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          December 1, 1997



	* R.J. Gosselin  --  MS Office Major Encryption Problem
	* Agent Steal --  Getting Arrested by the Feds !
 	* Carolyn Meinel --  Network Attack Trends Report (Fwd)
	* Carolyn Meinel --  Major security flaw in Cybercash 2.1.2

MS Office Major Encryption Problem -- RJ

{NAME WITHHELD} discovered what looks like a major hole in Microsoft Office
(95 and 97)passworded files.  He relayed the information to me, and I have
tested it locally on my system.  I have been able to reproduce it.

In his original message to me, he wrote 
"While the files are encrypted (and I know that the Office 95 file
encryption is laughably weak), *the file attachments are not.* So if you
attach a Visio picture or Excel spreadsheet to a passworded Word file,
they are saved in the clear. Any ASCII file viewer can be used to easily
verify this.

Needless to say, one can get a lot of information from attachments.

This problem exists for both Word and Excel, 95 and 97.

I e-mailed to secure@microsoft.com and never received a reply besides
the boilerplate "if we consider this a security problem we'll contact you
within one business day, otherwise call support."

So if you really want to safeguard your MS Office files, use a third-party
encryption package."

Many thanks to Betty G.O'Hearn who is the
assistant to Mr. Winn Schwartau for forwarding this to me.  It is long, but
insightful, so I have reproduced it inits entirety.

   Written By Agent Steal (From Federal Prison, 1997)
      Internet E-mail, agentsteal@usa.net
      Contributions and editing by Minor Threat and Netta Gilboa
      Special thanks to Evian S. Sim
This article may be freely reproduced, in whole or in part, provided
acknowledgments are given to the author. Any reproduction for profit, lame
zines, (that means you t0mmy, el8, you thief) or law enforcement use is
prohibited. The author and contributors to this phile in no way advocate
criminal behavior.
   A. Relevant Conduct
   B. Preparing for Trial
   C. Plea Agreements and Attorneys
   D. Conspiracy
   E. Sentencing
   F. Use of Special Skill
   G. Getting Bail
   H. State v. Federal Charges
   I. Cooperating
   J. Still Thinking About Trial
   K. Search and Seizure
   L. Surveillance
   M. Presentence Investigation
   N. Proceeding Pro Se
   O. Evidentiary Hearing
   P. Return of Property
   Q. Outstanding Warrants
   R. Encryption
   A. State v. Federal
   B. Security Levels
   C. Getting Designated
   D. Ignorant Inmates
   E. Population
   F. Doing Time
   G. Disciplinary Action
   H. Administrative Remedy
   I. Prison Officials
   J. The Hole
   K. Good Time
   L. Halfway House
   M. Supervised Release
   N. Summary
Nobody wants to get involved in a criminal case and I've yet to meet a
hacker who was fully prepared for it happening to them. There are thousands
of paper and electronic magazines, CD-ROMS, web pages and text files about
hackers and hacking available, yet there is nothing in print until now that
specifically covers what to do when an arrest actually happens to you. Most
hackers do not plan for an arrest by hiding their notes or encrypting their
data, and most of them have some sort of address book seized from them too
(the most famous of which still remains the one seized from The Not So
Humble Babe). Most of them aren't told the full scope of the investigation
up front, and as the case goes on more comes to light, often only at the
last minute. Invariably, the hacker in question was wiretapped and/or
narced on by someone previously raided who covered up their own raid or
minimized it in order to get off by implicating others. Once one person
goes down it always affects many others later. My own 
experience comes from living with a retired hacker arrested ten months after
he had stopped hacking for old crimes because another hacker informed on
him in exchange for being let go himself. What goes around, comes around.
It's food for thought that the hacker you taunt today will be able to cut a
deal for himself by informing on you later. From what I've seen on the
criminal justice system as it relates to hackers, the less enemies you pick
on the better and the less groups you join and people who you i nteract
with the better as well. There's a lot to be said for being considered a
lamer and having no one really have anything to pin on you when the feds
ask around.
I met Agent Steal, ironically, as a result of the hackers who had fun
picking on me at Defcon. I posted the speech I gave there on the Gray Areas
web page (which I had not originally intended to post, but decided to after
it was literally stolen out of my hands so I could not finish it) and
someone sent Agent Steal a copy while he was incarcerated. He wrote me a
letter of support, and while several hackers taunted me that I had no
friends in the community and was not wanted, and one even mailbombed our
CompuServe account causing us to lose the account and our email there, I
laughed knowing that this article was in progress and that of all of the
publications it could have been given to first it was Gray Areas that was
This article marks the first important attempt at cooperation to inform the
community as a whole (even our individual enemies) about how best to
protect themselves. I know there will be many more hacker cases until
hackers work together instead of attacking each other and making it so easy
for the government to divide them. It's a sad reality that NAMBLA,
deadheads, adult film stars and bookstores, marijuana users and other
deviant groups are so much more organized than hackers who claim to be so
adept at, and involved with, gathering and using information. Hackers are
simply the easiest targets of any criminal subculture. While Hackerz.org
makes nice T-shirts (which they don't give free or even discount to hackers
in jail, btw), they simply don't have the resources to help hackers in
trouble. Neither does the EFF, which lacks lawyers willing to work pro bono
(free) in most of the 50 states. Knight Lightning still owes his attorney
money. So does Bernie S. This is not something that disappears from your
life the day the case is over. 80% or more of prisoners lose their lovers
and/or their families after the arrest. While there are notable exceptions,
this has been true for more hackers than I care to think about. The FBI or
Secret Service will likely visit your lovers and try to turn them against
you. The mainstream media will lie about your charges, the facts of your
case and the outcome. If you're lucky they'll remember to use the word
"allegedly." While most hackers probably think Emmanuel Goldstein and 2600
will help them, I know of many hackers whose cases he ignored totally when
contacted. Although he's credited for helping Phiber Optik, in reality
Phiber got more jail time for going to trial on Emmanuel's advice than his
co-defendants who didn't have Emmanuel help them and pled instead. Bernie
S. got his jaw broken perhaps in part from the government's anger at
Emmanuel's publicizing of the case, and despite all the attention Emmanuel
has gotten for Kevin Mitnick it didn't stop Mitnick's being put in
solitary confinement or speed up his trial date any. One thing is clear
though. Emmanuel's sales of 2600 dramatically increased as a result of
covering the above cases to the tune of over 25,000 copies per issue. It
does give pause for thought, if he cares so much about the hackers and not
his own sales and fame, as to why he has no ties to the Hackerz.org defense
fund or why he has not started something useful of his own. Phrack and
other zines historically have merely reposted incorrect newspaper reports
which can cause the hackers covered even more damage. Most of your hacker
friends who you now talk to daily will run from you after your arrest and
will tell other people all sorts of stories to cover up the fact they don't
know a thing. Remember too that your "friends" are the people most likely
to get you arrested too, as even if your phone isn't wiretapped now theirs
may be, and the popular voice bridges and conference calls you talk to them
on surely are.
They say information wants to be free, and so here is a gift to the
community (also quite applicable to anyone accused of any federal crime if
one substitutes another crime for the word hacking). Next time you put down
a hacker in jail and laugh about how they are getting raped while you're on
IRC, remember that someone is probably logging you and if you stay active
it's a good bet your day will come too. You won't be laughing then, and I
hope you'll have paid good attention when you're suddenly in jai l with no
bail granted and every last word you read here turns out to be true. Those
of us who have been there before wish you good luck in advance. Remember
the next time you put them down that ironically it's them you'll have to
turn to for advice shoul d it happen to you. Your lawyer isn't likely to
know a thing about computer crimes and it's the cases of the hackers who
were arrested before you which, like it or not, will provide the legal
precedents for your own conviction.
Netta "grayarea" Gilboa
The likelihood of getting arrested for computer hacking has increased to an
unprecedented level. No matter how precautionary or sage you are, you're
bound to make mistakes. And the fact of the matter is if you have trusted
anyone else with the know ledge of what you are involved in, you have made
your first mistake.
For anyone active in hacking I cannot begin to stress the importance of the
information contained in this file. To those who have just been arrested by
the Feds, reading this file could mean the difference between a three-year
or a one-year sentence. To those who have never been busted, reading this
file will likely change the way you hack, or stop you from hacking altogether.
I realize my previous statements are somewhat lofty, but in the 35 months I
spent incarcerated I've heard countless inmates say it: "If I knew then
what I know now." I doubt that anyone would disagree: The criminal justice
system is a game to be played, both by prosecution and defense. And if you
have to be a player, you would be wise to learn the rules of engagement.
The writer and contributors of this file have learned the hard way. As a
result we turned our hacking skills during the times of our incarceration
towards the study of criminal law and, ultimately, survival. Having filed
our own motions, written our own briefs and endured life in prison, we now
pass this
knowledge back to the hacker community. Learn from our experiences... and
our mistakes.
Agent Steal
For those of you with a short G-phile attention span I'm going to cover the
single most important topic first. This is probably the most substantial
misunderstanding of the present criminal justice system. The subject I am
talking about is referred to in legal circles as "relevant conduct." It's a
bit complex and I will get into this. However, I have to make his crystal
clear so that it will stick in your heads. It boils down to two concepts:
Regardless of whether you plea bargain to one count or 100, your sentence
will be the same. This is assuming we are talking about hacking, code
abuse, carding, computer trespass, property theft, etc. All of these are
treated the same. Other crimes you committed (but were not charged with)
will also be used to calculate your sentence. You do not have to be proven
guilty of every act. As long as it appears that you were responsible, or
someone says you were, then it can be used against you. I know this sounds
insane , but it's true; it's the preponderance of evidence standard for
relevant conduct. This practice includes using illegally seized evidence
and acquittals as information in increasing the length of your sentence.
The Feds use a sentencing table to calculate your sentence. It's simple;
More Money = More Time. It doesn't matter if you tried to break in 10 times
or 10,000 times. Each one could be a count but it's the loss that matters.
And an unsuccessful attempt is treated the same as a completed crime. It
also doesn't matter if you tried to break into one company's computer or
10. The government will quite simply add all of the estimated loss figures
up, and then refer to the sentencing table.
I've been trying to be overly simplistic with my explanation. The United
States Sentencing Guidelines (U.S.S.G.), are in fact quite complex. So much
so that special law firms are forming that deal only with sentencing. If
you get busted, I would highly recommend hiring one. In some cases it might
be wise to avoid hiring a trial attorney and go straight to one of these
"Post Conviction Specialists." Save your money, plead out, do your time.
This may sound a little harsh, but considering the fact that the U.S.
Attorney's Office has a 95% conviction rate, it may be sage advice.
However, I don't want to gloss over the importance of a ready for trial
posturing. If you have a strong trial attorney, and have a strong case, it
will go a long way towards good plea bargain negotiations.
Your attorney can be your worst foe or your finest advocate. Finding the
proper one can be a difficult task. Costs will vary and typically the
attorney asks you how much cash you can raise and then says, "that amount
will be fine". In actuality a simple plea and sentencing should run you
around $15,000. Trial fees can easily soar into the 6 figure category. And
finally, a post conviction specialist will charge $5000 to $15,000 to
handle your sentencing presentation with final arguments.
You may however, find yourself at the mercy of The Public Defenders Office.
Usually they are worthless, occasionally you'll find one that will fight
for you. Essentially it's a crap shoot. All I can say is if you don't like
the one you have, fire them and hope you get appointed a better one. If
you can scrape together $5000 for a sentencing (post conviction) specialist
to work with your public defender I would highly recommend it. This
specialist will make certain the judge sees the whole picture and will
argue in the most effective manner for a light or reasonable sentence. Do
not rely on your public defender to thoroughly present your case. Your
sentencing hearing is going to flash by so fast you'll walk out of the
court room dizzy. You and your defense team need to go into that hearing
fully prepared, having already filed a sentencing memorandum.
The plea agreement you sign is going to affect you and your case well after
you are sentenced. Plea agreements can be tricky business and if you are
not careful or are in a bad defense position (the case against you is
strong), your agreement may get the best of you. There are many issues in a
plea to negotiate over. But essentially my advice would be to avoid signing
away your right to appeal. Once you get to a real prison with real
jailhouse lawyers you will find out how bad you got screwed. That issue
notwithstanding, you are most likely going to want to appeal. This being
the case you need to remember two things: bring all your appealable issues
up at sentencing and file a notice of appeal within 10 days of your
sentencing. Snooze and loose.
I should however, mention that you can appeal some issues even though you
signed away your rights to appeal. For example, you can not sign away your
right to appeal an illegal sentence. If the judge orders something that is
not permissible by statute, you then have a constitutional right to appeal
your sentence.
I will close this subpart with a prison joke. Q: How can you tell when your
attorney is lying? A: You can see his lips moving.
Whatever happened to getting off on a technicality? I'm sorry to say those
days are gone, left only to the movies. The courts generally dismiss many
arguments as "harmless error" or "the government acted in good faith". The
most alarming trend, and surely the root of the prosecutions success, are
the liberally worded conspiracy laws. Quite simply, if two or more people
plan to do something illegal, then one of them does something in
furtherance of the objective (even something legal), then it's a crime.
Yes, it's true. In America it's illegal to simply talk about committing a
crime. Paging Mr. Orwell. Hello?
Here's a hypothetical example to clarify this. Bill G. and Marc A. are
hackers (can you imagine?) Bill and Marc are talking on the phone and
unbeknownst to them the FBI is recording the call. They talk about hacking
into Apple's mainframe and erasing the prototype of the new Apple Web
Browser. Later that day, Marc does some legitimate research to find out
what type of mainframe and operating system Apple uses. The next morning,
the Feds raid Marc's house and seize everything that has wires. Bill and
Marc go to trial and spend millions to defend themselves. They are both
found guilty of conspiracy to commit unauthorized access to a computer system.
At this point it is up to the probation department to prepare a report for
the court. It is their responsibility to calculate the loss and identify
any aggravating or mitigating circumstances. Apple Computer Corporation
estimates that if Bill and M arc would have been successful it would have
resulted in a loss of $2 million. This is the figure the court will use.
Based on this basic scenario our dynamic duo would receive roughly
three-year sentences.
As I mentioned, sentencing is complex and many factors can decrease or
increase a sentence, usually the latter. Let's say that the FBI also found
a file on Marc's computer with 50,000 unauthorized account numbers and
passwords to The Microsoft Network. Even if the FBI does not charge him
with this, it could be used to increase his sentence. Generally the
government places a $200-per-account attempted loss on things of this
nature (i.e. credit card numbers and passwords = access devices). This
makes for a $10 million loss. Coupled with the $2 million from Apple, Marc
is going away for about nine years. Fortunately there is a Federal Prison
not too far from Redmond, WA so Bill could come visit him.
Some of the other factors to be used in the calculation of a sentence might
include the following: past criminal record, how big your role in the
offense was, mental disabilities, whether or not you were on probation at
the time of the offense, if any weapons were used, if any threats were
used, if your name is Kevin Mitnick (heh), if an elderly person was
victimized, if you took advantage of your employment position, if you are
highly trained and used your special skill, if you cooperated with the
authorities, if you show remorse, if you went to trial, etc.
These are just some of the many factors that could either increase or
decrease a sentence. It would be beyond the scope of this article to cover
the U.S.S.G. in complete detail. I do feel that I have skipped over some
significant issues. Neverthele ss, if you remember my two main points in
addition to how the conspiracy law works, you'll be a long way ahead in
protecting yourself.
The only specific "sentencing enhancement" I would like to cover would be
one that I am responsible for setting a precedent with. In U.S. v Petersen,
98 F.3d. 502, 9th Cir., the United States Court of Appeals held that some
computer hackers may qualify for the special skill enhancement. What this
generally means is a 6 to 24 month increase in a sentence. In my case it
added eight months to my 33-month sentence bringing it to 41 months.
Essentially the court stated that since I used my "sophisticated" hacking
skills towards a legitimate end as a computer security consultant, then the
enhancement applies. It's ironic that if I were to have remained strictly a
criminal hacker then I would have served less time.
The moral of the story is that the government will find ways to give you as
much time as they want to. The U.S.S.G. came into effect in 1987 in an
attempt to eliminate disparity in sentencing. Defendants with similar
crimes and similar backgrounds would often receive different sentences.
Unfortunately, this practice still continues. The U.S.S.G. are indeed a

In the past, the Feds might simply have executed their raid and then left
without arresting you. Presently this method will be the exception rather
than the rule and it is more likely that you will be taken into custody at
the time of the raid. Chances are also good that you will not be released
on bail. This is part of the government's plan to break you down and win
their case. If they can find any reason to deny you bail they will. In
order to qualify for bail, you must meet the following criteri a:
   - You must be a resident of the jurisdiction in which you were arrested.
   - You must be gainfully employed or have family ties to the area.
   - You cannot have a history of failure to appear or escape.
   - You cannot be considered a danger or threat to the community.
   In addition, your bail can be denied for the following reasons:
   - Someone came forward and stated to the court that you said you would
flee if released.
   - Your sentence will be long if convicted.
   - You have a prior criminal history.
   - You have pending charges in another jurisdiction.
What results from all this "bail reform" is that only about 20% of persons
arrested make bail. On top of that it takes 1-3 weeks to process your bail
papers when property is involved in securing your bond.
Now you're in jail, more specifically you are either in an administrative
holding facility or a county jail that has a contract with the Feds to hold
their prisoners. Pray that you are in a large enough city to justify its
own Federal Detention Center. County jails are typically the last place you
would want to be.
In some cases you will be facing state charges with the possibility of the
Feds "picking them up." You may even be able to nudge the Feds into
indicting you. This is a tough decision. With the state you will do
considerably less time, but will face a tougher crowd and conditions in
prison. Granted Federal Prisons can be violent too, but generally as a
non-violent white collar criminal you will eventually be placed into an
environment with other low security inmates. More on this later.
Until you are sentenced, you will remain as a "pretrial inmate" in general
population with other inmates. Some of the other inmates will be
predatorial but the Feds do not tolerate much nonsense. If someone acts up,
they'll get thrown in the hole. If they continue to pose a threat to the
inmate population, they will be left in segregation (the hole).
Occasionally inmates that are at risk or that have been threatened will be
placed in segregation. This isn't really to protect the inmate. It is to pr
otect the prison from a lawsuit should the inmate get injured.
Naturally when you are first arrested the suits will want to talk to you.
First at your residence and, if you appear to be talkative, they will take
you back to their offices for an extended chat and a cup of coffee. My
advice at this point is tried and true and we've all heard it before:
remain silent and ask to speak with an attorney. Regardless of what the
situation is, or how you plan to proceed, there is nothing you can say that
will help you. Nothing. Even if you know that you are going to cooperate,
this is not the time.
This is obviously a controversial subject, but the fact of the matter is
roughly 80% of all defendants eventually confess and implicate others. This
trend stems from the extremely long sentences the Feds are handing out
these days. Not many people want to do 10 to 20 years to save their
buddies' hides when they could be doing 3 to 5. This is a decision each
individual needs to make. My only advice would be to save your close
friends and family. Anyone else is fair game. In the prison system the
blacks have a saying "Getting down first." It's no secret that the first
defendant in a conspiracy is usually going to get the best deal. I've even
seen situations where the big fish turned in all his little fish and
eceived 40% off his sentence.
Incidently, being debriefed or interrogated by the Feds can be an ordeal in
itself. I would -highly- reccommend reading up on interrogation techniques
ahead of time. Once you know their methods it will be all quite transparent
to you and the debriefing goes much more smoothly.
When you make a deal with the government you're making a deal with the
devil himself. If you make any mistakes they will renege on the deal and
you'll get nothing. On some occasions the government will trick you into
thinking they want you to cooperate when they are not really interested in
anything you have to say. They just want you to plead guilty. When you sign
the cooperation agreement there are no set promises as to how much of a
sentence reduction you will receive. That is to be decided after your
testimony, etc. and at the time of sentencing. It's entirely up to the
judge. However, the prosecution makes the recommendation and the judge
generally goes along with it. In fact, if the prosecution does not motion
the court for your "downward departure" the courts' hands are tied and you
get no break.
As you can see, cooperating is a tricky business. Most people, particularly
those who have never spent a day in jail, will tell you not to cooperate.
"Don't snitch." This is a noble stance to take. However, in some situations
it is just plain stupid. Saving someone's ass who would easily do the same
to you is a tough call. It's something that needs careful consideration.
Like I said, save your friends then do what you have to do to get out of
prison and on with your life.
I'm happy to say that I was able to avoid involving my good friends and a
former employer in the massive investigation that surrounded my case. It
wasn't easy. I had to walk a fine line. Many of you probably know that I
(Agent Steal) went to work for the FBI after I was arrested. I was
responsible for teaching several agents about hacking and the culture. What
many of you don't know is that I had close FBI ties prior to my arrest. I
was involved in hacking for over 15 years and had worked as a comp uter
security consultant. That is why I was given that opportunity. It is
unlikely however, that we will see many more of these types of arrangements
in the future. Our relationship ran afoul, mostly due to their passive
negligence and lack of experience in dealing with hackers. The government
in general now has their own resources, experience, and undercover agents
within the community. They no longer need hackers to show them the ropes or
the latest security hole.
Nevertheless, if you are in the position to tell the Feds something they
don't know and help them build a case against someone, you may qualify for
a sentence reduction. The typical range is 20% to 70%. Usually it's around
35% to 50%.
Sometimes you may find yourself at the end of the prosecutorial food chain
and the government will not let you cooperate. Kevin Mitnick would be a
good example of this. Even if he wanted to roll over, I doubt it would get
him much. He's just too big of a fish, too much media. My final advice in
this matter is get the deal in writing before you start cooperating.
The Feds also like it when you "come clean" and accept responsibility.
There is a provision in the Sentencing Guidelines, 3E1.1, that knocks a
little bit of time off if you confess to your crime, plead guilty and show
remorse. If you go to trial, typically you will not qualify for this
"acceptance of responsibility" and your sentence will be longer.
Many hackers may remember the Craig Neidorf case over the famous 911 System
Operation documents. Craig won his case when it was discovered that the
manual in question, that he had published in Phrack magazine, was not
proprietary as claimed but available publicly from AT&T. It was an egg in
the face day for the Secret Service.
Don't be misled by this. The government learned a lot from this fiasco and
even with the laudable support from the EFF, Craig narrowly thwarted off a
conviction. Regardless, it was a trying experience (no pun intended) for
him and his attorneys. Th e point I'm trying to make is that it's tough to
beat the Feds. They play dirty and will do just about anything, including
lie, to win their case. If you want to really win you need to know how they
build a case in the first place.

There is a document entitled "Federal Guidelines For Searching And Seizing
Computers." It first came to my attention when it was published in the
12-21-94 edition of the Criminal Law Reporter by the Bureau of National
Affairs (Cite as 56 CRL 2023 ) . It's an intriguing collection of tips,
cases, mistakes and, in general, how to bust computer hackers. It's
recommended reading.
Search and seizure is an ever evolving jurisprudence. What's not
permissible today may, through some convoluted Supreme Court logic, be
permissible and legal tomorrow. Again, a complete treatment of this subject
is beyond the scope of this paper. But suffice it to say if a Federal agent
wants to walk right into your bedroom and seize all of your computer
equipment without a warrant he could do it by simply saying he had probable
cause (PC). PC is anything that gives him an inkling to believe you we re
committing a crime. Police have been known to find PC to search a car when
the trunk sat too low to the ground or the high beams were always on.
Fortunately the Feds still have to show a little restraint when wielding
their wiretaps. It requires a court order and they have to show that there
is no other way to obtain the information they seek, a last resort if you
will. Wiretaps are also expensive to operate. They have to lease lines from
the phone company, pay agents to monitor it 24 hours a day and then
transcribe it. If we are talking about a data tap, there are additional
costs. Expensive interception/translation equipment must be in place to
negotiate the various modem speeds. Then the data has to be stored,
deciphered, decompressed, formatted, protocoled, etc. It's a daunting task
and usually reserved for only the highest profile cases. If the Feds can
seize the data from any other so urce, like the service provider or victim,
they will take that route. I don't know what they hate worse though, asking
for outside help or wasting valuable internal resources.
The simplest method is to enlist the help of an informant who will testify
"I saw him do it!," then obtain a search warrant to seize the evidence on
your computer. Ba da boom, ba da busted.
Other devices include a pen register which is a device that logs every
digit you dial on your phone and the length of the calls, both incoming and
outgoing. The phone companies keep racks of them at their security
departments. They can place one on your line within a day if they feel you
are defrauding them. They don't need a court order, but the Feds do.
A trap, or trap and trace, is typically any method the phone company uses
to log every number that calls a particular number. This can be done on the
switching system level or via a billing database search. The Feds need a
court order for this information too. However, I've heard stories of
cooperative telco security investigations passing the information along to
an agent. Naturally that would be a "harmless error while acting in good
faith." (legal humor)
I'd love to tell you more about FBI wiretaps but this is as far as I can go
without pissing them off. Everything I've told you thus far is public
knowledge. So I think I'll stop here. If you really want to know more,
catch Kevin Poulsen (Dark Dante ) at a cocktail party, buy him a Coke and
he'll give you an earful. (hacker humor)
In closing this subpart I will say that most electronic surveillance is
backed up with at least part-time physical surveillance. The Feds are often
good at following people around. They like late model mid-sized American
cars, very stock, with no decals or bumper stickers. If you really want to
know if you're under surveillance, buy an Opto-electronics Scout or Xplorer
frequency counter. Hide it on your person, stick an ear plug in your ear
(for the Xplorer) and take it everywhere you go. If you he ar people
talking about you, or you continue to hear intermittent static (encrypted
speech), you probably have a problem.
After you plead guilty you will be dragged from the quiet and comfort of
your prison cell to meet with a probation officer. This has absolutely
nothing to do with getting probation. Quite the contrary. The P.O. is
empowered by the court to prepare a complete and, in theory, unbiased
profile of the defendant. Everything from education, criminal history,
psychological behavior, offense characteristics plus more will be included
in this voluminous and painfully detailed report about your life. Every
little dirty scrap of information that makes you look like a sociopathic,
demon worshiping, loathsome criminal will be included in this report.
They'll put a few negative things in there as well.
My advice is simple. Be careful what you tell them. Have your attorney
present and think about how what you say can be used against you. Here's an
P.O.: Tell me about your education and what you like to do in your spare time.
Mr. Steal: I am preparing to enroll in my final year of college. In my
spare time I work for charity helping orphan children.
The PSR then reads "Mr. Steal has never completed his education and hangs
around with little children in his spare time."

Get the picture?
Pro Se or Pro Per is when a defendant represents himself. A famous lawyer
once said "a man that represents himself has a fool for a client." Truer
words were never spoken. However, I can't stress how important it is to
fully understand the criminal justice system. Even if you have a great
attorney it's good to be able to keep an eye on him or even help out. An
educated client's help can be of enormous benefit to an attorney. They may
think you're a pain in the ass but it's your life. Take a hold of it.
Regardless, representing yourself is generally a mistake.
However, after your appeal, when your court appointed attorney runs out on
you, or you have run out of funds, you will be forced to handle matters
yourself. At this point there are legal avenues, although quite bleak, for
But I digress. The best place to start in understanding the legal system
lies in three inexpensive books. First the Federal Sentencing Guidelines
($14.00) and Federal Criminal Codes and Rules ($20.00) are available from
West Publishing at 800-328-9352. I consider possession of these books to
be mandatory for any pretrial inmate. Second would be the Georgetown Law
Journal, available from Georgetown University Bookstore in Washington, DC.
The book sells for around $40.00 but if you write them a letter and tell
them you're a Pro Se litigant they will send it for free. And last but not
least the definitive Pro Se authority, "The Prisoners Self Help Litigation
$29.95 ISBN 0-379-20831-8. Or try http://www.oceanalaw.com/books/n148.htm
If you disagree with some of the information presented in the presentence
report (PSR) you may be entitled to a special hearing. This can be
instrumental in lowering your sentence or correcting your PSR. One
important thing to know is that your PSR will follow you the whole time you
are incarcerated. The Bureau of Prisons uses the PSR to decide how to
handle you. This can affect your security level, your halfway house, your
eligibility for the drug program (which gives you a year off your sentence)
,and your medical care. So make sure your PSR is accurate before you get
In most cases it will be necessary to formally ask the court to have your
property returned. They are not going to just call you up and say "Do you
want this Sparc Station back or what?" No, they would just as soon keep it
and not asking for it is as good as telling them they can have it.
You will need to file a 41(e) "Motion For Return Of Property." The courts'
authority to keep your stuff is not always clear and will have to be taken
on a case-by-case basis. They may not care and the judge will simply order
that it be returned.
If you don't know how to write a motion, just send a formal letter to the
judge asking for it back. Tell him you need it for your job. This should
suffice, but there may be a filing fee.
If you have an outstanding warrant or charges pending in another
jurisdiction you would be wise to deal with them as soon as possible
-after- you are sentenced. If you follow the correct procedure chances are
good the warrants will be dropped (quashed). In the worst case scenario,
you will be transported to the appropriate jurisdiction, plead guilty and
have your "time run concurrent." Typically in non-violent crimes you can
serve several sentences all at the same time. Many Federal inmates have
their state time run with their Federal time. In a nutshell: concurrent is
good, consecutive bad.
This procedure is referred to as the Interstate Agreement On Detainers Act
(IADA). You may also file a "demand for speedy trial", with the appropriate
court. This starts the meter running. If they don't extradite you within a
certain period of time , the charges will have to be dropped. The "Inmates'
Self-Help Litigation Manual" that I mentioned earlier covers this topic
quite well.

There are probably a few of you out there saying, "I triple DES encrypt my
hard drive and 128 character RSA public key it for safety." Well, that's
just great, but... the Feds can have a grand jury subpoena your passwords
and if you don't give them up you may be charged with obstruction of
justice. Of course who's to say otherwise if you forgot your password in
all the excitement of getting arrested. I think I heard this once or twice
before in a Senate Sub-committee hearing. "Senator, I have no recollection
of the aforementioned events at this time." But seriously, strong
encryption is great. However, it would be foolish to rely on it. If the
Feds have your computer and access to your encryption software itself, it
is likely they could break it gi ven the motivation. If you understand the
true art of code breaking you should understand this. People often overlook
the fact that your password, the one you use to access your encryption
program, is typically less than 8 characters long. By attacking the access
to your encryption program with a keyboard emulation sequencer your triple
DES/128 bit RSA crypto is worthless. Just remember, encryption may not
protect you.
Before I move on to the Life in Prison subpart, let me tell you what this
all means. You're going to get busted, lose everything you own, not get out
on bail, snitch on your enemies, get even more time than you expected and
have to put up with a bu nch of idiots in prison. Sound fun? Keep hacking.
And, if possible, work on those sensitive .gov sites. That way they can
hang an espionage rap on you. That will carry about 12 to 18 years for a
first time offender.
I know this may all sound a bit bleak, but the stakes for hackers have gone
up and you need to know what they are. Let's take a look at some recent
   Agent Steal (me) 41 months
   Kevin Poulsen 51 months
   Minor Threat 70 months
   Kevin Mitnick estimated 7-9 years
As you can see, the Feds are giving out some time now. If you are young, a
first-time offender, unsophisticated (like MOD), and were just looking
around in some little company's database, you might get probation. But
chances are that if that is all you were doing, you would have been passed
over for prosecution. As a rule, the Feds won't take the case unless
$10,000 in damages are involved. The problem is who is to say what the loss
is? The company can say whatever figure it likes and it would be t ough to
prove otherwise. They may decide to, for insurance purposes, blame some
huge downtime expense on you. I can hear it now, "When we detected the
intruder, we promptly took our system off-line. It took us two weeks to
bring it up again for a loss in wasted manpower of $2 million." In some

ases you might be better off just using the company's payroll system to
cut you a couple of $10,000 checks. That way the government has a firm loss
figure. This would result in a much shorter sentence. I'm not advocating
blatant criminal actions. I just think the sentencing guidelines definitely
need some work.
In most cases I would say that doing time in a Federal Prison is better
than doing time in the state institutions. Some state prisons are such
violent and pathetic places that it's worth doing a little more time in the
Federal system. This is going to be changing however. The public seems to
think that prisons are too comfortable and as a result Congress has passed
a few bills to toughen things up.
Federal prisons are generally going to be somewhat less crowded, cleaner,
and more laid back. The prison I was at looked a lot like a college campus
with plenty of grass and trees, rolling hills, and stucco buildings. I
spent most of my time in the library hanging out with Minor Threat. We
would argue over who was more elite. "My sentence was longer," he would
argue. "I was in more books and newspapers," I would rebut. (humor)
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