Cyberpunk: Outlaws and Hackers on the Computer Frontier, Revised

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9780684818627: Cyberpunk: Outlaws and Hackers on the Computer Frontier, Revised

Cyberpunk Using the exploits of three international hackers, Cyberpunk explores the world of high-tech computer rebels and the subculture they've created. In a book as exciting as any Ludlum novel, the authors show how these young outlaws have learned to penetrate the most sensitive computer networks and how difficult it is to stop them. Full description

Les informations fournies dans la section « Synopsis » peuvent faire référence à une autre édition de ce titre.

Extrait :

PART ONE

Kevin: The Dark-Side Hacker

The Roscoe Gang


It was partnership, if not exactly friendship, that kept the group together. Each member possessed a special strength considered essential for what needed to be done. Roscoe was the best computer programmer and a natural leader. Susan Thunder prided herself on her knowledge of military computers and a remarkable ability to manipulate people, especially men. Steven Rhoades was especially good with telephone equipment. And aside from his sheer persistence, Kevin Mitnick had an extraordinary talent for talking his way into anything. For a while, during its early days in 1980, the group was untouchable.

Susan was infatuated with Roscoe, but she never cared much for his constant companion, Kevin Mitnick. For his part, Kevin barely gave Susan the time of day. They learned to tolerate one another because of Roscoe. But for all their mutual hostility, Susan and Kevin shared a fascination with telephones and the telephone network; it was a fascination that came to dominate their lives. Susan, Kevin, Roscoe and Steven were "phone phreaks." By their own definition, phreaks were telephone hobbyists more expert at understanding the workings of the Bell System than most Bell employees.

The illegality of exploring the nooks and crannies of the phone system added a sense of adventure to phreaking. But the mechanical components of telephone networks were rapidly being replaced by computers that switched calls electronically, opening a new and far more captivating world for the telephone underground. By 1980, the members of this high-tech Los Angeles gang weren't just phone phreaks who talked to each other on party lines and made free telephone calls. Kevin and Roscoe, in particular, were taking phone phreaking into the growing realm of computers. By the time they had learned how to manipulate the very computers that controlled the phone system, they were calling themselves computer hackers.

Kevin was the only one of the original group to go even deeper, to take an adolescent diversion to the point of obsession. Susan, Roscoe and Steve liked the control and the thrill, and they enjoyed seeing their pranks replayed for them in the newspapers. But almost a decade later it would be Kevin, the one who hid from publicity, who would come to personify the public's nightmare vision of the malevolent computer hacker.

Born in Altona, Illinois, in 1959, Susan was still an infant when her parents, struggling with an unhappy marriage, moved to Tujunga, California, northeast of the San Fernando Valley. Even after the move to paradise, with the implicit promise of a chance to start afresh, Susan's family continued to unravel. Susan was a gawky, buck-toothed little girl. Rejected and abused, at age eight she found solace in the telephone, a place where perfect strangers seemed happy to offer a kind word or two. She made friends with operators, and began calling random numbers in the telephone book, striking up a conversation with whomever she happened to catch. Sometimes she called radio disc jockeys.

After her parents divorced, Susan dropped out of the eighth grade, ran away to the streets of Hollywood and adopted the name Susy Thunder. Susan didn't make many friends, but she did know how to feed herself. Before long, she was walking Sunset Boulevard, looking for men in cars who would pay her for sex. She cut a conspicuous figure next to some of the more diminutive women on the street. Barely out of puberty, Susan was already approaching six feet.

When she wasn't walking the streets, she was living in a hazy, drug-filtered world as a hanger-on in the L.A. music scene, a rock-star groupie. Susan was a bruised child developing into a bruised adult. Quaalude was her medium of choice for spiriting her away from reality, and when Quaalude was scarce, she switched to alcohol and heroin. Her mother finally put her into a nine-month rehabilitation program; she was abruptly thrown out midcourse. Conflicting stories of Susan's ouster were in keeping with the blurry line between fact and myth that described her life. As Susan was to tell it, the adulation of power she developed as a groupie compelled her to single out the most powerful male staff member at the treatment center and seduce him. Another story, circulated by Susan's detractors, is that the male staff member for whom she left the program "sold" her services to a brothel.

Susan found an apartment in Van Nuys and retreated once again to the telephone, taking comfort in knowing that with the telephone she could gain access to a world of her own conjuring and shut it out whenever she chose. She began calling the telephone conference lines that were springing up all over Los Angeles in the late 1970s. By dialing a conference-line number, Susan could connect herself to what sounded like cross talk, except that she was heard by the others and could join in the conversation. Some conference-line callers were teenagers who dialed up after school; others were housewives who stayed on all day, tuning in and out between household chores but never actually hanging up the phone. By nightfall, many of the conference lines turned into telephonic sex parlors, the talk switching from undirected chitchat to explicit propositions.

One day in early 1980 Susan discovered HOBO-UFO, one of the first "legitimate" conference lines in Los Angeles in that its owners used their own conferencing equipment instead of piggybacking on the phone company's facilities. Drawing hundreds of people every day, HOBO-UFO was run from the Hollywood apartment of a young college student who called himself Roscoe. A friend of Roscoe's named Barney financed the setup, putting up the money for the multiple phone lines and other equipment while Roscoe provided the technical wherewithal. Susan decided she couldn't rest until she had met Roscoe, the power behind it all. But to achieve that goal, Susan knew she would have to abandon her disembodied telephone persona. She liked describing herself to men over the telephone. She knew from experience that all she had to do was mention that she was a six-foot-two blond and she wouldn't have to wait long for a knock at the door. She was right. No sooner did she deliver the description than Roscoe came calling.

The woman who greeted Roscoe was exactly as she had described herself. Susan had dressed up and made her face up carefully for the big date. But she could not conceal certain physical oddities. Her long face displayed a set of teeth so protrusive as to produce a slight speech impediment. And there was something incongruous about her large frame: her upper torso was narrow and delicate, but it descended to a disproportionate outcropping of hips and heavy thighs. Roscoe, for his part, was thin and pale. His brown-framed glasses met Susan's chin. But if either Susan or Roscoe was disappointed in the other's looks, neither showed it. They went to dinner, and when Roscoe asked Susan about her line of work she told him she was a therapist and then quickly changed the subject.

A business student at the University of Southern California, Roscoe was one of the best-known phone phreaks around Los Angeles. When a reporter from a local newspaper began researching a story about conference lines, he told a few HOBO-UFO regulars that he wanted to meet Roscoe. The next day a caller greeted him by reeling off the billing name on his unlisted phone number, his home address, the year and make of his car, and his driver's license number. Then the caller announced himself: "This is Roscoe."

When Susan and Roscoe met in 1980, phone phreaking was by no means a new phenomenon. Phone phreaks had been cheating the American Telephone and Telegraph Company for years. They started out with "blue boxes" as their primary tool. Named for the color of the original device, blue boxes were rectangular gadgets that came in a variety of sizes. Sometimes they were built by electronic hobbyists, at other times by underground entrepreneurs. Occasionally they were even used by the Mafia. One of Silicon Valley's legendary companies even has its roots in blue box manufacturing. Stephen Wozniak and Steven Jobs, who co-founded Apple Computer in 1976, got their start in the consumer electronics business several years earlier, peddling blue boxes in college dormitories.

A blue box was universally useful because it could exploit a quirk in the design of the nation's long-distance telephone system. The device emitted a high-pitched squeal, the 2600-hertz tone that, in the heyday of the blue boxers, controlled the AT&T long-distance switching system. When phone company equipment detected the tone, it readied itself for a new call. A series of special tones from the box allowed the blue box user to dial anywhere in the world. Using these clever devices, phone phreaks navigated through the Bell System from the palms of their hands. Tales abounded of blue boxers who routed calls to nearby pay phones through the long-distance lines of as many as fifteen countries, just for the satisfaction of hearing the long series of clicks and kerchunks made by numerous phone companies releasing their circuits. Blue boxes were soon joined by succeeding generations of boxes in all colors, each serving a separate function, but all designed to skirt the computerized record-keeping and switching equipment that the phone company uses for billing calls.

The phone phreaking movement reached its zenith in the early 1970s. One folk hero among phreaks was John Draper, whose alias, "Captain Crunch," derived from a happy coincidence: he discovered that the toy whistle buried in the Cap'n Crunch cereal box matched the phone company's 2600-hertz tone perfectly.

Tending to be as socially maladroit as they were technically proficient, phone phreaks were a bizarre group, driven by a compulsive need to learn all they could about the object of their obsession. One famous blind phreak named Joe Engressia discovered the telephone as a small child; at age eight he could whistle in perfect pitch, easily imitating the 2600-hertz AT&T signal. Joe's lips were his blue box. After graduating from college, in tireless pursuit of knowledge about the phone company, Joe crisscrossed the country by bus, visiting local phone company offices for guided tours. As he was escorted around, he would touch the equipment and learn new aspects of the phone system. Joe's ambition was not to steal revenue from the telephone company but to get a job there. But he had made a name for himself as a phreak, and despite his vast store of knowledge, the phone company could not be moved to hire him. Eventually, Mountain Bell in Denver did give him a job as a troubleshooter in its network service center and his whistling stopped. All that he had wanted was to be part of the system.

The Bell System needed people like Joe on its side. By the mid-1970s, AT&T estimated it was losing $30 million a year to telephone fraud. A good percentage of the illegal calls, it turned out, were being placed by professional white-collar criminals, and even by small businesses trying to cut their long-distance phone bills. But unable to redesign its entire signaling scheme overnight, AT&T decided to ferret out the bandits. Using monitoring equipment in various fraud "hot spots" throughout the telephone network, AT&T spent years scanning tens of millions of toll calls. By the early 1980s automated scanning had become routine and Bell Laboratories, AT&T's research arm, had devised computer programs that could detect and locate blue box calls. Relying on increasingly sophisticated scanning equipment, detection programs embedded in its electronic switches and a growing network of informants, AT&T caught hundreds of blue boxers.

In 1971, phone phreaking ventured briefly into the sphere of politics. The activist Abbie Hoffman, joined by a phone phreak who called himself Al Bell, started a newsletter called Youth International Party Line -- or YIPL for short. With its office at the Yippie headquarters on Bleecker Street in New York City's Greenwich Village, YIPL was meant to be the technical offshoot of the Yippies. Hoffman's theory was that communications were the nerve center of any revolution; liberating communications would be the most important phase of a mass revolt. But Al Bell's outlook was at odds with Hoffman's; Al saw no place for politics in what was essentially a technical journal. In 1973, Al abandoned YIPL and Hoffman and moved uptown to set up shop as TAP, the Technological Assistance Program.

Much of the information contained in TAP was culled from AT&T's various in-house technical journals. It was information that AT&T would rather have kept to itself. And that was the point. Whereas the original phreaks like Captain Crunch got their kicks making free phone calls, TAP's leaders, while steering clear of a hard political line, believed that the newsletter's mission was to disseminate as much information about Ma Bell as it could. By 1975, more than thirteen hundred people around the world subscribed to the four-page leaflet. For the most part, they were loners by their own admission, steeped in private technical worlds. TAP was their ultimate handbook. Written in relentlessly technical language, TAP contained tips on such topics as lock picking, the manipulation of vending machines, do-it-yourself pay phone slugs and free electricity. TAP routinely published obscure telephone numbers; those of the White House and Buckingham Palace were especially popular. And in 1979, during the hostage crisis in Iran, TAP published the phone number of the American embassy in Tehran. Every Friday evening, a dozen or so TAP people held a meeting at a Manhattan restaurant, many still cloaked in the ties and jackets that betrayed daytime lives spent toiling away at white-collar jobs. After work, and inside the pages of TAP, they adopted such names as The Professor, The Wizard and Dr. Atomic.

In the late 1970s, a phone phreak who called himself Tom Edison took over TAP, bringing in another telephone network enthusiast, Cheshire Catalyst, a self-styled "techie-loner-weirdo science fiction fanatic," as one of TAP's primary contributors. Tall and dark with the concave, hollow-cheeked look of someone rarely exposed to sunlight, Cheshire had been phreaking since the sixties. He discovered the telephone at age twelve, and learned to clip the speaker leads of the family stereo onto a telephone plug so that he could put the handset to his ear and listen to the radio while doing his homework. If his mother entered the room, he just had to hang up the receiver. By the time he was nineteen, Cheshire had become a telex maven, having programmed his home computer to simulate a telex machine. Before long he was sending telex pen-pal messages around the world. In his twenties, already a veteran TAP reader, Cheshire moved to Manhattan, got a job at a bank in computer support and joined the TAP inner circle.

TAP wasn't exactly a movement. It was an attitude, perhaps best described as playful contempt for the Bell System. One elderly woman from the Midwest sent her subscription check along with a letter to Tom Edison saying that although she would never do any of the things described in TAP, she wanted to support those people who were getting back at the phone company.

As one respon...

Présentation de l'éditeur :

Using the exploits of three international hackers, Cyberpunk provides a fascinating tour of a bizarre subculture populated by outlaws who penetrate even the most sensitive computer networks and wreak havoc on the information they find -- everything from bank accounts to military secrets. In a book filled with as much adventure as any Ludlum novel, the authors show what motivates these young hackers to access systems, how they learn to break in, and how little can be done to stop them.

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Description du livre SIMON SCHUSTER, United States, 1995. Paperback. État : New. Updated. 212 x 140 mm. Language: English . Brand New Book ***** Print on Demand *****. Using the exploits of three international hackers, Cyberpunk provides a fascinating tour of a bizarre subculture populated by outlaws who penetrate even the most sensitive computer networks and wreak havoc on the information they find-- everything from bank accounts to military secrets. In a book filled with as much adventure as any Ludlum novel, the authors show what motivates these young hackers to access systems, how they learn to break in, and how little can be done to stop them. N° de réf. du libraire AAV9780684818627

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Description du livre SIMON SCHUSTER, United States, 1995. Paperback. État : New. Updated. 212 x 140 mm. Language: English . Brand New Book ***** Print on Demand *****.Using the exploits of three international hackers, Cyberpunk provides a fascinating tour of a bizarre subculture populated by outlaws who penetrate even the most sensitive computer networks and wreak havoc on the information they find-- everything from bank accounts to military secrets. In a book filled with as much adventure as any Ludlum novel, the authors show what motivates these young hackers to access systems, how they learn to break in, and how little can be done to stop them. N° de réf. du libraire AAV9780684818627

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