TUCoPS :: Cyber Law :: way.txt

Gotta Be A Better Way


By	Glen Roberts
	Bill Vajk

This article is reprinted from Full Disclosure. Copyright (c) 1991 Full 
Disclosure. Permission granted by publisher to reprint when subscription 
information provided: Full Disclosure, Box 903-R, Libertyville, Illinois 
60048, Phone: (708) 395-6200, Fax: (708) 395-6022, BBS: (708) 395-3244, Toll 
free: (800) 786-6184. Subscriptions: $18 for 12 issues.

This issue of Full Disclosure is devoted to the current attempts at solving 
the problems of computer security through prosecution of computer crimes.

It would appear from the recent activities of the federal government that one 
of its major attacks is trying to spread fear throughout the ``hacker'' 
community. Such a concept will certainly work in a limited number of cases. 
However, as the reading of any local newspaper will show, numerous crimes are 
committed everyday, criminals are not stopped by the fear of punishment.

The other aspect of the government's fear program appears directed towards 
those who have no criminal involvement, who wish to participate in First 
Amendment activities by high-technology. Some have been subjected to 
punishment without even the allegation of criminal behavior. See related 
article titled ``Dr. Ripco Seizure.'' The result is a fear by some of 
participating in the First Amendment, not a legitimate goal of law 
enforcement or the government.

Reprinted in this issue is a copy a sentencing memorandum filed by the 
Government last year in a computer crime case. It portrays the defendants as 
particularly ``powerful by'' means of the information they stole. Missing is 
the fact that the lax nature of computer security is what actually gave the 
defendants power. If the state of computer security been reasonable secure, 
the information obtained by defendants (whether legally or not) would have 
granted them no extraordinary power.

A primary reason the government seeks incarceration as part of the sentence 
is not because of the criminal nature of the defendants activities, but 
rather to send ``the message that the hackers around the country need to 
hear.'' Unfortunately, the death penalty has failed to stop murder.

The government appears to be more concerned with the free flow of information 
than the fact that criminal acts were committed; ``[f]rom the start, 
information was stolen and, by definition no longer safeguarded.'' Later 
concluding, ``in essence, stolen information equalled power, and by that 
definition, all three defendants were becoming frighteningly powerful.''

The concept that information is the crux of the problem is also highlighted 
by William Cook, Assistant United States Attorney, Chicago, Illinois in an 
article he wrote for the Spring 1990, COMMUNICATOR<M^>*1. He noted that 
hackers can ``easily keep up with industry technical developments.'' He also 
perceives that hackers are able to easily use prior information to form 
attack plans on new computers.

As the Soviet Union moves toward a more open society, the United States is 
just as surely closing its windows of communication. The United States has 
always been the technological forefront in the world because of the ease of 
information flow. Researchers, corporations and individuals have always been 
free to group together and exchange information as desired. This has greatly 
increased the ability of the United States to make technological advances 

One can easily see the results by looking at the space programs administered 
by NASA. They have resulted in many inventions finding their way quickly into 
our economy, including rapid improvements in our exports. A few of the things 
that have resulted from NASA's openness with U.S. industry have included: new 
applications such as teflon coatings (frying pans and such), inhalation 
therapy for lung ailments, teflon coatings for asbestos fiber made into 
special apparel for rescue in fires, and many more too numerous to mention.

The phenomenon of information exchange is exactly what William Cook describes 
in his article. However, because the ``hackers'' have apparently built or 
made use of a highly efficient communications medium they have been able to 
advance as quick as corporations which have failed to take devote resources 
to advance their informational security. The corporate security departments 
should make use of the same hacker communication techniques to work on their 
problems and see their use of the ``frightening power'' of information lead 
to secure computer systems.

The Communications Fraud Control Association (CFCA) in its published FRAUD 
ALERT of June 21, 1990, is concerned that the government may not be able to 
stop computer crime, if several organizations promising funding for legal 
defense follow through. At risk is the review of several federal and state 
statutes for compliance with constitutional guidelines. To date, even with 
the presence of one such rights organization, the EFF<M^><MI^>*2, in at least 
two federal cases, such a review has thus far been thwarted.

In short, we see the CFCA's position as allowing only two choices: 1) violate 
the rights of hackers in order to obtain convictions, or 2) the world will be 
runover by a rampage of hacking activities.

Two decades ago, the same problems, but with slightly different technology 
was showing its ugly face. The related article in this issue ``The Death of 
the Blue Box'' overviews the legal difficulties the government had in 
prosecuting those stealing telecommunications services.

Ultimately, the law enforcement efforts to stop blue boxers were by all 
practical means of measurement a complete failure. Only a handful of 
thousands of offenses were prosecuted. Those prosecutions proved to have no 
deterrent effect on others. Just as we will see that the few recent computer 
hacker prosecutions will do nothing to stem the flow of current day hacking 
and telecommunications fraud.

Prosecution of crimes throught to be victimless does little more than to 
strengthen the resolve to not get caught in a very evoluntionary way. The 
solution today is the same as it was in the blue box solution. An upgrading 
of the technology will prevent the simplistic attacks that are so common. The 
first step towards a technological upgrade requires an increase in the 
communication between those experiencing compromise of their data.

The CFCA's COMMUNICATOR claims in the February 1990 issue of Security 
Management to be the only regular journal on telecommunications crime. 
Apparently overlooking, CUD, 2600 and the non defunct Phrack. That is a small 
start towards the free flow of information needed by those who are looking 
for security solutions for their companies.

*1 Communications Fraud Control Association (CFCA), 7921 Jones Branch Dr, 
#300, McLean, Virginia 22102, Phone: (703) 848-9768, Fax: (703) 356-3701. The 
association also operates a Consumer Hotline for anyone experiencing phone 

*2 EFF, The Electronic Frontier Foundation, 155 Second St, Cambridge, MA 
02141, Phone: (617) 864-0665, Fax: (617) 864-0866. 

The above is reprinted from Full Disclosure Newspaper. Subscribe today and 
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