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How to Use Finger

Many people who read this Guide wonder "where do you put the commands?" Sorry, but I wrote this back when it seemed like everyone and his brother had a "shell account." If you are using an ordinary Internet Service provider or America Online, forget this Guide. If you really, really want to delve into the mysteries of finger, you need to either be able to get online with Linux or else get a shell account.

Nowadays you aren't likely to find many finger programs that will let you break into a computer -- unless you use the old and still valid trick of fingering for user names and then looking for some poor chump who made his password the same as his user name. However, you never know what new things one might discover...

Oh, yes, if you admin a Unix type computer, please turn finger off, or you will suffer the slings and arrows of countless code kiddies.

-- Carolyn Meinel


Vol. 1 Number 3

How finger can be used to crack into an Internet host.

Before you get too excited over learning how finger can be used to crack an Internet host, will all you law enforcement folks out there please relax. I’m not giving step-by-step instructions. I’m certainly not handing out code from those publicly available canned cracking tools that any newbie could use to gain illegal access to some hosts.

What you are about to read are some basic principles and techniques behind cracking with finger. In fact, some of these techniques are fun and legal as long as they aren’t taken too far. And they might tell you a thing or two about how to make your Internet hosts more secure.

You could also use this information to become a cracker. Your choice. Just keep in mind what it would be like to be the “girlfriend” of a cell mate named “Spike.”

Newbie note #1: Many people assume “hacking” and “cracking” are synonymous. But “cracking” is gaining illegal entry into a computer. “Hacking” is the entire universe of kewl stuff one can do with computers, often without breaking the law or causing harm.

What is finger? It is a program which runs on port 79 of many Internet host computers. It is normally used to provide information on people who are users of a given computer.

For review, let’s consider the virtuous but boring way to give your host computer the finger command:

finger Joe_Blow@boring.ISP.net

This causes your computer to telnet to port 79 on the host boring.ISP.net. It gets whatever is in the .plan and .project files for Joe Blow and displays them on your computer screen.

More fun with finger--->>

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