The Cyber War The Internet is a wondrous place. Practically anything you could ever want is available on the Net. Its like a big city, it has distinguished areas, and the sex- ridden slums. It has the upstanding citizens, and it has the criminals. On the Net there really is more crime than in a large city, though, mainly because of the difficulties in tracking and prosecuting offenders. Even from its beginnings the Internet has been a battlefield between phreaks and administrators.
The Internet has not always been a public forum. In fact the Internet has been around for years. It is just a new fad (The More I Learn A1). The Net originally began as DARPANET, a governmentcreated network, which was designed for defense communications. The Net structure is such that it could survive a nuclear war (Internet History).
The creation of the Net can not be blamed for the existance of hackers though. Hackers are older than the Net itself, but the Net is the largest hacker haven today (Spencer, Hacking McDonalds 6). The growth of the Net since its creation has been nothing less than astounding. In 25-plus years since the its beginning, the Net now has over thirtymillion users using four million sites worldwide. Estimates rate the growth of the Internet anywhere from ten to fifteen percent per month (Spencer, Hacking McDonalds 6). The Internet was first released to major universities in the U.S. Since then, the universities have offered connections to small businesses, service providers, and even to the individual user.
Sometimes these connections cost a fortune, and sometimes they can be obtained for free (Internet History). Although some of the universities have dropped off the Net for various reasons, every major university in the United States, and now most others in the world, have a connection to the Internet (Quittner 61). The Internet began very highclass, due to the fact that only super intelligent college students and professors could access it. The discussion over the Net stayed intellectual, with very little disturbance (Internet History). However, relatively recent changes in the availability of the Internet has changed that atmosphere.
Now, almost anyone can access the Internet. Internet access is offered by every major online service (Hinowitz A1). The fact that the major online services charge for their use keeps many people away from them. Those people then simply turn to public dialups, which are free connections offered by universities that are available to the general public (Spencer, Know Your Territory). Because accessing the Net is easier, and it naturally the amount of information on the Net is increasing at the same rate, if not faster.
In what is often referred to by Net users as the Resource Explosion. The amount of information circulating the Internet has increased more proportionately with the number of users (Spencer, Hacking McDonalds6). Of all the other factors contributing to the large percent of online crimes, perhaps the most influential is the design structure of the Internet. Experts agree that the underlying structure with no central hub, where each computer is equally powerful, gives unchecked power to the undeserving (Spencer, Stranglehold 8). The design also makes controlling the frequency of breakins almost impossible as well.
Both politicians and experts believe the Internet as a whole will be regulated in the next five years. Hackers disagree, using the arguments that the Internet was designed to be uncontrollable, that the basic structure doesnt support regulations (Spencer, Stranglehold 8). I must agree. In a network run by users, which is designed to be impenetrable to attack, not even the government has much muscle there. In fact the Internet is one of the few places the government has little power.
Because the Net is international, any regulations forced upon by domestic computer users can be entrapped by routing through an over seas computer (Savage). The government doesnt have the power to completely shut down the Net. In order to do that every one of the millions of computers on the Net must be disconnected. Even if only two remain, the Internet will continue to exist (Spencer, Hacking McDonalds 6). The ease of adding something to the Internet is also a factor preventing the total regulation of the Net. A new site can be added to the Internet in a matter of seconds, and can be removed just as quickly.
It takes authorities considerable time to trace a connection back to its physical address, and if it disappears, it makes tracking it all more difficult (FtS, Avoiding). Once a resource becomes widespread, removing it is almost impossible. Each site that has the resource must be found and removed. If even one site has the resource, it can be spread to cover the Net easily (Spencer, Stranglehold 8). With all these things leaving the Internet open to phreaking, is it a wonder why so many phreaks exist? The United States government has all of its computer systems on the Internet, yet many universities have better security than government computers containing confidential information (Spencer, Know 27). Most breakins occur in university computers, mainly because of stiff penalties for being caught in a government computer (FtS, Avoiding).
Over 10,000 breakins that have occurred in recent months are blamed on The Posse, a group of young phreaks (Quittner 61). If break-ins are done on universities, then haw secure are the governments secrets? Hackers tend to stay away from heavy-duty government hacking, though. Exploring innocently and generally harmless pranks are done the most. Many hacks/phreaks dont limit themselves to the Internet, or even to a computer (Spencer, Hacking McDonalds 6). The next step up for a good computer hacker is to Field Phreaking, which covers various activities, but mainly using telephone company boxes to make free calls. Most field phreaking is related to the phreakers computer skills (FtS, Field Phreaking).
Field phreaking does happen, and it happens a lot. For example, when two bachelors rented a billboard in hopes of finding a mate, a phreak broke into their voice mail box and changed the message to a Perverted sexually suggestive message(UPI).More recently, a hacker obtained tens of thousands of passwords using a Trojan Horse program, which records the first 128 keystrokes when someone connects with the Internet. These 128 keystrokes usually contain the users name and their password (AP). Kevin Lee Poulsen was featured on Unsolved Mysteries in 1991 for charges including tampering with the telephone network and stealing government documents, all via computer. Because of this appearance, he was captured by two bag boys in a Hughs Supermarket who saw his picture on the show (Fine 62). Tonya Hardings E-mail in the Olympic computers was open to the public since she never changed her password from her original, 1112, which is her birthday, December 11 (Nevius).
Mark Abene (a.k.a. Phyber Optik) whom many believe to be the greatest phreak ever, was sentenced to one year in prison. That was a stiff punishment for his charge of breaking into a telephone network (Deadkat). Although the hob is hard, there are groups devoted to stopping violations online. One group, the Computer Emergency Response Team, or CERT, is a governmentfunded team at CarnegieMellon University.
They give advisories and support to systems that have been broken into or are at risk of being broken into (Internet History). Another method of preventing breakins are new security measures. Almost every day, another operating system or communications prorocal comes out which covers holes found in previous copies of the software. This is good as a temporary solution, but as soon as the new software comes out, a new hole is found and the game continues (FtS, Avoiding). Stopping computer hacking is probably impossible.
Why? Because many professionals spend millions of dollars to prevent breakins, but smaller systems dont spend anything. Free security will never be able to hold everyone out. FtS Productions said it best in Avoiding Detection: Free Security you get what you pay for. Computers and Internet.