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17 April 2007


A book about "hackers" from the old times

A few days back I had discovered over at adamo's site a link to the online version of the book "Underground". I downloaded the book (of course choosing the plain text version - update: the old link lead to a scam site) and started reading. Kept me hooked busy for a few days of intensive reading. The book recounts the days of old, when teenagers dialed their modems into BBS's and later learned to "hack" (which in this context means to break into other people's computers). I enjoyed the book and it ignited some good thoughts...

Part of the reading reminded me of when I started out with home computers (even though most of the book is set slightly later), and some of the people seem a bit familiar. Mind that I've never been into that scene myself.

At the time when I was reading the book, I was heavy into real hacking, meaning I was programming and fixing bugs on Zwiki code. While *that* meaning of "hacking" is an activity with very prudent background, the intensity and concentration on the task is similar. Following hot on the scent of some bug through various layers of code seemed to be very similar to the description of the kids going through various layers of security in host systems and networks.

Another note in the book rang a bell: Next Sunday I will be giving my PGP talk. The book is full of examples where the "hackers" broke into computers and the very first thing they do is to read the system administrators mail: Looking for mentions of break-ins or break-in attempts, looking for passwords and information to get into other systems. Had those system administrators used PGP for their mail, the kids breaking in would have had much more trouble. The one example where encryption was used to protect a file posed a major problem to the intruders -- even though it was the very low-grade "crypt" encryption program.

Posted by betabug at 20:51 | Comments (2) | Trackbacks (0)
ch athens
Life in Athens (Greece) for a foreigner from the other side of the mountains. And with an interest in digital life and the feeling of change in a big city. Multilingual English - German - Greek.
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Re: Underground

Thanks for the suggestion. I have added it to my "to read" list.

Posted by: Reuven at April 18,2007 12:37
Re: Underground

Wow, such a good book freely available. I'm going to download it right away and stack it on my book reading list, hoping that I'll have the time to read it soonish.

I am currently reading Lester R. Brown's Plan B 2.0, a fascinating book about an alternative plan to "Business as usual" to avoid the overshoot-and-collapse of our World due to the stupid fossil fuel-based economy. This book is available for free at the following URL:
(chapters available either in PDF or HTML ... no plain text apparently)

Required reading.

Posted by: Saad Kadhi at April 21,2007 21:31
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