Transcript of _Now_It_Can_Be_Told_: "Mad Hackers' Key Party"
Hosted by Geraldo Rivera (Sept. 30, 1991)
Geraldo: I'm Geraldo rivera. And now, It can be told.
<Flashy intro featuring various bleeps and sounds and what is supposed
to look like a computer screen>
Geraldo: You're watching life imitate art.
<home video of hackers hacking. Room is in disarray, with a few
computers scattered around among various wires and cables and
telephones, and other equipment.>
Geraldo: Exclusive video of teenagers playing a dangerous and
mind-boggling version of War Games.
<video focuses on what appears to be 3 teenagers typing on computer
<video focuses on one of the screens.>
Geraldo: If you think it's kid stuff, just watch this.
| 221 Goodbye.
| telnet tracer.army.mil
| Trying 18.104.22.168....
| Connected to tracer.army.mil
| Escape character is '^]'.
| Xenix K3-4 (tracer.army.mil)
<screams of joy from kids>
<screen shows: Warning (banner)...This terminal is not secure...Do not
process classified information...Protect user IDs, passwords...Control
access to your system....Destroy classified and sensitive
Geraldo: Straight into the US Army computer. In the name of the vice
president!! Straight out with America-s counter-terrorist strategies
in the Persian Gulf war. <video of bombings during Gulf War.)
Cliff Stoll: These guys in the army, they didn't do their homework.
They screwed up. <shows Cliff Stoll sitting in chair, terminal on
Geraldo: You bet they did. And they're not the only ones.
<more video of hackers hacking, Emmanuel Goldstein talking on a
Geraldo: Try the Pentagon, NASA, the White House.
<video showing guy next to payphone, Japanese Kanji characters fill
Geraldo: ...the IRS, the Department of Justice, and the stock
<Japanese video now shows hacker typing on laptop in front of pay
phone - It is dark out.>
Phiber Optik (guy next to pay phone, typing on laptop): I find it
very thrilling. It's quite interesting.
Some guy in a suit speaking in a microphone: Tomorrow's terrorists
may be able to more damage with a keyboard, than with a bomb.
<more video of a hacker hacking>
Geraldo: Now it can be told. A terrifying expose on Malice In
Wonderland. The Mad Hacker's Key Party.
<screen displays that title over hacker typing on keyboard>
<Intro to the show>
Geraldo: Welcome everybody. Up front today, a new kind of warfare.
This kind of combat won't be fought with bombs and bullets, but with
bits and bytes, RAMs, and ROMs. I'm talking about computer terrorism.
Imagine this nightmare: Saddam Hussein breaking into our Pentagon
computers. Well, as your about to see, we have discovered that this
is frightningly possible, given a combination of floppy disks and
sloppy security. Before you meet a mad hacker, live, right here in
our studio, watch as our correspondant Krista Bradford discovers just
how vulnerable our national defense system really is.
<screen switches to Krista Bradford in corner office, in front of
Krista: Thanks Geraldo. Computers: they are absolutely essential to
our national defense. Our military depends on them to win wars and to
save lives. So you'd think they'd do everything possible to protect
these computers, but, think again. This exclusive video proves
otherwise. <she hits play button on VCR, hacker home video pops up
Krista: This video looks like a home video, but its implications are
<video passes over computer (IBM compat.) - notable is an issue of
2600 propped up against the keyboard>
Krista: These kids are in Amsterdam; they are not the enemy, they are
not spies. They are computer hackers and they are about to break into
a US Army computer.
Emmanuel: This is about as blatant a violation as you can possibly
<screen shows Emmanuel Goldstein>
Krista: Emmanuel Goldstein is the editor of 2600, The Hacker Quarterly.
<screen switches to Emmanuel typing at keyboard, focuses on pile of
<screen switches back to hacker home video, Emmanuel on the phone>
Krista: He was with the hackers as thy gained unauthorized access to
the Army computer.
<list of *.MIL sites scrolls across a computer screen>
Krista: Although it wasn't classified, what the hackers found was
<long e-mail message scrolls across a screen>
Krista: A sensitive memo which details a counter-terrorist plan.
<screen shows bomb going off> The date: January 15th - Saddam
Hussein's deadline to withdraw his forces from Kuwait. <more footage
from the Gulf War>
<screen switches to Emmanuel being interviewed again>
Emmanuel: It was incredible how easy it was. Because, literally they
picked a machine at random out of a thousand machines that they had a
listing of. And used various means just to get in.
<screen switches to the screen I typed above, except the first login
is guest [Login incorrect]..Second login, sync, password prompt
Krista: In order to get into a computer, you need to be an authorized
user, and have a password. So the hackers had to create one. Using a
well-known bug in the system, they managed to copy the password file
and do just that.
<list of /etc/passwd floats by>
Emmanuel: <sitting at terminal> The idea was to create a user named
Dan Quayle, and give him superuser privileges, as well he deserves.
Krista: Now here's the trick: because they didn't know any
legitimate passwords, they left the space for Dan Quayle's password
<screen focuses on dquayle record of /etc/passwd, highlights the
colons after 'dquayle'>
Emmanuel: Everything between those two colon's is the encrypted
password, but there's nothing between those two colons, so there's no
Krista: Next, the hacker's call back as Dan Quayle, and now they
don't need a password to get in.
<screen shows login as dquayle, null password...Hackers cheer as
WARNING banner and logon screen (summarized above) appears.>
Krista: At this point, all of about 5 minutes have passed. A few
seconds later, and they have gained complete control.
Emmanuel: That means they have access to the entire system, they
control the entire system. They can take it down, they can change
every file. They can read anybody's mail.
Krista: <walking along outside> So just how serious was this
violation? Well, the Army, the Justice Department, and the FBI
wouldn't tell us. They all refused to comment. But this we do know:
the US Army computer that was accessed was designed for "Authorized
Use By Official Personnel Only". You wouldn't want just anybody using
this computer, especially during a time of war.
<screen shows jet taking off...screen switches to guy ( Winn Schwartau
[Information Security Consultant]) sitting in front of terminal set
up with some other electronic devices attached.
Winn: The military knows better. They should be protective of their
computers a lot better than they are.
<helicopter shown...screen switches to Emmanuel>
Emmanuel: Obviously, there's a problem. Obviously people can get
into anything and see anything.
<screen switches to Cliff Stoll>
Cliff: These guys in the Army, they didn't do their homework. They
<switches back to video of hackers>
Krista: They sure did. This isn't the first time Dutch hackers have
infiltrated government computers.
<video of space shuttle taking off>
Krista: Just this April, another group made its way into the
computers at NASA, the Pentagon, and other sensitive locations.
<screen shows newspaper headline of said event>.
<screen shows the Pentagon>
Emmanuel: If our own military doesn't know enough to look for these
bugs and make it hard for people to get into their systems, what can
we say about non-classified computers or computers run by schools and
various other institutions?
<screen zooms in on hardback copy of _The_Cuckoo's_Egg>
Krista: Cliff Stoll, author of The CUckoo's Egg: How he tracked down
a hacker selling secrets to the KGB. Stoll opposes hacking, likening
it to breaking into someone's house.
<screen shows cliff sitting in front of a Mac LC showing familiar
'Flying Toasters'....Cliff appears more sedate than as seen before on
Cliff: Is there good that can come from someone breaking into my
house? If someone sneaks in through my window over there, comes in
and starts looking at things, is there any good that can come from
<screen switches back to Emmanuel>
Emmanuel <with hand raised, looking mad at Cliff's comment>: I don't
like that analogy. Hackers are not interested in personal files of
individual people. They're interested in huge databases and computer
<screen switches to Japanese TV, Kanji characters spread all
over...It's night...Guy is standing in front of lighted-up pay phone>
Phiber: My handle's Phiber Optik. I'm a computer hacker from the
<screen shows Phiber taking acoustic coupler from a bag...[This scene
extremely modern-day Cyberpunk-ish]>
Krista: The Dutch aren't the only ones breaking into US computers.
Phiber: I find it actually very, very thrilling. It's quite
<screen shows laptop set on some cement stool....Screen moves to show
other people milling around...Gee, is that Mr. Goldstein?!? And a
g-man looking type in sunglasses [
Krista: It is nighttime in the meat packing district of New York
City. A Japanese camera crew is documenting the work of one of
America's most notorious hackers.
<Phiber connects the coupler to the pay phone>
Phiber: I enjoy this...Just know as much as you can about technology
and about, uh, computer networking. <he's busy getting the pay phone
Krista: They watch him hook up his computer to a payphone, so the
call can't be traced to his home.
Phiber: <typing on the laptop> Hacker's goal is basically to become
one with the machine. [in a Socratic-dialogue tone of
Krista: Unlike Holland, hacking in the US is a crime, so this hacker
prefers to remain anonymous.
<screen switches to dark bookstore where A. Hacker [Phiber] sits
across from Krista>
Krista: So what gives you the right to access other people's
A. Hacker: To tell you the truth, I really don't care hat someone
keeps on their computers. Me, myself personally, and my close friends
are mainly interested in programming the machines.
Krista: But if the machines are owned by somebody else, they're not
A. Hacker: Well, sure, but we'd just be coexisting with the people
that normally use the machine.
Krista: Have you ever gotten into the White House computers?
A. Hacker: Well, I can't personally say whether I have or not. I
know it's certainly possible, there's nothing stopping anyone from it.
<shot of White House>
Krista: Did you ever see anything interesting when you were there?
A. Hacker: Well, I'm not gonna say I was ever there...bu...uhh...No
<screen switches back to the studio>
Geraldo: Joining me now is Craig Neidorf. Craig is one of the
country's most notorious hackers. He has the dubious distinction of
being one of the first people prosecuted under the Computer Abuse and
Fraud Act. Although the charges against him were eventually dropped.
Geraldo: Do you think it's fun what the Dutch kids did? Get any
kicks out of it?
Craig [KL]: I'm sure they probably thought it was fun. I was a bit
disturbed by it when I heard about it.
Geraldo: Yeah. And you'll see why, after this.
<cut away to commercial, but first a message from Winn Schwartau and
Winn: We do, potentially face an electronic Pearl Harbor.
<shot of Pearl Harbor>
Geraldo: Is the United States vulnerable to a computer invasion by
the enemy? We'll be back in a moment with some of the scenarios for
terror, as we continue our report on the Mad Hacker's Key Party.
Geraldo: We'll be hearing more from our hacker friend here in a
moment, as well as from somebody who prosecutes guys just like Craig.
Geraldo: In their own defense Craig and the other hackers say they
demonstrate graphically just how vulnerable are to sabotage. Another
word for sabotage in the high-tech 90's is terrorism. Here's Krista
Bradford with the second part of her alarming report.
Krista: Thanks Geraldo. For years the US government has known about
the threat of computer terrorism, but it has done little to protect
itself. Computer security is routinely cut from the budget. So now
we are in the precarious position of life possibly imitating art.
That according to a recent Congressional subcommitee, when the
subcomittee roled a clip from the movie Die Hard.
<actually it's Die Hard II...Clip shows scene where head hancho at
Dullus Airport realizes someone else has control of their computer
<scene switches to that Winn guy...An Information Security Consultant>
Winn: A dedicated, motivated group of individuals with proper funding
and a little bit of knowledge of technology.....
<another clip from Die Hard II...Workers scrambling around the control
Winn: ....has the capability to effectively invade the United States
via his computers and communication systems, shut those systems down
that they wish to shut down, and do it invisibly by remote control.
<screen shows plane taking off>
Krista: The FAA's computerized air traffic control system holds the
lives of tens of thousands of travellers in the balance every second.
<screen shows fictional computer graphic of air traffic over map of
Krista: The federal reserve system moves $250 trillion through it's
computer networks every year. The more computers we have the more
vulnerable we become to computer terrorism.
<shot of terrorists hijacking TWA plane>
Guy in suit in front of microphone: A recent national research
council report says that the modern thief can steal more with a
computer, than with a gun. Tomorrow's terrorists may be able to do
more damage with a keyboard, than with a bomb. That's frightening.
Krista: Dan Glickman (sp?) sits on the House Science, Space, and
Technology Committee and recently chaired a hearing on computer
security. Winn Schartau, a leading authority on information security
and author of the novel _Terminal_Compromise_ testified at this
Winn: Terrorism is not necessarily implied by bombs and bullets. You
can affect massive amounts of people by attacking the right computers.
And that's terrorism.
<switch back to Emmanuel>
Emmanuel: The computer is a tool. And any tool can be used as a
<switch back to A. Hacker - now we see he's with another person (B.
A. Hacker: I wouldn't as much call it a weapon as I would call it an
extension of one's own mind.
<switch back to Winn. He's setting up some sort of satellite receiver
next to his terminal and equipment>
Krista: For the first time on television we can see just how
vulnerable computers are to attack. There are four ways the computer
can be used as a weapon. Number one, viruses: programs that copy
themselves over and over again. In January, there were 480 viruses
In June, 921. At the current rate there will be 100,000 viruses by
the year 1995.
<shows fictional graphic of computers all over the map of the US,
apparently supposed to be infected>
Winn: There are a new breed of viruses coming out that actually can
cause physical damage to the computer. Either cause the monitor
itself to blow up, or cause the hard disk to physically crash, thus
rendering all the information unusable.
Krista: Number 2, interception. Terrorists can intercept phone lines
used by computers and faxes. HIgh-tech phone taps.
<shows fictional graphic of guy at keyboard intercepting signals
transmitted between two computers>
Winn: There are very, very simple, off-the-shelf, products and
techniques that are available to listen in on all your digital
Krista: Number 3, electromagnetic eavesdropping. Something our own
government has allegedly kept under wraps for 40 years, so it can
protect its military computers while spying on other unprotected
Winn: You have to view the computer as a miniature radio transmitter.
All the information that is being processed on it, and is being
displayed on the terminal, your video display terminal, is being
broadcast into the air just like a radio transmitter.
Krista: In an exclusive demonstration of just how easy it is while
someone is typing at a computer terminal we can see someone up else to
a mile and a half away tune in the radiation with an antenna and read
exactly what is being typed.
<screen shows one person typing in fictional credit card information,
then switches back to Winn's setup, where he tunes in to the frequency
19.9217 and is able to see on his terminal the information that was
being typed on the other terminal>
Krista: And finally number 4, computer guns. These guns are not
loaded with bullets but transmit high frequencies or electromagnetic
pulses, which, when fired, can cause an entire computer system to
<shows fictional graphic of satellite transmitting signal which causes
computer to blow up>
Winn: What if I shot your computer with my hertz (sp? unclear word)
gun every hour on the hour, forcing your computers down every hour?
It takes approximately a half-hour to forty-five minutes to bring one
back up, how long can your company sustain that before you cry uncle?
<shows hacker home video again>
Krista: Just how real is the threat of computer terrorism? Real
enough, according to a GAO report on computer security at the
Department of Justice. The report identified many disturbing computer
flaws which have life and death implications.
Krista: Real enough according to another GAO report on computer
security at the stock market. Six of our nation's stock market
computers are at risk, which handle 1.8 trillion dollars every year.
<shows stock market report>
Krista: Real enough that according to a report just this September
which revealed that top secret bomb designs for every nuclear weapon
in the country were left unprotected in the computer system at the
Rocky Flats Nuclear Weapons Plant.
Winn: The current state of affairs is such that we do potentially
face an electronic Pearl Harbor.
<bomb exploding footage>
Krista <in front of statue of statue in Washington, apparently>: Just
how many acts of computer terrorism there have been is impossible to
say since our own government refuses to comment. But, the manifesto
for the terrorist group The Red Brigade vows that one of its main
goals is to target and destroy computer systems.
<shot of Die Hard II again., where Bruce Willis says "This is just the
<back to the studio...>
Geraldo: Joining us now via satellite from Oakland, CA is the
Assistant District Attorney Don Ingraham ... for Alameda County and he
has been prosecuting computer hackers for years.
<Don is in the TV box, between Geraldo and Craig [KL]>
Geraldo: Don, how do you respond to the feeling common among so many
hackers that what they're doing is a public service; they're exposing
the flaws in our security systems?
Don: Right, and just like the people who rape a coed on campus are
exposing the flaws in our nation's higher education security. It's
absolute nonsense. They are doing nothing more than showing off to
each other, and satisfying their own appetite to know something that
is not theirs to know.
Geraldo: Don, you stand by, Craig as well. And when we come back
we'll hear more from prosecutor Ingraham and from, I guess his
archrival here, the Mad Hacker Craig Neidorf.
Geraldo: We're back with Craig Neidorf, a former University of
Missouri student who ran a widely distributed electronic newsletter
[Phrack, duh] for computer hackers. He is so proud of being America's
Most Wanted computer hacker that he has put together this very
<Geraldo holds up a colorful scrapbook..On the left page shows a
lightning bolt hitting what looks to be a crown [Knight Lightning]
...And on the right it looks like a graphic saying "Knight Lightning"
and below that is a black circle with a white lightning bolt, and
next to that is a triangle that looks very similar to the triangle
with an eye that appeared on the cover of _GURPS_Cyberpunk_ [which
said in it, the book that was seized by the Secret Service! see page
4...- but the one on KL is illegible]>
Geraldo: Knight Lightning I guess that was your code?
KL: It was my editor handle.
Geraldo: That's your handle. OK. And from Oakland, CA we are
talking with the Assistant District Attorney Don Ingraham, who is hard
driven, you might say, to put people like Craig behind bars. Don, do
you think Craig's lucky that he's not behind bars right now?
Don: Yes, I think he's extraordinarily lucky. He was part of a
conspiracy, in my opinion, to take property that wasn't his and share
it with others. They charged him with interstate transport of stolen
property - couldn't make the threshold -and it came out that it had
been compromised by, unfortunately, released by another Bellcore
subsidiary. But was certainly not through any doing of HIS that he is
a free man.
Geraldo: So you think that his activities stink, then.
Don: Absolutely. No Question about it.
Geraldo: Craig, you wanna respond? Are you doing something for the
greater good of society?
KL: Well I was merely publishing a newsletter. I didn't go out and
find this document. Rather it was sent to me. In many ways it could
be compared to Daniel Ellsberg sending the Pentagon Papers to the New
Geraldo: Do you figure it that way Don? Is he like Daniel Ellsberg?
Don: No, Ellsberg went to court to deal with it. Daniel Ellsberg's
release of the Pentagon Papers is the subject of a published court
decision to point out it was a matter of national security and
national interest. The E911 codes, which is the citizen's link to the
police department are not a matter of national security. They're a
matter of the central service to the community.......
Geraldo: You broke into the 911 system? He broke into the 911
KL: No, that's not correct. I never entered any 911 telephone
Don: I didn't say he entered into it. What I said was that he and
Riggs conspired together to take a code that they knew was necessary
to 911 and to take it apart to see how it worked. They never had the
owner's permission, they never asked for it.
Geraldo: Alright, lemme ask you this....
KL: The court found that there was no conspiracy here.
Geraldo: You were acquitted. You were vindicated at least from
criminal responsibility. Lemme just quickly ask you this: hackers
have been inside the White House computer.
KL: Yes they have.
Geraldo: And they've been inside the Pentagon computer.
Geraldo: And if Saddam Hussein hired some hackers whether they're
from Holland or any other place, he could've gotten into these
KL: Presumably, he could've.
Geraldo: And gotten some valuable information.
KL: It's definitely possible.
Geraldo: And you still think hackers are performing a public service?
KL: That's not what I said. I think that those kind of activities
are wrong. But by the same token, the teenagers, or some of the
people here that are not performing malicious acts, while they should
be punished should not be published as extreme as the law currently
Geraldo: You're response to that Don?
Don: I don't think they're being punished very much at all. We're
having trouble even taking away their gear. I don't know one of them
has done hard time in a prison. The book, Hafner's book on
_Cyberpunk_, points out that even Mitnick who is a real electronic
Hannibal Lecter ... did not get near any of the punishment that what
he was doing entitled him to.
Geraldo: <laughing> An electronic Hannibal Lecter. OK, stand by,
we'll be back with more of this debate in a moment...
Geraldo: Back with Craig Neidorf and prosecutor Don Ingraham. Craig,
do you think hackers are voyeurs or are they potentially terrorists?
KL: I think they resemble voyeurs more than terrorists. They are
often times looking at places where they don't belong, but most
hackers do not intend to cause any damage.
Geraldo: Do you buy that Don?
Don: If they stopped at voyeurism they would be basically
sociopathic, but not doing near the harm they do now. But they don't
stop at looking, that's the point. They take things out and share
them with others, and they are not being accountable and being
responsible as to whom they are sharing this information. That is the
Geraldo: Can they find out my credit rating? I know that's not a
national security issue, but I'm concerned about it.
Don: Piece of cake.
Geraldo: No problem.
Geraldo: Go ahead. Assuming I have a credit rating...hahahah....
Don: Assume that the credit is not carried by someone who is using
Geraldo: But you think Craig it's not problem.
KL: I think it's no problem.
Geraldo: Give me quickly the worst case scenario. Say Abu Nidal had
you working for him.
KL: I'm sorry?
Geraldo: Abu Nidal, notorious .....
KL: As far as your credit rating?
Geraldo: No, not as far as my credit rating.. The world, national
KL: Well, hackers have gotten into computer systems owned by the
government before. At this point they've never acknowledged that it
was anything that was ever classified. But even some unclassified
information could be used to the detriment of our country.
Geraldo: Like the counter-terrorist strategy on January 15th, the day
of the deadline expired in the Persian Gulf.
KL: Perhaps if Saddam Hussein had somehow known for sure that we were
going to launch an attack, it might have benefited him in some way,
but I'm really not sure.
Geraldo: Don, worst case scenario, 30 seconds?
Don: They wipe out our communications system. Rather easily done.
Nobody talks to anyone else, nothing moves, patients don't get their
medicine. We're on our knees.
Geraldo: What do you think of Craig, quickly, and people like him?
Don: What do I think of Craig? I have a lot of respect for Craig, I
think he's probably going to be an outstanding lawyer someday. But he
is contributing to a disease, and a lack of understanding ethically,
that is causing a lot of trouble.
Geraldo: One word answer. As the computer proliferate won't hackers
also proliferate? Won't there be more and more people like you to
Knight Lightning: I think we're seeing a new breed of hacker. And
some of them will be malicious.
Geraldo: Some of them will be malicious. Yes, well, that's it...for
now. I'm Geraldo Rivera.
[End of Program]