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Hacker Groups and web Sites

2600 Magazine: The Hacker Quarterlyarrow
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.

Cult of the Dead Cowarrow
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.]

How to Become a Hackerarrow
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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