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    Thursday, August 28, 2008

    Night 2 Parties at Defcon 16

    My party source told me that there was a girl hacker party next door at the Peppermill lounge at 10 PM. Cool! A party of women in computing! I went to Carnegie Mellon Univ. and read Unlocking the Clubhouse by Jane Margolis and Allan Fisher. I don't really know any other techie hacker girls who attend Defcon, so it would be interesting. He gave me a pass that had lipstick kiss marks, a skull and cross bones, and a Bond girl-ish cross hairs gun sight on it. I thought that Edgeos must be a hacking group like the Ninjas or Hacker Pimps.

    The lounge at the Peppermill was retro lovely. There was circular seating around a fire pit that was coming out of a pool of water. On TV screens above the bar and the fire pit, a soft-porn video featuring the Edgeos girls was playing. They weren't hacking, but they were sitting on computers doing their soft porn stuff. I think a computer security company is Edgeos, but their marketing was confusing. The girls were also there serving drinks and I, graciously, ordered some VSOP and talked to a couple who does computer forensics for IBM. It was a bit of a disappointment that this wasn't the women in computing clubhouse, but the long line of guys standing outside to get into the party didn't mind at all.

    I left with Dallas and we went to the Freak Show Party in the Penthouse put on by Dan Kaminsky's company, IOActive. This party was awesome! They really went all out with the carnie theme. They had a contortionist, a freakishly tall guy, a bearded lady, and a Twister game set up. Out on the dance floor, I saw my friends from Seattle, met up with Brenno, and we all got to dance with Cap'n Crunch. Brenno joined a former Fed and me in the back of the room to smoke cigars. I had one Dominican left, Brenno had a small box of Dutch cigars, and the former Fed had a Cuban locked in his car in the hotel's parking garage. When he mentioned the Cuban, it seemed as if techno music slowed down for a moment, my thoughts became fuzzy, and the cognac seems a bit sweeter at that moment. I almost grabbed him by the collar, assertively asked for his keys, and told him I'd happily go get it if he'd share. I distracted myself from this impulse by becoming busy lighting my Dominican and puffed hard until the impulse passed. A locked car in a parking garage is no place for a Cuban cigar! It's to be treasured and shared....Actually, it was an angry security guard who broke our smoking bliss when she demanded we extinguish our cigars. We forgot that smoking is only permitted in bars—or something like that. Don't know for sure. We, regrettably, acquiesced.

    Brenno and I danced until the party shut down and we went across the hall to another Penthouse party. At this party, anyone who felt like it went behind the bar and served drinks. I met one of the Agent Orange guys, Obphusc8 (I think), who was amazed that I was, “ 22 or something and teaching college classes.” Even though I'm sure it was the beer talking, he still got major points for that one. Seriously. You rock.

    In the Penthouse after watching limos and expensive sports cars trolling the streets below and the neon-lit Vegas sky scrapers, the the morning sun seemed far from Vegas. Vegas is a city made for the night. The lights, theme-park like hotels and “what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas,” is only made for the cover of night. Before spoiling this intoxicating night-time view with the rising sun, I went back to my cavernously dark room.

    Wednesday, August 27, 2008

    Day 2 of Defcon 16

    I began today with Don Blumenthal's talk about working with law enforcement. He's really a good speaker: he's accurate with this tech and legal info. and he approaches the issues from direct perspective. He's right when he recommended that if a warrant is given, don't screw with law enforcement. Know your rights, but don't try to mislead them if they have properly requested materials.

    Scott Moulton talked about how, in a few states, one needs a private investigator's license to do computer forensics. I had never heard about these laws before, but it's shocking. Being a licensed PI in itself doesn't qualify one to work with electronic evidence, do computer forensics, or do audits for clients. In addition to the long apprentice training required, the PI exam is mostly composed of questions about guns and guard dogs.

    After I returned to Maine, I mentioned Moulton's talk at a TechMaine meeting of information security and network and sys. admin. professionals. Only one person had heard of this scary legislation, but we all agreed that before it could be proposed in Maine, we should let our legislators know that we won't accept it. It seems as if, in the other states with these laws, the legislation was quickly passed without the info. security groups knowing what was going on. Thanks to Moulton's talk, we'll be on top of this before the PI lobbying group gets to our state. That law would put a lot of good people out of work. And as if tech jobs are even easy to come by in this state!

    After Moulton's presentation, I went to get lunch in the contest room. I was delighted that Mycurial sat down next to me. I saw him present at The Last HOPE. We discussed how he won't let his employees at a large bank take their business laptops across the US boarder because of the laptop searches and seizures being done by US Customs. The policies allow for officers to take laptops for a “reasonable period of time” to “review and analyze information.” There are (shockingly!) no requirements for reasonable suspicion. I learn about stuff like that and wonder where our civil liberties are going and who's making and passing this legislation?

    In an e-mail Mycurial sent me, he said, “There has not yet been a National response from the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, but I'm not sure how long that might or might not take. In the interim, we just don't outsource data to the states.” He has bank employees take wiped hard drives through Customs and then download the data they need through an encrypted network after they've cleared Customs.

    After finishing lunch and discussing data storage laws (If you store your short-term memory on your hard drive because of a medical condition, should that stored data have a higher level of protection (think Johnny Mnemonic) ? What about for search and seizure protocols?), I slipped into the “Ask the EFF Panel.” However, the panel was canceled. The MIT students were slapped with a temporary restraining order prohibiting them from talking about their security research at MIT. Massachusetts Judge Woodlock really misjudged this one. Read Bruce Schneier's article (link above) because it's a good opinion article about why full disclosure of computer security issues is good for the computer industry. When the norm used to be to quietly tell the vendor, many vendors used the fallible “security through obscurity” routine and do nothing.

    Last, but not least, I went to “The Commission on Cyber Security for the 44th President.” The Center for Strategic and International Studies has a policy group composed of a myriad of professionals who wrote a security plan to be given to the next US President. Ed Felten is among a long list of impressive contributors. Someday I hope to be a part of a policy group such as CSIS.

    I know that I let down my Hacker Space group, but they requested a lot of pictures of the Grendel mobile hacker space van. I went outside a few times, but it was locked every time. However, I was able to get one picture of it (above, top of blog).

    The highlight of my day was being asked by a very nervous teen if I was Michelle Madigan. Huh? She was the Dateline NBC reporter who was run out of Defcon 15 last year. She refused to get a press pass but was trying to secretly film evil hackers breaking stuff. However, rumor was that it was a Fed who outed Madigan. Some of the Feds are working undercover and they didn't want to show up on a hidden camera on Dateline, either. I wonder what would have happened if I'd said, “Yes”? It would have been fun.

    Tuesday, August 19, 2008

    Night 1 Parties at Defcon

    After leaving the Bellagio's spa, I called Dallas to ask what was going on that night. Of course, he's connected and knows everyone, so he's my party source. First on the agenda: Hacker Pimps party in the skyboxes. After a great steak dinner at Bellagio, I took a taxi back to the Riv. around 10 PM and made my way up to the skyboxes. There were 2 different parties in the skyboxes, both with great techno music.

    Walking into the Hacker Pimps party, I noticed a pack of guys on one side of the room watching the entertainers. One of the Hacker Pimps came up to me and asked if I'd found my friend I was meeting there. I remembered this guy from the Hacker Pimps presentation at the Last HOPE. My friend was in the thick of the pack of guys, so I quickly grabbed my friend's shoulder and said something like, “I'm here. See you later. Going out to the balcony,” and I pressed through the pack of guys to get back out.

    There was a smaller party next door called “Spiders are Fun,” put on by a computer security company whose name I cannot remember. The bar was open, the techno was good, and I knew some people here and met some others. Out with the smokers on the balcony, I met a computer security guy from NYC who works for a company named Gotham. I liked that name and the guy even looked like Christian Bale.

    Brenno then came out on the balcony and re-lit my cigar with his. For a while, we sat there blissfully puffing away and sipping XO cognac on the rocks. After both ran out, we danced until 2 AM. People we knew came and went until the alcohol ran out and the bar became cash. I read on Leah Shanker's blog that Jeff Moss was not able to get into this party without being escorted by a girl. Obviously the bouncer didn't know who he was—crazy! I told that to my brother because he was in the long line of guys waiting to get in, albeit unsuccessfully. He didn't feel so bad when he learned that even Jeff Moss was bounced.

    Last, but not least, I went up to the penthouse party to meet up with my friend, Dallas. I got there just after the cops broke up the party so there wasn't much going on and Dallas wasn't there. At the ripe hour of 2:30 AM, I finally went to bed.

    Parties at Defcon are legendary. Some of the skybox parties have passwords to keep out the Feds, but they were there, anyway.

    Friday, August 15, 2008

    Missing Vegas and NYC: What am I doing here in Maine?

    Just as I begin to get bored living in Maine, I'm reminded of why I moved here. This afternoon, I decided to make an impromptu trip to Long Sands Beach in York, Maine. I needed to do some surfing. I've been feeling really bummed since getting back to Maine from Vegas and NYC after Defcon and HOPE; I'm having a “what am I doing here?” crisis. I'm tired of cool tech companies going out of business, my favorite shops and restaurants closing for lack of revenue, and prospective clients wanting to pay me in stock options instead of my hourly fees. Half of my friends have already left “Vacationland” for places called “Job Land,” which is in the D.C. area, Seattle, or Silicon Valley.

    Just as I was thinking about what life would be like in Job Land, I caught a glimpse of the glittering ocean as I headed east toward the beach. Some of the weekenders coming north from Boston were already hitting the beach, but it was far from crowded. I found a parking spot immediately, got out on the walkway, and looked out on the long, sandy beach toward the lighthouse on the point. Slipping into my wet suit and grabbing my board, the wet sand between my toes and the SPF 50 on my face smelled so much like August.

    When the ocean is regularly as cold as it is here in Maine, you just can't stop when going in. Totally go for it. I took a running start crashing into the waves. The cold water on my face felt like a slap, but I liked it. With eyes burning and hair wet with salty water, I kept paddling for the white water. Still thinking about my dilemma, my agitated thoughts were: What am I doing here in Maine? I could be in D.C. going to see the newest exhibits at the National Gallery, driving my convertible into the city on warm, summer nights and dipping my feet in the reflecting pool at midnight while earning way into the six figures during daylight hours. Or in Seattle earning the same and hanging out in coffee shops with that rich, deep ground coffee aroma permeating my senses, having fresh fish sandwiches at a seafood bar in Pikes Place, or hanging out with people like Dark Tangent or my friends from Microsoft.

    Unsuccessfully trying to duck dive my board under a huge wave, I get smacked in the face with white water. I'm reminded: In Maine, I can only drive my sexy convertible for 4 months a year. My giant SUV is far from the sleek profile of my convertible, and even with that hulking SUV, I still sometimes cannot get up my driveway in the February snow and ice. And I've seen every new exhibit at the Portland Museum of Art. I've been to every night club and wine bar in the Old Port and it just doesn't do it for me anymore.

    Finally, beyond the breakers, I inhale the salty air and rest my head on my board. With seagulls soaring overhead, I spot the lighthouse in the distance beyond the ocean mist. The angled sunlight shines down into the clear, emerald water and I see bits of seaweed and fish deep beneath my feet. My board slightly bobs up and down as small waves push beneath me. Turning around, I see it coming as I get sucked backwards. The wave rises five feet above me from trough to peak. I'm in it. It's on.

    All hands and feet churning the water, I'm determined to make it and not get pummeled in the breakers. Thinking: It's Friday afternoon at 4 PM. No stop-and-go traffic on I 95, no line-up for the waves, no cares anymore and there isn't anyone else out this far. I'm alone and it's just me on the board in the cold ocean. The wave picks me up suddenly and I glide toward the beach. The vibrations from the water beneath the board and the roar of the breaking wave is totally exhilarating.

    Maybe I cannot hangout in Pikes Place anymore, maybe I get burned coffee at Dunkin Donuts, maybe I love and hate my SUV because it can haul ass off-road and fit my long board and snowboard inside, maybe I miss the Seattle crowd and will never hang out with Dark Tangent, but I have a hacker/lawyer/techie crowd I meet at Javanet in the Old Port, maybe I'm just missing Defcon and HOPE and the city lights and fast nights.

    But it's Friday afternoon and I'm surfing, alone, in the warm sun and don't care about the maybes anymore. Ask me 6 months from now how I feel and I'll write you a response from the top of a Maine mountain with my snowboard strapped to my feet and a steep, fast decent with jumps ahead of me in the crisp mountain air. And that will be on a Monday or some other work day.

    I'm not in a cubicle, I make my own schedule, I love teaching in a tiny computer science department at a big state university and I live on a lake in the woods just 1.5 hours from Boston. For now, it's all good if the bills are still (mostly) getting paid. Sure I miss the city, but on days like today, I'm reminded why I chose to live here. Sure wish I could have both lives--work week urbanite and weekender in the woods—I'm working on it. But for now, I'm working online, watching the sandy, sweet smelling wax on my surfboard soften in the sun outside and planning to go kayaking on my lake at sunset.

    Thursday, August 14, 2008

    Meet the Feds at Defcon 16

    “Meet the Feds” was the last presentation I went to that evening. I had to; I'd read so much about Jim Christy (and linked to a video of him on a previous posting of mine) that I obviously enjoy his rants. Spot the Lamer before their panel is the Fed's antidote to Spot the Feds. The lamer, similar to last year, could answer too many questions about Battlestar Galactica, Star Wars, and is often asked if he can read binary or speak in hexadecimal. A tall guy who looked like Dwight from The Office was this year's winner (Lamer).

    Slightly different variations of the same usual questions were asked: Which countries pose the most cyber threat to the US? (Answer: China and Russia) What's it like to work there? How much of a criminal background is too much to work for the Feds? Do you do the stuff like is on TV or in movies? (Answer: No) Do I make more money working in the private sector than you do for the government? (Answer: Absolutely YES!)

    I know that the Meet the Feds panel is the gov's response to some of the latent fear of law enforcement in the hacker community. “We're just geeks like you,” is their general theme. But they really aren't too much like us, actually. Everyone on that panel is either near or at retirement age. If the Feds are also using this panel to recruit--they were much more direct about that last year--then shouldn't they reflect a bit more of what we are like? I spoke to Jim Christy later in the conference and suggested that he put younger Feds on the panel next year so that the 20-30s something crowd could ask questions of the younger Feds' experiences working for the gov because it is a tough sell. He won't put them on the panel because he said they don't have enough training to answer the questions (I read “liability concerns” in his statement), but they will have some younger Feds in the Q&A room for more “what's it like?” questions.

    Also, Christy wasn't much like the scary guy I thought he'd be from the Wired article. When I first approached him, I felt my pulse rise and I began to sweat and I was sure not to break eye contact. “'As DefCon founder Jeff Moss (handle: the Dark Tangent) tells it, in the late '80s and early '90s there were only three people hackers worried about. Christy was one of them. 'It was like, be fearful, there's Jim Christy. Holy crap, stay out of his way.'” But I'm a girl...everyone is nice to me at Defcon, so maybe that's why. Or maybe it's because my blondish hair makes me look less dangerous (or maybe more?). Jim and his Royal Canadian Mountie Fed friend next to him put on sweet smiles, leaned back in their chairs, and answered my questions.

    Day 1 of Defcon 16

    Brenno J.S.A. de Winter started Defcon for me and ended it, too (see Last Day of Defcon 16 posting). “Hacking Data Retention: Small Sister Your Digital Privacy Self Defense,” was where he released a tool that would encrypt communications. The most important emphasis he made is, “...even if you don't care or don't need to use encryption, do it for all of the other people who do.” It was great to see Brenno again; we met last year and have been buddies ever since.

    CoffeeWars had already begun in the contest area when I finished catching up with Brenno. Hurring to the contest table so I could get my free coffee, I skimmed past a tall, attractive guy dressed in a black tshirt with spikes on it. But I was too distracted by the aroma from the coffee drawing me into the contest area for it to register that the guy with the spikes was Jeff Moss, (pict. above by Vissago) the founder of Defcon.

    The coffee I was given was pretty bad and I was hoping that it wasn't my submission (it wasn't). For CoffeeWars, you're given as much coffee as you want in little plastic Styrofoam cups, but there is no sugar or milk to “adulterate” the flavor. Strong, very strong stuff! I had to choke down the sludge that was already in my cup before they would pour me more from a different brew. While working to do that, I was talking to the former fed who is often spotted as being a fed—he has a collection of the “I'm the Fed” t-shirt to prove it. We were discussing the MIT undergrads' presentation. I was told that the Feds had asked the MIT guys to pull some of their slides because of an on-going investigation. That didn't surprise me because I had an idea that those guys would have some issues with their presentation, especially because they took pictures of them breaking into stuff. The former fed introduced me to Jeff Moss who was sparingly given a cup of coffee from the next brew.

    Maybe it was the coffee, the time change, or the stifling crowds in the halls between the presentation rooms, but I had a headache that Advil wouldn't touch so I went to Bellagio's spa for the afternoon. I really had intended to attend a bunch of sessions that afternoon, but I couldn't continue. The Bellagio was perfect and my headache was gone after the hour long massage by a guy with really strong hands. That spa was incredible, too; I felt like I was on a space ship while walking over rectangular green lights set into the floor and indirect spot lights coming out of the walls. Trippy atmosphere more so than soothing.

    Tuesday, August 12, 2008

    Night Before Defcon

    After a great dinner at Social House, we went to the Wynn to see Le Reve. I always enjoyed a good Cirque du Soleil show and this is up there in my favorites with “O”.

    I returned to the Riv just in time for the party in a suite by the pool. I also had to submit my CoffeeWars beans that night to Foofus. I was glad to get the beans out of my hotel room because even though they were double bagged in plastic, I was just about knocked over by the strong coffee scent when I unzipped my luggage at the Riv. You can imagine what my clothes smelled like that night. You would either love it or hate it. I smelled like a fruity, dark sumatra blend with hints of chocolate.'s party was a great re-introduction to some people whom I met last year and his party successfully kicked off Defcon. With Foofus' famous margarita he mixed up for me--all it took was one--I was lounging in the moon light out on their patio and begun to fully appreciate coming to the conference this year. The mixing of intellect, technical curiosity, and bravado I love at these conferences was just beginning. Enjoying the warm desert star-filled night, I closed my eyes, and with great anticipation for tomorrow, I let me mind wander with Fatboy Slim's “Song for Shelter” saturating my thoughts.

    Day before Defcon Began

    After leaving my house at an early hour, the drive was unfettered to Manchester, NH to catch a non-stop flight to Las Vegas. However, I was stuck at the back of the airplane in a window seat—but at least it wasn't a middle seat. Soon after the plan lifted off, the two elderly people in the middle and aisle seats powered-down as if there was an altermeter switch in their brains—there was no rousing these two to get out of my window seat. The 5.5 hours went very slowly being trapped in my window seat with a walking cane (not mine!) lying across my feet.

    I don't like Vegas' old airport much, but the view flying in is spectacular. As I'm watching the Wynn and Bellagio out of the window, I'm already planning my visits to their bars and night clubs.

    We didn't get a great view of the strip in the taxi on the way to the Riviera. Arriving at the Riviera was also anti-climatic. It always is. With the low ceilings, stained carpets, mirrored walls, thick cigarrette smoke creating a gaudy burlesque environment and the shrieks of bachellorette parties watching Thunder from Down Under (I won't describe that show because I won't ever attend), I knew I'd arrived at the Riviera. But it was the sea of guys wearing black t-shirts at the bar that announced my arrival at Defcon.

    Of course, the Riv screwed up my hotel reservations. They had me scheduled to arrive the following day even though I'd confirmed my reservation a week before, so I was stuck sharing my brother's room for the night. I promptly dumped my stuff in his room and went down to the conference area to get a badge. Unfortunately, they had not yet received the real badges, so I was given a paper one to exchange later.

    There wasn't too much going on that night except for's party later, so I went out on the strip for dinner and entertainment. We first went to Social House at Treasure Island. That is one of the finest sushi restaurants I've ever patronized. Although the menu was a little confusing and the waiter's offer to order dinner for us using his expertise to create a “blend of flavors” wasn't what we were looking for, we ordered for ourselves off the menu. That was the finest cut and freshest tasting fish I've ever had—and this is in a land-locked desert! I live on the coast in Maine; why can't I get this on the east coast? I now have a quest to find the best sushi restaurant on the east coast. I'll be in the D.C. area in September, NYC in October, and I'm in Boston whenever I want. There has to be a Social House equivalent restaurant somewhere between these cities and I'm going to find it—with a little help from local friends and some warm saki, I believe I will succeed.

    Thursday, August 7, 2008

    Off to Def Con--you going?

    After some lucky private funding that paid for my trip to The Last HOPE, I am now able to attend Def Con. Univ. of Southern Maine also is paying for my registration fee for Def Con (thanks!), so that's awesome. I won't have to live off PowerBars and eat cheap Chinese food on this trip.

    I'm disappointed that I missed SushiCon because it was tonight, but I'll be able to make it to's party by the pool Thursday night. Although I'm in the last boarding group on Southwest out of Manchester, NH tomorrow morning, it is non-stop. I guess that could be kind-of bad if I'm stuck in a middle seat with a laptop battery that lasts 10 min. I also have a DeCSS wallpaper on my screen when I boot up and it's sometimes funny to see who notices what it is.

    I'll try to blog about Def Con every day, but with the late nights tempered with Cubans and cognac in the Sky Boxes (please, Dallas, get me into the Ninja Party like you did last year!), the blogs may be delayed.

    Ciao, and if you're going to be there, e-mail me!

    Tuesday, August 5, 2008

    What I'd Ask Kevin Mitnick

    I'm interested to know if Kevin, as a hacker, feels restricted with the technology he uses fearing that someone could claim that he's back to cracking systems? Also, does he worry that the remainder of his life will be under scrutiny of law enforcement? Conversely, the hacker community has embraced him and has since the beginning of his ordeal with law enforcement. Does he feel more "at home" with the hacker community? Are hackers, such as Kevin, a modern version of the “...angelheaded hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly connection to the starry dynamo in the machinery of night,” in Ginsberg's Howl? Are we just trying to figure out how things work within the technological constructs of our modern society?

    I'm curious as to how Kevin feels about the hacker community because it is one of the most accepting communities I've encountered. I'm not a sociologist, but I believe that the hacker community (see my blog posting on setting up a Hacker Space and how popular these hang-outs are becoming) may be the hippies-from-the-70s kind of counter-culture for generation X and Y, but with better hair and attire. And when you add technology to that--it's the great anonymizer in today's Big Brotherish society. Instead of inspiration from Allen Ginsberg's Howl or Jack Kerouac's On the Road, we've read The Mentor's The Conscience of a Hacker (“Hacker Manifesto”) and heard him read it at H2K2, read Hackers by Steven Levy, William Gibson's Neuromancer and Neil Stephenson's Snow Crash.

    As for world-wide affects of his trial and jail time? From one perspective, it made the hacker community more cautious about law enforcement—either from the perspective of being more careful when exploring and aware of criminal statutes or more aware of their surroundings in public and online. On the other hand, it also drove the community more outside of their internal Internet existence and encouraged some usually quiet and seclusive individuals to go outside with “Free Kevin” stickers, signs, and publications. 2600 Magazine was a big supporter of Kevin and was the first introduction I had to his case.

    Perhaps Kevin's experience, and that of the hacker community at large, is aptly put by The Mentor:

    “This is our world now... the world of the electron and the switch, the beauty of the baud. We make use of a service already existing 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, you wage wars, you murder, cheat, and lie to us and try to make us believe it's 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 say and think, not what they look like. My crime is that of outsmarting you, something that 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.”

    Or, on the other hand, are we just the children of 70s counter-culture parents who read us Howl and taught us to type on a manual typewriter but still have the same philosophy and ideals as our parents? Perhaps the hacker culture isn't anything novel, but a modern incarnation of fighting to maintain our civil liberties and freedom.

    “..the last fantastic book

    flung out of the tenement window, and the last

    door closed at 4. A.M. and the last telephone

    slammed at the wall in reply and the last fur-

    nished room emptied down to the last piece of

    mental furniture, a yellow paper rose twisted

    on a wire hanger in the closet, and even that

    imaginary, nothing but a hopeful little bit of


    ah, Carl, while you are not safe I am not safe, and

    now you're really in the total animal soup of


    Discussing Kevin Mitnick

    My friend, Kaja Perina, is Editor-in-Chief of Psychology Today. She spent some time at HOPE with me and is considering doing something about hackers in a future issue considering that Psychology Today has a history of writing about hackers.

    I suggested she try to interview some hackers, but foremost of all, Kevin Mitnick. She asked if there is anything I'd like to know about him or questions I'd ask if I could. Indeed, I've always wanted to meet Kevin and I have some questions about the results of his jail time and his effect on the hacking community. I know the media often asks him about his jail time and there is more to him than that part of his past, but I'd like to ask about how it changed him and, a bigger question, if he thinks that his experience with law enforcement and the judicial system changed the hacker community world-wide.

    In my e-mail to Kaja, I wrote the following:

    In my blog, I wrote a bit more about why his jail time was so egregious; I cannot imagine the kind of abuse he endured there. And being in jail for so long without even being charged? From the perspective of a lawyer, I feel embarrassed and compelled to say "sorry" to him for the lot of attorneys (excluding Jennifer Granick) who didn't understand the technical aspects of his case. But honestly, most lawyers and law enforcement to whom I've spoken believe that he got what he deserved.

    As you know, I was inspired to go to law school and study technology and cyber criminal law because of his case, so it has obviously effected me a great deal. I suppose, from a psychological standpoint, I feel that if the legal system mismanaged his case it could happen to anyone--even me--which is frightening. This is especially true of people with extraordinary technical skills or intelligence whom the criminal justice system considers to have an "extra" skill which, in their minds, makes computer criminals more dangerous and thus are permitted to give them extra punishments for improperly wielding their intelligence.

    So, in turn, if you're a defendant and smarter than the lawyers, judges, and jury in your trial and no one can really explain or understand your exploits because of a lack of technical comprehension of the facts or forensic evidence, you're at a serious disadvantage. Our judicial system failed Kevin Mitnick.

    I've heard that Kevin doesn't talk a lot about his time in jail and I assume it's because it was painful for him. But with hackers, there is a constant fear of law enforcement, but not just because malicious hackers are afraid of getting caught, but they fear an unfair trial. At my HOPE presentation, the first question I was asked was, “Is there a special court for computer criminals? If not, why?” It's always the first question I'm asked.

    Monday, August 4, 2008

    No Maine Hacker Space—At Least Not Now

    Alas, we only had 4 people attend the meeting and only 3 want to financially support the project. That doesn't add up to enough to get a physcial space where we can share our equipment and expertise, so Maine's Hacker Space will have to remain virual until we have more interest.

    However, what we can do is invigorate Maine's 2600 meeting and attend regularly. We spent a few hours at the meeting discussing networks, honeypots, and electronics projects with which we're involved. Infochown and I want to try out the cold boot utilities code (Ed Felten is a part of that research group) that was released at HOPE. Nothingface and Charley want to build a CNC milling machine when they have the financial resourses for the parts. So, instead of a Hacker Space concept where we have a place to work on our projects and hang-out, we have the 2600 meeting to talk about stuff we do at home or work. If some of us have smaller living accomodations like Infochown who had to give up his kitchen table to get a couch in his apartment or us whose office consists of a 4x5 closet space off the kitchen, they are going to be darn small projects. We might visit the Space idea later (when the economy picks up?) but for now, we're virtual with independent projects.

    Attendance for the Portland, Maine 2600 Meeting on August 1, 2008:

    Prof Rad
    2600 Reasons (telecommuted)

    Friday, August 1, 2008

    2600 Meeting Tonight—Hacker Space Proposal Meeting

    Tonight is the monthly 2600 meeting at the Maine Mall. Unfortunately, a few of us have attended the meeting—sometimes for 4 meetings in a row—and no one else shows up. I’ve e-mail 2600 to have the meeting location moved from 5 PM to 6 PM and out of the food court in the mall to a Boarders bookstore adjacent to the mall, but no response. Someone, whoever they are, still claims that there is a 2600 meeting and is notifying 2600 as such, but we cannot find evidence of anyone existing. Hence, we’re going to be showing up in force for the next few meetings and keeping a log so we can prove that we were there, want the meeting, and to move it out of the mall and to a later time easier for working professionals.

    At the meeting tonight, we’re going to discuss the possibility for setting up Hacker Space. This is the crucial time for anyone interested to attend. If we cannot find five individuals willing to pay monthly dues to establish Hacker Space, Maine’s first Hacker Space might be only virtual. That would be too bad, but we understand that getting anyone to pay into a business organization now is difficult.

    A hacker lawyer guy took these pictures of two of the proposed locations for Hacker Space. The top picture is a single room, small, but relatively affordable and smells like the Chinese restaurant below. The bottom photo is the larger space with 4 locking offices, large common area, and kitchen. That space would be easier to share with other professional organizations until Hacker Space could break-out on its own and be totally autonomous.