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How to Get into a Hacker War

"I want to fight in a hacker war. How do I get in?"

I get email like this all the time. Many newbie hackers long for my frequent experiences of being attacked by a talented gang of computer criminals. The excitement! The opportunity to go mano a mano with bad dudes and prove you are better than them!

There is some truth to this view. To be honest, I get a thrill fighting those criminals -- using legal tactics, of course. Believe me, if we catch the Succeed.net attackers, you will hear about it. But before you make the decision to join us freedom fighters, count up the cost. It isn't always fun.

But I've stood up to them. And, shoot, I'm just an old lady. So if you want to attract a hacker war, and believe you are as tough or tougher than me, be my guest. But before you start provoking attacks, please wait for me to get out the next two parts of this Information Warfare series, so you can learn how to repair your credit rating and recover from other digital disasters. You'll find plenty of things in the next Guides in this series that will help you survive even the most determined hacker war. Even the kind of war that attempts to steal all you own, wipe out your identity, and threaten the lives of your family.

So just how do you get into a hacker war? The easiest way is to attend a hacker convention. There are all sorts of twisted people at these things, kind of like the bar scene in Star Wars. "He said, he doesn't like the way you look." If you fail to grovel and suck up to those d00dz, or, worse yet, tell them firmly that you favor freedom of speech, or even worse yet, make fun of them for being cybernazis, you can be in for lots of excitement.

How to Keep from Getting Caught -- NOT!

So you want to be the attacker in a hacker war? So you think you can keep from getting caught? According to jericho, writing in his "F***ed Up College Kids" ezine, "You have media whores like Carolyn Meinel trying to teach people to hack, writing guides to hacking full of f***ups. Telling these people what to do, but not giving them enough information to adequately protect themselves."

I agree with jericho, if you decide to become a computer criminal in a hacker war, I'm not talented enough to teach you how to keep from getting caught.

In fact, no one can teach you how to keep from getting caught. I'll tell you exactly why, too.

At a Def Con V panel I hosted (Las Vegas, July 1997), jericho boasted "When I break in, I close the doors behind me." He makes a big deal about how hackers can keep from getting busted by deleting or modifying log files. Yeah. Right. Not!

Let me tell you the REAL story about what happens when hackers think they are covering their tracks. Sure, an ordinary sysadmin can't restore a deleted file on a Unix system. But there are people out there with the technology to restore deleted files -- even files that have been overwritten hundred of times. They can restore them regardless of operating system. There are people out there who can extract everything that has been on a hard disk for the last several months -- or years. I know those people. I arrange for them to read those hard disks. Guess who's toast:):):)

Then there is surveillance. Some 31337 haxor is sitting at his box raising hell and "closing doors after him." What he doesn't know is that thanks to a court order inspired by his boasts, someone is sitting in a van a hundred yards away -- picking up every keystroke. Van Eck radiation, luser. Or picking up the signals that run down the power cord of your computer. Ever heard of Tempest?

Even if the cybercrime detective doesn't have all this high-tech hardware on hand, the history of hacker crime shows that criminals will talk in exchange for lenient sentencing. Commit one easy-to-prove federal felony, let's say posting someone's stolen email on one's public ftp server (who do we know who has done this?), and the Feds have lots of bargaining power against him.

So even if I wanted to help people become ubercriminals, I can't. Not because I don't know how. Because there is no way. The 31337 d00dz who tell you otherwise are seriously ignorant.

I predict the Succeed.net attackers are will wind up in jail. Soon. Perhaps not for that crime. But their days of freedom are numbered. It is only a matter of picking which of their many crimes will hold up best in court, and who will give evidence against whom. Time to study game theory -- can you say "prisoners' dilemma," wannabe ubercriminals? Who's the narc?

"But, but," I can hear the Super Duper computer criminals sputtering. "My buddies and I break the law all the time and we've never been busted. OK, OK, my other buddy got busted, but he was lame."

It's just a matter of time. They need to go straight before their number is up. Or make the decision to obtain their "get out of jail free" cards by informing on their gang before their day of doom comes up. They have much better bargaining power if they make a deal before arrest.

If you happen to be a cybernazi who is having second thoughts, and would like help making a deal with the authorities, please contact me anonymously using my pgp key:

Version: PGP for Personal Privacy 5.0


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