2600 came into public prominence last year, when the magazine's editor, Eric
Corley, distributed a program that breaks the security code on DVDs so they
could be copied onto computers. The movie industry sued, of course, and a
federal judge ruled in its favor in August 2000. In their appeal of the
decision, Corley and his lawyers maintain that he had a right to post the code
as a matter of freedom of speech and freedom of the press.
Several advocates sided with Corley, including some of computer science's most
renowned intellects. Marvin Minsky, an MIT professor, and Richard Stallman,
founder of the Free Software Foundation, are just two of the several people who
have filed an amici curiae brief on behalf Corley. (See "Source Code is
Speech" at http://www.2600.com/dvd/docs/2001/0126-speech.html.)
2600, which began publication in 1984, was a staple of the hacker community
long before the movie industry targeted it. In July 2000, 2600 sponsored a
conference called "Hackers on Planet Earth" which was
featured in FRONTLINE's "Hackers" documentary.
The Cult of the Dead Cow (cDc) gained prominence as the group that authored and
distributed "Back Orifice," an open-source software product that allows a
hacker to take over a remote computer. Two members of cDc, Count Zero and
Reid, were featured in FRONTLINE's "Hackers" program.
In addition to creating products such as Back Orifice, the cDc supports and
engages in a variety of "hacktivist" activities--using hacking skills to
achieve political or social ends. Cult member Count Zero writes "Hacktivism
means using technology to express political ideas, shed light on injustice, and
enable technological civil disobedience."
Hackers.com is a hacking oriented web site with an ethical mandate to cause no
harm, and a crusade to redeem the image of hackers. In their own words:
We want to spread knowledge and information to all who want to
learn...information about computers, telephones, the underground, and
technology in general. But, we plan to do this and uphold the old school
hacker ethics at the same time. We refuse to promote and distribute
information on destructive and ignorant things i.e. carding, viruses, software
pirating, email bombing etc. Hackers have undeservedly held a tarnished
name for too long, and we plan to build that name back up. Instead of
thinking 'criminal' or 'vandal' when hearing the word hacker, we want the
public to think of 'knowledge seekers' and 'curious wanderers'.
The site is a useful portal into the hacker underground for the curious
layperson and wanna-be hacker.
Defcon is the annual summer convention held in Las Vegas for hackers and others
interested in the hacking community. According to reports, 6,000 people
converged on southern Nevada for the 2000 convention. Not long ago DefCon was
considered the premier gathering of the hacking intelligentsia, but recently
its proceedings have become more accessible to the tech proletariat.
One of the staples of past DefCon conventions - "Spot the Fed," a good-natured
game of outing law enforcement and intelligence officials - has become almost
obsolete as the Department of Defense assumed a more visible role last year
with its "Meet the Fed" seminar. It was the first time the federal government
had made an overt appearance at DefCon.
Phrack is an online magazine for and by the hacking community
This web site was founded by 21-year-old John Vranesevich, who is considered by
US government security services to be one of the best "white hat" hackers in
the world. ABCNews.com called an earlier incarnation of this web site, "a
Rick's cafe in the Casablanca world of hacking," a place where both hackers and
those who've been hacked could meet and tell their stories.
At the time, Vranesevich was an active and accepted member of the hacker
community. In 1998, however, he had a change of heart when he learned through
the site about a hacker who was attempting to sell U.S. military secrets to a
terrorist organization. Vranesevich says he became disillusioned with the
hacker rhetoric about exposing security flaws, and thought that some in the
community were crossing the line into dangerous and criminal behavior. He
subsequently began working for the government, using his skills to track down
hackers. Eventually, he began consulting as a security expert for private
companies. The web site now provides an ongoing update of computer security
and hacking related news, and tips for businesses and individuals to protect
themselves and their systems from malicious hackers.
[Vranesevich's about-face from a teenage hacker to corporate anti-hack is
profiled in this article from CNET.]
The title of this site is somewhat misleading. It offers a good range of
material on the hacker attitude, ethics and how they define themselves. Eric
Raymond, the site's creator, is author of The Hacker Dictionary and an
open source advocate. One of the hackers featured in FRONTLINE's
report"Hackers" said that the best description and understanding of hackers can
be found exploring this site.
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