Bruce Sterling

Literary Freeware:  Not for Commercial Use

THE HACKER CRACKDOWN:  Law and Disorder on the Electronic Frontier


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

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

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

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

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

     And once again the targets were bulletin board systems.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

     No fewer than 150 members of the Secret Service were sent into the field
during Sundevil. They were commonly accompanied by squads of local and/or
state police.   Most of these officers -- especially  the locals -- had never
been on an anti- hacker raid before.  (This was one good reason, in fact, why
so many of them were invited along in the first place.)   Also, the presence
of a uniformed police officer assures the raidees that the people entering
their homes are, in fact, police.   Secret Service agents wear plain clothes. 
So do the telco security experts who commonly accompany the Secret Service on
raids (and who make no particular effort to identify themselves as mere
employees of telephone companies).

     A typical hacker raid goes something like this. First, police storm in
rapidly, through every entrance, with overwhelming force, in the assumption
that this tactic will keep casualties to a minimum.  Second, possible
suspects are immediately removed from the vicinity of any and all computer
systems, so that they will have no chance to purge or destroy computer
evidence. Suspects are herded into a room without computers, commonly the
living room,  and kept under guard -- not *armed* guard, for the guns are
swiftly holstered, but under guard nevertheless.   They are presented with
the search warrant and warned that anything they say may be held against
them. Commonly they have a great deal to say, especially if they are
unsuspecting parents.

     Somewhere in the house is the "hot spot" -- a computer tied to a phone
line (possibly several computers and several phones).   Commonly it's a
teenager's bedroom, but it can be anywhere in the house; there may be several
such rooms.   This "hot spot" is put in charge of a two-agent team, the
"finder" and the "recorder."   The "finder" is computer-trained, commonly the
case agent who has actually obtained the search warrant from a judge.   He or
she understands what is being sought, and actually carries out the seizures:
unplugs machines, opens drawers, desks, files, floppy-disk containers, etc. 
 The "recorder" photographs all the equipment, just as it stands --
especially the tangle of wired connections in the back, which can otherwise
be a real nightmare to restore.  The recorder will also commonly photograph
every room in the house, lest some wily criminal claim that the police had
robbed him during the search.   Some recorders carry videocams or tape
recorders; however, it's more common for the recorder to simply take written
notes.  Objects are described and numbered as the finder seizes them,
generally on standard preprinted police inventory forms.

     Even Secret Service agents were not, and are not, expert computer users. 
They have not made, and do not make, judgements on the fly about potential
threats posed by various forms of equipment.   They may exercise discretion;
they may leave Dad his computer, for instance, but they don't *have* to.  
Standard computer-crime search warrants, which date back to the early 80s,
use a sweeping language that targets computers,  most anything attached to a
computer, most anything used to operate a computer -- most anything that
remotely resembles a computer -- plus most any and all written documents
surrounding it. Computer-crime investigators have strongly urged agents to
seize the works.

     In this sense, Operation Sundevil appears to have been a complete
success.  Boards went down all over America, and were shipped en masse to the
computer investigation lab of the Secret Service, in Washington DC, along
with the 23,000 floppy disks and unknown quantities of printed material.

     But the seizure of twenty-five boards, and the multi-megabyte mountains
of possibly useful evidence contained in these boards (and in their owners'
other computers, also out the door), were far from the only motives for
Operation Sundevil.   An unprecedented action of great ambition and size,
Sundevil's motives can only be described as political.   It was a
public-relations effort, meant to pass certain messages, meant to make
certain situations clear:  both in the mind of the general public, and in the
minds of various constituencies of the electronic community.

      First  -- and this motivation was vital -- a "message" would be sent
from law enforcement to the digital underground.   This very message was
recited in so many words by Garry M. Jenkins, the Assistant Director of the
US Secret Service, at the Sundevil press conference in Phoenix on May 9,
1990, immediately after the raids.   In brief, hackers were mistaken in their
foolish belief that they could hide behind the "relative anonymity of their
computer terminals."  On the contrary, they should fully understand that
state and federal cops were actively patrolling the beat in cyberspace --
that they were on the watch everywhere, even in those sleazy and secretive
dens of cybernetic vice, the underground boards.

     This is not an unusual message for police to publicly convey to crooks. 
 The message is a standard message; only the context is new.

     In this respect,  the Sundevil raids were the digital equivalent of the
standard vice-squad crackdown on massage parlors, porno bookstores,
head-shops,  or floating crap-games.  There may be few or no arrests in a
raid of this sort; no convictions, no trials, no interrogations.   In cases
of this sort, police may well walk out the door with many pounds of sleazy
magazines, X-rated videotapes, sex toys, gambling equipment, baggies of

     Of course, if something truly horrendous is discovered by the raiders,
there will be arrests and prosecutions.   Far more likely, however, there
will simply be a brief but sharp disruption of the closed and secretive world
of the nogoodniks.  There will be "street hassle."  "Heat."  "Deterrence." 
And, of course, the immediate loss of the seized goods.  It is very unlikely
that any of this seized material will ever be returned.   Whether charged or
not, whether convicted or not, the perpetrators will almost surely lack the
nerve ever to ask for this stuff to be given back.

     Arrests and trials -- putting people in jail -- may involve all kinds of
formal legalities; but dealing with the justice system is far from the only
task of police. Police do not simply arrest people.  They don't simply put
people in jail.   That is not how the police perceive their jobs.  Police
"protect and serve." Police "keep the peace," they "keep public order." Like
other forms of public relations, keeping public order is not an exact
science.  Keeping public order is something of an art-form.

     If a group of tough-looking teenage hoodlums was loitering on a
street-corner, no one would be surprised to see a street-cop arrive and
sternly order them to "break it up."   On the contrary, the surprise would
come if one of these ne'er-do-wells stepped briskly into a phone-booth,
called a civil rights lawyer, and instituted a civil suit in defense of his
Constitutional rights of free speech and free assembly.  But  something much 
along this line was one of the many anomolous outcomes of the Hacker

     Sundevil also carried useful "messages" for other constituents of the
electronic community. These messages may not have been read aloud from the
Phoenix podium in front of the press corps, but there was little mistaking
their meaning.  There was a message of reassurance for the primary victims of
coding and carding:  the telcos, and the credit companies.  Sundevil was
greeted with joy by the security officers of the electronic business
community.   After years of high-tech harassment and spiralling revenue
losses, their complaints of rampant outlawry were being taken seriously by
law enforcement.  No more head-scratching or dismissive shrugs; no more
feeble excuses about "lack of computer-trained officers" or the low priority
of "victimless" white-collar telecommunication crimes.

     Computer-crime experts have long believed that computer-related offenses
are drastically under-reported.   They regard this as a major open scandal of
their field.  Some victims are reluctant to come forth, because they believe
that police and prosecutors are not computer-literate, and can and will do
nothing.  Others are embarrassed by their vulnerabilities, and will take
strong measures to avoid any publicity; this is especially true of banks, who
fear a loss of investor confidence should an embezzlement-case or wire-fraud
surface.   And some victims are so helplessly confused by their own high
technology that they never even realize that a crime has occurred -- even
when they have been fleeced to the bone.

     The results of this situation can be dire. Criminals escape apprehension
and punishment. The computer-crime units that do exist, can't get work.   The
true scope of computer-crime:  its size, its real nature, the scope of its
threats, and the legal remedies for it -- all remain obscured.

     Another problem is very little publicized, but it is a cause of genuine
concern.  Where there is persistent crime, but no effective police protec-
tion, then vigilantism can result.   Telcos, banks, credit companies, the
major corporations who maintain extensive computer networks vulnerable to
hacking -- these organizations are powerful, wealthy, and politically
influential.   They are disinclined to be pushed around by crooks (or by most
anyone else, for that matter).  They often maintain well-organized private
security forces, commonly run by experienced veterans of military and police
units, who have left public service for the greener pastures of the private
sector.   For police, the corporate security manager can be a powerful ally;
but if this gentleman finds no allies in the police, and the pressure is on
from his board-of-directors, he may quietly take certain matters into his own

     Nor is there any lack of disposable hired-help in the corporate security
business.  Private security agencies -- the 'security business' generally --
grew explosively in the 1980s.  Today there are spooky gumshoed armies of
"security consultants," "rent-a- cops," "private eyes,"  "outside experts" -- 
every manner of shady operator who retails in "results" and discretion.   Or
course, many of these gentlemen and ladies may be  paragons of professional
and moral rectitude.  But as anyone who has read a hard-boiled detective
novel knows, police tend to be less than fond of this sort of private-sector

     Companies in search of computer-security have even been known to hire
hackers.   Police shudder at this prospect.

     Police treasure good relations with the business community.   Rarely
will you see a policeman so indiscreet as to  allege publicly that some major
employer in his state or city has succumbed to paranoia and gone off the
rails.  Nevertheless, police -- and computer police in particular -- are
aware of this possibility.   Computer-crime police can and do spend up to
half of their business hours just doing public relations:  seminars, "dog and
pony shows," sometimes with parents' groups or computer users, but generally
with their core audience: the likely victims of hacking crimes.  These, of
course, are telcos, credit card companies and large computer- equipped
corporations.   The police strongly urge these people, as good citizens, to
report offenses and press criminal charges; they pass the message that there
is someone in authority who cares, understands, and, best of all, will take
useful action should a computer-crime occur.

     But reassuring talk is cheap.  Sundevil offered action.

     The final message of Sundevil was intended for internal consumption by
law enforcement.  Sundevil was offered as proof that the community of
American computer-crime police  had come of age. Sundevil was proof that
enormous things like Sundevil itself could now be accomplished. Sundevil was
proof that the Secret Service and its local law-enforcement allies could act
like a well- oiled machine -- (despite the hampering use of those scrambled
phones).   It was also proof that the Arizona Organized Crime and Racketeer-
ing Unit  -- the sparkplug of Sundevil -- ranked with the best in the world
in ambition, organization, and sheer conceptual daring.

     And, as a final fillip, Sundevil was a message from the Secret Service
to their longtime rivals in the Federal Bureau of Investigation.  By
Congressional fiat, both USSS and FBI formally share jurisdiction over
federal computer-crimebusting activities. Neither of these groups has ever
been remotely happy with this muddled situation.  It seems to suggest that
Congress cannot make up its mind as to which of these groups is better
qualified.   And there is scarcely a G-man or a Special Agent anywhere
without a very firm opinion on that topic.


           For the neophyte, one of the most puzzling aspects of the
crackdown on hackers is why the United States Secret Service has anything at
all to do with this matter.

     The Secret Service is best known for its primary public role:  its
agents protect the President of the United States.  They also guard the
President's family, the Vice President and his family, former Presidents, and
Presidential candidates.   They sometimes guard foreign dignitaries who are
visiting the United States, especially foreign heads of state, and have been
known to accompany American officials on diplomatic missions overseas.

     Special Agents of the Secret Service don't wear uniforms, but the Secret
Service also has two uniformed police agencies.  There's the former White
House Police  (now known as the Secret Service Uniformed Division, since they
currently guard foreign embassies in Washington, as well as the White House
itself).  And there's the uniformed Treasury Police Force.

     The Secret Service has been charged by Congress with a number of
little-known duties. They guard the precious metals in Treasury vaults. They
guard the most valuable historical documents of the United States:  originals
of the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, Lincoln's Second
Inaugural Address, an American-owned copy of the Magna Carta, and so forth. 
 Once they were assigned to guard the Mona Lisa, on her American tour in the

     The entire Secret Service is a division of the Treasury Department.  
Secret Service Special Agents (there are about 1,900 of them)  are bodyguards
for the President et al, but they all work for the Treasury.  And the
Treasury (through its divisions of the U.S. Mint and the Bureau of Engraving
and Printing) prints the nation's money.

     As Treasury police, the Secret Service guards the nation's currency; it
is the only federal law enforcement agency with direct jurisdiction over
counterfeiting and forgery.  It analyzes documents for authenticity, and its
fight against  fake cash is still quite lively (especially since the skilled
counterfeiters of Medellin, Columbia have gotten into the act).   Government
checks, bonds, and other obligations, which exist in untold millions and are
worth untold billions, are common targets for forgery, which the Secret
Service also battles.   It even handles forgery of postage stamps.

     But cash is fading in importance today as money has become electronic. 
As necessity beckoned, the Secret Service moved from fighting the counter-
feiting of paper currency and the forging of checks, to the protection of
funds transferred by wire.

     From wire-fraud, it was a simple skip-and-jump to what is formally known
as "access device fraud." Congress granted the Secret Service the authority
to investigate "access device fraud"  under Title 18 of the United States
Code (U.S.C.  Section 1029).

     The term "access device" seems intuitively simple.  It's some kind of
high-tech gizmo you use to get money with.  It makes good sense to put this
sort of thing in the charge of counterfeiting and wire- fraud experts.

     However, in Section 1029, the term "access device" is very generously
defined.  An access device is: "any card, plate, code, account number, or
other means of account access that can be used, alone or in conjunction with
another access device, to obtain money, goods, services, or any other thing
of value, or that can be used to initiate a transfer of funds."

     "Access device" can therefore be construed to include credit cards
themselves (a popular forgery item nowadays).  It also includes credit card
account *numbers,* those standards of the digital underground.   The same
goes for telephone charge cards (an increasingly popular item with telcos,
who are tired of being robbed of pocket change by phone-booth thieves).   And
also telephone access *codes,* those *other* standards of the digital
underground.  (Stolen telephone codes may not "obtain money," but they
certainly do obtain valuable "services," which is specifically forbidden by
Section 1029.)

     We can now see that Section 1029 already pits the United States Secret
Service directly against the digital underground, without any mention at all
of the word "computer."

     Standard phreaking devices, like "blue boxes," used to steal phone
service from old-fashioned mechanical switches, are unquestionably "counter-
feit access devices."   Thanks to Sec.1029, it is not only illegal to *use*
counterfeit access devices, but it is even illegal to *build* them.  
"Producing," "designing" "duplicating" or "assembling" blue boxes are all
federal crimes today, and if you do this, the Secret Service has been charged
by Congress to come after you.

     Automatic Teller Machines, which replicated all over America during the
1980s, are definitely "access devices," too, and an attempt to tamper with
their punch-in codes and plastic bank cards falls directly under Sec. 1029.

     Section 1029 is remarkably elastic.  Suppose you find a computer
password in somebody's trash.  That password might be a "code" -- it's
certainly a "means of account access."  Now suppose you log on to a computer
and copy some software for yourself. You've certainly obtained "service"
(computer service)  and a "thing of value" (the software). Suppose you tell
a dozen friends about your swiped password, and let them use it, too.  Now
you're "trafficking in unauthorized access devices."  And when the Prophet,
a member of the Legion of Doom, passed a stolen telephone company document to
Knight Lightning at *Phrack* magazine, they were both charged under Sec.

     There are two limitations on Section 1029.  First, the offense must
"affect interstate or foreign commerce" in order to become a matter of
federal jurisdiction.  The term "affecting commerce" is not well defined; but
you may take it as a given that the Secret Service can take an interest if
you've done most anything that happens to cross a state line. State and local
police can be touchy about their jurisdictions, and can sometimes be mulish
when the feds show up.   But when it comes to computer- crime, the local
police are pathetically grateful for federal help -- in fact they complain
that they can't get enough of it.   If you're stealing long-distance service,
you're almost certainly crossing state lines, and you're definitely
"affecting the interstate commerce" of the telcos.  And if you're abusing
credit cards by ordering stuff out of glossy catalogs from, say, Vermont,
you're in for it.

     The second limitation is money.  As a rule, the feds don't pursue
penny-ante offenders.  Federal judges will dismiss cases that appear to waste
their time.  Federal crimes must be serious;  Section 1029 specifies a
minimum loss of a thousand dollars.

     We now come to the very next section of Title 18, which is Section 1030,
"Fraud and related activity in connection with computers."  This statute
gives the Secret Service direct jurisdiction over acts of computer intrusion. 
On the face of it, the Secret Service would now seem to command the field.
Section 1030, however, is nowhere near so ductile as Section 1029.

     The first annoyance is Section 1030(d), which reads:

     "(d) The United States Secret Service shall, *in addition to any other
agency having such authority,* have the authority to investigate offenses
under this section.  Such authority of the United States Secret Service shall
be exercised in accordance with an agreement which shall be entered into by
the Secretary  of the Treasury *and the Attorney General.*"   (Author's 

     The Secretary of the Treasury is the titular head of the Secret Service,
while the Attorney General is in charge of the FBI.  In Section (d), Congress
shrugged off responsibility for the computer-crime turf-battle between the
Service and the Bureau, and made them fight it out all by themselves.  The
result was a rather dire one for the Secret Service, for the FBI ended up
with exclusive jurisdiction over computer break-ins having to do with
national security, foreign espionage, federally insured banks, and U.S.
military bases, while retaining joint jurisdiction over all the other
computer intrusions. Essentially, when it comes to Section 1030, the FBI not
only gets the real glamor stuff for itself, but can peer over the shoulder of
the Secret Service and barge in to meddle whenever it suits them.

     The second problem has to do with the dicey term "Federal interest
computer."  Section 1030(a)(2) makes it illegal to "access a computer without
authorization" if that computer belongs to a financial institution or an
issuer of credit cards (fraud cases, in other words).   Congress was quite
willing to give the Secret Service jurisdiction over money-transferring
computers, but Congress balked at letting them investigate any and all
computer intrusions.   Instead, the USSS had to settle for the money machines
and the "Federal interest computers."   A "Federal interest computer" is a
computer which the government itself owns, or is using.  Large networks of
interstate computers, linked over state lines, are also considered to be of
"Federal interest."   (This notion of "Federal interest" is legally rather
foggy and has never been clearly defined in the courts.  The Secret Service
has never yet had its hand slapped for investigating computer break-ins that
were *not* of "Federal interest," but conceivably someday this might happen.)

     So the Secret Service's authority over "unauthorized access" to
computers covers a lot of territory, but by no means the whole ball of
cyberspatial wax.   If you are, for instance, a *local* computer retailer, or
the owner of a *local* bulletin board system, then a malicious *local*
intruder can break in, crash your system, trash your files and scatter
viruses, and the U.S.  Secret Service cannot do a single thing about it.

     At least, it can't do anything *directly.*   But the Secret Service will
do plenty to help the local people who can.

     The FBI may have dealt itself an ace off the bottom of the deck when it
comes to Section 1030; but that's not the whole story; that's not the street.
What's Congress thinks is one thing, and Congress has been known to change
its mind.  The *real* turf- struggle is out there in the streets where it's
happening.    If you're a local street-cop with a computer problem, the
Secret Service wants you to know where you can find the real expertise. 
While the Bureau crowd are off having their favorite shoes polished --
(wing-tips) -- and making derisive fun of the Service's favorite shoes --
("pansy-ass tassels") -- the tassel-toting Secret Service has a crew of
ready- and-able  hacker-trackers installed in the capital of every state in
the Union.   Need advice?  They'll give you advice, or at least point you in
the right direction.  Need training?  They can see to that, too.

     If you're a local cop and you call in the FBI, the FBI (as is widely and
slanderously rumored)  will order you around like a coolie, take all the
credit for your busts, and mop up every possible scrap of reflected glory. 
The Secret Service, on the other hand, doesn't brag a lot.  They're the quiet
types. *Very* quiet.  Very cool.  Efficient.  High-tech. Mirrorshades, icy
stares, radio ear-plugs, an Uzi machine-pistol tucked somewhere in that
well-cut jacket.  American samurai, sworn to give their lives to protect our
President.  "The granite agents." Trained in martial arts, absolutely
fearless.  Every single one of 'em has a top-secret security clearance.
Something goes a little wrong, you're not gonna hear any whining and moaning
and political buck- passing out of these guys.

     The facade of the granite agent is not, of course, the reality.  Secret
Service agents are human beings. And the real glory in Service work is not in
battling computer crime -- not yet, anyway -- but in protecting the
President.  The real glamour of Secret Service work is in the White House
Detail.   If you're at the President's side, then the kids and the wife see
you on television; you rub shoulders with the most powerful people in the
world.   That's the real heart of Service work, the number one priority. 
More than one computer investigation has stopped dead in the water when
Service agents vanished at the President's need.

     There's romance in the work of the Service.  The intimate access to
circles of great power;  the esprit- de-corps of a highly trained and
disciplined elite; the high responsibility of defending the Chief Executive;
the fulfillment of a patriotic duty.   And as police work goes, the pay's not
bad.  But there's squalor in Service work, too.  You may get spat upon by
protesters howling abuse -- and if they get violent, if they get too close,
sometimes you have to knock one of them down -- discreetly.

     The real squalor in Service work is drudgery such as "the quarterlies,"
traipsing out four times a year, year in, year out, to interview the various
pathetic wretches, many of them in prisons and asylums, who have seen fit to
threaten the President's life.   And then there's the grinding stress of
searching  all those faces in the endless bustling crowds, looking for
hatred, looking for psychosis, looking for the tight, nervous face of an
Arthur Bremer, a Squeaky Fromme, a Lee Harvey Oswald. It's watching all those
grasping, waving hands for sudden movements, while your ears strain at your
radio headphone for the long-rehearsed cry of "Gun!"

     It's poring, in grinding detail, over the biographies of every rotten
loser who ever shot at a President.  It's the unsung work of the Protective
Research Section, who study scrawled, anonymous death threats with all the
meticulous tools of anti- forgery techniques.

     And it's maintaining the hefty computerized files on anyone who ever
threatened the President's life.  Civil libertarians have become increasingly
concerned at the Government's use of computer files to track American
citizens -- but the Secret Service file of potential Presidential assassins,
which has upward of twenty thousand names, rarely causes a peep of protest. 
If you *ever* state that you intend to kill the President, the Secret Service
will want to know and record who you are, where you are, what you are, and
what you're up to.   If you're a serious threat -- if you're officially
considered "of protective interest" -- then the Secret Service may well keep
tabs on you for the rest of your natural life.

     Protecting the President has first call on all the Service's resources. 
But there's a lot more to the Service's traditions and history than standing
guard outside the Oval Office.

     The Secret Service is the nation's oldest general federal
law-enforcement agency.   Compared to the Secret Service, the FBI are
new-hires and the CIA are temps.  The Secret Service was founded 'way back in
1865, at the suggestion of Hugh McCulloch, Abraham Lincoln's Secretary of the
Treasury. McCulloch wanted a specialized Treasury police to combat counter-
feiting.  Abraham Lincoln agreed that this seemed a good idea, and, with a
terrible irony, Abraham Lincoln was shot that very night by John Wilkes

     The Secret Service originally had nothing to do with protecting
Presidents.  They didn't take this on as a regular assignment until after the
Garfield assassination in 1881.   And they didn't get any Congressional money
for it until President McKinley was shot in 1901.   The Service was
originally designed for one purpose: destroying counterfeiters.


     There are interesting parallels between the Service's nineteenth-century
entry into counterfeiting, and America's twentieth-century entry into

     In 1865, America's paper currency was a terrible muddle.  Security was
drastically bad.  Currency was printed on the spot by local banks in
literally hundreds of different designs.  No one really knew what the heck a
dollar bill was supposed to look like. Bogus bills passed easily.  If some
joker told you that a one-dollar bill from the Railroad Bank of Lowell,
Massachusetts had a woman leaning on a shield, with a locomotive, a
cornucopia, a compass, various agricultural implements, a railroad bridge,
and some factories, then you pretty much had to take his word for it.  (And
in fact he was telling the truth!)

       *Sixteen hundred* local American banks designed and printed their own
paper currency, and there were no general standards for security.  Like a
badly guarded node in a computer network, badly designed bills were easy to
fake, and  posed a security hazard for the entire monetary system.

     No one knew the exact extent of the threat to the currency.  There were
panicked estimates that as much as a third of the entire national currency
was faked.  Counterfeiters -- known as "boodlers" in the underground slang of
the time -- were  mostly technically skilled printers who had gone to the
bad. Many had once worked printing legitimate currency. Boodlers operated in
rings and gangs.   Technical experts engraved the bogus plates -- commonly in
basements in New York City.  Smooth confidence men passed large wads of
high-quality, high- denomination fakes, including the really sophisticated
stuff --  government bonds, stock certificates, and railway shares.  Cheaper,
botched fakes were sold or sharewared to low-level gangs of boodler wannabes. 
(The really cheesy lowlife boodlers merely upgraded real bills by altering
face values, changing ones to fives, tens to hundreds, and so on.)

     The techniques of boodling were little-known and regarded with a certain
awe by the mid- nineteenth-century  public.  The ability to manipulate the
system for rip-off seemed diabolically clever.  As the skill and daring of
the boodlers increased, the situation became intolerable.  The federal
government stepped in, and began offering its own federal currency, which was
printed in fancy green ink, but only on the back - - the original "green-
backs."  And at first, the improved security of the well-designed,
well-printed federal greenbacks seemed to solve the problem; but then the
counterfeiters caught on.  Within a few years things were worse than ever: 
a *centralized* system where *all* security was bad!

     The local police were helpless.  The Government tried offering blood
money to potential informants, but this met with little success.  Banks,
plagued by boodling, gave up hope of police help and hired private security
men instead.  Merchants and bankers queued up by the thousands to buy
privately-printed manuals on currency security, slim little books like Laban
Heath's  *Infallible Government Counterfeit Detector.*  The back of the book
offered Laban Heath's patent microscope for five bucks.

     Then the Secret Service entered the picture. The first agents were a
rough and ready crew.   Their chief was one William P. Wood, a former
guerilla in the Mexican War who'd won a reputation busting contractor
fraudsters for the War Department during the Civil War.   Wood, who was also
Keeper of the Capital Prison, had a sideline as a counterfeiting expert,
bagging boodlers for the federal bounty money.

     Wood was named Chief of the new Secret Service in July 1865.  There were
only ten  Secret Service agents in all:  Wood himself, a handful who'd worked
for him in the War Department, and a few former private investigators --
counterfeiting experts -- whom Wood had won over to public service.   (The
Secret Service of 1865 was much the size of the Chicago Computer Fraud Task
Force or the Arizona Racketeering Unit of 1990.)  These ten "Operatives" had
an additional twenty or so "Assistant Operatives" and "Informants."   Besides
salary and per diem, each Secret Service employee received a whopping
twenty-five dollars for each boodler he captured.

     Wood himself publicly estimated that at least *half* of America's
currency was counterfeit, a perhaps pardonable perception.   Within a year
the Secret Service had arrested over 200 counterfeiters. They busted about
two hundred boodlers a year for four years straight.

     Wood attributed his success to travelling fast and light, hitting the
bad-guys hard, and avoiding bureaucratic baggage.  "Because my raids were
made without military escort and I did not ask the assistance of state
officers, I surprised the professional counterfeiter."

     Wood's social message to the once-impudent boodlers bore an eerie ring
of Sundevil:  "It was also my purpose to convince such characters that it
would no longer be healthy for them to ply their vocation without being
handled roughly, a fact they soon discovered."

     William P. Wood, the Secret Service's guerilla pioneer, did not end
well.  He succumbed to the lure of aiming for the really big score.  The
notorious Brockway Gang of New York City,  headed by William E. Brockway, the
"King of the Counterfeiters," had forged a number of government bonds. 
They'd passed these brilliant fakes on the prestigious Wall Street investment
firm of Jay Cooke and Company.  The Cooke firm were frantic and offered a
huge reward for the forgers' plates.

     Laboring diligently, Wood confiscated the plates (though not Mr.
Brockway) and claimed the reward.  But the Cooke company treacherously
reneged.   Wood got involved in a down-and-dirty lawsuit with the Cooke
capitalists.   Wood's boss, Secretary of the Treasury McCulloch, felt that
Wood's demands for money and glory were unseemly, and even when the reward
money finally came through, McCulloch refused to pay Wood anything.   Wood
found himself mired in a seemingly endless round of federal suits and
Congressional lobbying.

     Wood never got his money.  And he lost his job to boot.  He resigned in

     Wood's agents suffered, too.  On May 12, 1869, the second Chief of the
Secret Service took over, and almost immediately fired most of Wood's pioneer
Secret Service agents:   Operatives, Assistants and Informants alike.  The
practice of receiving $25 per crook was abolished.   And the Secret Service
began the long, uncertain process of thorough professionalization.

     Wood ended badly.  He must have felt stabbed in the back.  In fact his
entire organization was mangled.

     On the other hand, William P. Wood *was* the first head of the Secret
Service.  William Wood was the pioneer.  People still honor his name.  Who
remembers the name of the *second* head of the Secret Service?

     As for William Brockway (also known as "Colonel Spencer"), he was
finally arrested by the Secret Service in 1880.  He did five years in prison,
got out, and was still boodling at the age of seventy- four.


     Anyone with an interest in  Operation Sundevil - - or in American
computer-crime generally -- could scarcely miss the presence of Gail
Thackeray, Assistant Attorney General of the State of Arizona. Computer-crime
training manuals often cited Thackeray's group and her work;  she was the
highest-ranking state official to specialize in computer-related offenses.  
Her name had been on the Sundevil press release (though modestly ranked well
after the local federal prosecuting attorney and the head of the Phoenix
Secret Service office).

     As public commentary, and controversy, began to mount about the Hacker
Crackdown, this Arizonan state official began to take a higher and higher
public profile.  Though uttering almost nothing specific about the Sundevil
operation itself, she coined some of the most striking soundbites of the
growing propaganda war:  "Agents are operating in good faith, and I don't
think you can say that for the hacker community," was one.  Another was the
memorable "I am not a mad dog prosecutor" (*Houston Chronicle,*  Sept 2,
1990.)  In the meantime, the Secret Service maintained its usual extreme
discretion; the Chicago Unit, smarting from the backlash of the Steve Jackson
scandal, had gone completely to earth.

     As I collated my growing pile of newspaper clippings, Gail Thackeray
ranked as a comparative fount of public knowledge on police operations.

     I decided that I  had to get to know Gail Thackeray.   I wrote to her at
the Arizona Attorney General's Office.   Not only did she kindly reply to me,
but, to my astonishment, she knew very well what "cyberpunk" science fiction

     Shortly after this, Gail Thackeray lost her job. And I temporarily
misplaced my own career as a science-fiction writer, to become a full-time
computer-crime journalist.   In early March, 1991, I flew to Phoenix,
Arizona, to interview Gail Thackeray for my book on the hacker crackdown.


     "Credit cards didn't used to cost anything to get," says Gail Thackeray. 
"Now they cost forty bucks -- and that's all just to cover the costs from
*rip-off artists.*"

     Electronic nuisance criminals are parasites. One by one they're not much
harm, no big deal.  But they never come just one by one. They come in swarms,
heaps, legions, sometimes whole subcultures.  And they bite.  Every time we
buy a credit card today, we lose a little financial vitality to a particular
species of bloodsucker.

     What, in her expert opinion, are the worst forms of electronic crime, I
ask, consulting my notes.  Is it -- credit card fraud?  Breaking into ATM
bank machines?  Phone-phreaking?  Computer intrusions?  Software viruses? 
Access-code theft? Records tampering?  Software piracy?  Pornographic
bulletin boards? Satellite TV piracy?  Theft of cable service?   It's a long
list.  By the time I reach the end of it I feel rather depressed.

     "Oh no," says Gail Thackeray, leaning forward over the table, her whole
body gone stiff with energetic indignation, "the biggest damage is telephone
fraud.  Fake sweepstakes, fake charities. Boiler-room con operations.  You
could pay off the national debt with what these guys steal....  They target
old people, they get hold of credit ratings and demographics, they rip off
the old and the weak." The words come tumbling out of her.

     It's low-tech stuff, your everyday boiler-room fraud.  Grifters, conning
people out of money over the phone, have been around for decades.  This is
where the word "phony" came from!

     It's just that it's so much *easier* now, horribly facilitated by
advances in technology and the byzantine structure of the modern phone
system. The same professional fraudsters do it over and over, Thackeray tells
me, they hide behind dense onion-shells of fake companies.... fake holding
corporations nine or ten layers deep, registered all over the map.  They get
a phone installed under a false name in an empty safe-house.  And then they
call-forward everything out of that phone to yet another phone,  a phone that
may even be in another *state.*  And they don't even pay the charges on their
phones; after a month or so, they just split.  Set up somewhere else in
another Podunkville with the same seedy crew of veteran phone-crooks.  They
buy or steal commercial credit card reports, slap them on the PC, have a
program pick out people over sixty-five  who pay a lot to charities.  A whole
subculture living off this, merciless folks on the con.

     "The 'light-bulbs for the blind' people," Thackeray muses, with a
special loathing.  "There's just no end to them."

     We're sitting in a downtown diner in Phoenix, Arizona.  It's a tough
town, Phoenix.  A state capital seeing some hard times.  Even to a Texan like
myself, Arizona state politics seem rather baroque. There was, and remains,
endless trouble over the Martin Luther King holiday, the sort of
stiff-necked, foot-shooting incident for which Arizona politics seem famous. 
There was Evan Mecham, the eccentric Republican millionaire governor who was
impeached, after reducing state government to a ludicrous shambles.  Then
there was the national Keating scandal, involving Arizona savings and loans,
in which both  of Arizona's  U.S. senators, DeConcini and McCain, played
sadly prominent roles.

     And the very latest is the bizarre AzScam case, in which state
legislators were videotaped, eagerly taking cash from an informant of the
Phoenix city police department, who was posing as a Vegas mobster.

     "Oh," says Thackeray cheerfully.  "These people are amateurs here, they
thought they were finally getting to play with the big boys.  They don't have
the least idea how to take a bribe!  It's not institutional corruption.  It's
not  like back in Philly."

     Gail Thackeray was a former prosecutor in Philadelphia.  Now she's a
former assistant attorney general of the State of Arizona.  Since  moving to
Arizona in 1986, she had worked under the aegis of Steve Twist,  her boss in
the Attorney General's office.  Steve Twist wrote Arizona's pioneering
computer crime laws and naturally took an interest in seeing them enforced.
It was a snug niche, and Thackeray's Organized Crime and Racketeering Unit
won a national reputation for ambition and technical knowledgeability.... 
Until the latest election in Arizona.  Thackeray's boss ran for the top job,
and lost.  The victor, the new Attorney General, apparently went to some
pains to eliminate the bureaucratic traces of his rival, including his pet
group -- Thackeray's group.   Twelve people got their walking papers.

     Now Thackeray's painstakingly assembled computer lab sits gathering dust
somewhere in the glass-and-concrete Attorney General's HQ on 1275 Washington
Street.  Her computer-crime books, her painstakingly garnered back issues of
phreak and hacker zines, all bought at her own expense -- are piled in boxes
somewhere.  The State of Arizona is simply not particularly interested in
electronic racketeering at the moment.

     At the moment of our interview, Gail Thackeray, officially unemployed,
is working out of the county sheriff's office, living on her savings, and
prosecuting several cases -- working 60-hour weeks, just as always -- for no
pay at all.  "I'm trying to train people," she mutters.

     Half her life seems to be spent training people - - merely pointing out,
to the naive and incredulous (such as myself) that this stuff is *actually
going on out there.*  It's a small world, computer crime.  A young world.  
Gail Thackeray, a trim blonde Baby- Boomer who favors Grand Canyon
white-water rafting to kill some slow time, is one of the world's most
senior, most veteran "hacker-trackers."   Her mentor was Donn Parker,  the
California think-tank theorist who got it all started 'way back in the mid-
70s, the "grandfather of the field,"  "the great bald eagle of computer

     And what she has learned, Gail Thackeray teaches.  Endlessly. Tireless-
ly.  To anybody.  To Secret Service agents and state police, at the Glynco,
Georgia federal training center.  To local police, on "roadshows" with her
slide projector and notebook. To corporate security personnel.  To journal-
ists.  To parents.

      Even *crooks* look to Gail Thackeray for advice. Phone-phreaks call her
at the office.  They know very well who she is.  They pump her for informa-
tion on what the cops are up to, how much they know. Sometimes whole *crowds*
of phone phreaks, hanging out on illegal conference calls, will call Gail
Thackeray up.  They taunt her.  And, as always, they boast.  Phone-phreaks,
real stone phone-phreaks, simply *cannot shut up.*  They natter on for hours.

     Left to themselves, they mostly talk about the intricacies of
ripping-off phones; it's about as interesting as listening to hot-rodders
talk about suspension and distributor-caps.  They also gossip cruelly about
each other.  And when talking to Gail Thackeray, they incriminate themselves. 
 "I have tapes," Thackeray says coolly.

     Phone phreaks just talk like crazy.  "Dial-Tone" out in Alabama has been
known to spend half-an- hour simply reading stolen phone-codes aloud into
voice-mail answering machines.  Hundreds, thousands of numbers, recited in a
monotone, without a break -- an eerie phenomenon.  When arrested, it's a rare
phone phreak who doesn't inform at endless length on everybody he knows.

     Hackers are no better.  What other group of criminals, she asks
rhetorically, publishes newsletters and holds conventions?   She seems deeply
nettled by the sheer brazenness of this behavior, though to an outsider, this
activity might make one wonder whether hackers should be considered
"criminals" at all.  Skateboarders have magazines, and they trespass a lot. 
Hot rod people have magazines and they break speed limits and sometimes kill

     I ask her whether it would be any loss to society if phone phreaking and
computer hacking, as hobbies, simply dried up and blew away, so that nobody
ever did it again.

     She seems surprised.  "No," she says swiftly. "Maybe a little... in the
old days... the MIT stuff...  But there's a lot of wonderful, legal stuff you
can do with computers now, you don't have to break into somebody else's just
to learn.  You don't have that excuse. You can learn all you like."

     Did you ever hack into a system? I ask.

     The trainees do it at Glynco.  Just to demonstrate system vulnerabili-
ties.  She's cool to the notion.  Genuinely indifferent.

     "What kind of computer do you have?"

     "A Compaq 286LE," she mutters.

     "What kind do you *wish* you had?"

     At this question, the unmistakable light of true hackerdom flares in
Gail Thackeray's eyes.  She becomes tense, animated, the words pour out:  "An
Amiga 2000 with an IBM card and Mac emulation! The most common hacker
machines are Amigas and Commodores.  And Apples."  If she had the Amiga, she
enthuses, she could run a whole galaxy of seized computer-evidence disks on
one convenient multifunctional machine.  A cheap one, too.  Not like the old
Attorney General lab, where they had an ancient CP/M machine, assorted Amiga
flavors and Apple flavors, a couple IBMS, all the utility software... but no
Commodores.  The workstations down at the Attorney General's are Wang
dedicated word-processors.  Lame machines tied in to an office net --  though
at least they get on- line to the Lexis and Westlaw legal data services.

     I don't say anything.  I recognize the syndrome, though.  This
computer-fever has been running through segments of our society for years
now.  It's a strange kind of lust: K-hunger, Meg-hunger; but it's a shared
disease; it can kill parties dead, as conversation spirals into the deepest
and most deviant recesses of software releases and expensive peripherals.... 
The mark of the hacker beast.  I have it too.  The whole "electronic
community," whatever the hell that is, has it.  Gail Thackeray has it.  Gail
Thackeray is a hacker cop.   My immediate reaction is a strong rush of
indignant pity:  *why doesn't somebody buy this woman her Amiga?!*   It's not
like she's asking for a Cray X-MP supercomputer mainframe; an Amiga's a sweet
little  cookie-box thing.  We're losing zillions in organized fraud;
prosecuting and defending a single hacker case in court can cost a hundred
grand easy.  How come nobody can come up with four lousy grand so this woman
can do her job?  For a hundred grand we could buy every computer cop in
America an Amiga. There aren't that many of 'em.

     Computers.  The lust, the hunger, for computers.  The loyalty they
inspire, the intense sense of possessiveness.   The culture they have bred. 
I myself am sitting in  downtown Phoenix, Arizona because it suddenly
occurred to me that the police might -- just *might* -- come and take away my
computer.  The prospect of this, the mere *implied threat,*  was unbearable. 
It literally changed my life.  It was changing the lives of many others. 
Eventually it would change everybody's life.

     Gail Thackeray was one of the top computer- crime people in America. 
And I was just some novelist, and yet I had a better computer than hers.
*Practically everybody I knew*  had a better computer than Gail Thackeray and
her feeble laptop 286.  It was like sending the sheriff in to clean up Dodge
City and arming her with a slingshot cut from an old rubber tire.

     But then again, you don't need a howitzer to enforce the law.  You can
do a lot just with a badge. With a badge alone, you can basically wreak
havoc, take a terrible vengeance on wrongdoers.  Ninety percent of "computer
crime investigation" is just "crime investigation:" names, places, dossiers,
modus operandi, search warrants, victims, complainants, informants...

     What will computer crime look like in ten years?  Will it get better? 
Did "Sundevil" send 'em reeling back in confusion?

     It'll be like it is now,  only worse, she tells me with perfect
conviction.  Still there in the background, ticking along, changing with the
times: the criminal underworld.  It'll be like drugs are.  Like our problems
with alcohol.  All the cops and laws in the world never solved our problems
with alcohol.  If there's something people want, a certain percentage of them
are just going to take it.  Fifteen percent of the populace will never steal. 
Fifteen percent will steal most anything not nailed down.  The battle is for
the hearts and minds of the remaining seventy percent.

     And criminals catch on fast.  If there's not "too steep a learning
curve" -- if it doesn't require a baffling amount of expertise and practice
-- then criminals are often some of the first through the gate of a new
technology.  Especially if it helps them to hide.  They have tons of cash,
criminals.  The new communications tech -- like pagers, cellular phones,
faxes, Federal Express -- were pioneered by rich corporate people, and by
criminals.  In the early years of pagers and beepers, dope dealers were so
enthralled this technology that owing a beeper was practically prima facie
evidence of cocaine dealing. CB radio exploded when the speed limit hit 55
and breaking the highway law became a national pastime.  Dope dealers send
cash by  Federal Express, despite, or perhaps *because of,* the warnings in
FedEx offices that tell you never to try this.  Fed Ex uses X-rays and dogs
on their mail, to stop drug shipments.  That doesn't work very well.

     Drug dealers went wild over cellular phones. There are simple methods of
faking ID on cellular phones, making the location of the call mobile, free of
charge, and effectively untraceable.  Now victimized cellular companies
routinely bring in vast toll-lists of calls to Colombia and Pakistan.

     Judge Greene's fragmentation of the phone company is driving law
enforcement nuts.  Four thousand telecommunications companies.  Fraud
skyrocketing.  Every temptation in the world available with a phone and a
credit card number. Criminals untraceable.  A galaxy of "new neat rotten
things to do."

      If there were one thing Thackeray would like to have, it would be an
effective legal end-run through this new fragmentation minefield.

       It would be a new form of electronic search warrant, an "electronic
letter of marque" to be issued by a judge.  It would create a new category of
"electronic emergency."   Like a wiretap, its use would be rare, but it would
cut across state lines and force swift cooperation from all concerned. 
Cellular, phone, laser, computer network, PBXes, AT&T, Baby Bells,
long-distance entrepreneurs, packet radio. Some document, some mighty
court-order, that could slice through four thousand separate forms of
corporate red-tape, and get her at once to the source of calls, the source of
email threats and viruses, the sources of bomb threats, kidnapping threats. 
"From now on," she says, "the Lindberg baby will always die."

     Something that would make the Net sit still, if only for a moment. 
Something that would get her up to speed.  Seven league boots.  That's what
she really needs.  "Those guys move in nanoseconds and I'm on the Pony

     And then, too, there's the  coming international angle.  Electronic
crime has never been easy to localize, to tie to a physical jurisdiction. 
And phone- phreaks and hackers loathe boundaries, they jump them whenever
they can.  The English.  The Dutch. And the Germans, especially the
ubiquitous Chaos Computer Club.  The Australians.  They've all learned
phone-phreaking from America.  It's a growth mischief industry.  The
multinational networks are global, but governments and the police simply
aren't.  Neither are the laws.  Or the legal frameworks for citizen

     One language is global, though -- English. Phone phreaks speak English;
it's their native tongue even if they're Germans.  English may have started
in England but now it's the Net language; it might as well be called

     Asians just aren't much into phone phreaking. They're the world masters
at organized software piracy.  The French aren't into phone-phreaking either. 
The French are into computerized industrial espionage.

     In the old days of the MIT righteous hackerdom, crashing systems didn't
hurt anybody. Not all that much, anyway.  Not permanently.  Now the players
are more venal.  Now the consequences are worse.  Hacking will begin killing
people soon. Already there are methods of stacking calls onto 911 systems,
annoying the police, and possibly causing the death of some poor soul calling
in with a genuine emergency.  Hackers in Amtrak computers, or air- traffic
control computers, will kill somebody someday.  Maybe a lot of people.  Gail
Thackeray expects it.

     And the viruses are getting nastier.  The "Scud" virus is the latest one
out.  It wipes hard-disks.

     According to Thackeray, the idea that phone- phreaks are Robin Hoods is
a fraud.  They don't deserve this repute.   Basically, they pick on the weak. 
AT&T now protects itself with the fearsome ANI (Automatic Number Identifica-
tion) trace capability.  When AT&T wised up and tightened security generally,
the phreaks drifted into the Baby Bells.  The Baby Bells lashed out in 1989
and 1990, so the phreaks switched to smaller long-distance entrepreneurs. 
Today, they are moving into locally owned PBXes and voice-mail systems, which
are full of security holes, dreadfully easy to hack.  These victims aren't
the moneybags Sheriff of Nottingham or Bad King John, but small groups of
innocent people who find it hard to protect themselves, and who really suffer
from these depredations.  Phone phreaks pick on the weak.  They do it for
power.  If it were legal, they wouldn't do it.  They don't want service, or
knowledge, they want the thrill of power- tripping.   There's plenty of
knowledge or service around, if you're willing to pay.  Phone phreaks don't
pay, they steal.  It's because it is illegal that it feels like power, that
it gratifies their vanity.

     I leave Gail Thackeray with a handshake at the door of her office
building -- a vast International- Style office building downtown.  The
Sheriff's office is renting part of it.  I get the vague impression that
quite a lot of the building is empty -- real estate crash.

     In a Phoenix sports apparel store, in a downtown mall, I meet the "Sun
Devil" himself.  He is the cartoon mascot of Arizona State University, whose
football stadium, "Sundevil," is near the local Secret Service HQ -- hence
the name Operation Sundevil. The Sun Devil himself is named "Sparky."  Sparky
the Sun Devil is maroon and bright yellow, the school colors.  Sparky
brandishes a three-tined yellow pitchfork.  He has a small mustache, pointed
ears, a barbed tail, and is dashing forward jabbing the air with the
pitchfork, with an expression of devilish glee.

     Phoenix was the home of Operation Sundevil. The Legion of Doom ran a
hacker bulletin board called "The Phoenix Project."  An Australian hacker
named "Phoenix"  once burrowed through the Internet to attack Cliff Stoll,
then bragged and boasted about it to *The New York Times.*  This net of
coincidence is both odd and meaningless.

     The headquarters of the Arizona Attorney General, Gail Thackeray's
former workplace, is on 1275 Washington Avenue.  Many of the downtown streets
in Phoenix are named after prominent American presidents:  Washington,
Jefferson, Madison....

     After dark, all the employees go home to their suburbs.  Washington,
Jefferson and Madison -- what would be the Phoenix inner city, if there were
an inner city in this sprawling automobile-bred town --  become the haunts of
transients and derelicts. The homeless. The sidewalks along Washington are
lined with orange trees.  Ripe fallen fruit lies scattered like croquet balls
on the sidewalks and gutters.  No one seems to be eating them.  I try a fresh
one.  It tastes unbearably bitter.

          The Attorney General's office, built in 1981 during the Babbitt
administration,  is a long low two- story building of white cement and
wall-sized sheets of curtain-glass.  Behind each glass wall is a lawyer's
office, quite open and visible to anyone strolling by. Across the street is
a dour government building labelled simply ECONOMIC SECURITY, something that
has not been in great supply in the American Southwest lately.

     The offices  are about twelve feet square.  They feature tall wooden
cases full of red-spined lawbooks; Wang computer monitors; telephones;
Post-it notes galore.  Also framed law diplomas and a general excess of bad
Western landscape art.  Ansel Adams photos are a big favorite, perhaps to
compensate for the dismal specter of the parking- lot, two acres of striped
black asphalt, which features gravel landscaping and some sickly-looking
barrel cacti.

     It has grown dark.  Gail Thackeray has told me that the people who work
late here, are afraid of muggings in the parking lot.  It seems cruelly
ironic that a woman tracing electronic racketeers across the interstate
labyrinth of Cyberspace should fear an assault by a homeless derelict in the
parking lot of her own workplace.

     Perhaps this is less than coincidence.  Perhaps these two seemingly
disparate worlds are somehow generating one another.  The poor and disenfran-
chised take to the streets, while the rich and computer-equipped, safe in
their bedrooms, chatter over their modems.  Quite often the derelicts kick
the glass out and break in to the lawyers' offices, if they see something
they need or want badly enough.

     I cross  the parking lot to the street behind the Attorney General's
office.  A pair of young tramps are bedding down on flattened sheets of
cardboard, under an alcove stretching over the sidewalk.  One tramp wears a
glitter-covered T-shirt reading "CALIFORNIA" in Coca-Cola cursive.  His nose
and cheeks look chafed and swollen; they glisten with what seems to be
Vaseline.  The other tramp has a ragged long-sleeved shirt and lank brown
hair parted in the middle. They both wear blue jeans coated in grime.  They
are both drunk.

     "You guys crash here a lot?" I ask them.

     They look at me warily.  I am wearing black jeans, a black pinstriped
suit jacket and a black silk tie.  I have odd shoes and a funny haircut.

     "It's our first time here," says the red-nosed tramp unconvincingly.
There is a lot of cardboard stacked here.  More than any two people could

     "We usually stay at the Vinnie's down the street," says the brown-haired
tramp, puffing a Marlboro with a meditative air, as he sprawls with his head
on a blue nylon backpack.  "The Saint Vincent's."

     "You know who works in that building over there?"  I ask, pointing.

     The brown-haired tramp shrugs.  "Some kind of attorneys, it says."

`    We urge one another to take it easy.  I give them five bucks.

     A block down the street I meet a vigorous workman who is wheeling along
some kind of industrial trolley; it has what appears to be a tank of propane
on it.

      We make eye contact.  We nod politely.  I walk past him.  "Hey!  Excuse
me sir!" he says.

     "Yes?" I say, stopping and turning.

     "Have you seen," the guy says rapidly, "a black guy, about 6'7", scars
on both his cheeks like this --" he gestures --  "wears a black baseball cap
on backwards, wandering around here anyplace?"

     "Sounds like I don't much *want* to meet him," I say.

     "He took my wallet," says my new acquaintance. "Took it this morning. 
Y'know, some people would be *scared* of a guy like that.  But I'm not
scared. I'm from Chicago.  I'm gonna hunt him down.  We do things like that
in Chicago."


     "I went to the cops and now he's got an APB out on his ass," he says
with satisfaction.  "You run into him, you let me know."

     "Okay," I say.  "What is your name, sir?"


     "And how can I reach you?"

     "Oh," Stanley says, in the same rapid voice, "you don't have to reach,
uh, me.  You can just call the cops.  Go straight to the cops." He reaches
into a pocket and pulls out a greasy piece of pasteboard. "See, here's my
report on him."

     I look.  The "report," the size of an index card, is labelled PRO-ACT: 
Phoenix Residents Opposing Active Crime Threat.... or is it  Organized
Against Crime Threat?  In the darkening street it's hard to read.  Some kind
of vigilante group?  Neighborhood watch?  I feel very puzzled.

     "Are you a police officer, sir?"

     He smiles, seems very pleased by the question.

     "No," he says.

`    "But you are a 'Phoenix Resident?'"

     "Would you believe a homeless person," Stanley says.

     "Really?  But what's with the..."   For the first time I take a close
look at Stanley's trolley.  It's a rubber-wheeled thing of industrial metal,
but the device I had mistaken for a tank of propane is in fact a
water-cooler.  Stanley also has an Army duffel-bag, stuffed tight as a
sausage with clothing or perhaps a tent, and, at the base of his trolley, a
cardboard box and a battered leather briefcase.

     "I see," I say, quite at a loss.  For the first time I notice that
Stanley has a wallet.  He has not lost his wallet at all.  It is in his back
pocket and chained to his belt.  It's not a new wallet.  It seems to have
seen a lot of wear.

     "Well, you know how it is, brother," says Stanley. Now that I know that
he is homeless -- *a possible threat* --  my entire perception of him has
changed in an instant.   His speech, which once seemed just bright and
enthusiastic, now seems to have a dangerous tang of mania.  "I have to do
this!" he assures me.  "Track this guy down... It's a thing I do... you
know... to keep myself together!"  He smiles, nods, lifts his trolley by its
decaying rubber handgrips.

     "Gotta work together, y'know, "  Stanley booms, his face alight with
cheerfulness, "the police can't do everything!"

     The gentlemen I met in my stroll in downtown Phoenix are the only
computer illiterates in this book.  To regard them as irrelevant, however,
would be a grave mistake.

     As computerization spreads across society, the populace at large is
subjected to wave after wave of future shock.  But, as a necessary converse,
the "computer community" itself is subjected to wave after wave of incoming
computer illiterates.   How will those currently enjoying America's digital
bounty regard, and treat, all this teeming refuse yearning to breathe free? 
Will the electronic frontier be another Land of Opportunity -- or an armed
and monitored enclave, where the disenfranchised snuggle on their cardboard
at the locked doors of our houses of justice?

     Some people just don't get along with computers.  They can't read.  They
can't type.  They just don't have it in their heads to master arcane
instructions in wirebound manuals.   Somewhere, the process of computeriza-
tion of the populace will reach a limit.  Some people -- quite decent people
maybe, who might have thrived in any other situation -- will be left
irretrievably outside the bounds.   What's to be done with these people, in
the bright new shiny electroworld?  How will they be regarded, by the
mouse-whizzing masters of cyberspace?  With contempt?  Indifference?  Fear?

     In retrospect, it astonishes me to realize how quickly poor Stanley
became a  perceived threat. Surprise and fear are closely allied feelings. 
And the world of computing is full of surprises.

     I met one character in the streets of Phoenix whose role in those book
is supremely and directly relevant.  That personage was Stanley's giant
thieving scarred phantom.  This phantasm is everywhere in this book.  He is
the specter haunting cyberspace.

     Sometimes he's a maniac vandal ready to smash the phone system for no
sane reason at all. Sometimes he's a fascist fed, coldly programming his
mighty mainframes to destroy our Bill of Rights. Sometimes he's a telco
bureaucrat, covertly conspiring to register all modems in the service of an
Orwellian surveillance regime.   Mostly, though, this fearsome phantom is a
"hacker."   He's strange, he doesn't belong, he's not authorized, he doesn't
smell right, he's not keeping his proper place, he's not one of us.  The
focus of fear is the hacker, for much the same reasons that Stanley's fancied
assailant is black.

     Stanley's demon can't go away, because he doesn't exist.  Despite
singleminded and tremendous effort, he can't be arrested, sued, jailed, or
fired.  The only constructive way to do *anything* about him is to learn more
about Stanley himself. This learning process may be repellent, it may be
ugly, it may involve grave elements of paranoiac confusion, but it's
necessary.  Knowing Stanley requires something more than class-crossing
condescension.  It requires more than steely legal objectivity.  It requires 
human compassion and sympathy.

     To know Stanley is to know his demon.  If you know the other guy's
demon, then maybe you'll come to know some of your own.   You'll be able to
separate reality from illusion.   And then you won't do your cause, and
yourself, more harm than good. Like poor damned Stanley from Chicago did.


     The Federal Computer Investigations Committee (FCIC) is the most
important and influential organization in the realm of American
computer-crime.  Since the police of other countries have largely taken their
computer-crime cues from American methods, the FCIC might well be called the
most important computer crime group in the world.

     It is also, by federal standards, an organization of great unorthodoxy. 
State and local investigators mix with federal agents.   Lawyers, financial
auditors and computer-security programmers trade notes with street cops. 
Industry vendors and telco security people show up to explain their gadgetry
and plead for protection and justice.   Private investigators, think-tank
experts and industry pundits throw in their two cents' worth.   The FCIC is
the antithesis of a formal bureaucracy.

     Members of the FCIC are obscurely proud of this fact; they recognize
their group as aberrant,  but are entirely convinced that this, for them,
outright *weird* behavior is nevertheless *absolutely necessary* to get their
jobs done.

     FCIC regulars  -- from the Secret Service, the FBI, the IRS, the
Department of Labor, the offices of federal attorneys, state police, the Air
Force, from military intelligence --  often attend meetings, held hither and
thither across the country,  at their own expense.  The FCIC doesn't get
grants.  It doesn't charge membership fees.  It doesn't have a boss.  It has
no headquarters -- just a mail drop in Washington DC, at the Fraud Division
of the Secret Service.  It doesn't have a budget.  It doesn't have schedules. 
It meets three times a year -- sort of. Sometimes it issues publications, but
the FCIC has no regular publisher,  no treasurer, not even a secretary.  
There are no minutes of FCIC  meetings. Non-federal people are considered
"non-voting members,"  but there's not much in the way of elections.  There
are no badges, lapel pins or certificates of membership.   Everyone is on a
first- name basis.   There are about forty of them.  Nobody knows how many,
exactly.  People come, people go -- sometimes people "go" formally but still
hang around anyway.  Nobody has ever exactly figured out what "membership" of
this "Committee" actually entails.

     Strange as this may seem to some, to anyone familiar with the social
world of computing, the "organization" of the FCIC is very recognizable.

      For years now, economists and management theorists have speculated that
the tidal wave of the information revolution would destroy rigid, pyramidal
bureaucracies, where everything is top- down and centrally controlled.  
Highly trained "employees" would take on much greater autonomy, being
self-starting, and self-motivating,  moving from place to place, task to
task, with great speed and fluidity.  "Ad-hocracy" would rule, with groups of
people spontaneously knitting together across organizational lines, tackling
the problem at hand, applying intense computer-aided expertise to it, and
then vanishing whence they came.

     This is more or less what has actually happened in the world of federal
computer investigation.  With the conspicuous exception of the phone
companies, which are after all over a hundred years old, practically *every*
organization that plays any important role in this book functions just like
the FCIC.    The Chicago Task Force, the Arizona Racketeering Unit, the
Legion of Doom, the Phrack crowd, the Electronic Frontier Foundation -- they
*all* look and act like "tiger teams" or "user's groups."  They are all
electronic ad-hocracies leaping up spontaneously to attempt to meet a need.

      Some are police.  Some are, by strict definition, criminals.  Some are
political interest-groups.   But every single group has that same quality of
apparent spontaneity -- "Hey, gang!  My uncle's got a barn -- let's put on a

     Every one of these groups is embarrassed by this "amateurism," and, for
the sake of their public image in a world of non-computer people,  they all
attempt to look as stern and formal and impressive as possible.    These
electronic frontier-dwellers resemble groups of nineteenth-century pioneers
hankering after the respectability of statehood. There are however,  two
crucial differences in the historical experience of these "pioneers" of the
nineteeth and twenty-first centuries.

       First, powerful information technology *does* play into the hands of
small, fluid, loosely organized groups.  There have always been "pioneers,"
"hobbyists," "amateurs," "dilettantes," "volunteers," "movements," "users'
groups" and "blue-ribbon panels of experts" around.   But a group of this
kind - - when technically equipped to ship huge amounts of specialized
information, at lightning speed, to its members, to government, and to the
press -- is simply a different kind of animal.   It's like the difference
between an eel and an electric eel.

     The second crucial change is that American society is currently in a
state  approaching permanent technological revolution.  In the world of
computers particularly,  it is practically impossible to *ever* stop being a 
"pioneer," unless you either drop dead or deliberately jump off the bus.  The
scene has never slowed down enough to become well-institutionalized.  And
after twenty, thirty, forty years the "computer revolution" continues to
spread, to permeate new corners of society.   Anything that really works is
already obsolete.

     If you spend your entire working life as a "pioneer," the word "pioneer"
begins to lose its meaning.  Your way of life looks less and less like an
introduction to "something else" more stable and organized,  and more and
more like *just the way things are.*   A "permanent revolution" is really a
contradiction in terms.  If "turmoil"  lasts long enough, it simply becomes
*a new kind of society*  -- still the same game of history, but new players,
new rules.

     Apply this to the world of late twentieth-century law enforcement, and
the implications are  novel and puzzling indeed.  Any bureaucratic rulebook
you write about computer-crime will be flawed when you write it, and almost
an antique by the time it sees print.   The fluidity and fast reactions of
the FCIC give them a great advantage in this regard, which explains their
success.  Even with the best will in the world (which it does not, in fact,
possess) it is impossible for an organization the size of the U.S. Federal
Bureau of Investigation to get up to speed on the theory and practice of
computer crime.   If they tried to train all their agents to do this, it
would be *suicidal,*  as they would *never be able to do anything else.*

      The FBI does try to train its agents in the basics of electronic crime,
at their base in Quantico, Virginia.   And the Secret Service, along with
many other law enforcement groups, runs quite successful and well-attended
training courses on wire fraud, business crime, and computer intrusion  at
the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC, pronounced "fletsy") in
Glynco, Georgia.   But the best efforts of these bureaucracies does not
remove the absolute need for a "cutting-edge mess" like the FCIC.

     For you see -- the members of FCIC *are* the trainers of the rest of law
enforcement.  Practically and literally speaking, they are the Glynco
computer-crime faculty by another name.  If the FCIC went over a cliff on a
bus, the U.S. law enforcement community would be rendered deaf dumb and blind
in the world of computer crime, and would swiftly feel a desperate need to
reinvent them. And this is no time to go starting from scratch.

     On June 11, 1991, I once again arrived in Phoenix, Arizona, for the
latest meeting of the Federal Computer Investigations Committee.  This was
more or less the twentieth meeting of this stellar group.   The count was
uncertain, since nobody could figure out whether to include the meetings of
"the Colluquy," which is what the FCIC was called in the mid-1980s before it
had even managed to obtain the dignity of its own acronym.

     Since my last visit to Arizona, in May, the local AzScam bribery scandal
had resolved itself in a general muddle of humiliation.  The Phoenix chief of
police, whose agents had videotaped nine state legislators up to no good, had
resigned his office in a tussle with the Phoenix city council over the
propriety of his undercover operations.

     The Phoenix Chief could now join Gail Thackeray and eleven of her
closest associates in the shared experience of politically motivated
unemployment.   As of June, resignations were still continuing at the Arizona
Attorney General's office, which could be interpreted as either a New Broom
Sweeping Clean or a Night of the Long Knives Part II, depending on your point
of view.

     The meeting of FCIC was held at the Scottsdale Hilton Resort. Scottsdale
is a wealthy suburb of Phoenix, known as "Scottsdull" to scoffing local
trendies, but well-equipped with posh shopping- malls and manicured lawns,
while conspicuously undersupplied with homeless derelicts.   The Scottsdale
Hilton Resort was a sprawling hotel in postmodern  crypto-Southwestern style. 
It featured a "mission bell tower" plated in turquoise tile and vaguely
resembling a Saudi minaret.

     Inside it was all barbarically striped Santa Fe Style decor.   There was
a health spa downstairs and a large oddly-shaped pool in the patio.  A
poolside umbrella-stand offered Ben and Jerry's politically correct Peace

     I registered as a member of FCIC, attaining a handy discount rate, then
went in search of the Feds. Sure enough, at the back of the hotel grounds
came the unmistakable sound of Gail Thackeray holding forth.

     Since I had also attended the Computers Freedom and Privacy conference
(about which more later), this was the second time I had seen Thackeray in a
group of her law enforcement colleagues.   Once again I was struck by how
simply pleased they seemed to see her.   It was natural that she'd get *some*
attention, as Gail was one of two women in a group of some thirty men; but
there was a lot more to it than that.

     Gail Thackeray personifies the social glue of the FCIC.  They could give
a damn about her losing her job with the Attorney General.  They were sorry
about it, of course, but hell, they'd all lost jobs.   If they were the kind
of guys who liked steady  boring jobs, they would never have gotten into
computer work in the first place.

     I wandered into her circle and was immediately introduced to five
strangers.  The conditions of my visit at FCIC were reviewed.  I would not
quote anyone directly.  I would not tie opinions expressed to the agencies of
the attendees.  I would not (a purely hypothetical example) report the
conversation of a guy from the Secret Service talking quite civilly to  a guy
from the FBI, as these two agencies *never*  talk to each other, and the IRS
(also present, also hypothetical) *never talks to anybody.*

     Worse yet, I was forbidden to attend the first conference.  And I
didn't.  I have no idea what the FCIC was up to behind closed doors that
afternoon. I rather suspect that they were engaging in a frank and thorough
confession of their errors, goof-ups and blunders, as this has been a feature
of every FCIC meeting since their legendary Memphis beer- bust of 1986. 
Perhaps the single greatest attraction of FCIC is that it is a place where
you can go, let your hair down, and completely level with people who actually
comprehend what you are talking about. Not only do they understand you, but
they *really pay attention,*  they are *grateful for your insights,* and they
*forgive you,*  which in nine cases out of ten is something even your boss
can't do, because as soon as you start talking "ROM," "BBS," or "T-1 trunk,"
his eyes glaze over.

     I had nothing much to do that afternoon.  The FCIC were beavering away
in their  conference room.  Doors were firmly closed, windows too dark to
peer through.  I wondered what a real hacker, a computer intruder, would do
at a meeting like this.

     The answer came at once.  He would "trash" the place.  Not reduce the
place to trash  in some orgy of vandalism; that's not the use of the term in
the hacker milieu.  No, he would quietly *empty the trash baskets* and
silently raid any valuable data indiscreetly thrown away.

     Journalists have been known to do this. (Journalists hunting information
have been known to do almost every single unethical thing that hackers have
ever done.  They also throw in a few awful techniques all their own.)  The
legality of 'trashing' is somewhat dubious but it is not in fact flagrantly
illegal.   It was, however, absurd to contemplate trashing the FCIC.  These
people knew all about trashing.   I wouldn't last fifteen seconds.

     The idea sounded interesting, though.   I'd been hearing a lot about the
practice lately.  On the spur of the moment, I decided I would try trashing
the office *across the hall*  from the FCIC, an area which had nothing to do
with the investigators.

     The office was tiny; six chairs, a table.... Nevertheless, it was open,
so I dug around in its plastic trash can.

     To my utter astonishment, I came up with the torn scraps of a SPRINT
long-distance phone bill. More digging produced a bank statement and the
scraps of a hand-written letter, along with gum, cigarette ashes, candy
wrappers and a day-old-issue of USA TODAY.

     The trash went back in its receptacle while the scraps of data went into 
my travel bag.  I detoured through the hotel souvenir shop for some Scotch
tape and went up to my room.

     Coincidence or not, it was quite true.  Some poor soul had, in fact,
thrown a SPRINT bill into the hotel's trash.   Date May 1991, total amount
due: $252.36.  Not a business phone, either, but a residential bill, in the
name of someone called Evelyn (not her real name).  Evelyn's records showed
a ## PAST DUE BILL ##!   Here was her nine-digit account ID.    Here was a
stern computer-printed warning:


     I examined my watch.  Still plenty of time left for the FCIC to carry
on.  I sorted out the scraps of Evelyn's SPRINT bill and re-assembled them
with fresh Scotch tape.  Here was her ten-digit FONCARD number.   Didn't seem
to have the ID number necessary to cause real fraud trouble.

     I did, however, have Evelyn's home phone number.  And the phone numbers
for a whole crowd of Evelyn's long-distance friends and acquaintances. In San
Diego, Folsom, Redondo, Las Vegas, La Jolla, Topeka, and Northampton
Massachusetts.  Even somebody in Australia!

     I examined other documents.  Here was a bank statement.  It was Evelyn's
IRA account down at a bank in San Mateo California (total balance $1877.20). 
Here was a charge-card bill for $382.64. She was paying it off bit by bit.

     Driven by motives that were completely unethical and prurient, I now
examined the handwritten notes.  They had been torn fairly thoroughly, so
much so that it took me almost an entire five minutes to reassemble them.

     They were drafts of a love letter.  They had been written on the lined
stationery of Evelyn's employer, a biomedical company.  Probably written at
work when she should have been doing something else.

     "Dear Bob," (not his real name)  "I guess in everyone's life there comes
a time when hard decisions have to be made, and this is a difficult one for
me -- very upsetting.  Since you haven't called me, and I don't understand
why, I can only surmise it's because you don't want to.  I thought I would
have heard from you Friday.  I did have a few unusual problems with my phone
and possibly you tried, I hope so.      "Robert, you asked me to 'let go'..."

     The first note ended.  *Unusual problems with her phone?*  I looked
swiftly at the next note.

     "Bob, not hearing from you for the whole weekend has left me very

      Next draft.

     "Dear Bob, there is so much I don't understand right now, and I wish I
did.  I wish I could talk to you, but for some unknown reason you have
elected not to call -- this is so difficult for me to understand..."

     She tried again.

     "Bob, Since I have always held you in such high esteem, I had every hope
that we could remain good friends, but now one essential ingredient is
missing - - respect.  Your ability to discard people when their purpose is
served is appalling to me.  The kindest thing you could do for me now is to
leave me alone. You are no longer welcome in my heart or home..."

     Try again.

     "Bob, I wrote a very factual note to you to say how much respect I had
lost for you, by the way you treat people, me in particular, so uncaring and
cold. The kindest thing you can do for me is to leave me alone entirely, as
you are no longer welcome in my heart or home. I would appreciate it if you
could retire your debt to me as soon as possible -- I wish no link to you in
any way.  Sincerely, Evelyn."

     Good heavens, I thought, the bastard actually owes her money!  I turned
to the next page.

     "Bob:  very simple.  GOODBYE!  No more mind games -- no more fascination
-- no more coldness -- no more respect for you!  It's over -- Finis.  Evie"

     There were two versions of the final brushoff letter, but they read
about the same.  Maybe she hadn't sent it.  The final item in my illicit and
shameful booty was an envelope addressed to "Bob" at his home address, but it
had no stamp on it and it hadn't been mailed.

     Maybe she'd just been blowing off steam because her rascal boyfriend had
neglected to call her one weekend.   Big deal.  Maybe they'd kissed and made
up, maybe she and Bob were down at Pop's Chocolate Shop now, sharing a
malted.  Sure.

     Easy to find out.  All I had to do was call Evelyn up.  With a
half-clever story and enough brass- plated gall I could probably trick the
truth out of her. Phone-phreaks and hackers deceive people over the phone all
the time.  It's called "social engineering." Social engineering is a very
common practice in the underground, and almost magically effective. Human
beings are almost always the weakest link in computer security.  The simplest
way to learn Things You Are Not Meant To Know is simply to call up and
exploit the knowledgeable people.   With social engineering, you use the bits
of specialized knowledge you already have as a key, to manipulate people into
believing that you are legitimate.  You can then coax, flatter, or frighten
them into revealing almost anything you want to know.  Deceiving people
(especially over the phone) is easy and fun. Exploiting their gullibility is
very gratifying; it makes you feel very superior to them.

     If I'd been a  malicious hacker on a trashing raid, I would now have
Evelyn very much in my power.  Given all this inside  data, it wouldn't take
much effort at all to invent a convincing lie.  If I were ruthless enough,
and jaded enough, and clever enough, this momentary indiscretion of hers --
maybe committed in tears, who knows -- could cause her a whole world of
confusion and grief.

     I didn't even have to have a *malicious*  motive. Maybe I'd be "on her
side," and call up Bob instead, and anonymously threaten to break both his
kneecaps if he didn't take Evelyn out for a steak dinner pronto.   It was
still profoundly *none of my business.*   To have gotten this knowledge at
all was a sordid act and to use it would be to inflict a sordid injury.

     To do all these awful things would require exactly zero high-tech
expertise.  All it would take was the willingness to do it and a certain
amount of bent imagination.

     I went back downstairs. The hard-working FCIC, who had labored
forty-five minutes over their schedule, were through for the day, and
adjourned to the hotel bar.  We all had a beer.

      I had a chat with a guy about "Isis," or rather IACIS, the Internation-
al Association of Computer Investigation Specialists.  They're into "computer
forensics,"  the techniques of picking computer- systems apart without
destroying vital evidence. IACIS, currently run out of Oregon, is comprised
of investigators in the U.S., Canada, Taiwan and Ireland.  "Taiwan and
Ireland?"  I said.  Are *Taiwan* and *Ireland*  really in the forefront of
this stuff? Well not exactly, my informant admitted.  They just happen to
have been the first ones to have caught on by word of mouth.  Still, the
international angle counts, because this is obviously an international
problem.  Phone-lines go everywhere.

     There was a Mountie here from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.  He
seemed to be having quite a good time.   Nobody had flung this Canadian out
because he might pose a foreign security risk. These are cyberspace cops. 
They still worry a lot about "jurisdictions," but mere geography is the least
of their troubles.

     NASA had failed to show.  NASA suffers a lot from computer intrusions,
in particular from Australian raiders and a well-trumpeted Chaos Computer
Club case,  and in 1990 there was a brief press flurry when it was revealed
that one of NASA's Houston branch-exchanges had been systematically ripped
off by a gang of phone-phreaks.   But the NASA guys had had their funding
cut.  They were stripping everything.

     Air Force OSI, its Office of Special Investigations, is the *only* 
federal entity dedicated full-time to computer security.  They'd been
expected to show up in force, but some of them had cancelled -- a Pentagon
budget pinch.

     As the empties piled up, the guys began joshing around and telling
war-stories.  "These are cops," Thackeray said tolerantly.  "If they're not
talking shop they talk about women and beer."

     I heard the story about the guy who, asked for "a copy" of a computer
disk, *photocopied the label on it.*  He put the floppy disk onto the glass
plate of a photocopier.  The blast of static when the copier worked 
completely erased all the real information on the disk.

     Some other poor souls threw a whole bag of confiscated diskettes into
the squad-car trunk next to the police radio.  The powerful radio signal
blasted them, too.

      We heard a bit about Dave Geneson, the first computer prosecutor, a
mainframe-runner in Dade County, turned lawyer.   Dave Geneson was one guy
who had hit the ground running, a signal virtue in making the transition to
computer-crime.  It was generally agreed that it was easier to learn the
world of computers first, then police or prosecutorial work. You could take
certain computer people and train 'em to successful police work -- but of
course they had to have the *cop mentality.*  They had to have street smarts. 
Patience.  Persistence.  And discretion.   You've got to make sure they're
not hot- shots, show-offs,  "cowboys."

     Most of the folks in the bar had backgrounds in military intelligence,
or drugs, or homicide.  It was rudely opined that "military intelligence" was
a contradiction in terms, while even the grisly world of homicide was
considered cleaner than drug enforcement.  One guy had been 'way undercover
doing dope-work in Europe for four years straight. "I'm almost recovered
now," he said deadpan, with the acid black humor that is pure cop.  "Hey, now
I can say *fucker*  without putting *mother*  in front of it."

     "In the cop world," another guy said earnestly, "everything is good and
bad, black and white.  In the computer world everything is gray."

     One guy -- a founder of the FCIC, who'd been with the group since it was
just the Colluquy -- described his own introduction to the field.  He'd been
a Washington DC homicide guy called in on a "hacker" case.  From the word
"hacker," he naturally assumed he was on the trail of a knife-wielding
marauder, and went to the computer center expecting blood and a body.  When
he finally figured out what was happening there (after loudly demanding, in
vain, that the programmers "speak English"),  he called headquarters and told
them he was clueless about computers.  They told him nobody else knew diddly
either, and to get the hell back to work.

     So, he said, he had proceeded by comparisons. By analogy.  By metaphor. 
"Somebody broke in to your computer, huh?"  Breaking and entering; I can
understand that.  How'd he get in?  "Over the phone- lines."  Harassing
phone-calls, I can understand that!  What we need here is a tap and a trace!

     It worked.  It was better than nothing.   And it worked a lot faster
when he got hold of another cop who'd done something similar.  And then the
two of them got another, and another, and pretty soon the Colluquy was a
happening thing.  It helped a lot that everybody seemed to know Carlton
Fitzpatrick, the data-processing trainer in Glynco.

     The ice broke big-time in Memphis in '86.  The Colluquy had attracted a
bunch of new guys -- Secret Service, FBI, military, other feds, heavy guys.
Nobody wanted to tell anybody anything.  They suspected that if word got back
to the home office they'd all be fired.  They passed an uncomfortably guarded

     The formalities got them nowhere.  But after the formal session was
over, the organizers brought in a case of beer.  As soon as the participants
knocked it off with the bureaucratic ranks and turf-fighting, everything
changed.  "I bared my soul," one veteran reminisced proudly.  By nightfall
they were building pyramids of empty beer-cans and doing everything but
composing a team fight song.

     FCIC were not the only computer-crime people around.  There was DATTA
(District Attorneys' Technology Theft Association),  though they mostly
specialized in chip theft, intellectual property, and black-market cases. 
There was HTCIA  (High Tech Computer Investigators Association), also out in
Silicon Valley, a year older than FCIC and featuring brilliant people like
Donald Ingraham.  There was LEETAC (Law Enforcement Electronic Technology
Assistance Committee)  in Florida, and computer- crime units in Illinois and
Maryland and Texas and Ohio and Colorado and Pennsylvania.   But these were
local groups.  FCIC were the first to really network nationally and on a
federal level.

     FCIC people live on the phone lines.  Not on bulletin board systems --
they know very well what boards are, and they know that  boards aren't
secure. Everyone in the FCIC has a voice-phone bill like you wouldn't
believe.  FCIC people have been tight with the telco people for a long time. 
Telephone cyberspace is their native habitat.

     FCIC has three basic sub-tribes:  the trainers, the security people, and
the investigators.  That's why it's called an "Investigations Committee" with
no mention of the term "computer-crime" -- the dreaded "C-word."   FCIC,
officially, is "an association of agencies rather than individuals;"
unofficially, this field is small enough that the influence of individuals
and individual expertise is paramount.  Attendance is by invitation only, and
most everyone in FCIC considers himself a prophet without honor in his own

     Again and again I heard this,  with different terms but identical
sentiments.  "I'd been sitting in the wilderness talking to myself."  "I was
totally isolated."  "I was desperate."  "FCIC is the best thing there is
about computer crime in America."   "FCIC is what really works."  "This is
where you hear real people telling you what's really happening out there, not
just lawyers picking nits."  "We taught each other everything we knew."

     The sincerity of these statements convinces me that this is true.  FCIC
is the real thing and it is invaluable.  It's also very sharply at odds with
the rest of the traditions and power structure in American law enforcement. 
 There probably  hasn't been anything around as loose and go-getting as the
FCIC since the start of the U.S. Secret Service in the 1860s.   FCIC people
are living like twenty-first- century people in a twentieth-century
environment, and while there's a great deal to be said for that, there's also
a great deal to be said against it, and those against it happen to control
the budgets.

     I listened to two FCIC guys from Jersey compare life histories.  One of
them had been a biker in a fairly heavy-duty gang in the 1960s.  "Oh, did you
know so-and-so?" said the other guy from Jersey. "Big guy, heavyset?"

     "Yeah, I knew him."

     "Yeah, he was one of ours.  He was our plant in the gang."

     "Really?  Wow!  Yeah, I knew him.  Helluva guy."

     Thackeray reminisced at length about being tear-gassed blind in the
November 1969  antiwar protests in Washington Circle, covering them for her
college paper.  "Oh yeah, I was there," said another cop.  "Glad to hear that
tear gas hit somethin'.  Haw haw haw."  He'd been so blind himself, he
confessed, that later that day he'd arrested a small tree.

     FCIC are an odd group, sifted out by coincidence and necessity, and
turned into a new kind of cop.   There are a lot of specialized cops in the
world -- your bunco guys, your drug guys, your tax guys, but the only group
that matches FCIC for sheer isolation are probably the child-pornography
people.  Because they both deal with conspirators who are desperate to
exchange forbidden data and also desperate to hide; and because nobody else
in law enforcement even wants to hear about it.

     FCIC people tend to change jobs a lot.  They tend not to get the
equipment and training they want and need.  And they tend to get sued quite

     As the night wore on and a band set up in the bar, the talk grew darker. 
Nothing ever gets done in government, someone opined, until there's a
*disaster.*  Computing disasters are awful, but there's no denying that they
greatly  help the credibility of FCIC people.  The Internet Worm, for
instance.  "For years we'd been warning about that -- but it's nothing
compared to what's coming."  They expect horrors, these people.  They know
that nothing will really get done until there is a horror.


     Next day we heard an extensive briefing from a guy who'd been a computer
cop, gotten into hot water with an Arizona city council, and now installed
computer networks for a living (at a considerable rise in pay).  He talked
about pulling fiber-optic networks apart.

     Even a single computer, with enough peripherals, is a literal "network"
-- a bunch of machines all cabled together, generally with a complexity that
puts stereo units to shame.   FCIC people invent and publicize  methods of
seizing computers and maintaining their evidence.   Simple things, sometimes,
but vital rules of thumb for street cops, who nowadays often stumble across
a busy computer in the midst of a drug investigation or a white-collar bust. 
For instance:  Photograph the system before you touch it.  Label the ends of
all the cables before you detach anything.  "Park" the heads on the disk
drives before you move them.  Get the diskettes.  Don't put the diskettes in
magnetic fields. Don't write on diskettes with ballpoint pens.  Get the
manuals.  Get the printouts.  Get the handwritten notes.  Copy data before
you look at it, and then examine the copy instead of the original.

     Now our lecturer distributed copied diagrams of a typical LAN or "Local
Area Network", which happened to be out of Connecticut.  *One hundred and
fifty-nine*  desktop computers, each with its own peripherals.  Three "file
servers."  Five "star couplers" each with thirty-two ports.  One sixteen-
port coupler off in the corner office.   All these machines talking to each
other, distributing electronic mail, distributing software, distributing,
quite possibly, criminal evidence.  All linked by high- capacity fiber-optic
cable.  A bad guy -- cops talk a lot about "bad guys"  -- might be lurking on
PC #47 or #123 and distributing his ill doings onto some dupe's "personal" 
machine in another office -- or another floor -- or, quite possibly, two or
three miles away!   Or,  conceivably, the evidence might be "data-striped" --
split up into meaningless slivers stored, one by one, on a whole crowd of
different disk drives.

     The lecturer challenged us for solutions.  I for one was utterly
clueless.  As far as I could figure, the Cossacks were at the gate; there
were probably more disks in this single building than were seized during the
entirety of Operation Sundevil.

     "Inside informant," somebody said.  Right. There's always the human
angle, something easy to forget when contemplating the arcane recesses of
high technology.  Cops are skilled at getting people to talk, and computer
people, given a chair and some sustained attention, will talk about their
computers till their throats go raw.  There's a case on record of a single
question -- "How'd you do it?" -- eliciting a forty-five-minute videotaped
confession from a computer criminal who not only completely incriminated
himself but drew helpful diagrams.

     Computer people talk.  Hackers *brag.*   Phone- phreaks talk *pathologi-
cally*  -- why else are they stealing phone-codes, if not to natter for ten
hours straight to their friends on an opposite seaboard? Computer-literate
people do in fact possess an arsenal of nifty gadgets and techniques that
would allow them to conceal all kinds of exotic skullduggery, and if they
could only *shut up*  about it, they could probably get away with all manner
of amazing information-crimes.   But that's just not how it works -- or at
least, that's not how it's worked *so far.*

     Most every phone-phreak ever busted has swiftly implicated his mentors,
his disciples, and his friends.  Most every white-collar computer-criminal,
smugly convinced that his clever scheme is bulletproof,  swiftly learns
otherwise when, for the first time in his life, an actual no-kidding
policeman leans over, grabs the front of his shirt, looks him right in the
eye and says:  "All right, *asshole* --  you and me are going downtown!"  
All the hardware in the world will not insulate your nerves from these actual
real-life sensations of terror and guilt.

     Cops know ways to get from point A to point Z without thumbing through
every letter in some smart-ass bad-guy's  alphabet.  Cops know how to cut to
the chase.  Cops know a lot of things other people don't know.

     Hackers know a lot of things other people don't know, too.  Hackers
know, for instance, how to sneak into your computer through the phone-lines. 
But cops  can show up *right on your doorstep*  and carry off *you*  and your
computer in separate steel boxes.   A cop interested in hackers can grab them
and grill them.  A hacker interested in cops has to depend on hearsay,
underground legends, and what cops are willing to publicly reveal.  And the
Secret Service didn't get named "the *Secret*  Service" because they blab a

     Some people, our lecturer informed us, were under the mistaken
impression that it was "impossible" to tap a fiber-optic line.  Well, he
announced, he and his son had just whipped up a fiber-optic tap in his
workshop at home.  He passed it around the audience, along with a
circuit-covered LAN plug-in card so we'd all recognize one if we saw it on a
case.  We all had a look.

     The tap was a classic "Goofy Prototype" -- a thumb-length rounded metal
cylinder with a pair of plastic brackets on it.  From one end dangled three
thin black cables, each of which ended in a tiny black plastic cap.   When
you plucked the safety-cap off the end of a cable,  you could see the glass
fiber  - - no thicker than a pinhole.

       Our lecturer informed us that the metal cylinder was a "wavelength
division multiplexer." Apparently, what one did was to cut the fiber-optic
cable, insert two of the legs into the cut to complete the network again, and
then read any passing data on the line by hooking up the third leg to some
kind of monitor.  Sounded simple enough.  I wondered why nobody had thought
of it before.  I also wondered whether this guy's son back at the workshop
had any teenage friends.

     We had a break.  The guy sitting next to me was wearing a giveaway
baseball cap advertising the Uzi submachine gun.  We had a desultory chat
about the merits of Uzis.  Long a favorite of the Secret Service, it seems
Uzis went out of fashion with the advent of the Persian Gulf War, our Arab
allies taking some offense at Americans toting Israeli weapons.  Besides, I
was informed by another expert, Uzis jam.  The equivalent weapon of choice
today is the Heckler & Koch, manufactured in Germany.

       The guy with the Uzi cap was a forensic photographer.  He also did a
lot of photographic surveillance work in computer crime cases.   He used to,
that is, until the firings in Phoenix.  He was now a private investigator
and, with his wife, ran a photography salon specializing in weddings and
portrait photos.  At -- one must repeat -- a considerable rise in income.

     He was still FCIC.  If you were FCIC, and you needed to talk to an
expert about forensic photography, well, there he was, willing and able.  If
he hadn't shown up, people would have missed him.

     Our lecturer had raised the point that preliminary investigation of a
computer system is vital before any seizure is undertaken.  It's vital to
understand how many machines are in there, what kinds there are, what kind of
operating system they use,  how many people use them, where the actual data
itself is stored.  To simply barge into an office demanding "all the
computers" is a recipe for swift disaster.

     This entails some discreet inquiries beforehand. In fact, what it
entails is basically undercover work. An intelligence operation.   *Spying,* 
not to put too fine a point on it.

     In a chat after the lecture, I asked an attendee whether "trashing"
might work.

     I received a swift briefing on the theory and practice of "trash
covers."  Police "trash covers," like "mail covers" or like wiretaps, require
the agreement of a judge.  This obtained, the "trashing" work of cops is just
like that of hackers, only more so and much better organized.  So much so, I
was informed, that mobsters in Phoenix make extensive use of locked garbage
cans picked up by a specialty high-security trash company.

     In one case, a tiger team of Arizona cops had trashed a local residence
for four months.  Every week they showed up on the municipal garbage truck,
disguised as garbagemen, and carried the contents of the suspect cans off to
a shade tree, where they combed through the garbage -- a messy task,
especially considering that one of the occupants was undergoing kidney
dialysis.  All useful documents were cleaned, dried and examined.  A
discarded typewriter-ribbon was an especially valuable source of data, as its
long one- strike ribbon of film contained the contents of every letter mailed
out of the house.  The letters were neatly retyped by a police secretary
equipped with a large desk-mounted magnifying glass.

     There is something weirdly disquieting about the whole subject of
"trashing" -- an unsuspected and indeed rather disgusting mode of deep
personal vulnerability.  Things that we pass by every day, that we take
utterly for granted, can be exploited with so little work.   Once discovered,
the knowledge of these vulnerabilities tend to spread.

     Take the lowly subject of *manhole covers.*  The humble manhole cover
reproduces many of the dilemmas of computer-security in miniature. Manhole
covers are, of course, technological artifacts, access-points to our buried
urban infrastructure.  To the vast majority of us, manhole covers are
invisible.  They are also vulnerable.  For many years now, the Secret Service
has made a point of caulking manhole covers along all routes of the
Presidential motorcade.   This is, of course, to deter terrorists from
leaping out of underground ambush or, more likely, planting remote-control
car- smashing bombs beneath the street.

     Lately, manhole covers have seen more and more criminal exploitation,
especially in New York City.  Recently, a telco in New York City discovered
that a cable television service had been sneaking into telco manholes and
installing cable service alongside the phone-lines -- *without paying
royalties.*   New York companies have also suffered a general plague of (a)
underground copper cable theft; (b) dumping of garbage, including toxic
waste, and (c) hasty dumping of murder victims.

     Industry complaints reached the ears of an innovative New England
industrial-security company, and the result was a new product known as "the
Intimidator," a thick titanium-steel bolt with a precisely machined head that
requires a special device to unscrew.  All these "keys" have registered
serial numbers kept on file with the manufacturer. There are now some
thousands of these "Intimidator" bolts being sunk into American pavements
wherever our President passes, like some macabre parody of strewn roses.  
They are also spreading as fast as steel dandelions around US military bases
and many centers of private industry.

     Quite likely it has never occurred to you to  peer under a manhole
cover, perhaps climb down and walk around down there with a flashlight, just
to see what it's like.  Formally speaking, this might be trespassing, but if
you didn't hurt anything, and didn't make an absolute habit of it, nobody
would really care.  The freedom to sneak under manholes was likely a freedom
you never intended to exercise.

     You now are rather less likely to have that freedom at all.  You may
never even have missed it until you read about it here, but if you're in New
York City it's gone, and elsewhere it's likely going. This is one of the
things that crime, and the reaction to crime,  does to us.

     The tenor of the meeting now changed as the Electronic Frontier
Foundation arrived.  The EFF, whose personnel and history will be examined in
detail in the next chapter, are a pioneering civil liberties group who arose
in direct response to the Hacker Crackdown of 1990.

     Now Mitchell Kapor, the Foundation's president, and Michael Godwin, its
chief attorney, were confronting federal law enforcement *mano a mano* for
the first time ever.  Ever alert to the manifold uses of publicity, Mitch
Kapor and Mike Godwin had brought their own journalist in tow: Robert Draper,
from Austin, whose recent well- received book about ROLLING STONE magazine
was still on the stands.  Draper was on assignment for TEXAS MONTHLY.

     The Steve Jackson/EFF civil lawsuit against the Chicago Computer Fraud
and Abuse Task Force was a matter of considerable regional interest in Texas.
There were now two Austinite journalists here on the case.  In fact, counting
Godwin (a former Austinite and former journalist) there were three of us. 
Lunch was like Old Home Week.

     Later, I took Draper up to my hotel room.  We had a long frank talk
about the case, networking earnestly like a miniature freelance-journo
version of the FCIC:  privately confessing the numerous blunders of
journalists covering the story, and trying hard to figure out who was who and
what the hell was really going on out there.  I showed Draper everything I
had dug out of the Hilton trashcan.  We pondered the ethics of "trashing" for
a while, and agreed that they were dismal.  We also agreed that finding a
SPRINT bill on your first time out was a heck of a coincidence.

     First I'd "trashed" -- and now, mere hours later, I'd bragged to someone
else.   Having entered the lifestyle of hackerdom, I was now, unsurprisingly,
following  its logic.  Having discovered something remarkable through a
surreptitious action, I of course *had*  to "brag," and to drag the passing
Draper into my iniquities.  I felt I needed a witness. Otherwise nobody would
have believed what I'd discovered....

     Back at the meeting, Thackeray cordially, if rather tentatively,
introduced Kapor and Godwin to her colleagues.  Papers were distributed. 
Kapor took center stage.  The brilliant Bostonian high-tech entrepreneur,
normally the hawk in his own administration and quite an effective public
speaker, seemed visibly nervous, and frankly admitted as much.   He began by
saying he consided computer-intrusion to be morally wrong, and that the EFF
was not a "hacker defense fund," despite what had appeared in print.    Kapor
chatted a bit about the basic motivations of his group, emphasizing their
good faith and willingness to listen and seek common ground with law
enforcement -- when, er,  possible.

      Then, at Godwin's urging, Kapor suddenly remarked that EFF's own
Internet machine had been "hacked" recently, and that EFF did not consider
this incident amusing.

     After this surprising confession, things began to loosen up quite
rapidly.  Soon Kapor was fielding questions, parrying objections, challenging
definitions, and juggling paradigms with something akin to his usual gusto.

     Kapor seemed to score quite an effect with his shrewd and skeptical
analysis of the merits of telco "Caller-ID" services.  (On this topic, FCIC
and EFF have never been at loggerheads, and have no particular established
earthworks to defend.) Caller-ID has generally been promoted as a privacy
service for consumers, a presentation Kapor described as a "smokescreen," 
the real point of Caller-ID being to *allow corporate customers to build
extensive commercial databases  on everybody who phones or faxes them.* 
Clearly, few people in the room had considered this possibility, except
perhaps for two late-arrivals from  US WEST RBOC security, who chuckled

     Mike Godwin then made an extensive presentation on "Civil Liberties
Implications of Computer Searches and Seizures."  Now, at last, we were
getting to the real nitty-gritty here, real political horse-trading.  The
audience listened with close attention, angry mutters rising occasionally: 
"He's trying to teach us our jobs!"  "We've been thinking about this for
years!  We think about these issues every day!"  "If I didn't seize the
works, I'd be sued by the guy's victims!"   "I'm violating the law if I leave
ten thousand disks full of illegal *pirated software* and *stolen codes!*"  
"It's our job to make sure people don't trash the Constitution -- we're the
*defenders*  of the Constitution!"  "We seize stuff when we know it will be
forfeited anyway as restitution for the victim!"

     "If it's forfeitable, then don't get a search warrant, get a forfeiture
warrant,"  Godwin suggested coolly.  He further remarked that most suspects
in computer crime don't *want*  to see their computers vanish out the door,
headed God knew where, for who knows how long.  They might not mind a search,
even an extensive search, but they want their machines searched on-site.

     "Are they gonna feed us?"  somebody asked sourly.

     "How about if you take copies of the data?" Godwin parried.

     "That'll never stand up in court."

     "Okay, you make copies, give *them*  the copies, and take the origi-


     Godwin championed bulletin-board systems as repositories of First
Amendment protected free speech.  He complained that federal computer- crime
training manuals gave boards a bad press, suggesting that they are hotbeds of
crime haunted by pedophiles and crooks, whereas the vast majority of the
nation's thousands of boards are completely innocuous, and nowhere near so
romantically suspicious.

       People who run boards violently resent it when their systems are
seized, and their dozens (or hundreds) of users look on in abject horror.  
Their rights of free expression are cut short.  Their right to associate with
other people is infringed.  And their privacy is violated as their private
electronic mail becomes police property.

     Not a soul spoke up to defend the practice of seizing boards.   The
issue passed in chastened silence.   Legal principles aside -- (and those
principles cannot be settled without laws passed or court precedents) --
seizing bulletin boards has become public-relations poison for American
computer police.

     And anyway, it's not entirely necessary.  If you're a cop, you can get
'most everything you need from a pirate board, just by using an inside
informant. Plenty of vigilantes -- well, *concerned citizens* -- will inform
police the moment they see a pirate board hit their area  (and will tell the
police all about it, in such technical detail, actually, that you kinda wish
they'd shut up).   They will happily supply police with extensive downloads
or printouts.  It's *impossible* to keep this fluid electronic information
out of the hands of police.

     Some people in the electronic community become enraged at the prospect
of cops "monitoring" bulletin boards.   This does have touchy aspects, as
Secret Service people in particular examine bulletin boards with some
regularity.    But to expect electronic police to be deaf dumb and blind in
regard to this particular medium rather flies in the face of common sense.
Police watch television, listen to radio, read newspapers and magazines; why
should the new medium of boards be different?   Cops can exercise the same
access to electronic information as everybody else.   As we have seen, quite
a few computer police maintain *their own*  bulletin boards, including
anti-hacker "sting" boards, which have generally proven quite effective.

     As a final clincher, their Mountie friends in Canada (and colleagues in
Ireland and Taiwan) don't have First Amendment or American constitutional
restrictions, but they do have phone lines, and can call any bulletin board
in America whenever they please.  The same technological determinants that
play into the hands of hackers, phone phreaks and software pirates can play
into the hands of police.  "Technological determinants" don't have *any* 
human allegiances.  They're not black or white, or Establishment or
Underground, or pro-or-anti anything.

     Godwin  complained at length about what he called "the Clever Hobbyist
hypothesis"  -- the assumption that the "hacker" you're busting is clearly a
technical genius, and must therefore by searched with extreme thoroughness. 
So:  from the law's point of view, why risk missing anything?  Take the
works.  Take the guy's computer.  Take his books. Take his notebooks.  Take
the electronic drafts of his love letters. Take his Walkman.  Take his wife's
computer.  Take his dad's computer.  Take his kid sister's computer.   Take
his employer's computer. Take his compact disks -- they *might* be CD-ROM
disks, cunningly disguised as pop music.  Take his laser printer -- he might
have hidden something vital in the printer's 5meg of memory.  Take his
software manuals and hardware documentation. Take his science-fiction novels
and his simulation- gaming books.  Take his Nintendo Game-Boy and his Pac-Man
arcade game.  Take his answering machine, take his telephone out of the wall. 
Take anything remotely suspicious.

     Godwin pointed out that most "hackers" are not, in fact, clever genius
hobbyists.  Quite a few are crooks and grifters who don't have much in the
way of technical sophistication; just some rule-of-thumb rip-off techniques. 
The same goes for most fifteen- year-olds who've downloaded a code-scanning
program from a pirate board.   There's no real need to seize everything in
sight.  It doesn't require an entire computer system and ten thousand disks
to prove a case in court.

     What if the computer is the instrumentality of a crime? someone

     Godwin admitted quietly that the doctrine of seizing the instrumentality
of a crime was pretty well established in the American legal system.

     The meeting broke up.  Godwin and Kapor had to leave.  Kapor was
testifying next morning before the Massachusetts Department Of Public
Utility, about ISDN narrowband wide-area networking.

     As soon as they were gone, Thackeray seemed elated.   She had taken a
great risk with this.  Her colleagues had not, in fact, torn Kapor and
Godwin's heads off.  She was very proud of them, and told them so.

     "Did you hear what Godwin said about *instrumentality of a crime?*"  she
exulted, to nobody in particular.  "Wow, that means *Mitch isn't going to sue


     America's computer police are an interesting group.  As a social
phenomenon they are far more interesting, and far more important, than
teenage phone phreaks and computer hackers.  First, they're older and wiser;
not dizzy hobbyists with leaky morals, but  seasoned adult professionals with
all the responsibilities of public service.  And, unlike hackers, they
possess not merely *technical* power alone, but heavy-duty legal and social

     And, very interestingly, they are just as much at sea in cyberspace as
everyone else.  They are not happy about this.  Police are authoritarian by
nature, and prefer to obey rules and precedents.   (Even those police who
secretly enjoy a fast ride in rough territory will soberly disclaim any
"cowboy" attitude.) But in cyberspace there *are*  no rules and precedents. 
They are groundbreaking pioneers, Cyberspace Rangers, whether they like it or

     In my opinion, any teenager enthralled by computers, fascinated by the
ins and outs of computer security, and attracted by the lure of specialized
forms of knowledge and power, would do well to forget all about "hacking" and
set his (or her) sights on becoming a fed.   Feds can trump hackers at almost
every single thing hackers do, including gathering intelligence, undercover
disguise, trashing, phone-tapping,  building dossiers, networking, and
infiltrating computer systems -- *criminal* computer systems.   Secret
Service agents know more about phreaking, coding and carding than most
phreaks can find out in years, and when it comes to viruses, break-ins,
software bombs and trojan horses, Feds have direct access to red-hot
confidential information that is only vague rumor in the underground.

     And if it's an impressive public rep you're after, there are few people
in the world who can be so chillingly impressive as a well-trained,
well-armed United States Secret Service agent.

      Of course, a few personal sacrifices are necessary in order to obtain
that power and knowledge.  First, you'll have the galling discipline of
belonging to a large organization;  but the world of computer crime is still
so small, and so amazingly fast-moving, that it will remain spectacularly
fluid for years to come.   The second sacrifice is that you'll have to give
up ripping people off.  This is not a great loss.  Abstaining from the use of
illegal drugs, also necessary, will be a boon to your health.

     A career in computer security is not a bad choice for a young man or
woman today.  The field will almost certainly expand drastically in years to
come.  If you are a teenager today, by the time you become a professional,
the pioneers you have read about in this book will be the grand old men and
women of the field, swamped by their many disciples and successors.   Of
course, some of them, like William P. Wood of the 1865 Secret Service, may
well be mangled in the whirring machinery of legal controversy; but by the
time you enter the computer-crime field, it may have stabilized somewhat,
while remaining entertainingly challenging.

     But you can't just have a badge.  You have to win it.  First, there's
the federal law enforcement training.  And it's hard -- it's a challenge.  A
real challenge -- not for wimps and rodents.

     Every Secret Service agent must complete gruelling courses at the
Federal Law Enforcement Training Center.  (In fact, Secret Service agents are
periodically re-trained during their entire careers.)

     In order to get a glimpse of what this might be like, I myself travelled


     The Federal Law Enforcement Training Center is a 1500-acre facility on
Georgia's Atlantic coast.   It's a milieu of marshgrass, seabirds,  damp,
clinging sea-breezes, palmettos, mosquitos, and bats.   Until 1974, it was a 
Navy Air Base, and still features a working runway, and some WWII vintage
blockhouses and officers' quarters.  The Center has since benefitted by a
forty-million-dollar retrofit, but there's still enough forest and swamp on
the facility for the Border Patrol to put in tracking practice.

     As a town, "Glynco" scarcely exists.  The nearest real town is
Brunswick, a few miles down Highway 17, where I stayed at the aptly named
Marshview Holiday Inn.   I had Sunday dinner at a seafood restaurant called
"Jinright's," where I feasted on deep-fried alligator tail.  This local
favorite was a heaped basket of bite-sized chunks of white, tender, almost
fluffy reptile meat, steaming in a peppered batter crust.  Alligator makes a
culinary experience that's hard to forget, especially when liberally basted
with homemade cocktail sauce from a Jinright squeeze-bottle.

     The crowded clientele were tourists, fishermen, local black folks in
their Sunday best, and white Georgian locals who all seemed to bear an
uncanny resemblance to Georgia humorist Lewis Grizzard.

     The 2,400 students from 75 federal agencies who make up the FLETC
population scarcely seem to make a dent in the low-key local scene.   The
students look like tourists, and the teachers seem to have taken on much of
the relaxed air of the Deep South.   My host was Mr. Carlton Fitzpatrick, the
Program Coordinator of the Financial Fraud Institute.  Carlton Fitzpatrick is
a mustached, sinewy, well-tanned Alabama native somewhere near his late
forties, with a fondness for chewing tobacco, powerful computers, and salty,
down-home homilies. We'd met before, at FCIC in Arizona.

     The Financial Fraud Institute is one of the nine divisions at FLETC.
Besides Financial Fraud, there's Driver & Marine, Firearms, and Physical
Training. These are specialized pursuits.  There are also five general
training divisions:  Basic Training, Operations, Enforcement Techniques,
Legal Division, and Behavioral Science.

     Somewhere in this curriculum is everything necessary to turn green
college graduates into federal agents.  First they're given ID cards. Then
they get the rather miserable-looking blue coveralls known as "smurf suits." 
The trainees are assigned a barracks and a cafeteria, and immediately set on
FLETC's bone-grinding physical training routine. Besides the obligatory 
daily jogging -- (the trainers run up danger flags beside the track when the
humidity rises high enough to threaten heat stroke) - - there's the Nautilus
machines, the martial arts, the survival skills....

     The eighteen federal agencies who maintain on- site academies at FLETC
employ a wide variety of specialized law enforcement units, some of them
rather arcane.   There's Border Patrol, IRS Criminal Investigation Division,
Park Service, Fish and Wildlife, Customs, Immigration, Secret Service and the
Treasury's uniformed subdivisions....  If you're a federal cop and you don't
work for the FBI, you train at FLETC.   This includes people as apparently
obscure as the agents of the Railroad Retirement Board Inspector General.  Or
the Tennessee Valley Authority Police, who are in fact federal police
officers, and can and do arrest criminals on the federal property of the
Tennessee Valley Authority.

     And then there are the computer-crime people. All sorts, all back-
grounds.  Mr. Fitzpatrick  is not jealous of his specialized knowledge.  
Cops all over, in every branch of service, may feel a need to learn what he
can teach.   Backgrounds don't matter much.  Fitzpatrick himself  was
originally a Border Patrol veteran, then became a Border Patrol instructor at
FLETC.  His Spanish is still fluent -- but he found himself strangely
fascinated when the first computers showed up at the Training Center.
Fitzpatrick did have a background in electrical engineering, and though he
never considered himself a computer hacker, he somehow found himself writing
useful little programs for this new and promising gizmo.

     He began looking into the general subject of computers and crime,
reading Donn Parker's books and articles, keeping an ear cocked for war
stories, useful insights from the field, the up-and-coming people of the
local computer-crime and high- technology units....  Soon he got a reputation
around FLETC as the resident "computer expert," and that reputation alone
brought him more exposure, more experience -- until one day he looked around,
and sure enough he *was*  a federal computer-crime expert.

     In fact, this unassuming, genial man may be *the*  federal
computer-crime expert.   There are plenty of very good computer people, and
plenty of very good federal investigators, but the area where these worlds of
expertise overlap is very slim.  And Carlton Fitzpatrick has been right at
the center of that since 1985, the first year of the Colluquy, a group which
owes much to his influence.

     He seems quite at home in his modest, acoustic-tiled office, with its
Ansel Adams-style Western photographic art, a gold-framed Senior Instructor
Certificate, and a towering bookcase crammed with three-ring binders with
ominous titles such as *Datapro Reports on Information Security* and *CFCA
Telecom Security '90.*

      The phone rings every ten minutes; colleagues show up at the door to
chat about new developments in locksmithing or to shake their heads over the
latest dismal developments in the BCCI global banking scandal.

     Carlton Fitzpatrick is a fount of computer-crime war-stories, related in
an acerbic drawl.  He tells me the colorful tale of a hacker caught in
California some years back.   He'd been raiding systems, typing code without
a detectable break, for twenty, twenty-four, thirty-six hours straight.  Not
just logged on -- *typing.*   Investigators were baffled.  Nobody could do
that.  Didn't he have to go to the bathroom? Was it some kind of automatic
keyboard-whacking device that could actually type code?

     A raid on the suspect's home revealed a situation of astonishing
squalor.  The hacker turned out to be a Pakistani computer-science student
who had flunked out of a California university.  He'd gone completely
underground as an illegal electronic immigrant,  and was selling stolen
phone- service to stay alive.  The place was not merely messy and dirty, but
in a state of psychotic disorder. Powered by some weird mix of culture shock,
computer addiction, and amphetamines, the suspect had in fact been sitting in
front of his computer for a day and a half straight, with snacks and drugs at
hand on the edge of his desk and a chamber-pot under his chair.

     Word about stuff like this gets around in the hacker-tracker community.

     Carlton Fitzpatrick takes me for a guided tour by car around the FLETC
grounds.   One of our first sights is the biggest indoor firing range in the
world. There are federal trainees in there, Fitzpatrick assures me politely,
blasting away with a wide variety of automatic weapons: Uzis, Glocks,
AK-47s....   He's willing to take me inside.   I tell him I'm sure that's
really interesting, but I'd rather see his computers. Carlton Fitzpatrick
seems quite surprised and pleased.  I'm apparently the first journalist he's
ever seen who has turned down the shooting gallery in favor of microchips.

     Our next stop is a favorite with touring Congressmen:  the three-mile
long FLETC driving range.  Here trainees of the Driver & Marine Division are
taught high-speed pursuit skills, setting and breaking road-blocks,
diplomatic security driving for VIP limousines....  A favorite FLETC pastime
is to strap a passing Senator into the passenger seat beside a Driver &
Marine trainer, hit a hundred miles an hour, then take it right into "the
skid-pan," a section of greased track  where two tons of Detroit iron can
whip and spin like a hockey puck.

     Cars don't fare well at FLETC.   First they're rifled again and again
for search practice.  Then they do  25,000 miles of high-speed pursuit
training; they get about seventy miles per set of steel-belted radials.  
Then it's off to the skid pan, where sometimes they roll and tumble headlong
in the grease.   When they're sufficiently grease-stained, dented, and
creaky, they're sent to the roadblock unit, where they're battered without
pity.  And finally then they're sacrificed to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco
and Firearms, whose trainees learn the ins and outs of car-bomb work by
blowing them into smoking wreckage.

     There's a railroad box-car on the FLETC grounds, and a large grounded
boat, and a propless plane; all training-grounds for searches.   The plane
sits forlornly on a patch of weedy tarmac next to an eerie blockhouse known
as the "ninja compound," where anti-terrorism specialists practice hostage
rescues.  As I gaze on this creepy paragon of modern low-intensity warfare,
my nerves are jangled by a sudden staccato outburst of automatic weapons
fire, somewhere in the woods to my right.  "Nine- millimeter," Fitzpatrick
judges calmly.

     Even the eldritch ninja compound pales somewhat compared to the truly
surreal area known as "the raid-houses."   This is a street lined on both
sides with nondescript concrete-block houses with flat pebbled roofs.  They
were once officers' quarters. Now they are training grounds.   The first one
to our left, Fitzpatrick tells me, has been specially adapted for computer
search-and-seizure practice.  Inside it has been wired for video from top to
bottom, with eighteen pan-and-tilt remotely controlled videocams mounted on
walls and in corners.  Every movement of the trainee agent is recorded live
by teachers, for later taped analysis.  Wasted movements, hesitations,
possibly lethal tactical mistakes -- all are gone over in detail.

     Perhaps the weirdest single aspect of this building is its front door,
scarred and scuffed all along the bottom, from the repeated impact, day after
day, of federal shoe-leather.

     Down at the far end of the row of raid-houses some people are practicing
a murder.   We drive by slowly as some very young and rather nervous- looking
federal trainees interview a heavyset bald man on the raid-house lawn. 
Dealing with murder takes a lot of practice; first you have to learn to
control your own instinctive disgust and panic,  then you have to learn to
control the reactions of a nerve- shredded crowd of civilians, some of whom
may have just lost a loved one, some of whom may be murderers -- quite
possibly both at once.

     A dummy plays the corpse.  The roles of the bereaved, the morbidly
curious, and the homicidal are played, for pay, by local Georgians: 
waitresses, musicians, most anybody who needs to moonlight and can learn a
script.   These people, some of whom are FLETC regulars year after year, must
surely have one of the strangest jobs in the world.

     Something about the scene:  "normal" people in a weird situation,
standing around talking in bright Georgia sunshine, unsuccessfully pretending
that something dreadful has gone on, while a dummy lies inside on faked
bloodstains....  While behind this weird masquerade, like a nested set of
Russian dolls, are grim future realities of real death, real violence, real
murders of real people, that these young agents will really investigate, many
times during their careers....  Over and over....  Will those anticipated
murders look like this, feel like this -- not as "real" as these amateur
actors are trying to make it seem, but both as "real," and as numbingly
unreal, as watching fake people standing around on a fake lawn? Something
about this scene unhinges me.  It seems nightmarish to me,  Kafkaesque.   I
simply don't know how to take it; my head is turned around; I don't know
whether to laugh, cry, or just shudder.

     When the tour is over, Carlton Fitzpatrick and I talk about computers. 
For the first time cyberspace seems like quite a comfortable place.  It seems
very real to me suddenly, a place where I know what I'm talking about, a
place I'm used to.   It's real.  "Real." Whatever.

     Carlton Fitzpatrick is the only person I've met in cyberspace circles
who is happy with his present equipment.  He's got a 5 Meg RAM PC with a 112
meg hard disk; a 660 meg's on the way.  He's got a Compaq 386 desktop, and a
Zenith 386 laptop with 120 meg.  Down the hall is a NEC Multi-Sync 2A with a
CD-ROM drive and a 9600 baud modem with four com-lines.  There's a training
minicomputer, and a 10-meg local mini just for the Center, and a lab-full of
student PC clones and half-a-dozen Macs or so. There's a Data General MV 2500
with 8 meg on board and a 370 meg disk.

     Fitzpatrick plans to run a UNIX board on the Data General when he's
finished beta-testing the software for it, which he wrote himself.  It'll
have E- mail features, massive files on all manner of computer-crime and
investigation procedures, and will follow the computer-security specifics of
the Department of Defense "Orange Book."  He thinks it will be the biggest
BBS in the federal government.

      Will it have *Phrack* on it?  I ask wryly.

     Sure, he tells me.  *Phrack,* *TAP,*  *Computer Underground Digest,* all
that stuff.  With  proper disclaimers, of course.

     I ask him if he plans to be the sysop.  Running a system that size is
very time-consuming, and Fitzpatrick teaches two three-hour courses every

     No, he says seriously,  FLETC has to get its money worth out of the
instructors.  He thinks he can get a local volunteer to do it, a high-school

     He says a bit more, something I think about an Eagle Scout
law-enforcement liaison program, but my mind has rocketed off in disbelief.

     "You're going to put a *teenager* in charge of a federal security BBS?" 
I'm speechless.  It hasn't escaped my notice that the FLETC Financial Fraud
Institute is the *ultimate* hacker-trashing target; there is stuff in here,
stuff of such utter and consummate cool by every standard of the digital
underground.... I imagine the hackers of my acquaintance, fainting dead-away
from forbidden- knowledge greed-fits, at the mere prospect of cracking the
superultra top-secret computers used to train the Secret Service in

     "Uhm, Carlton," I babble, "I'm sure he's a really nice kid and all, but
that's a terrible temptation to set in front of somebody who's, you know,
into computers and just starting out..."

     "Yeah," he says, "that did occur to me."  For the first time I begin to
suspect that he's pulling my leg.

     He seems proudest when he shows me an ongoing project called JICC, Joint
Intelligence Control Council.  It's based on the services provided by EPIC,
the El Paso Intelligence Center, which supplies data and intelligence to the
Drug Enforcement Administration, the Customs Service, the Coast Guard, and
the state police of the four southern border states.  Certain EPIC files can
now be accessed by drug-enforcement police of Central America, South America
and the Caribbean, who can also trade information among themselves. Using a
telecom program called "White Hat," written by two brothers named Lopez from
the Dominican Republic, police can now network internationally on inexpensive
PCs.   Carlton Fitzpatrick is teaching a class of drug-war agents from the
Third World, and he's very proud of their progress.   Perhaps soon the
sophisticated smuggling networks of the Medellin Cartel will be matched by a
sophisticated computer network of the Medellin Cartel's sworn enemies.  
They'll track boats, track contraband, track the international drug-lords who
now leap over borders with great ease, defeating the police through the
clever use of fragmented national jurisdictions.

     JICC and EPIC must remain beyond the scope of this book.   They seem to
me to be very large topics fraught with complications that I am not fit to
judge.   I do know, however, that the international, computer-assisted
networking of police, across national boundaries, is something that Carlton
Fitzpatrick considers very important, a harbinger of a desirable future.  I
also know that networks by their nature ignore physical boundaries.  And I
also know that where you put communications you put a community, and that
when those communities become self-aware they will fight to preserve
themselves and to expand their influence.   I make no judgements whether this
is good or bad.  It's just cyberspace; it's just the way things are.

     I asked Carlton Fitzpatrick what advice he would have for a
twenty-year-old who wanted to shine someday in the world of electronic law

     He told me that the number one rule was simply not to be scared of
computers.   You don't need to be an obsessive "computer weenie," but you
mustn't be buffaloed just because some machine looks fancy.  The advantages
computers give smart crooks are matched by the advantages they give smart
cops.  Cops in the future will have to enforce the law "with their heads, not
their holsters."   Today you can make good cases without ever leaving your
office.  In the future, cops who resist the computer revolution will never
get far beyond walking a beat.

     I asked Carlton Fitzpatrick if he had some single message for the
public; some single thing that he would most like the American public to know
about his work.

     He thought about it while.  "Yes," he said finally. "*Tell* me the
rules, and I'll *teach* those rules!"  He looked me straight in the eye.  "I
do the best that I can."