In 1998, Chris Wysopal and friends have found a way to stop the Internet. With just 30 minutes of work they thought they could do enough damage to stop the global operating system for a couple of days.
They told people what they found, but not in a chat channel or a discussion forum. They did it in a much more public place.
At the time Mr. Wysopal and his friends were part of a group of hackers based in Boston called L0pht. They testified using their handles pirates. With Mr. Wysopal (aka Weld Pond) were Mudge, Space Rogue, Brian Oblivion, Kingpin, Tan and Stefan Von Neumann.
It was a pivotal moment, so surreal,. Pivotal because the hacker group, which the president of the commission described as rock stars of the world of computing,” giving advice rather than being accused of causing trouble.
The fact that people were and are detected and arrested meant it was real and we did not want to go this route, he told the BBC.
The testimony of the Senate L0pht generated headlines around the world. Hackers are no longer considered children simply undisciplined. They were about to become security experts and guardians, they are considered today.
It took about 15 years to change perspective and to capture the image of pirates as troublemakers teen to fade.
Mark Abene was one of those kiddies. He started in the 80s before the net was widespread before Google was founded and about the time Mark Zuckerberg was born. Connection software it uses on its 8-bit TRS 80 computer at home came on a cassette and he had to dial whenever he wanted to establish a connection.
When he did he frequented Konnect known as bulletin board systems (aka BBS) which at the time were based text-all places.
Initially, I was looking just for people with the same computer that I had to negotiate software, “he said.” Then I discovered minicomputers and mainframes and am interested in access to them.
He discovered because many BBS he visited were depositaries of text that detailed how to compose their place, how to interact with them and how to program files. The files were compiled by others who attended the advice and were happy to share with another visitor.
We could do anything and go anywhere, “he said. It was liberating and there will never be a moment like this.”
Global ethics of that time has been preserved, said Corley, and led to a time when adolescents are now the pillars of the establishment. They help keep it safe once they ran rings around. The skills acquired in these nascent days are now in great demand.
They have become more mature and responsible because they have to feed their families, but they held their values and is an admirable thing, “he said. They take advantage of their skills but that’s not why they started, which came from their passion for these things.