Attack of the Computer Crackers

The New Wave of Juvenile Techno-Delinquents

And now that high-tech mischief has moved from the realm of alienated whiz kids to mainstream teens, a new wave of so-called computer “Crackers” is taking form–one wider, deeper, and better organized than ever before.

The Nation had better hang on tight to its data bases.

An electronic mail system furthers the culture, as members message each other’s computers via the phone lines. Computer files where any member is free to deposit a message are called electronic bulletin boards. There is really no way to count the number of crackers exchanging tips and techniques this way–certainly they number in the thousands. Here is one of the many Manifesto’s:

“This is our world now … The world of the electron and the switch, the beauty of the baud. We make use of a service that already exists without paying for what could be dirt cheap if it wasn’t run by profiteering gluttons, and you call us criminals. We explore, and you call us criminals. We seek after knowledge, and you call us criminals. We exist without skin color, without nationality, without religious bias, and you call us criminals. You build atomic bombs, wage wars, you murder, you cheat and lie to us and try to make us believe it is for our own good, yet we’re the criminals.”

“Yes! I am a criminal. My crime is that of curiosity. My crime is that of judging people by what they think and say, not what they look like. My crime is that of outsmarting you, something you will never forgive me for. I am a hacker, and this is my manifesto. You may stop this individual, but you can’t stop us all. After all, we’re all alike.”

To make an impact in the phreak/hack world, you have to be busted or do something major. This is the code of Cyberpunk, a real-life version of the high-tech, low-life vision of science-fiction writer William Gibson.

One underground publication, ‘Phrack World News’, even prints electronic profiles of well-known crackers such as Lord Digital. Copies of ‘Phrack’ are electronically passed between underground BBS systems, where they cana user with the special “security clearance.”

Many crackers go by this version of Cyberpunk, “I’m smart but I party. I’m reckless, but I’m responsible. I’m very childlike at times, and at other times I can be very serious. I’m different than everyone else in my high school.”