Cyberpunk:  Outlaws and Hackers on the
Computer Frontier.*  Dave Farber, ARPAnet pioneer and
fabled Internet guru.  Janlori Goldman of the ACLU's
Project on Privacy and Technology.  John Nagle of
Autodesk and the Well.  Don Goldberg of the House
Judiciary Committee.  Tom Guidoboni, the defense
attorney in the Internet Worm case.  Lance Hoffman,
computer-science professor at The George Washington
University.  Eli Noam of Columbia.  And a host of others
no less distinguished.

        Senator Patrick Leahy delivered the keynote address,
expressing his determination to keep ahead of the curve
on the issue of electronic free speech.  The address was
well-received, and the sense of excitement was palpable.
Every panel discussion was interesting -- some were
entirely compelling.  People networked with an almost
frantic interest.

        I myself had a most interesting and cordial lunch
discussion with Noel and Jeanne Gayler, Admiral Gayler
being a former director of the National Security Agency.
As this was the first known encounter between an actual
no-kidding cyberpunk and a chief executive of America's
largest and best-financed electronic espionage apparat,
there was naturally a bit of eyebrow-raising on both sides.

        Unfortunately, our discussion was off-the-record.  In
fact all  the discussions at the CPSR were officially off-the-
record, the idea being to do some serious networking in an
atmosphere of complete frankness, rather than to stage a
media circus.

        In any case, CPSR Roundtable, though interesting
and intensely valuable, was as nothing compared to the
truly mind-boggling event that transpired a mere month


        "Computers, Freedom and Privacy."  Four hundred
people from every conceivable corner of America's
electronic community.  As a science fiction writer, I have
been to some weird gigs in my day, but this thing is truly
*beyond the pale.*   Even "Cyberthon," Point Foundation's
"Woodstock of Cyberspace" where Bay Area psychedelia
collided headlong with the emergent world of
computerized virtual reality, was like a Kiwanis Club gig
compared to this astonishing do.

        The "electronic community" had reached an apogee.
Almost every principal in this book is in attendance.  Civil
Libertarians.  Computer Cops.  The Digital Underground.
Even a few discreet telco people.   Colorcoded dots for
lapel tags are distributed.  Free Expression issues.  Law
Enforcement.  Computer Security.  Privacy.  Journalists.
Lawyers.  Educators.  Librarians.  Programmers.  Stylish
punk-black dots for the hackers and phone phreaks.
Almost everyone here seems to wear eight or nine dots, to
have six or seven professional hats.

        It is a community.  Something like Lebanon perhaps,
but a digital nation. People who had feuded all year in the
national press, people who entertained the deepest
suspicions of one another's motives and ethics, are now in
each others' laps.   "Computers, Freedom and Privacy"
had every reason in the world to turn ugly, and yet except
for small irruptions of puzzling nonsense from the
convention's token lunatic, a surprising bonhomie
reigned.  CFP was like a wedding-party in which two lovers,
unstable bride and charlatan groom, tie the knot in a
clearly disastrous matrimony.

        It is clear to both families -- even to neighbors and
random guests -- that this is not a workable relationship,
and yet the young couple's desperate attraction can brook
no further delay.   They simply cannot help themselves.
Crockery will fly, shrieks from their newlywed home will
wake the city block, divorce waits in the wings like a
vulture over the Kalahari, and yet this is a wedding, and
there is going to be a child from it.  Tragedies end in death;
comedies in marriage.  The Hacker Crackdown is ending
in marriage.  And there will be a child.

        From the beginning, anomalies reign.  John Perry
Barlow, cyberspace ranger, is here.  His color photo in
*The New York Times Magazine,* Barlow scowling in a
grim Wyoming snowscape, with long black coat, dark hat,
a Macintosh SE30 propped on a fencepost and an
awesome frontier rifle tucked under one arm,  will be the
single most striking visual image of the Hacker
Crackdown.   And he is CFP's guest of honor -- along with
Gail Thackeray of the FCIC!   What on earth do they
expect these dual guests to do with each other?  Waltz?

        Barlow delivers the first address.
Uncharacteristically, he is hoarse -- the sheer volume of
roadwork has worn him down.  He speaks briefly,
congenially, in a plea for conciliation, and takes his leave
to a storm of applause.

        Then Gail Thackeray takes the stage.  She's visibly
nervous.  She's been on the Well a lot lately.  Reading
those Barlow posts.   Following Barlow is a challenge to
anyone.  In honor of the famous lyricist for the Grateful
Dead, she announces reedily, she is going to read -- *a
poem.*  A poem she has composed herself.

        It's an awful poem, doggerel in the rollicking meter of
Robert W. Service's *The Cremation of Sam McGee,*  but
it is in fact, a poem.  It's the *Ballad of the Electronic
Frontier!*  A poem about the Hacker Crackdown and the
sheer unlikelihood of CFP.   It's full of in-jokes.  The score
or so cops in the audience, who are sitting together in a
nervous claque, are absolutely cracking-up.  Gail's poem is
the funniest goddamn thing they've ever heard.  The
hackers and civil-libs, who had this woman figured for Ilsa
She-Wolf of the SS, are staring with their jaws hanging
loosely.  Never in the wildest reaches of their imagination
had they figured Gail Thackeray was capable of such a
totally off-the-wall move.  You can see them punching
their mental CONTROL-RESET buttons.   Jesus!  This
woman's a hacker weirdo!  She's  *just like us!*    God, this
changes everything!

          Al Bayse, computer technician for the FBI, had been
the only cop at the CPSR Roundtable, dragged there with
his arm bent by Dorothy Denning.  He was guarded and
tightlipped at CPSR Roundtable; a "lion thrown to the

        At CFP, backed by a claque of cops, Bayse suddenly
waxes eloquent and even droll, describing the FBI's
"NCIC 2000", a gigantic digital catalog of criminal records,
as if he has suddenly become some weird hybrid of
George Orwell and George Gobel.   Tentatively, he makes
an arcane joke about statistical analysis.  At least a third of
the crowd laughs aloud.

        "They didn't laugh at that at my last speech,"  Bayse
observes.  He had been addressing cops -- *straight*  cops,
not computer people.  It had been a worthy meeting,
useful one supposes, but nothing like *this.*  There has
never been *anything*  like this.  Without any prodding,
without any preparation, people in the audience simply
begin to ask questions.  Longhairs, freaky people,
mathematicians.  Bayse is answering, politely, frankly,
fully, like a man walking on air.  The ballroom's
atmosphere crackles with surreality.   A female lawyer
behind me breaks into a sweat and a hot waft of
surprisingly potent and musky perfume flows off her

        People are giddy with laughter.  People are
interested, fascinated, their eyes so wide and dark that
they seem eroticized.  Unlikely daisy-chains form in the
halls, around the bar, on the escalators:  cops with hackers,
civil rights with FBI, Secret Service with phone phreaks.

        Gail Thackeray is at her crispest in a white wool
sweater with a tiny Secret Service logo.  "I found Phiber
Optik at the payphones, and when he saw my sweater, he
turned into a *pillar of salt!*" she chortles.

        Phiber discusses his case at much length with his
arresting officer, Don Delaney of the New York State
Police.  After an hour's chat, the two of them look ready to
begin singing "Auld Lang Syne."  Phiber finally finds the
courage to get his worst complaint off his chest.  It isn't so
much the arrest.  It was the *charge.*  Pirating service off
900 numbers.  I'm a *programmer,* Phiber insists.  This
lame charge is going to hurt my reputation.  It would have
been cool to be busted for something happening, like
Section 1030 computer intrusion.  Maybe some kind of
crime that's scarcely been invented yet.  Not lousy phone
fraud.  Phooey.

        Delaney seems regretful.  He had a mountain of
possible criminal charges against Phiber Optik.  The kid's
gonna plead guilty anyway.  He's a first timer, they always
plead.  Coulda charged the kid with most anything, and
gotten the same result in the end.  Delaney seems
genuinely sorry not to have gratified Phiber in this
harmless fashion.  Too late now.  Phiber's pled already.  All
water under the bridge.  Whaddya gonna do?

        Delaney's got a good grasp on the hacker mentality.
He held a press conference after he busted a bunch of
Masters of Deception kids.  Some journo had asked him:
"Would you describe these people as *geniuses?*"
Delaney's deadpan answer, perfect:  "No, I would describe
these people as *defendants.*"   Delaney busts a kid for
hacking codes with repeated random dialling.  Tells the
press that NYNEX can track this stuff in no time flat
nowadays, and a kid has to be *stupid*  to do something so
easy to catch.   Dead on again:  hackers don't mind being
thought of as Genghis Khan by the straights,  but if there's
anything that really gets 'em where they live, it's being
called *dumb.*

        Won't be as much fun for Phiber next time around.
As a second offender he's gonna see prison.   Hackers
break the law.  They're not geniuses, either.  They're gonna
be defendants.  And yet, Delaney muses over a drink in
the hotel bar, he has found it impossible to treat them as
common criminals.   Delaney knows criminals.  These
kids, by comparison, are clueless -- there is just no crook
vibe off of them, they don't smell right, they're just not

        Delaney has seen a lot of action.  He did Vietnam.
He's been shot at, he has shot people.  He's a homicide
cop from New York.  He has the appearance of a man who
has not only seen the shit hit the fan but has seen it
splattered across whole city blocks and left to ferment for
years.  This guy has been around.

        He listens to Steve Jackson tell his story.  The dreamy
game strategist has been dealt a bad hand.  He has played
it for all he is worth.  Under his nerdish SF-fan exterior is a
core of iron.   Friends of his say Steve Jackson believes in
the rules, believes in fair play.  He will never compromise
his principles, never give up.  "Steve," Delaney says to
Steve Jackson, "they had some balls, whoever busted you.
You're all right!"   Jackson, stunned, falls silent and actually
blushes with pleasure.

        Neidorf has grown up a lot in the past year.  The kid is
a quick study, you gotta give him that.   Dressed by his
mom, the fashion manager for a national clothing chain,
Missouri college techie-frat Craig Neidorf out-dappers
everyone at this gig but the toniest East Coast lawyers.
The iron jaws of prison clanged shut without him and now
law school beckons for Neidorf.  He looks like a larval

        Not a "hacker," our Mr. Neidorf.  He's not interested
in computer science.  Why should he be?  He's not
interested in writing C code the rest of his life, and besides,
he's seen where the chips fall.  To the world of computer
science he and *Phrack*  were just a curiosity.  But to the
world of law....  The kid has learned where the bodies are
buried.  He carries his notebook of press clippings
wherever he goes.

        Phiber Optik makes fun of Neidorf for a Midwestern
geek, for believing that "Acid Phreak" does acid and
listens to acid rock.  Hell no.  Acid's never done *acid!*
Acid's into *acid house music.*  Jesus.  The very idea of
doing LSD.  Our *parents*  did LSD, ya clown.

          Thackeray suddenly turns upon Craig Neidorf the
full lighthouse glare of her attention and begins a
determined half-hour attempt to *win the boy over.*  The
Joan of Arc of Computer Crime is *giving career advice to
Knight Lightning!*   "Your experience would be very
valuable -- a real asset," she tells him with unmistakeable
sixty-thousand-watt sincerity.  Neidorf is fascinated.  He
listens with unfeigned attention.  He's nodding and saying
yes ma'am.  Yes, Craig, you too can forget all about money
and enter the glamorous and horribly underpaid world of
former friends in prison -- ooops....

        You cannot go on dueling at modem's length
indefinitely.   You cannot beat one another senseless with
rolled-up press-clippings.  Sooner or later you have to
come directly to grips.  And yet the very act of assembling
here has changed the entire situation drastically.   John
Quarterman, author of *The Matrix,* explains the Internet
at his symposium.  It is the largest news network in the
world, it is growing by leaps and bounds, and yet you
cannot measure Internet because you cannot stop it in
place.  It cannot stop, because there is no one anywhere in
the world with the authority to stop Internet.  It changes,
yes, it grows, it embeds itself across the post-industrial,
postmodern world and it generates community wherever
it touches, and it is doing this all by itself.

        Phiber is different.  A very fin de siecle kid, Phiber
Optik.  Barlow says he looks like an Edwardian dandy.   He
does rather.  Shaven neck, the sides of his skull cropped
hip-hop close, unruly tangle of black hair on top that looks
pomaded, he stays up till four a.m.  and misses all the
sessions, then hangs out in payphone booths with his
acoustic coupler gutsily CRACKING SYSTEMS RIGHT IN
DUDES IN THE U.S., or at least *pretending* to....  Unlike
"Frank Drake."  Drake, who wrote Dorothy Denning out of
nowhere, and asked for an interview for his cheapo
cyberpunk fanzine, and then started grilling her on her
ethics.   She was squirmin', too....   Drake, scarecrow-tall
with his floppy blond mohawk, rotting tennis shoes and
black leather jacket lettered ILLUMINATI in red, gives off
an unmistakeable air of the bohemian literatus.  Drake is
the kind of guy who reads British industrial design
magazines and appreciates William Gibson because the
quality of the prose is so tasty.  Drake could never touch a
phone or a keyboard again, and he'd still have the nose-
ring and the blurry photocopied fanzines and the sampled
industrial music.  He's a radical punk with a desktop-
publishing rig and an Internet address.  Standing next to
Drake, the diminutive Phiber looks like he's been
physically coagulated out of phone-lines.  Born to phreak.

        Dorothy Denning approaches Phiber suddenly.  The
two of them are about the same height and body-build.
Denning's blue eyes flash behind the round window-
frames of her glasses.  "Why did you say I was 'quaint?'"
she asks Phiber, quaintly.

        It's a perfect description but Phiber is nonplussed...
"Well, I uh, you know...."

        "I also think you're quaint, Dorothy," I say, novelist to
the rescue, the journo gift of gab...  She is neat and dapper
and yet there's an arcane quality to her, something like a
Pilgrim Maiden behind leaded glass; if she were six inches
high Dorothy Denning would look great inside a china
cabinet...  The Cryptographeress....  The Cryptographrix...
whatever...   Weirdly, Peter Denning looks just like his
wife, you could pick this gentleman out of a thousand guys
as the soulmate of Dorothy Denning.  Wearing tailored
slacks, a spotless fuzzy varsity sweater, and a neatly
knotted academician's tie.... This fineboned, exquisitely
polite, utterly civilized and hyperintelligent couple seem
to have emerged from some cleaner and finer parallel
universe, where humanity exists to do the Brain Teasers
column in Scientific American.   Why does this Nice Lady
hang out with these unsavory characters?

        Because the time has come for it, that's why.
Because she's the best there is at what she does.

        Donn Parker is here, the Great Bald Eagle of
Computer Crime....  With his bald dome, great height, and
enormous Lincoln-like hands, the great visionary pioneer
of the field plows through the lesser mortals like an
icebreaker....  His eyes are fixed on the future with the
rigidity of a bronze statue....  Eventually, he tells his
audience, all business crime will be computer crime,
because businesses will do everything through computers.
"Computer crime" as a category will vanish.

        In the meantime,  passing fads will flourish and fail
and evaporate....  Parker's commanding, resonant voice is
sphinxlike, everything is viewed from some eldritch valley
of deep historical abstraction...  Yes, they've come and
they've gone, these passing flaps in the world of digital
computation....  The radio-frequency emanation scandal...
KGB and MI5 and CIA do it every day, it's easy, but
nobody else ever has....  The salami-slice fraud, mostly
mythical...  "Crimoids," he calls them....  Computer viruses
are the current crimoid champ, a lot less dangerous than
most people let on, but the novelty is fading and there's a
crimoid vacuum at the moment, the press is visibly
hungering for something more outrageous....  The Great
Man shares with us a few speculations on the coming
crimoids....  Desktop Forgery!  Wow....  Computers stolen
just for the sake of the information within them -- data-
napping!  Happened in Britain a while ago, could be the
coming thing....  Phantom nodes in the Internet!

        Parker handles his overhead projector sheets with an
ecclesiastical air...  He wears a grey double-breasted suit, a
light blue shirt, and a very quiet tie of understated maroon
and blue paisley...  Aphorisms emerge from him with slow,
leaden emphasis...  There is no such thing as an
adequately secure computer when one faces a sufficiently
powerful adversary.... Deterrence is the most socially
useful aspect of security...  People are the primary
weakness in all information systems...  The entire baseline
of computer security must be shifted upward....  Don't ever
violate your security by publicly describing your security

        People in the audience are beginning to squirm, and
yet there is something about the elemental purity of this
guy's philosophy that compels uneasy respect....  Parker
sounds like the only sane guy left in the lifeboat,
sometimes.  The guy who can prove rigorously, from deep
moral principles, that Harvey there, the one with the
broken leg and the checkered past, is the one who has to
be, err.... that is, Mr. Harvey is best placed to make the
necessary sacrifice for the security and indeed the very
survival of the rest of this lifeboat's crew....   Computer
security, Parker informs us mournfully, is a nasty topic,
and we wish we didn't have to have  it...  The security
expert, armed with method and logic, must think --
imagine -- everything that the adversary might do before
the adversary might actually do it.   It is as if the criminal's
dark brain were an extensive subprogram within the
shining cranium of Donn Parker.   He is a Holmes whose
Moriarty does not quite yet exist and so must be perfectly

        CFP is a stellar gathering, with the giddiness of a
wedding.  It is a happy time, a happy ending, they know
their world is changing forever tonight, and they're proud
to have been there to see it happen, to talk, to think, to

        And yet as night falls, a certain elegiac quality
manifests itself, as the crowd gathers beneath the
chandeliers with their wineglasses and dessert plates.
Something is ending here, gone forever, and it takes a
while to pinpoint it.

        It is the End of the Amateurs.


Afterword:  The Hacker Crackdown Three Years Later

        Three years in cyberspace is like thirty years anyplace
real.  It feels as if a generation has passed since I wrote this
book.  In terms of the generations of computing machinery
involved, that's pretty much the case.

        The basic shape of cyberspace has changed drastically
since 1990.  A new U.S. Administration is in power whose
personnel are, if anything, only too aware of the nature and
potential of electronic networks.  It's now clear to all players
concerned that the status quo is dead-and-gone in American
media and telecommunications, and almost any territory on
the electronic frontier is up for grabs.  Interactive multimedia,
cable-phone alliances, the Information Superhighway, fiber-
to-the-curb, laptops and palmtops, the explosive growth of
cellular and the Internet -- the earth trembles visibly.

        The year 1990 was not a pleasant one for AT&T.  By 1993,
however, AT&T had successfully devoured the computer
company NCR in an unfriendly takeover, finally giving the
pole-climbers a major piece of the digital action.  AT&T
managed to rid itself of ownership of the troublesome UNIX
operating system, selling it to Novell, a netware company,
which was itself preparing for a savage market dust-up with
operating-system titan Microsoft.  Furthermore, AT&T
acquired McCaw Cellular in a gigantic merger, giving AT&T a
potential wireless whip-hand over its former progeny, the
RBOCs.  The RBOCs themselves were now AT&T's clearest
potential rivals, as the Chinese firewalls between regulated
monopoly and frenzied digital entrepreneurism began to melt
and collapse headlong.

        AT&T, mocked by industry analysts in 1990, was reaping
awestruck praise by commentators in 1993.   AT&T had
managed to avoid any more major software crashes in its
switching stations.  AT&T's newfound reputation as "the
nimble giant" was all the sweeter, since AT&T's traditional
rival giant in the world of multinational computing, IBM, was
almost prostrate by 1993.  IBM's vision of the commercial
computer-network of the future, "Prodigy," had managed to
spend $900 million without a whole heck of a lot to show for it,
while AT&T, by contrast, was boldly speculating on the
possibilities of personal communicators and hedging its bets
with investments in handwritten interfaces.  In 1990 AT&T had
looked bad; but in 1993 AT&T looked like the future.

        At least, AT&T's *advertising* looked like the future.
Similar public attention was riveted on the massive $22 billion
megamerger between RBOC Bell Atlantic and cable-TV giant
Tele-Communications Inc.   Nynex was buying into cable
company Viacom International.  BellSouth was buying stock in
Prime Management, Southwestern Bell acquiring a cable
company in Washington DC, and so forth.   By stark contrast,
the Internet, a noncommercial entity which officially did not
even exist, had no advertising budget at all.  And yet, almost
below the level of governmental and corporate awareness,  the
Internet was stealthily devouring everything in its path,
growing at a rate that defied comprehension.  Kids who might
have been eager computer-intruders a mere five years earlier
were now surfing the Internet, where their natural urge to
explore led them into cyberspace landscapes of such
mindboggling vastness that the very idea of hacking passwords
seemed rather a waste of time.

        By 1993, there had not been a solid, knock 'em down,
panic-striking, teenage-hacker  computer-intrusion scandal in
many long months.  There had, of course, been some striking
and well-publicized acts of illicit computer access, but they had
been committed by adult white-collar industry insiders in clear
pursuit of personal or commercial advantage.  The kids, by
contrast, all seemed to be on IRC, Internet Relay Chat.

        Or, perhaps, frolicking out in the endless glass-roots
network of personal bulletin board systems.  In 1993, there
were an estimated 60,000 boards in America; the population of
boards had fully doubled since Operation Sundevil in 1990.  The
hobby was transmuting fitfully into a genuine industry.  The
board community were no longer obscure hobbyists; many
were still hobbyists and proud of it, but board sysops and
advanced board users had become a far more cohesive and
politically aware community, no longer allowing themselves to
be obscure.

        The specter of cyberspace in the late 1980s, of outwitted
authorities trembling in fear before teenage hacker whiz-kids,
seemed downright antiquated by 1993.  Law enforcement
emphasis had changed, and the favorite electronic villain of
1993 was not the vandal child, but  the victimizer of children,
the digital child pornographer.  "Operation Longarm,"  a child-
pornography computer raid carried out by the previously little-
known cyberspace rangers of the U.S. Customs Service, was
almost the size of Operation Sundevil, but received very little
notice by comparison.

        The huge and well-organized "Operation Disconnect,"
an FBI strike against telephone rip-off con-artists, was
actually larger than Sundevil.  "Operation Disconnect" had its
brief moment in the sun of publicity, and then vanished utterly.
It was unfortunate that a law-enforcement affair as
apparently well-conducted as Operation Disconnect, which
pursued telecom adult career criminals a hundred times more
morally repugnant than teenage hackers, should have received
so little attention and fanfare, especially compared to the
abortive Sundevil and the basically disastrous efforts of the
Chicago Computer Fraud and Abuse Task Force.  But the life of
an electronic policeman is seldom easy.

        If any law enforcement event truly deserved full-scale
press coverage (while somehow managing to escape it), it was
the amazing saga of New York State Police Senior
Investigator Don Delaney Versus the Orchard Street Finger-
Hackers.  This story  probably represents the real future of
professional telecommunications crime in America.  The finger-
hackers sold, and still sell, stolen long-distance phone service
to a captive clientele of illegal aliens in New York City.  This
clientele is desperate to call home, yet as a group, illegal aliens
have few legal means of obtaining standard phone service,
since their very presence in the United States is against the
law.  The finger-hackers of Orchard Street were very unusual
"hackers," with an astonishing lack of any kind of genuine
technological knowledge.  And yet these New York call-sell
thieves showed a street-level ingenuity appalling in its single-
minded sense of larceny.

        There was no dissident-hacker rhetoric about  freedom-
of-information among the finger-hackers.  Most of them came
out of the cocaine-dealing fraternity, and they retailed stolen
calls with the same street-crime techniques of lookouts and
bagholders that a crack gang would employ.  This was down-
and-dirty, urban, ethnic, organized crime, carried out by crime
families every day, for cash on the barrelhead, in the harsh
world of the streets.  The finger-hackers dominated certain
payphones in certain strikingly unsavory neighborhoods.  They
provided a service no one else would give to a clientele with
little to lose.

        With such a vast supply of electronic crime  at hand, Don
Delaney rocketed from a background in homicide to teaching
telecom crime at FLETC in less than three years.  Few can rival
Delaney's hands-on, street-level experience in phone fraud.
Anyone in 1993 who still believes telecommunications crime to
be something rare and arcane should have a few words with
Mr Delaney.  Don Delaney has also written two fine essays, on
telecom fraud and computer crime, in Joseph Grau's *Criminal
and Civil Investigations Handbook* (McGraw Hill 1993).

        *Phrack* was still publishing in 1993, now under the able
editorship of Erik Bloodaxe.  Bloodaxe made a determined
attempt to get law enforcement and corporate security to pay
real money for their electronic copies of *Phrack,* but, as
usual, these stalwart defenders of intellectual property
preferred to pirate the magazine.  Bloodaxe has still not gotten
back any of his property from the seizure raids of March 1,
1990.  Neither has the Mentor, who is still the managing editor
of Steve Jackson Games.

        Nor has Robert Izenberg, who has suspended his court
struggle to get his machinery back.  Mr Izenberg has calculated
that his $20,000 of equipment seized in 1990 is, in 1993, worth
$4,000 at most.  The missing software, also gone out his door,
was long ago replaced.   He might, he says, sue for the sake of
principle, but he feels that the people who seized his machinery
have already been discredited, and won't be doing any more
seizures.  And even if his machinery were returned -- and in
good repair, which is doubtful -- it will  be essentially worthless
by 1995.  Robert Izenberg no longer works for IBM, but has a
job programming for a major telecommunications company in

        Steve Jackson won his case against the Secret Service on
March 12, 1993, just over three years after the federal raid on
his enterprise.   Thanks to the delaying tactics available
through the legal doctrine of "qualified immunity," Jackson was
tactically forced to drop his suit against the individuals William
Cook, Tim Foley, Barbara Golden and Henry Kluepfel.   (Cook,
Foley, Golden and Kluepfel did, however, testify during the

        The Secret Service fought vigorously in the case, battling
Jackson's lawyers right down the line, on the (mostly
previously untried) legal turf of the Electronic Communications
Privacy Act and the Privacy Protection Act of 1980.  The Secret
Service denied they were legally or morally responsible for
seizing the work of a publisher.   They claimed that (1)
Jackson's gaming "books" weren't real books anyhow, and (2)
the Secret Service didn't realize SJG Inc was a "publisher"
when they raided his offices, and (3) the books only vanished by
accident because they merely happened to be inside the
computers the agents were appropriating.

        The Secret Service also denied any wrongdoing in
reading and erasing all the supposedly "private" e-mail inside
Jackson's seized board, Illuminati.  The USSS attorneys
claimed the seizure did not violate the Electronic
Communications Privacy Act, because they weren't actually
"intercepting" electronic mail that was moving on a wire, but
only electronic mail that was quietly sitting on a disk inside
Jackson's computer.  They also claimed that USSS agents
hadn't read any of the private mail on Illuminati; and anyway,
even supposing that they had, they were allowed to do that by
the subpoena.

        The Jackson case became even more peculiar when the
Secret Service attorneys went so far as to allege that the
federal raid against the gaming company had actually
*improved Jackson's business*  thanks to the ensuing
nationwide publicity.

        It was a long and rather involved trial.  The judge
seemed most perturbed, not by the arcane matters of electronic
law, but by the fact that the Secret Service could have avoided
almost all the consequent trouble simply by giving Jackson his
computers back in short order.   The Secret Service easily could
have looked at everything in Jackson's computers, recorded
everything, and given the machinery back, and there would
have been no major scandal or federal court suit.  On the
contrary, everybody simply would have had a good laugh.
Unfortunately, it appeared that this idea had never entered the
heads of the Chicago-based investigators.  They seemed to
have concluded unilaterally, and without due course of law,
that the world would be better off if Steve Jackson didn't have
computers.  Golden and Foley claimed that they had both never
even heard of the Privacy Protection Act.  Cook had heard of
the Act, but he'd decided on his own that the Privacy Protection
Act had nothing to do with Steve Jackson.

        The Jackson case was also a very politicized trial, both
sides deliberately angling for a long-term legal precedent that
would stake-out big claims for their interests in cyberspace.
Jackson and his EFF advisors tried hard to establish that the
least e-mail remark of the lonely electronic pamphleteer
deserves the same somber civil-rights protection as that
afforded *The New York Times.*  By stark contrast, the Secret
Service's attorneys argued boldly that the contents of an
electronic bulletin board have no more expectation of privacy
than a heap of postcards.  In the final analysis, very little was
firmly nailed down.  Formally, the legal rulings in the Jackson
case apply only in the federal Western District of Texas.   It
was, however, established that these were real civil-liberties
issues that powerful people were prepared to go to the
courthouse over; the seizure of bulletin board systems, though
it still goes on, can be a perilous act for the seizer.   The Secret
Service owes Steve Jackson $50,000 in damages, and a
thousand dollars each to three of Jackson's angry and offended
board users.  And Steve Jackson, rather than owning the
single-line bulletin board system "Illuminati" seized in 1990,
now rejoices in possession of a huge privately-owned Internet
node, "," with dozens of phone-lines on its  own T-1

        Jackson has made the entire blow-by-blow narrative of
his case available electronically, for interested parties.  And yet, the
Jackson case may still not be over; a Secret Service appeal seems
likely and the EFF is also gravely dissatisfied with the ruling on
electronic interception.

        The WELL, home of the American electronic civil
libertarian movement, added two thousand more users and
dropped its aging Sequent computer in favor of a snappy new
Sun Sparcstation.  Search-and-seizure dicussions on the WELL
are now taking a decided back-seat to the current hot topic in
digital civil liberties, unbreakable public-key encryption for
private citizens.

        The Electronic Frontier Foundation left its modest home
in Boston to move inside the Washington Beltway of the
Clinton Administration.  Its new executive director, ECPA
pioneer and longtime ACLU activist Jerry Berman, gained a
reputation of a man adept as dining with tigers, as the EFF
devoted its attention to networking at the highest levels of the
computer and telecommunications industry.  EFF's pro-
encryption lobby and anti-wiretapping initiative were
especially impressive, successfully assembling a herd of highly
variegated industry camels under the same EFF tent, in open
and powerful opposition to the electronic ambitions of the FBI
and the NSA.

        EFF had transmuted at light-speed from an insurrection
to an institution.  EFF Co-Founder Mitch Kapor once again
sidestepped the bureaucratic consequences of his own success,
by remaining in Boston and adapting the role of EFF guru and
gray eminence.   John Perry Barlow, for his part, left Wyoming,
quit the Republican Party, and moved to New York City,
accompanied by his swarm of cellular phones.   Mike Godwin
left Boston for Washington as EFF's official legal adviser to the
electronically afflicted.

        After the Neidorf trial, Dorothy Denning further proved
her firm scholastic independence-of-mind by speaking up
boldly on the usefulness and social value of federal
wiretapping.  Many civil libertarians, who regarded the
practice of wiretapping with deep occult horror,  were
crestfallen to the point of comedy when nationally known
"hacker sympathizer" Dorothy Denning sternly defended
police and public interests in official eavesdropping.  However,
no amount of public uproar seemed to swerve the "quaint" Dr.
Denning in the slightest.  She not only made up her own mind,
she made it up in public and then stuck to her guns.

        In 1993, the stalwarts of the Masters of Deception, Phiber
Optik, Acid Phreak and Scorpion, finally fell afoul of the
machineries of legal prosecution.  Acid Phreak and Scorpion
were sent to prison for six months, six months of home
detention, 750 hours of community service, and, oddly, a $50
fine for conspiracy to commit computer crime.  Phiber Optik,
the computer intruder with perhaps the highest public profile in
the entire world, took the longest to plead guilty, but, facing
the possibility of ten years in jail, he finally did so.  He was
sentenced to a year and a day in prison.

        As for the Atlanta wing of the Legion of Doom, Prophet,
Leftist and Urvile...   Urvile now works for a software
company in Atlanta.  He is still on probation and still repaying
his enormous fine.  In fifteen months, he will once again be
allowed to own a personal computer.  He is still a convicted
federal felon, but has not had any legal difficulties since leaving
prison.  He has lost contact with Prophet and Leftist.
Unfortunately, so have I, though not through lack of honest

        Knight Lightning, now 24,  is a technical writer for
the federal government in Washington DC.  He has still not
been accepted into law school, but having spent more than his
share of time in the company of attorneys, he's come to think
that maybe an MBA would be more to the point.   He still owes
his attorneys $30,000, but the sum is dwindling steadily since he
is manfully working two jobs.  Knight Lightning customarily
wears a suit and tie and carries a valise.  He has a federal
security clearance.

        Unindicted *Phrack* co-editor Taran King is also a
technical writer in Washington DC,  and recently got married.

        Terminus did his time, got out of prison, and currently
lives in Silicon Valley where he is running a full-scale Internet
node, ""   He programs professionally for a
company specializing in satellite links for the Internet.

        Carlton Fitzpatrick still teaches at the Federal Law
Enforcement Training Center, but FLETC found that the issues
involved in sponsoring and running a bulletin board system are
rather more complex than they at first appear to be.

        Gail Thackeray  briefly considered going into private
security, but then changed tack, and joined the Maricopa
County District Attorney's Office (with a salary).  She is still
vigorously prosecuting electronic racketeering in Phoenix,

        The fourth consecutive Computers, Freedom and Privacy
Conference will take place in March 1994 in Chicago.

        As for Bruce Sterling... well *8-).  I thankfully abandoned
my brief career as  a true-crime journalist and wrote a new
science fiction novel, *Heavy Weather,* and assembled a new
collection of short stories, *Globalhead.*  I also write
nonfiction regularly,  for the popular-science column in *The
Magazine of  Fantasy and Science Fiction.*

        I like life better on the far side of the boundary between
fantasy and reality;  but I've come to recognize that reality has
an unfortunate  way of annexing fantasy for its own purposes.
That's why I'm on the Police Liaison Committee for  EFF-
Austin, a local electronic civil liberties group (eff-  I don't think I will ever get over my
experience of the Hacker Crackdown, and I expect to be
involved in electronic civil liberties activism for the rest of my

        It wouldn't be hard to find material for another book on
computer crime and civil liberties issues.   I truly believe that I
could write another book much like this one, every year.
Cyberspace is very big.  There's a lot going on out there, far
more than can be adequately covered by the tiny, though
growing, cadre of network-literate reporters.  I do wish I could
do more work on this topic, because the various people of
cyberspace are an element of our society that definitely requires
sustained study and attention.

        But there's only one of me, and I have a lot on my mind,
and, like most science fiction writers, I have a lot more
imagination than discipline.  Having done my stint as an
electronic-frontier reporter, my hat is off to those stalwart few
who do it every day.  I may return to this topic some day, but I
have no real plans to do so.  However, I didn't have any real
plans to write "Hacker Crackdown," either.  Things happen,
nowadays.  There are landslides in cyberspace.  I'll just have to
try and stay alert and on my feet.

        The electronic landscape changes with astounding speed.
We are living through the fastest technological transformation
in human history.  I was glad to have a chance to document
cyberspace during one moment in its long mutation; a kind of
strobe-flash of the maelstrom.  This book is already out-of-
date, though, and it will be quite obsolete in another five years.
It seems a pity.

        However, in about fifty years, I think this book might
seem quite interesting.  And in a hundred years, this book
should seem mind-bogglingly archaic and bizarre, and will
probably seem far weirder to an audience in 2092 than it ever
seemed to the contemporary readership.

        Keeping up in cyberspace requires a great deal of
sustained attention.   Personally, I keep tabs with the milieu by
reading the invaluable electronic magazine  Computer
underground Digest  ( with the subject
header: SUB CuD and a message that says:  SUB CuD your
name     your.full.internet@address).  I also read Jack Rickard's
bracingly iconoclastic *Boardwatch  Magazine* for print news
of the BBS and online community.  And, needless to say, I read
*Wired,* the first magazine of the 1990s that actually looks and
acts like it really belongs in this decade.  There are other ways
to learn, of course, but these three outlets will guide your
efforts very well.

        When I myself want to publish something electronically,
which I'm doing with increasing frequency, I generally put it on
the gopher at Texas Internet Consulting, who are my, well,
Texan Internet consultants  (  This book can be found
there.  I think it is a worthwhile act to let this work go free.

        From thence, one's bread floats out onto the dark waters
of cyberspace, only to return someday, tenfold.  And of course,
thoroughly soggy, and riddled with an entire amazing
ecosystem of bizarre and gnawingly hungry cybermarine life-
forms.  For this author at least, that's all that really counts.

        Thanks for your attention  *8-)

        Bruce Sterling  -- New Years' Day
1994, Austin Texas