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June 30, 1999

Visit the Happy Hacker site at http://www.happyhacker.org
Crackers vs. Feds -- who's winning?  http://antionline.com

Table of Contents

* What happened to the Happy Hacker IRC server?
* Wargame improvements coming up
* Looking for a mentor? Try Foomentor!
* Hacker friendly shell accounts
* What is a real hacker?
* Microsoft threat to national security?

 *** What Happened to the Happy Hacker IRC Server?

By mutual agreement with Schematic, we have taken down the Happy Hacker IRC
server.  Another volunteer who has more of a taste for the thankless job of
coordinating the moderators will be providing a new computer to handle the
job.  We thank Schematic and his fellow moderators for managing to keep the IRC
server reasonably flame free for so long so people could use it for learning
about white hat hacking.

Unfortunately, the people at http://attrition.org have run a news story on our
IRC server which is seriously misinformed.

Most importantly, that story claims that the Happy Hacker IRC server was a
public server.  This is not true.  If you go to http://networksolutions.net you
can look up who runs Happyhacker.org.  Click on "whois search" on the left hand
menu.  When you ask about happyhacker.org, you will see that Chris at
sage-inc.com is the technical contact, and I (Carolyn Meinel) am the
administrative contact.  What that means is we are NOT a public utility of some
sort that people can use and abuse as they see fit.  We provide the War Room
and T1, and we decide how our resources will be used.

Also, the Attrition.org article was quite insulting to John Vranesevich.
However, he was only telling the truth when he reminded the Happyhacker.org IRC
moderators that they needed to do a better job of handling people when they
behaved badly.  If we want talented hackers to visit our IRC server and train
people for free, we need to treat everyone politely.  If we run the place like
a barroom brawl, soon only trash will hang out on our IRC server.

In general, anything that makes lots of people raise a big fuss will cause us
to take action.  It isn't easy getting support for our operation.  Price out
renting a 20x15 office and a T1 and you will see what we must deal with.  We
could easily be totally shut down, with no notice, if our backers ever decide
Happyhacker.org isn't worth their support.  In fact, we won't support Happy
Hacker, either, unless we beleive this is a worthwhile project.  Imagine that!

We are the only public wargame that allows winners to keep control of our
Internet hosts.  There is a BIG reason that we are the only ones.  It is
because we work hard to avoid even the appearance of promoting crime and
especially juvenile crime.  To do this we must behave politely and treat those
who support our activities just as well as we would treat anyone else.

So where can you go to get a public IRC channel where people talk about our
Hacker Wargame?  Try #koan on Undernet.  While this channel, too, is moderated,
it is not moderated by us.  So if you don't like how it is run, don't flame
us!  It is still up and none of us at Happyhacker.org have any plans to
interfere with it. Happyhacker.org has never moderated that channel and never
intends to moderate it.

For those who don't like to waste time waiting for flaming to end and teaching
to begin on #koan on Undernet, we will have our IRC server back up soon, with a
different set of moderators.


 *** Wargame Improvements Coming Up

We've had a lot of complaints about koan.happyhacker.org being down most of the
time.  Unfortunately none of the Wargame players were able to fix the denial of
service attack problems that kept on crashing it.  So some of the Wargame
administrators will be rebuilding it so you can have fun again with the guest
account with the really stupid password.  Meanwhile, you can still have fun by
telnetting into thirdpig.com, and attacking our Happy Hacker Web server.
Meyer.happyhackr.org is still running its popular beta account, and the Cisco
router, dmz.happyhacker.org, still lets you in if you can guess its password
that is fined up beyond all recognition.

Happy hacking!


 *** Looking for a Mentor?  Try Foomentor!

From: "ForEver Phreaker" <forever@phreaker.net>
Subject: New Mailing List.

Hey Carolyn, I am just sending you a short note to tell you about a new mailing
list I am starting for newbie hackers, It's in the same spirit as HappyHacker
and I thought that you could possibly mention it in one of the digests or if
anyone writes to you looking for a mentor, the mailing list will be named
FooMentor and is just basically a cut down version of the happy hacker list
mainly aimed but not completely towards Windows Users. I already have a few
people I am 'Mentoring' who are interested. If you wish to include it in any
digests then please feel free.

 *** Hacker Friendly Shell Accounts!

Having trouble finding a mentor? Do you want to learn how to use a Unix type
operating system?   Do you want tech support from the man who first created
Koan.happyhacker.org and its infamous guest account with the really stupid
password?  Want someone to help you big time with playing the Hacker Wargame?
We soon will open an Internet Service Provider (cmeinel.com) running on an
OpenBSD (a type of Unix) server and offering shell accounts.  Of course we will
NOT train people in computer crime.  But we are happy to teach people the
basics of legal, harmless hacking.

True, some people think someone should give them free shell accounts and free
one-on-one training in hacking. There are lots of places to look for this sort
of free stuff.  However, normally hackers get really, really nasty when someone
comes around begging for free stuff and not offering anything in return.  I
have had great experiences by first making friends, then giving them copies of
my books, taking them out for pizza, that sort of thing.

However, not everyone is lucky enough to find a mentor, no many how pizzas you
buy.  Even if you do find a mentor, I have nevertheless often paid money for
shell accounts -- even when I had free ones, too.  That's because I meet great
people on commercial ISPs that offer shell accounts, both staff and fellow
customers.  So if you still want to learn how to be a Unix wizard, if you want
to learn how to have a chance of becoming a Hacker Wargame winner, and if this
is important enough to you to pay the people who are working so hard to make
this happen, please email for details.


 *** What Is a Real Hacker?

So many people nowadays think a hacker is *only* someone who breaks into
computers.  No way!  Some people break into computers simply because they found
a poorly defended computer and a program they could run to break in.  That
isn't even hacking -- it's just running software.  Big "effing" deal.
Following is a story about a REAL hacker.

From: "Prescott Ken" <prescott_ken@bah.com>
Subject: Death of a Hacker


I first heard of you on rec.aviation.military NG back in 1994-1995.  IIRC, you
were interested in boost-glide vehicles.  I didn't know anything about beyond
what I read in Sweetman's Aurora book, so I kept my mouth shut.

Since then, I found the Happy Hacker book, and I've enjoyed it...it's a good
intro to computer security issues.  I took your RTFM advice to heart...right
now, my bathroom reading is the Windows NT Server Networking Guide...some light
reading for an MCSE candidate.

I'm hoping you might be able to use the following in your newsletter.  It's not
directly about hacking, but it's about a man who truly rated the term hacker.
He passed away on May 20th, and he was my father...

 Death of a Hacker

On May 20th, a true hacker died.

You probably didn't hear of him.  He wasn't the sort to blow his horn before
himself in public.

He was my father, and he helped bring about today's world...

In the late 1950s, the Navy faced a big problem.  Combat's speed had passed
beyond the ability of manual tracking procedures to keep pace.  Computers were
the answer...but there were so many questions.

Imagine taking a machine that was, at the time, a metaphor for unreliable
performance in even the most tightly controlled environment.

Now, take that computer, and place it on a platform that pitches, rolls, and
yaws unpredictably--one that sails the ocean (usually the Norwegian Sea, the
North Atlantic, typhoon-infested portions of the Pacific, and areas where the
"cooling" water comes in at almost 100 degrees Fahrenheit).

Further, take away that nice, perfectly arranged power setup.   Replace it with
one that's temperamental, mounted on that same free-moving platform, and
already strained by supplying power to radar, electrical lighting for a large
building, and the many other functions that are essential aboard a fighting
ship of the U.S. Navy.

You can't stop there! Now, you have to have a reasonable secure means of
networking it to other computers on other ships...

...oh, by the way, this network has to be wireless in an era that thought color
TV was pushing the limits of RF technology.

Now, let's add in another element...

The enemy.

This system can expect efforts to exploit its datalink signals to detect and
track the ships; it can expect to come under very heavy jamming during an
actual attack, and it will have to keep functioning even after the ship's been
torpedoed or bombed. (Think shock damage). If it fails, men will die and ships
will sink; conceivably, a war could be lost.  In an era where cryptographic and
information processing technology was appallingly primitive by today's
standards, it had to race ahead of developments in weapons technology--and work
like heck to stay ahead.

And these requirements had to be met at a time when Viet Nam was going through
$80 million A DAY, and anything that wasn't geared to fighting Mr. Charles in
the rice paddies was (a very distant) second priority.

This system was eventually built, and it was called the Naval Tactical Data
System.  My father got in on the ground floor, and was part of getting it to
work, as well as the first deployment at sea, and keeping it up to date on a
budget that never seemed to be quite enough.

NTDS kept a lot of American aircrews from spending a long captivity in a
stinking cell, or taking a long swim in the Gulf (whichever Gulf that might
be--Tonkin or Persian). Verily, his wonder widget even brought ME home from a
scary night over Khadaffi's Line of Death (it's truly amazing how brave fighter
jocks get when they're bouncing a lone helicopter--and how circumspect they get
when bounced in turn by a four-pack of F/A-18s).

In the end, he helped the good guys win.

He was a naval officer, and continued a hacking tradition that goes back to
Benjamin Isherwood (designer of the incomparable Wampanoag, fastest vessel of
its day), Albert A. Michelson (the first man to measure the speed of light),
David Taylor (whose towing tank helped put ship hull design onto a scientific
footing), and "Amazing Grace," the late Rear Admiral Grace Hopper (designer of
the COBOL programming language, and inventor of the term "computer bug").

So, let's hoist a glass to Dad's memory, and remember that the difference
between difficult and impossible is that the latter just takes a little


 *** Microsoft Threat to National Security?

While we're on the Navy theme, check out what Adam Penenberg has to say:

From: "Adam Penenberg" <apenenberg@forbes.com>

If you have the time, check out my column today: Is Microsoft a Threat to
National Security? If you think it warrants it, please post on any lists you
deem appropriate.


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Foo on you! Don't email us bragging about any crimes you may have
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For Unix questions, contact unixeditor@cmeinel.com.

Happy Hacker staff: Unix editor, <unixeditor@cmeinel.com>;
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Director, Vincent Larsen <vincent@sage-inc.com>;
Clown Princess: Carolyn Meinel <>

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