Take_Away_Zone #1
February, 28th - March, 1st 2003
Take_Away_Zone #2

· Year Zero (!)

· 1967
PDP-10 - Hacker ethic - ARPAnet

· The 1970s
Community Memory Group - Felsenstein - Birth of computer underground - Blue Box and Apple

· The 1970s
The rise of Unix

· The 80s
Phrack - Free Software Foundation - 2600

· The 90s
The "hacker crackdown" and after - The Intel 386 chip - Linux - DeCSS

The 90s

As the 1990s opened, the workstation technology of the previous decade was beginning to look threatened by newer, low-cost and high-performance personal computers based on the Intel 386 chip.

For the first time, individual hackers could afford to have home machines comparable in power and storage capacity to the minicomputers of ten years earlier--Unix engines capable of supporting a full development environment and talking to the Internet.


1990 Four members of the Legion of Doom are arrested for stealing the technical specifications for BellSouth's 911 emergency telephone network, information that could be used to "potentially disrupt or halt 911 service in the United States," according to a subsequent indictment.

By the early 1990s it was becoming clear that ten years of effort to commercialize proprietary Unix was ending in failure.

The proprietary-Unix players so inept at marketing that Microsoft was able to grab away a large part of their market with the shockingly inferior technology of its Windows OS.



It seemed that the software industry and the nascent Internet would increasingly be dominated by colossi like Microsoft.

1990 The Secret Service launches Operation Sundevil to hunt down hackers.

1991 Dutch teen-agers gained access to Defense Department computers during the Persian Gulf War, changing or copying unclassified sensitive information related to war operations, including data on military personnel, the amount of military equipment being moved to the gulf and the development of important weapons systems.

1992 Five members of Masters of Deception, a band of teen-agers based in the New York City boroughs of Brooklyn and Queens, are indicted for breaking into the computer systems of AT&T, Bank of America, TRW, and the National Security Agency, among others. Investigators used the first wiretaps ever in a hacker case to apprehend the hackers.


1991:Into the gap left by the Unix's failure stepped a Helsinki University student named Linus Torvalds. In 1991 he began developing a free Unix kernel for 386 machines using the Free Software Foundation's toolkit. His initial, rapid success attracted many Internet hackers to help him develop Linux, a full-featured Unix with entirely free and redistributable sources.

The most important feature of Linux, however, was not technical but sociological. Until the Linux development, everyone believed that any software as complex as an operating system had to be developed in a carefully coordinated way by a relatively small group of people.

Linux evolved in a completely different way. From nearly the beginning, it was rather casually hacked on by huge numbers of volunteers coordinating only through the Internet.

These developments were not much remarked on at the time even within the hacker culture, and not at all outside it. The hacker culture, defying repeated predictions of its demise, was just beginning to remake the commercial-software world in its own image.


The early 1990s also saw the beginnings of a flourishing Internet-provider industry, selling connectivity to the public for a few dollars a month. Following the invention of the World Wide Web, the Internet's already-rapid growth accelerated to a breakneck pace.

The mainstreaming of the Internet has even brought the hacker culture the beginnings of mainstream respectability and political clout. In 1994 and 1995, hacker activism scuppered the Clipper proposal, which would have put strong encryption under government control. In 1996 hackers mobilized a broad coalition to defeat the misnamed "Communications Decency Act" (CDA) and prevent censorship of the Internet.


1993 Kevin Poulsen is charged with using computers to rig promotional contests at three Los Angeles radio stations, in a scheme that allegedly netted two Porsches, $20,000 in cash and at least two trips to
Hawaii. Poulsen, already a fugitive facing federal telecommunications and computer charges, is accused of conspiring with two other hackers, Ronald Mark Austin and Justin Tanner Peterson, to seize control of incoming phone lines at the radio stations. By making sure that only their calls got through, they were able to "win" the top prize.

1994 Two hackers identified as "Data Stream" and "Kuji" break into Griffith Air Force base and hundreds of other systems, including computers at NASA and the Korean Atomic Research Institute. After a cyber-manhunt, Scotland Yard detectives arrest "Data Stream," a 16-year-old British teen-ager who curls up in the fetal position and cries when seized. "Kuji" is never found.

1994 The Independent newspaper reports that a temporary worker at British Telecom used easily obtained passwords to find the secret phone numbers of the queen, Prime Minister John Major and several top-secret M15 installations, all of which were then posted on the Internet. Steve Fleming, the reporter who wrote the story, later admits that he had worked for the phone company and purloined the numbers.


1994 Hackers launch full-bore attack on security expert Tsutomu Shimomura's computer at the San Diego Supercomputer Center, which stores sophisticated computer security software. Shimomura joins effort to track convicted hacker Kevin Mitnick, who is suspected in the break-in.

1995 Kevin Mitnick is arrested in Raleigh, N.C. Physicist and computer security expert Tsutomu Shimomura assists federal authorities in tracking Mitnick down after Mitnick allegedly invaded Shimomura's computer during an assault on San Diego Supercomputer Center systems. Mitnick is charged with breaking into a string of computer networks and stealing 20,000 credit card numbers and copying software programs. Mitnick was in prison awaiting trial until March 1999, when he pleaded guilty to seven felonies. He served another 10 months and was realeased in January 2000 on parole. He cannot use computer equipment until 2003 without permission from his probation officer.

1995 Russian hacker Vladimir Levin, 30, is arrested in Britain on charges he used his laptop computer to illegally transfer at least $3.7 million from New York's Citibank to accounts around the world controlled by him and his accomplices. Levin is later extradited to the United States, where he is sentenced to three years in prison and ordered to pay Citibank $240,000 in restitution.

1995 Satan, a software program designed to find the weaknesses of Unix computers connected to the Internet, is released. Its authors, including security expert Dan Farmer, say they wrote Satan to help operators of computers linked together on network systems to find and fix the flaws in their own systems before the weaknesses are ferreted out by pranksters or hackers.

1996 A hacker who goes by the handle Johnny [Xchaotic] mail bombs about 40 politicians, business leaders and other individuals and institutions by subscribing them to Internet mailing lists, generating as many as 20,000 messages in one weekend. [Xchaotic] also publishes a manifesto explaining why he selected each target. He is never caught.

1997 The InterNIC domain registry operated by Network Solutions is hacked by a business rival. Eugene Kashpureff, operator of AlterNIC, eventually pleads guilty to designing a corrupted version of InterNIC's software that quickly spread around the world to other DNS servers and prevented tens of thousands of Internet users from being able to reach many Web sites in many ".com" and ".net" domains. The software also "hijacked" visitors to InterNIC's Web site, rerouting them to the AlterNIC home page.


1998 Deputy Defense Secretary John Hamre announces that hackers have carried out "the most organized and systematic attack the Pentagon has seen to date," breaking into the unclassified computer networks of numerous government agencies to examine and possibly alter payroll and personnel data. Shortly afterward, two teen-agers from Cloverdale, Calif., are detained in connection with the break-ins. Three weeks later, authorities announce the arrest of an Israeli teen-ager known as "the Analyzer," the alleged mastermind of the intrusion.

1998 Sending a warning to young computer hackers, federal prosecutors for the first time charge a juvenile on hacking charges for shutting down an airport communications system in Worcester, Mass., during an intrusion into Bell Atlantic's computer system a year earlier. The boy's attack interrupted communication between the control tower and aircraft at Worcester Airport for six hours, authorities said. No accidents occurred. Under a plea agreement, the boy, whose name and exact age were not released, pleads guilty and is sentenced to two years probation, ordered to repay the phone company $5,000 and ordered to perform 250 hours of community service.

1998 Hackers who say they are members of a group known as Masters of Downloading claim to have broken into a Pentagon network and stolen classified software that allows them to control a military satellite system. They threaten to sell the software to terrorists. The Pentagon later denies that that the software is classified or would allow the hackers to control its satellites, but acknowledge that a less-secure network containing sensitive information had been compromised.


May-June 1999 The U.S. Senate, White House and U.S. Army Web sites, along with dozens of other government and consumer sites, fall victim to cyber vandals. In each case, the hackers scrawl messages that are quickly erased. The most notable message reads "Crystal, I love you" on the U.S. Information Agency's Web site, signed "Zyklon".

November 1999 Norwegian group Masters of Reverse Engineering (MoRE) cracks a key to decoding DVD copy protection. The group creates a DVD decoder program for distribution on the Web, a move that spurs a flurry of lawsuits from the entertainment industry.
February 2000 In a three-day period, hackers brought down leading Web sites including Yahoo!, Amazon.com, Buy.com, eBay and CNN.com using "Denial of Service" attacks that overloaded the sites' servers with an inordinate number of data requests.

* * *

The texts above contain samples from:

"A Brief History of Hackerdom" and "Revenge of the Hackers"
Eric S. Raymond.

"The Script Kiddies Are Not Alright"
Boris Gröndahl

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