[ISN] Swedish hacker with a cause steals passwords

From: mea culpa (jerichoat_private)
Date: Sun Aug 23 1998 - 15:11:04 PDT

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    Forwarded From: Nelson Murilo <nelsonat_private>
    Friday August 21 3:41 PM EDT
    Swedish hacker with a cause steals passwords
    By James Glave
    SAN FRANCISCO (Wired) - An 18-year-old Swedish computer cracker has stolen
    and circulated the passwords for potentially thousands of dialup Internet
    access accounts to call attention to a grassroots campaign for flat-rate
    The teenager went public with the passwords to draw attention to the
    hourly access fees charged by Telia, Sweden's largest phone company and
    the owner of a popular Internet service provider. However, he doubted that
    his actions would have much of an effect. 
    ``I don't think they will give us flat rate anyway,'' he said in a
    telephone interview with Wired News on Thursday. ''It's just that kind of
    company. They are really, really evil.''
    Supporters posted the file to Web sites on Wednesday night, together with
    messages such as ``Flat Rate to the People!'' The cracker said that
    Internet users in Sweden had been lobbying unsuccessfully for flat-rate
    access for years. 
    ``They don't even look at us,'' said the teen, who lives in the southern
    Sweden city of Gothenburg and declined to give his name. 
    A spokesman for Telia Internet, the telco's Net access subsidiary,
    confirmed the theft. 
    ``A password file has been stolen,'' said Olle M. Waktel, business manager
    of Telia Internet. ``It contains 3,000 passwords, but a larger part of
    them are obsolete, only a small amount are accurate and can be used.''
    Waktel said the company has 197,000 subscribers. ``It really is a fraction
    of our entire customer base,'' he said, but declined to reveal how many of
    the stolen passwords were current. The hacker claimed that about 25
    percent of them were active. 
    The cracker said he stole the file from Telia in June, using a Unix
    exploit known as the ``qpopper'' -- essentially, computer code that takes
    advantage of a security bug -- that he ran against the company's servers. 
    He said the attack took four or five hours, and Telia fixed the hole
    shortly thereafter.
    Telia Internet is popular in Sweden because the parent monopoly phone
    company offers toll-free dialup lines instead of the usual per-minute
    phone usage fees. The toll-free number eliminates standard per-minute
    phone tolls, while all ISPs charge by the minute. 
    ``Many of my friends get $370 phone bills,'' said Georgios Rizell, a
    Swedish high school student, in a separate Internet relay chat interview
    about the cracker. 
    ``We have among the lowest rates in the world, so I don't take their
    protests too seriously,'' said Waktel. ``We have pinpointed evidence of
    who we suspect is the perpetrator, and we plan to file charges.''
    The cracker said that computer crimes are prosecuted in Sweden as
    industrial espionage and carry sentences of several years. 
    ``Sometimes I get concerned,'' said the teenager, who said he had been
    using computers since the age of four and was a self-taught cracker. 
    ``Life sucks anyway, nothing has changed.''
    He said he was afraid of being caught, but details in news reports about
    the location of the compromised servers caused him to suspect that
    authorities had the wrong person in mind. ``I wasn't anywhere near that
    box,'' he said. 
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