Hack attack

"By 2002, approximately 19 million people will have the skills to mount a cyber attack." –

With hackers being portrayed on TV shows and movies more and more often these days – sometimes vilified, usually glorified – most people have no idea of what a real hacker actually does. Here are a few of my favourite hacker links to help you meet the hackers, understand what hacking is all about, and protect yourself against a hack attack:

Kevin Mitnick is undoubtedly the most infamous hacker in the world. The 1983 movie WarGames starting Mathew Broderick ( ) was loosely based on the time Mitnick hacked into a NORAD computer in Colorado in 1979. "People make the phones, computers and the networks," said Mitnick, and it was through people that he got most of his information.

He was arrested in February 1995 and held without bail for four and a half years. For eight of those months he was held in solitary confinement, because the government thought that he would be able to activate his computers and wreak havoc if he ever got his hands on a telephone.

He ended up pleading guilty to wire fraud and computer fraud, was released in early 2000 and had to pay $4,000 in restitution instead of the $80 million the US government originally sought for damages.

Other good reading on Kevin Mitnick is The Fugitive Game written by Jonathan Littman (available at ). This book documents Littman’s interactions with Mitnick while he was on the lam from the U.S. Government.

One of Mitnick’s conditions of parole was that he was barred from touching a computer for three years. He’s not even allowed to talk or write about computers. Apparently this is a common restriction for people who are convicted of hacking.

Mitnick went back to court last year to contest these restrictions and won. He is currently working the speaker circuit, leading discussions on computer safety, and is employed as a consultant for companies who need help protecting their networks.

"2600" is the original hacker magazine. They have been active since 1984 and define themselves as "a loose-knit group of people interested in computer security." Their current major interest is the DVD format and they are engaged in a lawsuit with the Motion Picture Association of America over a program called DeCSS.

DeCSS is software that was created to decipher CSS-encoded DVD movies – CSS (content scrambling system) is the digital encryption system that most commercial DVD manufacturers use.


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