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Re: DC 2600 mtg

> Date: Fri, 13 Nov 92 10:39:23 EST 
> From: [email protected] (Perry E. Metzger) 
> In-Reply-To: Bob Stratton's message of Thu, 12 Nov 1992 14:25:32 -0500 <
> [email protected]> Subject: DC 2600 mtg 
> Pardon, but isn't 2600 magazine a magazine by crackers for crackers? 
> 2600 is named after frequency of the disconnect tone used in blue 
> boxes, isn't it? What I'm afraid of is that I will get confused with one 
> of them -- I'm not sure they are necessarily being misrepresented. 

In the case of the recent Washington Post article, I know for a fact that 
they're being misrepresented. I am one of the original attendees of that 
gathering, and I've been a professional in the computer industry for the past 
9 years, not some rodent cracker downloading /etc/passwd files.

Most of the people regularly attending that gathering are not involved in 
illicit acticity, but rather are computer and radio hobbyists, and in many 
cases are employed in those fields. I can personally attest to the fact that 
most of the discussions involve new hardware (announcements and purchases), 
and people's social lives.

I'll grant you that 2600 frequently publishes items from miscreants, but the 
publisher's consistent goal has been to raise public awareness of the risks 
of various technologies, and their social side-effects. Unfortunately, the 
media environment in the country seems more oriented to hysteria and glossing 
over facts.

> The tragedies come when idiots raid Steve Jackson Games and sieze 
> copies of "Cyberpunk" instead of shutting down the infants breaking into 
> TRW. Blurring the distinction between hackers and crackers is the last 
> thing we need. 

That's my point exactly - the media has all but abolished the distinction. 
They'd rather incite fear of the technically knowledgeable than educate the 
populace and the legislatures. The upshot of this are things like the "all 
hackers break into computers" definitions we frequently read, as well as the 
blatant misrepresentations on the part of cellular service providers that 
"your calls are private because it's illegal to listen to them". The papers 
and TV stations don't want to hear the fact that I can take an old TV set and 
listen to cellular phone calls without modifying it.

I spend a lot of time with younger aspiring hackers in the hopes that I can 
help them establish productive goals, especially as regards careers. I do 
this for three reasons: 

1) It's more personally satisfying to be paid for a job, than to have to look 
over your shoulder for law enforcement types. 

2) The world's a little bit safer for every cracker who gets steered into a 
productive career.

3) My personal experience is that many of the college graduates with CS 
degrees these days are code grinders with no understanding or enthusiasm for 
an aesthetic engineering solution. I'd much rather see people who love what 
they do designing the things I use every day.

I don't want to get too far afield of the topic of this list, so I'll stop 
here, but I really do believe, based on the precedents with firearms, radio 
receivers (scanning and paging), and recent law enforcement proposals, that 
cryptographic technology will be the next example vilified in the press of 
"things only evil people use".

Bob Stratton     Engineer, InterCon Systems Corp.     [email protected]
+1 703 709 5525 (W)