Back To AntiOnline
Granny Hacker Visits Defcon - Part 2
Wednesday, July 21, 1999 at 0:49:12
by Carolyn Meinel - Writing For AntiOnline
Let’s see, where was I. Oh, yes, the lady with the giant breasts powered by antigravity machines is trying to distract people playing the Capture the Flag game against the Bastard Operator from Hell contestants. All the BOFHers are unscathed so far. I’m standing next to my box, every now and then checking to make sure at least a half dozen people have spawned shells in the guest account. I want Fangz to get a real workout! And who should sidle over but Priest, the giant guy in the buzz cut sandy hair and loud Hawaiian shirt who says he is “no longer with the agency.” Out of the corner of his mouth he mutters to me, “Dis has been committing too many felonies. If Dis doesn’t watch out, he will go to jail.”
Dis. That’s one of the two or three hundred handles Brian Martin uses, but who knows, lots of other hackers may use it, too. Or maybe Priest just keeps on confusing Dis with Mitnick or someone like that. I mutter right back, “It’s not clear to me that Dis is committing any felonies.”
Hoo, boy, now this is getting interesting. First Priest hints that he can make me rich, then he appeals to my presumed desire for revenge. Lots of people assume that since I am Brian Martin’s number one obsession (as seen at http://attrition.org), that I must hate him. Au contraire! Today is honesty day, no more kidding around. Martin is my public relations man, working overtime year after year to make sure everyone has heard of and buys my book, The Happy Hacker. By publicizing his fictional accounts of how I hacked 303.org and sekurity.org and let us NOT FORGET the New York Times, Martin has persuaded countless teenagers that I am a brilliant evil genius granny.
Oh, while we are on the topic of honesty, Priest just emailed me to advise that he just might sue me for the first installment of Granny Hacker from Heck Goes to Def Con. Let’s see, what are his exact words, “I have to talk to my lawyer about a lawsuit...I at no time represented my self as an FBI agent nor did I ever display a 'badge' at Defcon 5 to get a Fed t-shirt. Further, at no time did I aproach you with an offer of employment or a commentary on what my orgainzation was doing.” Hmmm, another man from an alternate universe. I think his alternate universe is at http://www.exo.com, phone them up and they will give you a truly amazing shell account from which you can entertain yourself with the file permissions of the other users.
Let’s see if I have this straight. Priest, a fictional entity who ran Def Con 7, and who has variously claimed to be an FBI agent and involved in a get rich quick Internet startup scheme, is trying to figure out how to sue the Granny Hacker from Heck for a humorous article that has lots of witnesses. If you have any leads on this man’s true identity, or want to add to reports of who this man has claimed to be from time to time, please contact me at 505-281-9675. “Don’t pay attention to the man behind the curtain...”
Now, back to our regularly scheduled programming, Friday July 9. Jon takes a turn guarding Fangz, our Bastard Operator From Hell contestant. I go to the main ballroom to catch the first round of “Spot the Fed.” I pass a room out of which rock music booms. There are fog machines, spotlights waving about. I notice more young women than I had ever before seen at a Def Con, mostly beautiful, dancing with hackers in that party room. More gorgeous women lounge in the hallway, awkwardly flirting and beckoning. Are they hoping to marry the next Bill Gates? They certainly don’t have the look of Las Vegas prostitutes, not even the lady with the antigravity boobs. There’s intelligence in those eyes. I briefly think of Tracy Baldwin, a new FBI agent, who came to Albuquerque for her first assignment out of Quantico. Baldwin’s young, beautiful, tense like a coiled spring. Some of these women in the hallway remind me of her.
Oh, yes, last November I gave Baldwin a hard time when she tried to convince me she might arrest me if I didn’t take a lie detector test about whether I hacked the New York Times. So now she gets to put up with being in a Granny Hacker story.
In the ballroom, Priest is on stage with a microphone. He booms out, “To win your ‘I spotted the Fed’ T-shirt, you have to identify someone who carries a badge and has the power to arrest. Informers don’t count. You know how you spot an informer, don’t you? He’s someone who was raided and got back out on the street within 24 hours.”
That made me think. A story in Forbes magazine last January had reported that the FBI had raided Brian Martin -- yet had not arrested him. According to an employee of the Internet Service Provider Martin uses (Inficad), not long thereafter “We were served a subpoena by the Fed's to perform certain actions on the attrition box co-located at our facility. As we do with all law enforcement matters we complied, and they performed what was required and permitted under the subpoena.”
Many in that room know about Martin’s FBI raid. Some in that room remember Priest claiming to be a Fed. Why would a Fed, even an ex-Fed (if Priest was telling me the truth) be trying to publicly finger Martin as a supposed informant? All in good fun, I’m sure.
A young man sitting next to me leans over. “Who is this Priest guy? He seems to be running Def Con.”
I dunno, maybe being a ficticious character is his profession.
Near midnight I am hovering over a laptop and hear a voice booming, “You. We’re closing down for the night. Out. Now.” I look up and see a knot of hackers scurrying for the nearest exit, behind them Priest playing the role of Nazi SS man. He swivels, points with outstretched arm at the next nearest group. “You. Out. Now.” He strides to another group.
“You. Out. Now.”
I am amazed. Aren’t hackers supposed to be anti-authoritarian? Isn’t herding hackers like herding cats? Not here.
Oops, I’m wrong. A departing group breaks up and scatters rather than making it to the exit. Priest catches on within seconds. He points them out one by one: “I told you, out. Now.”
When he has cleared the room of all but those of use playing the hacker war game, he comes over to us, now relaxed.
I gesture at Fangz. “I don’t want to leave until everyone else is out of the room. I worry about physical sabotage of my Bastard Operator from Hell entry.”
He lets me be the last non-staff person out.
Saturday morning. July 10, 1999. I’m waiting by the pool for the con to reopen. A swarthy fellow speaks. “Carolyn, I’m a friend of Zyklon.”
“Can you tell me just why, when he hacked the White House Web site, he called me a crack whore?”
“I’ll ask. By the way, I have your Happy Hacker book. Loved it.”
I can’t resist plugging my book. Buy out the latest printing, folks, and maybe I’ll shut up. Maybe not:)
The hacking game is in full swing. A dumpy little fellow comes over to me. “Hi, remember I called you on the phone? I’m a reporter from Rolling Stone. Can you tell me why so many hackers hate you so much? They won’t ever tell me why, they just say ‘Carolyn sucks.’”
“They don’t all hate me, just some noisy ones. Why don’t you talk to these young people?” I introduce him to a group of teenage boys who have clustered around me to get hints about my entry in the game: “Fangz.” Stuff like I tell them to use the pasv command to make its ftp server work. Sorry, Fangz is a little primitive, but the fewer features on its services, the harder it is to hack. Hey, give us credit, it’s RFC compliant and at least we don’t force players to use tftp, or cut and paste stuff through a terminal emulation program!
The teens crowd around the reporter. “Tell people most hackers are good guys! We don’t commit crime! We make the Internet a better place!” they chorus.
A tall, thin young man in skinhead garb and haircut walks up and hands me a flyer. It is about the new Web site, “Netcriminals.org.” It has a fake dossier on me, along with fake dossiers for several other people. Skinhead asks, “Do you know who I am?”
I shake my head.
He gives a tight grin. “Netmask.”
Netmask. It is the first time we have met in real life, yet over the years he has occasionally sent me demented, obscene, yet humorous emails. Some people might say he must be my kind of guy, but ask my fellow choir memebers at St. Luke, I’m just a sweet old lady.
Anyhow, Netmask and I had spoken once on the phone, or perhaps I should say, had spoken once that he had admitted to being Netmask. His erotic fantasies remind me of the man, or group, that has done major damage to almost every Internet Service Provider I had ever used: GALF. Netmask’s Web site -- 303.org -- features pictures of his 303 gang mowing down aspen trees with machine guns, dancing around a table covered with exotic guns, firebombing a car, and at one time it included instructions that presumably were meant as a humorous parody on instructions on how to molest children (under cocksoldier.com, hosted on the same box). They live near the Columbine school district near Denver.
Netmask runs the kind of gang that could make reporters go nuts for a chance to interview him. I can see the headline, “Goth gun and bomb nut hackers run rampant in Columbine school district.” But I will resist the temptation to write lurid stuff about them, just check out http://www.303.org for yourself, if it is still up.
Just before Def Con, Netmask had emailed me, “You up for a little hacker death match with me on friday? (at con)”
I replied, “Sure on death match, if you'll talk with me afterward. My aim might be off, I'm used to beating up outlaw horses with well-aimed kicks, the half ton class opponent is kinda exhilarating. Haven't sparred with a human in a long time. Dunno why humans are afraid of me :):)” I was just kidding, I swear! I just give wild horses “love taps” when they attack me, is all.
Hacker Death Match. That consists of putting on bulky foam rubber “sumo suits” and trying to knock each other down or out of the ring. Netmask had emailed back, “Im gonna pass on this actually.... Keeps me out of the media.. and keeps you less in the media..”
Just now I am wearing karate shoes. It’s my Deadly Granny outfit. Make muggers quake in their boots when they see me. Netmask is staring at them. The karate shoes, I mean. His martial art is kick boxing. He looks up. We stare at each other awhile. Then I lean forward within six inches of his face and whisper, “The reason I respect you, is you aren’t a crybaby like the others.”
He ducks and rushes off.
Two PM. I had gotten press credentials earlier that day from an elderly oriental man so I could get into the front row with a tape recorder to cover the Cult of the Dead Cow. They are about to introduce their new program to enable people to break into computers: Back Orifice 2000. Priest gets up on stage to announce their imminent arrival. A voice shouts out, “There have been a lot of naked people here. Isn’t that against the law?”
Priest laughs. “This is Las Vegas.”
Another voice shouts, “What happens to the people who are running around naked?”
Priest points at him. “They get laid!”
The audience roars with laughter.
Priest continues, “We have a treat for you tonight, live rock music.” Priest leaves the stage to cheers.
The lights dim, then go out. From big speakers on stage come sounds of a storm, mooing of cows and an adult voice ordering a kid over and over again to put the cows in the barn. The mooing gradually grows ominous, then ridiculously loud.
Rock music breaks out as two spotlights shine on each side of the stage. They project the logo of the Cult of the Dead Cow -- a cow skull in black against a white cross. The logos rotate. In the center of the stage a video projects themes of cattle interspersed with intimidating images from Nazi and Maoist social realistic art. Then, to cheers, the Cult of the Dead Cow gang enters from right stage, hurling glowing disks out to the audience. Nineteen of the twenty cult members prance, slouch and/or stagger up on stage. In front of them, their master of ceremonies leaps about in a ratty white fur coat, synthetic fur chaps, a belt made of handcuffs, doing a sick parody of a Pentecostal preacher, grabbing his crotch, making obscene jokes, and leading the audience in chants of (him)“Dead!” (audience) “Cow! (him) “Kiss! (audience) “Ass!” The rising lights reveal a parody of church vestments, banners with a Christian cross with the dead cow symbol in the center hanging on each side of the stage.
He raises both hands over his head, palms toward the audience. “Every eight year old can hack shit! Hacking to save the world! Just don’t get fucking busted! And use a fucking spell checker!” Long cheering and laughter come from the crowd.
“And now, the man who wrote Back Orifice 2000 -- Dildog!”
Dildog describes the features as if it is merely a “remote administration tool” as he calls it, raising snickers from the crowd. He uses LCD projectors from both a “client” (attacker) and “server” (victim) computer to show how BO2000 hides itself. When he shows the option to disable the victim mouse and keyboard and allow the attacker’s mouse and keyboard to control the victim, the crowd cheers.
They end the show with a man in red lace tights, shorts and red pasties held on with duct tape (who looks like a near terminal AIDS victim) shimmying across the stage while Deth Vegetable -- a gigantic sumo-style man in shorts -- smashes computers and a monitor with an electric guitar, the Master of Ceremonies waving his hands and screaming as he fires roman candles from a tube he clenches with his thighs against his crotch.
Afterwards I go back to the press room to check for schedule changes. Somehow I have the premonition that Brian Martin’s talk “fakes walk among us” may be rescheduled. David Akin of the Canadian publication “National Post” approaches me as I am leaving and asks “Why do so many hackers hate you? They won’t tell me anything specific. Basically they just say ‘Carolyn sucks.’”
Just then a disheveled man in an Attrition.org black T-shirt strides up yelling, “Get out of here. Only press are allowed here.”
“I have a press pass.” I show it to him.
“You aren’t a legitimate reporter! Get out of here.”
“How many FUCKing hundreds of magazine articles do I have to write before you admit I am a reporter?” Oops, I said a bad word. I’m mortified.
“We’ll consider you a reporter when you write real information!”
“Real information! Your Attrition.org site is full of libel!”
Just then the woman in charge of the press room, followed by several reporters, comes out and yells at me, “The conference staff says you are not a reporter. Give back your press pass. Now.”
Akin turns to them, “You can’t do this! You can’t pull a reporter’s credentials just because you don’t like what he or she writes!”
Somehow Priest materializes. “Come with me, I have some information for you.” We go into a deserted room. Chairs are stacked high. I can’t believe I am actually thinking this, but the first thing that comes to mind is that this will make a great scene for the “Granny Hacker Sticks it to the FBI” movie.
Priest breaks the spell. “The press room incident. It never happened.”
“We are explaining it to the reporters. They understand it was no big deal. You will never speak of this incident again.”
Puzzlement flashes across his face. He must be realizing that his nondisclosure agreement ploy has failed. “If you talk to a reporter about this, I will throw you out of the con. You *will* tell them it never happened.”
“One problem. I don’t lie.” I begin to tremble. “I ... have ... my ... integrity.”
Priest rubs his chin. I glare at him. He takes a deep breath. Time for a different ploy. “You don’t have to worry about Attrition.org. We have discredited them with the media. Brian Martin is on his way out.”
I look at him, head tilted, puzzled.
“A few months ago Brian Martin tried to get me fired.”
“We were talking on Internet Relay Chat. On condition of confidentiality. He sent a transcript of the conversation to my boss. Got me in major trouble.”
“All he did was violate confidentiality? Sheesh, he didn’t alter the transcript?”
“He altered the transcript. Fortunately I had my version burned into a CD-ROM. Also, two others had eavesdropped on our chat and burned their transcripts to CD-ROM, too. Ours all agreed.”
I nodded. Yeah, right. How come there are always so many fantastic stories revolving around Brian Martin and Attrition.org? We ought to nominate attrition.org for a Hugo award at the next World Science Fiction Convention. Or is Priest the one who deserves the Hugo?
Priest continues. “I want Martin behind bars. You know he was busted for the New York Times hack. Then immediately released. He’s now an unpaid informant.”
I let out a long breath. If Priest is telling the truth -- a BIG assumption -- Martin is now too valuable for the agency to expend. “I’ve heard that Martin is ops (moderator) on three Global Hell IRC channels. So was he the one who got Zyklon busted for the White House hack?”
“Is he informing on Global Hell?”
He throws up his hands. “We have so much on our plates we can’t even pay attention to Global Hell.”
“But they claim to be the ones hacking so many of those government Web sites.”
“You have no idea of what we are contending with.”
Internet startup. Get rich. Yeah, right, I hate it when people forget to stick to their stories. I reply, “I have a problem with your informant. I had to shut down our Happy Hacker IRC server when Martin got on it. It is my opinion that he may have been encouraging kids to commit crime. I am not operating a breeding ground for crime. I’m not going to bring Happy Hacker IRC back up until I get a more reliable group of moderators.”
“Contributing to the delinquency of minors is a crime. Bring your IRC server back up and we can get Martin behind bars.”
“Your network is located in Texas. Under Texas state law, even though Martin and any kid he involves in crime are both out of state, if discussions about committing a crime happened on a computer within Texas, that’s conspiracy. They’ll extradite both parties.”
“I can’t do that. I will not expend some teenager to put Martin behind bars. I will not bring up our IRC server until I can make sure we can keep the criminals off.” And, I thought, not until we can keep FBI agent provocateurs out.
“So, am I going to have to kick you out of the conference?”
“My publisher would be overjoyed. Great publicity. Believe it or not, two independent groups have approached me about doing a movie. Getting kicked out would be a GREAT dramatic device.” Oh, man, I can almost taste the Granny Hacker from Heck movie!
“But what do you want?”
“I want to stay. I want to see if Fangz can win the Bastard Operator from Hell contest. But even if it does, I presume the conference organizers will come up with an excuse to deny us the prize.”
“Yes, but at least you will know you won.”
When I return to the game, I see someone at the console of Fangz. “Excuse me, that’s my computer. The rules say you have to hack it remotely, not from console.”
“I was just checking to see whether it was broken.” He goes back to messing with the console of the computer next to Fangz, his entry in the Bastard Operator from Hell contest. A fat man with disheveled black hair and ragged beard and sloppy clothes joins him. The disheveled man slides a CD-ROM into the drive. They are violating the rules by changing their operating system. Again.
A little later I see Priest walking by. I run over and hail him. “Excuse me, what is your real name?”
He pauses in mid stride, looking so off balance I wonder if he might fall. His mouth flaps open and shut. Finally he sputters, “You must be kidding.”
“I thought it was worth a try.”
He falls back into his fast stride and disappears into the crowd. Poor Priest, he doesn’t realize yet that he has just persuaded an investigative reporter, yes, the Granny Reporter from Heck, to learn everything she can about him, stuff like his .bash_history (real hackers use tcsh) and maybe even his real name.
To be continued: Jon’s lightning reflexes keep Joltcan.c exploit from DOSing Fangz; Michael Schiffman beefs up his muscles with a bicycle pump; fat guy who keeps on changing the operating system for his BOFH entry howls with rage about how mean and nasty Fangz is when people try to break in (recorded in real-audio, to be available from this web site); Granny Hacker from Heck gets into trouble, but a giant Texan interior decorator rescues her.
Related Information On AntiOnline:
Granny Hacker Visits Def Con
The Granny Hacker From Heck
Guides To Mostly Harmless Hacking
What Hackers Head The Culture?
Who is Carolyn Meinel?
Links To Other Related Sites:
Buy The Happy Hacker Book
Carolyn Meinel's HappyHacker.org
The Official Def Con Website
The ExoCom Webpage
Copyright © 1999 AntiOnline LLP. All rights reserved.
By accessing AntiOnline you agree to abide by the following terms and conditions.
AntiOnline Respects The Privacy Of Its Users, Read Our Site Privacy Statement.