Were you a hacker?

I’ve been reading the fascinating book The Hacker Crackdown and am really enjoying a trip back through computer history with its underground BBS’s, phone phreaks and other shadier elements. And it got me wondering if anyone here ever was a hacker or knew someone who was?

Yay, an opportunity to tell this story again! I was actually expelled from high school my junior year for breaking into the school network and installing a bajillion backdoors. I also downloaded and stored financial information and teacher emails for the entire district. I read most of the emails too, lots of funny stuff in there. I was surprised to find out how many of my teachers were fucking each other.

But apparently, someone found some of the backdoors and did not like this, so they called the FBI who then proceeded to monitor my activity on the system for about a month. When they finally busted me, they had a stack of printouts about 6 inches high of everything I did while being monitored. I was expelled and given the option of either paying a $250,000 fine, or cooperating in helping the FBI find other, more malicious hackers. I obviously didn’t have to think about that one too long. They used to call me about once a month asking for information about some AOL credit card thefts here, or a malicious wipe of some network there, but that tapered off around when I turned 20. They still call me every once in a while too, even though I always tell them I haven’t been into that stuff in about 10 years and I’m actually, you know, grown up now.

At the time, it was scary as hell – the feds came in with black suits and sunglasses and all with local police, who handcuffed me in class before leading me to an empty room in the school office. They interrogated me for about an hour, and even though they were calm and mostly bored the entire time, I was fucking terrified. Now it’s just a cool story to tell – I got front page of the school paper and a few pages down in the Mercury News, and a lot of people in San Jose from my high school days still remember it. Can’t say I’d repeat it if given the chance, though.

I won’t even go into the rest of the shit I got into back then. Suffice it to say, the school thing was probably the least horrible thing I did.

I used some “codes” to dial up long distance BBSs but that was about it. I knew a few people in my social circle who were paid visits by the police, though.

Me too. I got them from local BBSs, then used them to dial long-distance ones. This was in the early-mid 80s, with an Atari 800/130XE and a rockin’ 2400 baud Hayes modem.

I also pirated all of my games, and often “hacked” them in order to make myself the author. Because Sid Meier didn’t write Floyd of the Jungel; “Crazy Joe” did.

I convinced some idiots in a high school class that I had hacked into NORAD as a kid.

I took down a small private University’s UNIX box once. They left the C compiler around and didn’t set any limits on the number of processes per user. One fork bomb later…

Oh, and when I worked at Bank of America, I once changed the C:\ prompt of the boss’ PC to VIRUS!.

Just a little. I figured out how to get into the network in my basic computing class in high school (circa 1990). I used this ability to get into the teacher’s account, which then let me look at/take control of the other kids’ computers while they were using them- I’d just type weird messages in the middle of their programming assignments when they looked away from the screen and whatnot.

“Victor, this is Satan. I want you to kill your mother”. Heh.

They’re onto you!

I used Sub7 once… does that count ?


free etext about a bunch of hackers, mostly australian. pretty good book.

Underground: Tales of Hacking, Madness, and Obsession on the Electronic Frontier

I had fun using BackOrifice on lab computers at my high school and randomly popping out the cd tray and closing and opening windows remotely, trying to convince people that the computers had ghosts in them.

I’d detail more nefarious things that I was involved in but I was never caught and don’t know what the statute of limitations is on these things.

For some reason I was always too ethical to do ANYTHING that would fuck someone else over in any way. (Not even cyberpeeping.) I guess my parents can pat themselves on the back for that one.

The hackingest thing I ever did was to disassemble parts of the Apple ]['s DOS floppy boot code with a friend of mine, then rewrite it to make the disk as hostile as possible. So you booted it, and then you couldn’t do ANYTHING. Running programs = infinite loop. Rebooting the computer = impossible. Listing directories = total gibberish. Etc.

Basically I hacked my own computer for fun and total lack of profit :-D But it did satiate my desire to twist a computer to perverse ends. All my “hacking” after that was actually building constructive software (the biggie from that era was my Conway’s game of Life simulator with an Applesoft hi-res graphics display layer and a handwritten assembler inner loop).

Mostly simple beige boxes and other trivial phreaking here, with some brief spurts of carding and criminal anarchy type stuff. And I had account on many west coast warez boards, but didn’t use them for much more than message nets

Everyone who owned an Amiga in Britain was a pirate. The entire experience of Amiga ownership was so soaked in the world of Angloscandinavian hacking that avoiding it would have been like owning a car and only driving it on Mondays.

Or Bamiga, or whatever :|

Big time here. I was in grad school when PCs came out, started with the Apples in about 1979. Bought that first 300 baud modem, and then fell in with some people online in the very beginning of the hacking and cracking days. One thing led to another, ended up being invited to the “elite” groups after getting a name for myself. Our group was actually very professional and prided itself on not harming any systems. It was kinda like ham radio buffs that see how many countries they can log, we tried to see how many systems we could get into and how deep.

Many interesting stories. ;)

Most of my hacking centered around modifying the various CRPGs out at the time to play tricks on my friends when we played them on community machines in the library.

Remember the little “pit rhyme” in the first Wizardry? I was the talk of our computer club for months after I figured out how to change “a pit!” (the last line) into “shit!”

That was my story exactly. A little local warez action, mail trading and hacking of intro screens and whatnot to say “Distributed by Black Arrow Software” eventually led to the trading and use of long distance codes to access east and west coast warez BBS’s like Skull Island and RazorBBS. I remember the old upload:download ratios (usually 1:3 or similar) and scavanging to find cracked games to upload in order to get credits for downloads. I also remember being really juiced about being one of the very first people to get a copy of Lucasart’s “Rescue on Fractalis” direct from the guys who cracked it pre-release. (My apologies to Lucasart’s employees, I did eventually purchase more than enough Lucasarts software to make amends!) Honestly I think about 75% of the software I had for my Atari computers (800, 800XL, 130XE) was pirated, the exceptions being standouts like the Ultima series and other games that came with a lot of cool stuff in the box.

That all came to an end with Operation Sun Devil, which netted the big players in my circle of hackers and scared the rest of us straight.

I had Fractalus too, way before release.

But if you want another, weird random Lucas story. I was involved in market research for Ballblazer, then called Ballblaster. Spent a few hours playing it one night in Thousand Oaks, in a room with other geeks. They gave us like $20 and some Pepsi.

I hated the game, hah. Of course I was just stupid, because I later realized it was sort of awesome.

Honestly I think about 75% of the software I had for my Atari computers (800, 800XL, 130XE) was pirated, the exceptions being standouts like the Ultima series and other games that came with a lot of cool stuff in the box.

I had the big Ultima II box. From Sierra! I also owned some of the early games, like Caverns of Mars, Star Raiders, MULE, etc. But I pirated all of those awesome Synapse games, which is a shame because they were really good.

I ended up feeling guilty as I got older that I tried to buy as many of the games I’d pirated and dug as possible.

I remember a friend of mine got the user name/password that Radio Shack used to demo Compu$erve accounts back around 84… (The password was down!south, for some reason that stuck in my brain). We used it to download a bit – this was when online access at high speed (2400 bps) was $12/hour.