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nettime-nl: Eval: A week of Free Hacking
Paul Boots on Sun, 21 Jun 1998 21:18:36 +0200 (MET DST)


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nettime-nl: Eval: A week of Free Hacking


Dear reader,


Over the past week Holland resembled to be the hacker's paradise
of old; initiated by the "Cracking Competition" called by World
Online. To blow of steam and steer my agressive energy towards
positive motion I have written this small fragmented evaluation.

The whole thing caused a lot of rumour. It involved the national
press (papers, radio, tv and ezines) where different parties had
a chance to throw their opinions, allegations, reality-distortions 
and a lot of mud. The press itself was a party in this whole thing
as well. The image of the hacker as young innocent geek hero revisited.

In the digital age all boundaries blurr; there are really no exceptions
(personally I doubt that boundaries have ever been very clear).

After witnessing this 'event' from very close my conclusion is a sad one:

"The part of the Internet called Holland" is far from being a save and 
secure public infrastructure.

It seems a lot of companies and individuals involved do not understand
their responsibilities or even worse, are ignorant of the fact that
they have certain responsiblities.

Their have been multiple claims of unsecurity of an ISP, this ISP is
still in a phase of denial. Nobody outside this ISP really knows what
really is the case: broken into or not, full of holes or not. Details?

The claims of unsecurity are not widely published in detail either. 
How exactly is the ISP insecure. How were claimed breakins executed?

All questions remain unanswered.  Is this ISP save or not?  Have there
been breakins?  What were the intentions of claimed breakins?

The fact that a major ISP is claimed to be unsecure and broken into ultimately 
is not just an issue for that ISP and it's customers.  It will become an issue
for any indivual or company dealing with this ISP or it's customers!
It will become an issue for the ISP suppliers as well; hardware, software
and network facilities.  It will become an issue for fellow ISP's as well
as their customers.

After all the gigling, finger pointing and mud throwing where does this
leave all people not directly involved in this 'incident'?

How many steps are needed to involve you?

Hackers come in as many forms as people do.  This means there are hackers
for hire. They make money, a lot of money.  They are hired by so called
governments, governments agencies, multi-nationals and other companies, 
organized crime, terrorist groups and probably political activist groups as well.
Basically anybody with enough money and purpose.

Let's assume their was in fact a professional breakin at certain ISP.  This breakin 
happily went unnoticed due to all the fuzz around a certain "Breakin contest" called
for by same ISP.  Let's assume as well that this ISP remains unaware of the intruders 
after the dust settles.  Would you still feel very secure?

For the benifit of all netizens every claim of breakin (or whatever maliscious digital
act) need to be taken seriously and verified.  Every ISP should be forced to have its anwers regarding questions on such incidents checked and verified by trusted third parties.

Of course you can only feel secure and save upto a certain level, but I rather live
in an open and free society than in one plagued by paranoia and fear.



Paul Boots





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