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 Sundevil."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

     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 coin-slugs.

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

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

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

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

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

     *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 systems.

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


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

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

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

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

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

     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

     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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      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

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

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


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

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

     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, hardwork-
ing, 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 multina-
tional companies, and forced to follow rulebooks and wear suits and ties,
they at least have some conventional halters on their freedom of action.  But
when loosed alone, or in small groups, and fired by imagination and the
entrepreneurial spirit, they can move mountains - - causing landslides that
will likely crash directly into your office and living room.

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

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

     The term "hacking" is used routinely today  by almost all law enforce-
ment 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 thought.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

     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 buildings.

     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


     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 contempt-
ible.   Having grown up in the 1970s and 1980s, the young Bohemians of the
digital underground regard straight society as awash in plutocratic
corruption, where everyone from the President down is for sale and whoever
has the gold makes the rules.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

     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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      In the worldview of *2600,* the tiny band of techno- rat brothers
(rarely, sisters) are a beseiged vanguard of the truly free and honest.   The
rest of the world is a maelstrom of corporate crime and high-level governmen-
tal 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 consider-
ably to his fame. It was not that he is not regarded as dangerous, because he
is so regarded.  Goldstein has had brushes with the law in the past:  in
1985, a *2600* bulletin board computer was seized by the FBI, and some
software on it was formally declared "a burglary tool in the form of a
computer program."  But Goldstein escaped direct repression in 1990, because
his magazine is printed on paper, and recognized as subject to Constitutional
freedom of the press protection.  As was seen in the *Ramparts* case, this is
far from an absolute guarantee.  Still, as a practical matter, shutting down
*2600* by court-order would create so much legal hassle that it is simply
unfeasible, at least for the present.   Throughout 1990, both Goldstein and
his magazine were peevishly thriving.

     Instead, the Crackdown of 1990 would concern itself with the computer-
ized 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 electron-
ics, boards became faster, cheaper, better-designed, and generally far more
sophisticated throughout the 1980s.  They also moved swiftly out of the hands
of pioneers and into those of the general public.   By 1985 there were
something in the neighborhood of 4,000 boards in America.  By 1990 it was
calculated, vaguely, that there were about 30,000 boards in the US, with
uncounted thousands overseas.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

     And some boards are *underground.*

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

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

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

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

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

     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

      Fargo 4A.  Farmers Of Doom.  The Federation.  Feds R Us.  First Class.
Five O.  Five Star.   Force Hackers. The 414s.

      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

     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. 2AF.

     The United Soft WareZ Force.  United Technical Underground.

     Ware Brigade.  The Warelords.  WASP.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 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 Company 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 Unix RADHACK.ZIP     8411 06-11-91  Radio Hacking TAOTRASH.DOC   
4096 12-25-89  Suggestions For Trashing 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.

|Anarchy|                               +------------+

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 Bomb 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 Idiots! 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 bombs!

     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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

     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 3.

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


     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 unconstitu-
tional and immoral.   Swarms of the technically curious entered 8BBS and
emerged as phreaks and hackers, until, in 1982, a friendly 8BBS alumnus
passed the sysop a new modem which had been purchased by credit-card fraud. 
Police took this opportunity to seize the entire board and remove what they
considered an attractive nuisance.

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

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

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

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

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

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

     *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

     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 Incorporated.*

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

      We now come to the touchy subject of police and boards.  Police, do, in
fact, own boards.   In 1989, there were police-sponsored boards in Califor-
nia, 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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

     *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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

     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 Adminis-
tration," 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 board!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

     But then came the Florida business.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

     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 before.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

     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 transaction.

     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 intoxicat-
ed with success.  The sixteen-year-old fantasized wildly to hacker rivals,
boasting that he'd used rip-off money to hire  himself a big limousine, and
had driven out-of-state with a groupie from his favorite heavy- metal band,
Motley Crue.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      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

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

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


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

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

     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

     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 Three.

     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 later.

     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 mutual.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

     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

     And so, he levelled with them.

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

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

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

     Simulation 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

     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 attention.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

     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 telecommunica-
tions programming, and had become a standard in the field.   Naturally, UNIX
also became a standard for the elite hacker and phone phreak.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

     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

     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; TOOL

     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 market.

     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 copyright-
able, even if that code happens to be somewhat awkward -- "kludgey."   AT&T
UNIX user licenses are serious business agreements, replete with very clear
copyright statements and non- disclosure clauses.

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

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

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

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

     AT&T employees -- as well as freelance UNIX consultants, like Terminus
-- commonly worked with "proprietary" AT&T software, both in the office and
at home on their private machines.   AT&T rarely sent security officers out
to comb the hard disks of its consultants.   Cheap freelance UNIX  contrac-
tors 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 one of the most widely practiced "crimes" in the world today.

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

     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

     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 underground.

     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

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

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

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

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

     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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

     Eventually, Killer attracted about 1,500 users, all busily communicat-
ing, uploading and downloading, getting mail, gossipping, and linking to
arcane and distant networks.

       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 being.

     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 Missouri.

     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,

     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 publication.

     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 Eavesdrop-

     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 apprehend-
ed. 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,

     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

     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 network."

      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 Document.

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

     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 investigators.

     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

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

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

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

     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 Bloodaxe."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

     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

     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,

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


     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 problem?

     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 house.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

     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: UNIX SVR 3.2; UNIX SVR 3.1; UUCP; PMON; WWB; IWB; DWB; NROFF;
KORN SHELL '88; C++; and 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 Document.

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

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

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

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

     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

     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

     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

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

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

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

     And then there was *GURPS Cyberpunk.*

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

     "It's science fiction," Jackson said.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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