[ISN] Hacker Hits HFS

From: mea culpa (jerichoat_private)
Date: Fri Nov 27 1998 - 15:04:46 PST

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    Hacker Hits HFS
    Concert Still On Despite E-Mail Hoax
    By Frank Ahrens
    Washington Post Staff Writer
    Tuesday, November 24, 1998; Page C04
    A computer hacker repeatedly broke into the e-mail system at WHFS
    (99.1-FM) over the weekend, falsely telling thousands of the station's
    fans that a popular annual concert had been canceled. 
    The modern rock station sponsors a multi-band show called the "HFSmas
    Holiday Nutcracker." This year's concert -- scheduled for Dec. 5 at George
    Mason University's Patriot Center -- sold out all 7,000 tickets in 24
    minutes, the station's Web site reports. 
    Late Friday, the hacker gained entry to the station's e-mail list server,
    which periodically sends out news about the station and concert updates to
    more than 20,000 subscribers. 
    Pirating the e-mail address of WHFS webmaster Bill Gallagher (deejay name:
    Billy Zero), the hacker wrote in fractured English: "Would you like to go
    to the HFSmas Holiday Nutcracker? Well it's been cancled to to the
    democrats. Sorry kiddies." The hacker followed up with three more e-mails
    on Saturday and Sunday, all sent from Gallagher's address. 
    At 5:30 p.m. Sunday, the hacker wrote: "I am not the real Billy, I am a
    hacker, sue me." Then, four minutes later, simply: "la la la." 
    Gallagher knew something was wrong Sunday when he logged on to check his
    e-mail and his computer told him, "4,000 e-mails received." 
    As the station's webmaster, Gallagher is in charge of sending out the mass
    e-mails. Usually, he gets about 400 responses, along the lines of "Great
    show the other night." 
    But these were different: "I got your e-mail and started crying." "I tore
    up my tickets." "You ruined my Christmas." Slowly, he realized the
    station's e-mail list had been hacked. He sent out his own e-mail, titled
    "This is the real Billy Zero." That message told e-mail subscribers that
    someone had broken into the system and that the station was considering
    lodging criminal charges. 
    "I'm still trying to figure out what happened,"  Gallagher said yesterday.
    "He's got a backdoor entrance we couldn't find." The station made on-air
    announcements Sunday, reassuring listeners that the show was still on. 
    Gallagher said the station's Internet provider, Cyber Realm in Rockville,
    had contacted Erol's, the hacker's e-mail provider, to try to track him
    down. But Erol's won't release the hacker's identity unless WHFS decides
    to press charges, which it won't, Gallagher said. 
    "He's probably just some 17-year-old kid trying to have fun," he said. 
    Meanwhile, the station has temporarily shut down its e-mail service while
    it replaces it with one that is more secure. The cost will be about $500,
    he said, but the public relations damage was greater. And, he warned,
    there could be further consequences. 
    "The Internet is one of the last great places for free speech and free
    domain," he said. "But it's because of guys like this that there'll be
    more and more policing by the government." 
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