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.:: PWN Special Report VI on CFP-2 ::.

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Current issue : #38 | Release date : 1992-04-26 | Editor : Dispater
Phrack LoopbackDispater & Phrack Staff
Phrack Pro-Phile on AristotleAristotle
Pirates' CoveRambone
Network Miscellany IVDatastream Cowboy
Beating The Radar Rap Part 2 of 2Dispater
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Cellular TelephonyBrian Oblivion
Standing Up To Fight The BellsKnight Lightning
The Digital Telephony ProposalFBI
PWN Special Report VI on CFP-2Max Nomad
PWN/Part 1Datastream Cowboy
PWN/Part 2Datastream Cowboy
PWN/Part 3Datastream Cowboy
Title : PWN Special Report VI on CFP-2
Author : Max Nomad
                                ==Phrack Inc.==

                Volume Four, Issue Thirty-Eight, File 12 of 15

           PWN ^*^ PWN ^*^ PWN ^*^ { CFP-2 } ^*^ PWN ^*^ PWN ^*^ PWN
           ^*^                                                   ^*^
           PWN         P h r a c k   W o r l d   N e w s         PWN
           ^*^         ~~~~~~~~~~~   ~~~~~~~~~   ~~~~~~~         ^*^
           PWN             Special Edition Issue Six             PWN
           ^*^                                                   ^*^
           PWN          Computers, Freedom, & Privacy II         PWN
           ^*^                                                   ^*^
           PWN                 March 18-20, 1992                 PWN
           ^*^                                                   ^*^
           PWN               Written by Max Nomad                PWN
           ^*^                                                   ^*^
           PWN ^*^ PWN ^*^ PWN ^*^ { CFP-2 } ^*^ PWN ^*^ PWN ^*^ PWN

                        Computers, Freedom, & Privacy II
        Random Notes and Mission X Telegraphs from the Nation's Capitol

                                  by Max Nomad

Originally, when I read the brochure on the second "Computers, Freedom, and
Privacy Conference," I saw opportunity knocking at my door:  Three days at the
Loew's L'Enfant Plaza Hotel in Washington, D.C. stalking around a series of
meetings all geared toward telecommunications, as well as the high potential
for mischief; techno-gurus, privacy advocates, computer outlaws, corporate
bigwigs, and lastly feds, a few of which who were casually walking around with
automatic weapons disguised as black tote-bags.  There was no telling what
those hackers were capable of, I'm sure, so the beefed up security was

Upon learning that Basil Rouland, Inc., an information systems security firm,
had secured a press pass and transportation, my excitement grew.  I wasn't sure
what kind of story I would bring back from the trip, or if I would find a
unique story at all.  Fortunately, the conference topics provided dozens of
angles to take on, more than I care list.  My previous article and notes alone
on the event were upwards of 25k, mostly filled with mundane excerpts and
quotes from various panelists.  If you're interested in a blow-by-blow account
of CFP-2, it's available on VHS; contact bkoball@well.sf.ca.us for more

For the readers of PHRACK, a different perspective was in order.  The following
commentary has been taken strictly from my notes and thoughts on the
underground showing.

Overall, this year's CFP was a success.  The panel discussions on everything
>from the issues of privacy to Internet to cryptography and security were
informative, even enlightening.  After three days of non-stop conferences on
these subjects I realized just how much of a runaway horse technology is to our
federal government.  Big Brother is definitely out there, but he's got fast
competition coming up from the private sector.  And special thanks to CRAIG
NEIDORF, who graciously donated his name to modern science and the EFF.  This
individual's case was referred to more times than Roe v. Wade; personally,
Craig, if I were you, I'd put a trademark on it and charge by the usage.  In
any case, this year's CFP conference was a success.  Congrats are in order for
the organizers and volunteers.  Anyone who is seriously interested in computer
networks, security, and what the big fish are up to should attend.  Also,
members of the press are welcome.

Daily, in the aftermath of the conferences, "Birds of a Feather" sessions were
held in the meeting rooms.  At best, these were well structured discussions for
people of similar interests.  At worst, they were lame farces, such as the "Why
Don't They Understand" discussion, where unofficial representatives of the
underground were given a forum to supposedly voice their opinions.

The panel consisted of Glen Tenney (organizer of the annual Hacker's
conference), Knight Lightning (founder of Phrack, abused civil rights poster
child for the EFF), Dispater (current publisher of Phrack), Emmanuel Goldstein
(editor/publisher of 2600 magazine, host of "Off the Hook" [WBAI radio, New
York]), Phiber Optik (hacker/phreak currently receiving a great deal of "fan
harassment" by the authorities), Steven Levy (MacWorld, author of _Hackers_),
Dorothy Denning (Computer Science Department, Georgetown University), and the
panel chair was John McMullen of McMullen & McMullen.  Aside from a few hackers
and law officials in the audience, the curious and uninformed filled the
meeting room to capacity.  There was definitely a sense of anticipation prior
to the start of the discussion; it didn't take a private eye to know that one
way or the other, this was going to be a show.

And it was.

Steven Levy gave a neutral dissertation to the meaning of the word "hacker" as
it was when he published his book by the same name back in 1986:  programmers
and electronics hobbyists supposedly with purer intentions, many of which that
went on to make revolutionary waves in the computer industry.  Hackers and
phone phreaks like Wozniak and Jobs are two of those heroes of yesteryear's
underground.  But as with the rest of society, nostalgia always casts a darker
tint on the present.  Those heroes would be considered the maniacal high-tech
terrorists of today, thanks to a combination of media sensationalism, a few
malicious idiots on both sides of the law, and the general public opinion that
hackers are to be feared like hardened outlaws -- all of which stems from
varying degrees of ignorance.

Dorothy Denning appended Levy's statement with an objective view, pointing out
the fact that neither side seems to fully understand what it's like to walk in
the other's shoes, befitting the title of the next session.  Another perfect
neutrality.  Tenney interjected with a somewhat polished speech about what it
was to be a hacker (i.e. programmer) back in his day, uttered a few slants
directed at certain people, both of which smoothly establishing the slight
anti-hack tone that would end up carrying on until this session ended.  Upon
finding out this man is supposedly running for Congress in some state, I was
even less surprised.  It was as if he smelled what the crowd wanted to hear,
then cooked it up enough to feed everyone.  He's pretty good.  He'll probably
get the seat he's shooting for.

In his best radio voice, Emmanuel Goldstein immediately returned the volley to
previous statements, also adding a few interpretations of his own:  the feeling
of learning and exploring, even in forbidden regions, how it is unhealthy to
put restrictions on thought and discovery, and how it is the complacency of the
other side that the underground is making use of.  He also brought up a very
good point concerning the Dutch and how many of the system administrators over
there are making use of hackers in the bullet-proofing of their systems.  The
distrust of most American sysadmins along with the level of arrogance in some
cases almost makes such cooperation ludicrous over here in the states.  Shame.

Each underground member of the panel eventually made his or her statement,
including Phiber Optik's tale of how a certain New York State Police officer
and gang rolled up on his home like the DEA and awakened him from his sleep at
gun point.  Whether by coincidence or not, the officer in charge of the arrest
was standing in the back of the room.  Of course, the voice of authority had to
make a statemental come-back on the topic.  In that instant it became obvious
that having hacks and law enforcement in the same room wasn't the best vehicle
for accurately portraying views.  Neither side was prone to be open and honest
with the other watching with anticipation.  Any hack who was not under
investigation wouldn't dare open up and speak, and any hack currently under
investigation couldn't speak honestly; no one wants to speak his piece bad
enough to get indicted.  The feds were in the same boat, since they couldn't
openly discuss any pending cases, as well as keeping a lid on any of their
trade secrets; a catch-22 that further solidified the misconceptions of those
in the middle:  the image of hackers as chaotic compu-hoodlums and law
enforcement officials as determined yet uninformed trackers.

In all honesty, this session came off like a side show, and the hackers like
circus freaks.  With two prominent underground publishers, an ex-hack/publisher
turned representative of the EFF, and a hack/phreak currently under
investigation, there was no alternative but to stutter and give vague answers
to delicate questions and even then that only applied to those occasions where
they could speak their minds uninterrupted.  Self-preservation and the
felonious core of this topic made every answer a forfeited one before it was
given.  Any well-informed spectator knew this.  So did the feds, who were
probably chuckling to themselves the entire time.  Absolutely no resolutions
were made either way.  Truthfully, the feds gained brownie points on this one.
The hacker perspective wasn't accurately presented and the masses would
continue to live ignorance of the underground.

The next night, random reports of strange activity churned through the rumor
mill shortly after the hackers hijacked one of the meeting rooms for Knight
Lightning's "Frank" Party, the kind of talk most people weren't bold enough to
investigate or so "unthinkable" that no one wanted their name attached.  The
room itself was easy to identify -- "Fire Line Do Not Cross" tape covered the
front doors, as well as a chaotic chatter that roared from within.  There was
no agenda to speak of.  Most of the hackers I've met during my travels were
leaders and rugged individualists and here was no different.  None wanted to
take charge -- to do so would have been useless.  Each generally did his own
thing and, if it looked interesting enough, others would follow.  Some of the
name-tagged feds would have probably wandered in if they weren't already having
a session of their own.  Speculatively, they were discussing matters about
targeted individuals present at our gathering.

The evening's entertainment was an old cult-classic tape, Frank & The Phunny
Phone Call, the hilarious and unexpurgated recordings of an old man driven to
aggravated dementia by some anonymous phone phreaks making his phone "go
berzerk."  Earlier at one of the literature tables, free promotional 2-in-1
screwdrivers were given away (a gift from Hayes Modem Corporation) and it
seemed that every hack in here had at least one or two.  Granted, these tools
are handy for any computer buff, but a room full of hacks and phreaks with them
was almost as unpredictable as handing out matches at a Pyromaniacs Anonymous
meeting.  Soon, RJ-11 phone jacks were being unscrewed from the wall and
studied.  Lineman's Test Phones appeared, soon followed by a small expedition
stalking around the service hallways and finding the unlocked telephone closet
for the hotel.  The rest is, shall we say, up to reader interpretation as to
what happened after that, ironically ten yards and a set of double doors away
>from a room full of state cops and feds.

The Last Day

Instead of rushing the microphone during the final statements in the main
conference room, our rogue gang had coagulated in the hall (next to the
payphones no less) around an Air Force special investigator and Phiber Optik.
At first the mood resembled that of a James Bond movie, where Bond and an arch
nemesis would meet and chat, each anticipating the downfall of the other
beneath polite exteriors.  This seemed to be the sublime tension between all
the feds and hacks who talked at the conference, but it was especially delicate
in this case -- Phiber was high on the priority list this agent's department
was currently investigating.  Eventually the mood lightened, and an impromptu
Q&A pow-wow session between the hacks and the agent broke out, spawning all
sorts of conversations that seemed much more interesting than the finale taking
place inside.  And, like clockwork, a little mischief came into play.  As a
show of good faith and a sign that the hackers would be returning for next
year's conference, several prominent organizers found that the answer messages
on their hotel voice mailboxes had been mysteriously "changed."  Sources say
the culprit was described as an old Yiddish, but all reports on this matter
were unconfirmed.  Shortly after this impromptu gathering, it was apparent that
the conference had finally adjourned.  Except for the underground types and a
few observers, the halls were thinning out, and eventually we all wandered our
separate ways.  And once again, this environment began to take the look of a

To The Underground At Large:

This was just one conference; the feds will continue to do what they do and so
will we.  After the hacker panel fiasco, I overheard John Markoff (New York
Times reporter and co-author of the book _Cyberpunk_) and Steve Levy talking
about how topics like this were being discussed in conferences like this ten
years ago.  Only the names and circumstances had changed -- the song and dance
steps remained the same.  Chances are, ten years from now these same subjects
will share some portion of the limelight in regard to growth and development of
cyberspace.  As society becomes more technologically complex, the bugs,
loopholes, and defaults will exist and the underground will thrive.  Whether
the masses choose to acknowledge this or not, we are a subculture of and to
ourselves, much like the Grateful Dead followers.  Some will move on, die off,
or fade away, and others will stream in to fill the empty spaces.  A few words
of interpretive advice to the newbees:  study everything you touch carefully,
covet and respect the knowledge you gain like a gun, and never drive faster
than you can think.  The feds are out there and, trust me, these motherfuckers
didn't come to play.

To The Feds And Hacker Trackers Present At The Conference:

There isn't much that can be said.  You have a much better understanding of the
computer underworld than most, even than by some of those in it.  By virtue of
the job you do, this is a given.  Respect is due to you for your showing at
CFP-2, how you presented yourselves, and the subtle way you furthered the
brainwashed concepts of "the hacker" in the public eye.  You knew the
presentations would be slanted in your favor, and probably took great pride in
this.  Smooth.  Very smooth.

To The Uninformed:

Don't blindly believe the hype.  Whether you wish to face it or not, hackers
and phone phreaks are an integral part of this technological revolution.
Advancement cannot come without the need for change and to improve, both micro-
and macroscopically.  Positive direction is the result of an equal but opposite
force that presses it forward.  Because of the hackers (old, new, and even the
malicious), software and hardware developers have made radical improvements on
the networks and supermachines that are undeniably molding the foundation of
tomorrow's world.  Our society is based on complacency.  And any social
institution or machinery that seems to work without weight to tip the scales of
change simply goes unchecked, eventually to become a standard.  The hijinx that
Congress gets away with and how little the public truly reacts is a perfect
example.  If hackers didn't truly love computers and telecommunications or have
an unnatural need to explore and learn, the technological growth curve would be
stunted.  Long after these embryotic times have faded into our grandchildren's
history books, hackers will exist, and the bulk of high-tech crimes will
continue to be perpetrated by minions of the people in power, the elite white-

Regardless of the long-term insight, computer intrusion is still an illegal art
and science.

There is no rationale for why hackers hack, at least nothing that will
withstand the scrutiny of the unenlightened masses or one's inner beliefs.
"Hackers," like any other subculture, yield a range of personalities and
perspectives from the careful explorer to the callous marauder.  Inexperienced
sociologists would probably try to classify this underground sect as a
movement, possibly even subversive in its intentions.  The problem with this
lies in the fact that a movement needs a leader or spokesman.  Aside from the
individual nature of these people, anyone who becomes a mouthpiece for this
culture cannot rightly be a hacker, or at least hacking around with anything
unlawful.  Chances are, others would shy away from such a person, seeing him as
either an informant or too dangerous to be around; the feds would pursue him
passionately, like tracking a trophy-sized bull in a deer hunt.  Hackers cannot
be categorized as a movement, fad, or pre-packaged subculture like bubble-gum
rock music or the pseudo-hippies of the 90's.  Most hackers have their own
directions and forward momentum.  It is a shared mindset, ironically
paralleling that of the feds that chase them.  One group has no rules or set
channels to adhere to. The other is backed by the establishment and a badge.

This statement was not intended to rationalize their actions, only give insight
to the uninitiated.  To summarize the spectrum of motives with the hacker
intellect, I give this analogy:  the need to come onto someone else's property,
some for peaceful exploration, others to inhabit, and in some instances to
misuse or destroy is not a new phenomena.  The early settlers of this country
did the same thing to the Native Americans.

                                                        I\/Iax I\Iomad

                                                    [Mission X Tribe Out]


Thanks and respect are due to:

Basil Rouland Inc. (for getting me there) and URban Lividity, Jet Heller,
Silkworm, and the rest of the "In The Flesh" (804-489-7031) posse that couldn't
make the trip.  mXt.
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