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Фантастика. Фэнтези
   Зарубежная фантастика
      Bruce Sterling. The hacker crackdown -
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o the deepest and most deviant recesses of software releases and expensive peripherals.... The mark of the hacker beast. I have it too. The whole "electronic community," whatever the hell that is, has it. Gail Thackeray has it. Gail Thackeray is a hacker cop. My immediate reaction is a strong rush of indignant pity: *why doesn't somebody buy this woman her Amiga?!* It's not like she's asking for a Cray X-MP supercomputer mainframe; an Amiga's a sweet little cookie-box thing. We're losing zillions in organized fraud; prosecuting and defending a single hacker case in court can cost a hundred grand easy. How come nobody can come up with four lousy grand so this woman can do her job? For a hundred grand we could buy every computer cop in America an Amiga. There aren't that many of 'em. Computers. The lust, the hunger, for computers. The loyalty they inspire, the intense sense of possessiveness. The culture they have bred. I myself am sitting in downtown Phoenix, Arizona because it suddenly occurred to me that the police might -- just *might* -- come and take away my computer. The prospect of this, the mere *implied threat,* was unbearable. It literally changed my life. It was changing the lives of many others. Eventually it would change everybody's life. Gail Thackeray was one of the top computer- crime people in America. And I was just some novelist, and yet I had a better computer than hers. *Practically everybody I knew* had a better computer than Gail Thackeray and her feeble laptop 286. It was like sending the sheriff in to clean up Dodge City and arming her with a slingshot cut from an old rubber tire. But then again, you don't need a howitzer to enforce the law. You can do a lot just with a badge. With a badge alone, you can basically wreak havoc, take a terrible vengeance on wrongdoers. Ninety percent of "computer crime investigation" is just "crime investigation:" names, places, dossiers, modus operandi, search warrants, victims, complainants, informants... What will computer crime look like in ten years? Will it get better? Did "Sundevil" send 'em reeling back in confusion? It'll be like it is now, only worse, she tells me with perfect conviction. Still there in the background, ticking along, changing with the times: the criminal underworld. It'll be like drugs are. Like our problems with alcohol. All the cops and laws in the world never solved our problems with alcohol. If there's something people want, a certain percentage of them are just going to take it. Fifteen percent of the populace will never steal. Fifteen percent will steal most anything not nailed down. The battle is for the hearts and minds of the remaining seventy percent. And criminals catch on fast. If there's not "too steep a learning curve" -- if it doesn't require a baffling amount of expertise and practice -- then criminals are often some of the first through the gate of a new technology. Especially if it helps them to hide. They have tons of cash, criminals. The new communications tech -- like pagers, cellular phones, faxes, Federal Express -- were pioneered by rich corporate people, and by criminals. In the early years of pagers and beepers, dope dealers were so enthralled this technology that owing a beeper was practically prima facie evidence of cocaine dealing. CB radio exploded when the speed limit hit 55 and breaking the highway law became a national pastime. Dope dealers send cash by Federal Express, despite, or perhaps *because of,* the warnings in FedEx offices that tell you never to try this. Fed Ex uses X-rays and dogs on their mail, to stop drug shipments. That doesn't work very well. Drug dealers went wild over cellular phones. There are simple methods of faking ID on cellular phones, making the location of the call mobile, free of charge, and effectively untraceable. Now victimized cellular companies routinely bring in vast toll-lists of calls to Colombia and Pakistan. Judge Greene's fragmentation of the phone company is driving law enforcement nuts. Four thousand telecommunications companies. Fraud skyrocketing. Every temptation in the world available with a phone and a credit card number. Criminals untraceable. A galaxy of "new neat rotten things to do." If there were one thing Thackeray would like to have, it would be an effective legal end-run through this new fragmentation minefield. It would be a new form of electronic search warrant, an "electronic letter of marque" to be issued by a judge. It would create a new category of "electronic emergency." Like a wiretap, its use would be rare, but it would cut across state lines and force swift cooperation from all concerned. Cellular, phone, laser, computer network, PBXes, AT&T, Baby Bells, long-distance entrepreneurs, packet radio. Some document, some mighty court-order, that could slice through four thousand separate forms of corporate red-tape, and get her at once to the source of calls, the source of email threats and viruses, the sources of bomb threats, kidnapping threats. "From now on," she says, "the Lindberg baby will always die." Something that would make the Net sit still, if only for a moment. Something that would get her up to speed. Seven league boots. That's what she really needs. "Those guys move in nanoseconds and I'm on the Pony Express." And then, too, there's the coming international angle. Electronic crime has never been easy to localize, to tie to a physical jurisdiction. And phone- phreaks and hackers loathe boundaries, they jump them whenever they can. The English. The Dutch. And the Germans, especially the ubiquitous Chaos Computer Club. The Australians. They've all learned phone-phreaking from America. It's a growth mischief industry. The multinational networks are global, but governments and the police simply aren't. Neither are the laws. Or the legal frameworks for citizen protection. One language is global, though -- English. Phone phreaks speak English; it's their native tongue even if they're Germans. English may have started in England but now it's the Net language; it might as well be called "CNNese." Asians just aren't much into phone phreaking. They're the world masters at organized software piracy. The French aren't into phone-phreaking either. The French are into computerized industrial espionage. In the old days of the MIT righteous hackerdom, crashing systems didn't hurt anybody. Not all that much, anyway. Not permanently. Now the players are more venal. Now the consequences are worse. Hacking will begin killing people soon. Already there are methods of stacking calls onto 911 systems, annoying the police, and possibly causing the death of some poor soul calling in with a genuine emergency. Hackers in Amtrak computers, or air- traffic control computers, will kill somebody someday. Maybe a lot of people. Gail Thackeray expects it. And the viruses are getting nastier. The "Scud" virus is the latest one out. It wipes hard-disks. According to Thackeray, the idea that phone- phreaks are ъobin Hoods is a fraud. They don't deserve this repute. Basically, they pick on the weak. AT&T now protects itself with the fearsome ANI (Automatic Number Identification) trace capability. When AT&T wised up and tightened security generally, the phreaks drifted into the Baby Bells. The Baby Bells lashed out in 1989 and 1990, so the phreaks switched to smaller long-distance entrepreneurs. Today, they are moving into locally owned PBXes and voice-mail systems, which are full of security holes, dreadfully easy to hack. These victims aren't the moneybags Sheriff of Nottingham or Bad King John, but small groups of innocent people who find it hard to protect themselves, and who really suffer from these depredations. Phone phreaks pick on the weak. They do it for power. If it were legal, they wouldn't do it. They don't want service, or knowledge, they want the thrill of power- tripping. There's plenty of knowledge or service around, if you're willing to pay. Phone phreaks don't pay, they steal. It's because it is illegal that it feels like power, that it gratifies their vanity. I leave Gail Thackeray with a handshake at the door of her office building -- a vast International- Style office building downtown. The Sheriff's office is renting part of it. I get the vague impression that quite a lot of the building is empty -- real estate crash. In a Phoenix sports apparel store, in a downtown mall, I meet the "Sun Devil" himself. He is the cartoon mascot of Arizona State University, whose football stadium, "Sundevil," is near the local Secret Service HQ -- hence the name Operation Sundevil. The Sun Devil himself is named "Sparky." Sparky the Sun Devil is maroon and bright yellow, the school colors. Sparky brandishes a three-tined yellow pitchfork. He has a small mustache, pointed ears, a barbed tail, and is dashing forward jabbing the air with the pitchfork, with an expression of devilish glee. Phoenix was the home of Operation Sundevil. The Legion of Doom ran a hacker bulletin board called "The Phoenix Project." An Australian hacker named "Phoenix" once burrowed through the Internet to attack Cliff Stoll, then bragged and boasted about it to *The New York Times.* This net of coincidence is both odd and meaningless. The headquarters of the Arizona Attorney General, Gail Thackeray's former workplace, is on 1275 Washington Avenue. Many of the downtown streets in Phoenix are named after prominent American presidents: Washington, Jefferson, Madison.... After dark, all the employees go home to their suburbs. Washington, Jefferson and Madison -- what would be the Phoenix inner city, if there were an inner city in this sprawling automobile-bred town -- become the haunts of transients and derelicts. The homeless. The sidewalks along Washington are lined with orange trees. ъipe fallen fruit lies scattered like croquet balls on the sidewalks and gutters. No one seems to be eating them. I try a fresh one. It tastes unbearably bitter. The Attorney General's office, built in 1981 during the Babbitt administration, is a long low two- story building of white cement and wall-sized sheets of curtain-glass. Behind each glass wall is a lawyer's office, quite open and visible to anyone strolling by. Across the street is a dour government building labelled simply ECONOMIC SECUъITY, something that has not been in great supply in the American Southwest lately. The offices are about twelve feet square. They feature tall wooden cases full of red-spined lawbooks; Wang computer monitors; telephones; Post-it notes galore. Also framed law diplomas and a general excess of bad Western landscape art. Ansel Adams photos are a big favorite, perhaps to compensate for the dismal specter of the parking- lot, two acres of striped black asphalt, which features gravel landscaping and some sickly-looking barrel cacti. It has grown dark. Gail Thackeray has told me that the people who work late here, are afraid of muggings in the parking lot. It seems cruelly ironic that a woman tracing electronic racketeers across the interstate labyrinth of Cyberspace should fear an assault by a homeless derelict in the parking lot of her own workplace. Perhaps this is less than coincidence. Perhaps these two seemingly disparate worlds are somehow generating one another. The poor and disenfranchised take to the streets, while the rich and computer-equipped, safe in their bedrooms, chatter over their modems. Quite often the derelicts kick the glass out and break in to the lawyers' offices, if they see something they need or want badly enough. I cross the parking lot to the street behind the Attorney General's office. A pair of young tramps are bedding down on flattened sheets of cardboard, under an alcove stretching over the sidewalk. One tramp wears a glitter-covered T-shirt reading "CALIFOъNIA" in Coca-Cola cursive. His nose and cheeks look chafed and swollen; they glisten with what seems to be Vaseline. The other tramp has a ragged long-sleeved shirt and lank brown hair parted in the middle. They both wear blue jeans coated in grime. They are both drunk. "You guys crash here a lot?" I ask them. They look at me warily. I am wearing black jeans, a black pinstriped suit jacket and a black silk tie. I have odd shoes and a funny haircut. "It's our first time here," says the red-nosed tramp unconvincingly. There is a lot of cardboard stacked here. More than any two people could use. "We usually stay at the Vinnie's down the street," says the brown-haired tramp, puffing a Marlboro with a meditative air, as he sprawls with his head on a blue nylon backpack. "The Saint Vincent's." "You know who works in that building over there?" I ask, pointing. The brown-haired tramp shrugs. "Some kind of attorneys, it says." ` We urge one another to take it easy. I give them five bucks. A block down the street I meet a vigorous workman who is wheeling along some kind of industrial trolley; it has what appears to be a tank of propane on it. We make eye contact. We nod politely. I walk past him. "Hey! Excuse me sir!" he says. "Yes?" I say, stopping and turning. "Have you seen," the guy says rapidly, "a black guy, about 6'7", scars on both his cheeks like this --" he gestures -- "wears a black baseball cap on backwards, wandering around here anyplace?" "Sounds like I don't much *want* to meet him," I say. "He took my wallet," says my new acquaintance. "Took it this morning. Y'know, some people would be *scared* of a guy like that. But I'm not scared. I'm from Chicago. I'm gonna hunt him down. We do things like that in Chicago." "Yeah?" "I went to the cops and now he's got an APB out on his ass," he says with satisfaction. "You run into him, you let me know." "Okay," I say. "What is your name, sir?" "Stanley...." "And how can I reach you?" "Oh," Stanley says, in the same rapid voice, "you don't have to reach, uh, me. You can just call the cops. Go straight to the cops." He reaches into a pocket and pulls out a greasy piece of pasteboard. "See, here's my report on him." I look. The "report," the size of an index card, is labelled PъO-ACT: Phoenix ъesidents Opposing Active Crime Threat.... or is it Organized Against Crime Threat? In the darkening street it's hard to read. Some kind of vigilante group? Neighborhood watch? I feel very puzzled. "Are you a police officer, sir?" He smiles, seems very pleased by the question. "No," he says. ` "But you are a 'Phoenix ъesident?'" "Would you believe a homeless person," Stanley says. "ъeally? But what's with the..." For the first time I take a close look at Stanley's trolley. It's a rubber-wheeled thing of industrial metal, but the device I had mistaken for a tank of propane is in fact a water-cooler. Stanley also has an Army duffel-bag, stuffed tight as a sausage with clothing or perhaps a tent, and, at the base of his trolley, a cardboard box and a battered leather briefcase. "I see," I say, quite at a loss. For the first time I notice that Stanley has a wallet. He has not lost his wallet at all. It is in his back pocket and chained to his belt. It's not a new wallet. It seems to have seen a lot of wear. "Well, you know how it is, brother," says Stanley. Now that I know that he is homeless -- *a possible threat* -- my entire perception of him has changed in an instant. His speech, which once seemed just bright and enthusiastic, now seems to have a dangerous tang of mania. "I have to do this!" he assures me. "Track this guy down... It's a thing I do... you know... to keep myself together!" He smiles, nods, lifts his trolley by its decaying rubber handgrips. "Gotta work together, y'know, " Stanley booms, his face alight with cheerfulness, "the police can't do everything!" The gentlemen I met in my stroll in downtown Phoenix are the only computer illiterates in this book. To regard them as irrelevant, however, would be a grave mistake. As computerization spreads across society, the populace at large is subjected to wave after wave of future shock. But, as a necessary converse, the "computer community" itself is subjected to wave after wave of incoming computer illiterates. How will those currently enjoying America's digital bounty regard, and treat, all this teeming refuse yearning to breathe free? Will the electronic frontier be another Land of Opportunity -- or an armed and monitored enclave, where the disenfranchised snuggle on their cardboard at the locked doors of our houses of justice? Some people just don't get along with computers. They can't read. They can't type. They just don't have it in their heads to master arcane instructions in wirebound manuals. Somewhere, the process of computerization of the populace will reach a limit. Some people -- quite decent people maybe, who might have thrived in any other situation -- will be left irretrievably outside the bounds. What's to be done with these people, in the bright new shiny electroworld? How will they be regarded, by the mouse-whizzing masters of cyberspace? With contempt? Indifference? Fear? In retrospect, it astonishes me to realize how quickly poor Stanley became a perceived threat. Surprise and fear are closely allied feelings. And the world of computing is full of surprises. I met one character in the streets of Phoenix whose role in those book is supremely and directly relevant. That personage was Stanley's giant thieving scarred phantom. This phantasm is everywhere in this book. He is the specter haunting cyberspace. Sometimes he's a maniac vandal ready to smash the phone system for no sane reason at all. Sometimes he's a fascist fed, coldly programming his mighty mainframes to destroy our Bill of ъights. Sometimes he's a telco bureaucrat, covertly conspiring to register all modems in the service of an Orwellian surveillance regime. Mostly, though, this fearsome phantom is a "hacker." He's strange, he doesn't belong, he's not authorized, he doesn't smell right, he's not keeping his proper place, he's not one of us. The focus of fear is the hacker, for much the same reasons that Stanley's fancied assailant is black. Stanley's demon can't go away, because he doesn't exist. Despite singleminded and tremendous effort, he can't be arrested, sued, jailed, or fired. The only constructive way to do *anything* about him is to learn more about Stanley himself. This learning process may be repellent, it may be ugly, it may involve grave elements of paranoiac confusion, but it's necessary. Knowing Stanley requires something more than class-crossing condescension. It requires more than steely legal objectivity. It requires human compassion and sympathy. To know Stanley is to know his demon. If you know the other guy's demon, then maybe you'll come to know some of your own. You'll be able to separate reality from illusion. And then you won't do your cause, and yourself, more harm than good. Like poor damned Stanley from Chicago did. # The Federal Computer Inves

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