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Hackers: Information Warefare Essay, Research Paper

Hackers: Information Warefare

Geoff Stafford

Dr. Clark

PHL 233

The Popularity Of The Internet Has Hrown Immeasurably In The Past Few Years.

Along with it the so-called “hacker” community has grown and risen to a level

where it’s less of a black market scenario and more of “A Current Affair”

scenario. Misconceptions as to what a hacker is and does run rampant in

everyone who thinks they understand what the Internet is after using it a few

times. In the next few pages I’m going to do my best to prove the true

definition of what a hacker is, how global economic electronic warfare ties into

it, background on the Internet, along with a plethora of scatological material

purely for your reading enjoyment. I will attempt to use the least technical

computer terms I can, but in order to make my point at times I have no choice.

There are many misconceptions, as to the definition, of what a hacker truly is,

in all my research this is the best definition I’ve found: Pretend your walking

down the street, the same street you have always walked down. One day, you see

a big wooden or metal box with wires coming out of it sitting on the sidewalk

where there had been none.

Many people won’t even notice. Others might say, “Oh, a box on the street.”. A

few might wonder what it does and then move on. The hacker, the true hacker,

will see the box, stop, examine it, wonder about it, and spend mental time

trying to figure it out. Given the proper circumstances, he might come back

later to look closely at the wiring, or even be so bold as to open the box. Not

maliciously, just out of curiosity. The hacker wants to know how things

work.(8)

Hackers truly are “America’s Most Valuable Resource,”(4:264) as ex-CIA Robert

Steele has said. But if we don’t stop screwing over our own countrymen, we will

never be looked at as anything more than common gutter trash. Hacking computers

for the sole purpose of collecting systems like space-age baseball cards is

stupid and pointless; and can only lead to a quick trip up the river.

Let’s say that everyone was given an opportunity to hack without any worry of

prosecution with free access to a safe system to hack from, with the only catch

being that you could not hack certain systems. Military, government, financial,

commercial and university systems would all still be fair game. Every operating

system, every application, every network type all open to your curious minds.

Would this be a good alternative? Could you follow a few simple guidelines for

the offer of virtually unlimited hacking with no worry of governmental

interference?

Where am I going with this?

Right now we are at war. You may not realize it, but we all feel the

implications of this war, because it’s a war with no allies, and enormous stakes.

It’s a war of economics.

The very countries that shake our hands over the conference tables of NATO and

the United Nations are picking our pockets. Whether it be the blatant theft of

American R&D by Japanese firms, or the clandestine and governmentally-sanctioned

bugging of Air France first-class seating, or the cloak-and-dagger hacking of

the SWIFT network (1:24) by the German BND’s Project Rahab(1:24), America is

getting screwed.

Every country on the planet is coming at us. Let’s face it, we are the leaders

in everything. Period. Every important discovery in this century has been by

an American or by an American company. Certainly other countries have better

profited by our discoveries, but nonetheless, we are the world’s think-tank.

So, is it fair that we keep getting shafted by these so-called “allies?”. Is it

fair that we sit idly by, like some old hound too lazy to scratch at the ticks

sucking out our life’s blood by the gallon? Hell no.

Let’s say that an enterprising group of computer hackers decided to strike back.

Using equipment bought legally, using network connections obtained and paid for

legally, and making sure that all usage was tracked and paid for, this same

group began a systematic attack of foreign computers. Then, upon having gained

access, gave any and all information obtained to American corporations and the

Federal government.

What laws would be broken? Federal Computer Crime Statutes specifically target

so-called “Federal Interest Computers.”(6:133) (i.e.: banks, telecommunications,

military, etc.) Since these attacks would involve foreign systems, those

statutes would not apply. If all calls and network connections were promptly

paid for, no toll-fraud or other communications related laws would apply.

International law is so muddled that the chances of getting extradited by a

country like France for breaking into systems in Paris from Albuquerque is slim

at best. Even more slim when factoring in that the information gained was given

to the CIA and American corporations.

Every hacking case involving international break-ins has been tried and

convicted based on other crimes. Although the media may spray headlines like

“Dutch Hackers Invade Internet” or “German Hackers Raid NASA,” those hackers

were tried for breaking into systems within THEIR OWN COUNTRIES…not somewhere

else. A hacker who uses the handle of 8lgm in England got press for hacking

world-wide, but got nailed hacking locally(3). Australia’s ?Realm Hackers’:

Phoenix, Electron & Nom hacked almost exclusively other countries, but use of

AT&T calling cards rather than Australian Telecom got them a charge of

defrauding the Australian government(3). Dutch hacker RGB got huge press

hacking a US military site and creating a “dquayle” account, but got nailed

while hacking a local university(3). The list goes on and on.

I asked several people about the workability of my proposal. Most seemed to

concur that it was highly unlikely that anyone would have to fear any action by

American law enforcement, or of extradition to foreign soil to face charges

there. The most likely form of retribution would be eradication by agents of

that government.

Well, I’m willing to take that chance, but only after I get further information

from as many different sources as I can. I’m not looking for anyone to condone

these actions, nor to finance them. I’m only interested in any possible legal

action that may interfere with my freedom.

We must take the offensive, and attack the electronic borders of other countries

as vigorously as they attack us, if not more so. This is indeed a war, and

America must not lose.

There have always been confrontations online. It’s unavoidable on the net, as

it is in life, to avoid unpleasantness. However, on the net the behavior is far

more pronounced since it effects a much greater response from the limited online

environments than it would in the real world. People behind such behavior in

the real world can be dealt with or avoided, but online they cannot.

In the real world, annoying people don’t impersonate you in national forums. In

the real world, annoying people don’t walk into your room and go through your

desk and run through the town showing everyone your private papers or

possessions. In the real world, people can’t readily imitate your handwriting

or voice and insult your friends and family by letter or telephone. In the real

world people don’t rob or vandalize and leave your fingerprints behind.

The Internet is not the real world.

All of the above continually happens on the Internet, and there is little anyone

can do to stop it. The perpetrators know full well how impervious they are to

retribution, since the only people who can put their activities to a complete

halt are reluctant to open cases against computer criminals due to the complex

nature of the crimes.

The Internet still clings to the anarchy of the Arpanet that spawned it, and

many people would love for the status quo to remain. However, the actions of a

few miscreants will force lasting changes on the net as a whole. The wanton

destruction of sites, the petty forgeries, the needless break-ins and the poor

blackmail attempts do not go unnoticed by the authorities.

I personally could care less what people do on the net. I know it is fantasy

land. I know it exists only in our minds, and should not have any long lasting

effect in the real world. Unfortunately, as the net’s presence grows larger and

larger, and the world begins to accept it as an entity in and of itself, it will

be harder to convince those inexperienced users that the net is not real.

I have always played by certain rules and they have worked well for me in the

years I’ve been online. These rules can best be summed up by the following

quote, “We are taught to love all our neighbors. Be courteous. Be peaceful.

But if someone lays his hands on you, send them to the cemetery.”

The moment someone crosses the line, and interferes with my well-being in any

setting (even one that is arguably unreal such as the Internet) I will do

whatever necessary to ensure that I can once again go about minding my own

business unmolested. I am not alone in this feeling. There are hundreds of

net-loving anarchists who don’t want the extra attention and bad press brought

to our little fantasy land by people who never learned how to play well as

children. Even these diehard anti-authoritarians are finding themselves caught

in a serious quandary: do they do nothing and suffer attacks, or do they make

the phone call to Washington and try to get the situation resolved?

Many people cannot afford the risk of striking back electronically, as some

people may suggest. Other people do not have the skill set needed to

orchestrate an all out electronic assault against an unknown, even if they pay

no heed to the legal risk. Even so, should anyone attempt such retribution

electronically, the assailant will merely move to a new site and begin anew.

People do not like to deal with police. No one LOVES to call up their local law

enforcement office and have a nice chat. Almost everyone feels somewhat nervous

dealing with these figures knowing that they may just as well decide to turn

their focus on you rather than the people causing problems. Even if you live

your life crime-free, there is always that underlying nervousness; even in the

real world.

However, begin an assault directed against any individual, and I guarantee he or

she will overcome such feelings and make the needed phone call. It isn’t the

“hacking” per se that will cause anyone’s downfall nor bring about governmental

regulation of the net, but the unchecked attitudes and gross disregard for human

dignity that runs rampant online.

What good can come from any of this? Surely people will regain the freedom to

go about their business, but what of the added governmental attentions?

Electronic Anti-Stalking Laws? Electronic Trespass? Electronic Forgery? False

Electronic Identification? Electronic Shoplifting? Electronic Burglary?

Electronic Assault? Electronic Loitering? Illegal Packet Sniffing equated as

Illegal Wiretaps? (7:69)

The potential for new legislation is immense. As the networks further permeate

our real lives, the continual unacceptable behavior and following public outcry

in that setting will force the ruling bodies to draft such laws. And who will

enforce these laws? And who will watch the watchmen? Often times these issues

are left to resolve themselves after the laws have passed.

Is this the future we want? One of increased legislation and governmental

regulation? With the development of the supposed National Information Super-

Highway, the tools will be in place for a new body to continually monitor

traffic for suspect activity and uphold any newly passed legislation. Do not

think that the ruling forces have not considered that potential.

The Information Age has arrived and most people don’t recognize the serious

nature behind it. Computers and the related technology can either be the answer

to the human races problems or a cause for the demise of the race. Right now we

rely on computers too much, and have too little security to protect us if they

fail. In the coming years, we will see amazing technology permeate every part of

our lives, some of which will be welcomed, some won’t, and some will be used

against us. If we don’t learn to handle the power that computers give us in the

next few years, we will all pay dearly for it. Remember the warning. The

future is here now and most people aren’t ready to handle it.

References

1.Timothy Haight, “High Tech Spies”, Time Magazine, July 5, 1993, p.24

2.Mark Ludwig, “Beyond van Eck Phreaking”, Consumertronics, 1988, p.47

3.2600: The Hacker Quarterly, Summer 1992

4. Winn Schwartau. Chaos on the Electronic Superhighway. New York, NY; Thunder

Mouth’s Press. 1994, p.264-267.

5.Phrack, Issue #46

6.Neil Munro, “Microwave Weapon Stuns Iraqis”, Defense News, April 15,

1992, p.133.

7.Alvin and Heidi Toffler, War and Anti-War. Pittsburgh, PA. Little, Brown

and Co., 1993, p.69.

8.Hactic, Issue #16 – Fall 1994

Note: Bibliographies number 3,5, and 8 are underground electronic magazines

published and spread entirely through the Internet and bulletin boards. There

are no page numbers, no authors names are ever given (for security reasons due

to content), and obviously no publisher.


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