Hacking tip of this
column: how to finger a user via telnet
Folks, below is the Guide that set it
all off -- the biggest hacker war ever, and the growth of us
Happy Hacker jokesters.
First, before reading this, you need
to know that this Guide was written for people who use Unix type
operating systems. None of the fun stuff in this Guide works
Second -- none of the cool stuff in
this guide works on any of the computers I tell you to "finger."
That's because the owners of those computers got worried about
gazillions of people fingering them and turned the finger service
off. That's a good idea anyhow, because you can generally find
a way to break into any computer that runs finger. -- Carolyn
GUIDE TO (mostly) HARMLESS HACKING
Vol. 1 Number 1
tip of this column: how to finger a user via telnet.
Hacking. The word conjures up evil computer geniuses plotting
the downfall of civilization while squirreling away billions
in electronically stolen funds in an Antigua bank.
But I define hacking as taking a playful, adventurous approach
to computers. Hackers don't go by the book. We fool around and
try odd things, and when we stumble across something entertaining
we tell our friends about it. Some of us may be crooks, but more
often we are good guys, or at least harmless.
Furthermore, hacking is surprisingly easy. Ill give
you a chance to prove it to yourself, today!
But regardless of why you want to be a hacker, it is definitely
a way to have fun, impress your buddies, and get dates. If you
are a female hacker you become totally irresistible to all men.
Take my word for it!;^D
This column can become your gateway into this world. In fact,
after reading just this first Guide to (mostly) Harmless Hacking,
you will be able to pull off a stunt that will impress the average
guy or gal unlucky^H^H^H^H^H^H^H fortunate enough to get collared
by you at a party.
So what do you need to become a hacker? Before I tell you,
however, I am going to subject you to a rant.
Have you ever posted a message to a news group or email list
devoted to hacking? You said something like What do I need
to become a hacker? right? Betcha you wont try *that*
It gives you an education in what flame means,
Yes, some of these 3l1te types like to flame the newbies.
They act like they were born clutching a Unix manual in one hand
and a TCP/IP specification document in the other and anyone who
knows less is scum.
Newbie note: 3l1t3, 31337, etc. all mean elite. The
idea is to take either the word elite or eleet
and substitute numbers for some or all the letters. We also like
zs. Hacker d00dz do this sor7 of th1ng l0tz.
Now maybe you were making a sincere call for help. But there
is a reason many hackers are quick to flame strangers who ask
What we worry about is the kind of guy who says, "I want
to become a hacker. But I *don't* want to learn programming and
operating systems. Gimme some passwords, d00dz! Yeah, and credit
Honest, I have seen this sort of post in hacker groups. Post
something like this and you are likely to wake up the next morning
to discover your email box filled with 3,000 messages from email
discussion groups on agricultural irrigation, proctology, collectors
of Franklin Mint doo-dads, etc. Etc., etc., etc....arrrgghhhh!
The reason we worry about wannabe hackers is that it is possible
to break into other peoples computers and do serious damage
even if you are almost totally ignorant.
How can a clueless newbie trash other peoples computers?
Easy. There are public FTP and Web sites on the Internet that
offer canned hacking programs.
Thanks to these canned tools, many of the hackers
you read about getting busted are in fact clueless newbies.
This column will teach you how to do real, yet legal and harmless
hacking, without resorting to these hacking tools. But I wont
teach you how to harm other peoples computers. Or even
how to break in where you dont belong.
You can go to jail tip: Even if you do no harm, if you break
into a portion of a computer that is not open to the public,
you have committed a crime. If you telnet across a state line
to break in, you have committed a federal felony.
I will focus on hacking the Internet. The reason is that each
computer on the Internet has some sort of public connections
with the rest of the Net. What this means is that if you use
the right commands, you can *legally* access these computers.
That, of course, is what you already do when you visit a Web
site. But I will show you how to access and use Internet host
computers in ways that most people didnt know were possible.
Furthermore, these are *fun* hacks.
In fact, soon you will be learning hacks that shed light on
how other people (Not you, right? Promise?) may crack into the
non-public parts of hosts. And -- these are hacks that anyone
But, there is one thing you really need to get. It will make
hacking infinitely easier:
A SHELL ACCOUNT!!!!
A shell account is an Internet account in which
your computer becomes a terminal of one of your ISPs
host computers. Once you are in the shell you can
give commands to the Unix operating system just like you were
sitting there in front of one of your ISPs hosts.
Warning: the tech support person at your ISP may tell you
that you have a shell account when you really dont.
Many ISPs dont really like shell accounts, either. Guess
why? If you dont have a shell account, you cant hack!
But you can easily tell if it is a real shell account. First,
you should use a terminal emulation program to log
on. You will need a program that allows you to imitate a VT 100
terminal. If you have Windows 3.1 or Windows 95, a VT 100 terminal
program is included as one of your accessory program.
Any good ISP will allow you to try it out for a few days with
a guest account. Get one and then try out a few Unix commands
to make sure it is really a shell account.
You dont know Unix? If you are serious about understanding
hacking, youll need some good reference books. No, I don't
mean the kind with breathless titles like Secrets of
Super hacker. Ive bought too many of that kind of
book. They are full of hot air and thin on how-to. Serious hackers
study books on:
a) Unix. I like "The Unix Companion" by Harley
b) Shells. I like "Learning the Bash Shell" by
Cameron Newham and Bill Rosenblatt. A shell is the
command interface between you and the Unix operating system.
c) TCP/IP, which is the set of protocols that make the
Internet work. I like "TCP/IP for Dummies" by Marshall
Wilensky and Candace Leiden.
OK, rant is over. Time to hack!
How would you like to start your hacking career with one of
the simplest, yet potentially hairy, hacks of the Internet? Here
it comes: telnet to a finger port.
Have you ever used the finger command before? Finger will
sometimes tell you a bunch of stuff about other people on the
Internet. Normally you would just enter the command:
But instead of Joe Schmoe, you put in the email address of
someone you would like to check out. For example, my email address
is . So to finger me, give the command:
var name = "cmeinel";
var domain = "cmeinel.com";
document.write('<a href=\"mailto:' + name + '@' + domain + '\">');
document.write(name + '@' + domain + '</a>');
Now this command may tell you something, or it may fail with
a message such as access denied.
But there is a more elite way to finger people. You can give
telnet llama.swcp.com 79
What this command has just done is let you get on a computer
with an Internet address of llama.swcp.com through its port 79
-- without giving it a password.
But the program that llama and many other Internet hosts are
running will usually allow you to give only ONE command before
automatically closing the connection. Make that command:
This will tell you a hacker secret about why port 79 and its
finger programs are way more significant than you might think.
Or, heck, maybe something else if the friendly neighborhood hacker
is still planting insulting messages in my files.
If any of you folks reading this
really, sincerely want to use finger to break into a computer,
try one of our wargame
computers. While in your shell account on a Unix type computer,
type the command "telnet meyer.happyhacker.org 79"
and give the commands "cmeinel", "@", "root"
and other commands of your own devising -- hey, that's hacking,
folks! -- Carolyn Meinel
Now, for an extra hacking bonus, try telnetting to some other
ports. For example:
telnet kitsune.swcp.com 13
That will give you the time and date here in New Mexico, and:
telnet slug.swcp.com 19
Will show you a good time!
OK, I'm signing off for this column. And I promise to tell
you more about what the big deal is over telnetting to finger
-- but later. Happy hacking!
Want to share some kewl hacker stuph? Tell me Im terrific?
Flame me? For the first two, Im at .
Please direct flames to firstname.lastname@example.org. Happy hacking!
© 1996 Carolyn P. Meinel. You may forward the GUIDE TO
(mostly) HARMLESS HACKING Ezine as long as you leave this notice
at the end. To subscribe, email with message
"subscribe hacker <email@example.com>" substituting
your real email address for Joe Blow's.