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
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
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
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
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
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
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,
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,
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.
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,
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
*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
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
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
office and living room.

     These people, as a class, instinctively recognize that
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,
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
don't brag, boast, and strut about it, then *nobody will
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,
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
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
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
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,
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.
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
'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
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
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
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
truly free and honest.   The rest of the world is a
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.
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
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
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
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,
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,
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
There is simply no way to tell.   Boards spring up,
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.

      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
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
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
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
-- 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

     It's quite possible that this entire list refers to as
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
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
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
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
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,
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
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
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
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,
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
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
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
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
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
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
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,
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
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
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
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
information, presented before the federal government in
an open hearing.  It is not "secret."  It is not
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
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
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)
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
*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

     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
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
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
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,
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
to believe it.   If you paid serious attention to every
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
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
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
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
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

     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
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
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"
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 --
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
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
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-
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
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
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
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
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.
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

     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
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
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 --
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

     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  --
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
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 product -- 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
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
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,
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
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
a hundred and fifty different directions.   To attempt to
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
too, and discovered it to be called "Illuminati."  It was
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
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
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
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,
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
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,
*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-
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,
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
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
in a British magazine.   The strange details of the raid
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

     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.


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