[ISN] Hacking Babba

From: mea culpa (jerichoat_private)
Date: Tue Nov 17 1998 - 00:32:01 PST

  • Next message: mea culpa: "[ISN] Hacking Bhabha Continued"

    Forwarded From: phreakmoi <hackereliteat_private>
    From: http://www.forbes.com/tool/html/98/nov/1116/feat.htm
    Hacking Babba
    By Adam L. Penenberg
    Nineteen ninety-eight may well go down as the year of the hack. Not since
    the arrest of hacker Kevin Mitnick in 1995 have there been so many
    high-profile computer break-ins.  The latest victim was The New York
    Times, which had to shut its web site down for 9 hours on September 13
    when a gang calling itself Hacking for Girlies (HFG) replaced Times
    content with a page of their own design. And earlier in the year, there
    were a number of security breaches that were far more
    serious--high-profile hacks of the Pentagon, a TV satellite in California,
    and potentially the most devastating, a nuclear research center in India. 
    ICSA, a computer security company based in Pennsylvania, estimates there
    are about 1 million hackers out there in cyberland. Here is the story of
    two of them, the first ones to penetrate the computers of Bhabha, India's
    number one nuclear research center, located in Bombay, India, which led to
    perhaps as many as 100 hackers wilding through the center's network over
    the course of several days. 
    A now defunct hacker group called "milw0rm"  claimed credit for the hack.
    Although the hack received extensive media coverage, the fact is that
    milw0rm copped credit for a hack they merely inherited. Here's what
    It was mid-May, 1998, when 15-year-old 10th grader, Joey Westwood (not his
    real name) was watching the TV coverage of India's underground nuclear
    tests. For some reason it stuck in his craw. Joey was not sure exactly
    why. After all, he's much too young to remember Hiroshima, Nagasaki and
    the Cuban Missile Crisis. He couldn't even find India on the map. Some
    third-world hole that can't even feed its own people was getting into a
    nuclear arms race with Pakistan and China. The more he thought about it,
    the madder he got. 
    Joey decided to wreak vengeance on the Indians.  And he would accomplish
    this without leaving his bedroom in suburban America. In cyberspace, where
    Joey spent much of his life, he went by the name t3k-9. He's especially
    adept at cracking passwords and log-ins, the keys to illegally accessing
    computer systems. 
    On this particular day, t3k-9 stomped upstairs carrying his favorite hack
    snacks--chocolate pop tarts, Coca-Cola and sour jawbreakers--and went to
    his bedroom, where he booted up his computer and listened to the
    comforting squawk of his modem. He checked in with search engine Infoseek,
    and plugged in ".in atomic," the equivalent of typing "India, atomic
    research." One of the first sites to come up was India's Bhabha Atomic
    Research Center (BARC), which he read had been instrumental in helping
    India develop the A-bomb. 
    Forty-five seconds after he'd started, t3k-9 was amazed to discover that
    he'd cracked one of the passwords. 
    Joey pointed and clicked his way to the BARC site and accessed the John
    the Ripper DES Encryption Cracker software he had downloaded off the
    Internet, where literally thousands of complex hacker applications and
    "how-to" guides are available from web sites and hacker chat channels. 
    The password cruncher worked by setting up a phony log-in program so that
    BARC thought it was accepting a connection from a friendly machine. Then,
    by brute force, the cruncher tried every single combination of letters and
    numbers until it hit the jackpot. First, the application ran through all
    the lettered combinations at the speed of digital light--a, b, aa, bb,
    cc--then after going through the entire alphabet, backtracking to ab, ac,
    ad, etc. t3k-9 had also added special customized word lists that combine
    letters and numbers he'd downloaded over the course of his cybertravels
    Forty-five seconds after he'd started, t3k-9 was amazed to discover that
    he'd cracked one of the passwords. He was inside India's number one atomic
    research network. 
    His eyes bugged. He checked the password:  "ANSI." Someone's name, he
    thought, the same as the log-in prompt. He couldn't believe his luck.  The
    administrator hadn't followed standard password selection rules, which
    would have meant complex strings of numbers and letters--more difficult to
    crack because the longer it takes, the greater the likelihood you'll get
    t3k-9's first step was to download all the passwords and log-in names.
    Then he installed a "backdoor" that would enable him to gain entry into
    the system without being detected. After that, he consulted the network
    map, which was open to public display. He headed over to the web server
    and read through E-mails written in scientific geek-speak, then rifled
    through some documents on particle physics. Boring stuff, he thought. 
    t3k-9 decided to get out while the getting was good, downloading a few
    E-mails and a scientific document for souvenirs. Then, after erasing logs
    to ensure no one would be able to track him, he logged off. 
    If he'd kept this to himself, no one would have ever known. And in the
    days to follow, India's top nuclear research facility would probably never
    have suffered the ignominy of perhaps 100 hackers running roughshod
    through its computer network like gangs on a rampage. 
    But t3k-9 couldn't keep mum. He did what every self-respecting hacker
    would do. He bragged. 
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