GUIDE TO (mostly) HARMLESS HACKING
Beginners' Series Number 8
Telnet: the Number One
by Carolyn Meinel
In this Guide you will learn:
"Where do I type that command?" People ask that all
the time when they read my early Guides to (mostly) Harmless Hacking.
I wrote those guides back when the Internet was in its infancy
and almost everyone in cyberspace used telnet. However, nowadays
you might never even hear about telnet, much less use it, unless
you are a hacker. So if you are still wondering about telnet,
today is your lucky day.
What Is Telnet?
Telnet is a protocol that is most commonly used to log into a
remote computer. It also is the single most powerful hacking tool
on the planet. With just a telnet client program, you can:
- send email
- download source code from web sites
- send unexpected input to webservers that can give you amazing
and sometimes illegal results
- give arbitrary input to many other services on Internet host
- probe the services offered by servers, routers and even people's
How to Telnet
Don't know how to telnet? Click the easy telnet links at http://happyhacker.org/wargame/ and land in the
middle of a real hacker wargame! This should work regardless of
your computer operating system -- if you have an up to date browser,
if your online service provider gives you a true Internet connection,
and if your computer is able to telnet at all.
Did those links get you into a telnet session? Were you able
to login to a remote computer? If yes, congratulations.
If not, how can you fix the problem? If no telnet program appeared
on your monitor when you clicked these links, perhaps your browser
is too ancient to allow telnet. Try installing the latest Netscape
Or, perhaps your operating system does not include a telnet program.
In that case, install or reinstall Windows 95 or 98. If you own
a Mac, get the superb Mac OS X or Linux PPC (http://www.linuxppc.com).
If a telnet program came up and failed to connect, possibly the
computer you were trying to telnet into was down or just plain
no longer in existence. Or, you may be using America Online (or
a similar extremely poor online service). If so, your simplest
solution may be to get a better online service provider. Determined
to hack using AOL? See http://happyhacker.org/aol.shtml
for some ways to make AOL give you a true Internet connection.
OK, so you've managed to telnet for the first time. Presumably
you don't want to limit yourself to telnet links on web sites.
How do you telnet anywhere you want to go?
If you have Linux or any other type of Unix (BSD, SCO, Solaris,
Sun OS, Irix, Ultrix, etc.) telneting is easy. Just bring up "console"
or "shell" (or whatever your GUI calls the command line
interface). At the prompt type:
telnet <hostname or IP address>