[ISN] Berlin Prepares for Chaos

From: mea culpa (jerichoat_private)
Date: Sun Dec 27 1998 - 11:55:23 PST

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    Forwarded From: Nelson Murilo <nelsonat_private>
    Berlin Prepares for Chaos
    by David Hudson 
    3:00 a.m.  24.Dec.98.PST
    BERLIN -- When Germany's legendary Chaos Computer Club convenes here on
    Sunday for its 15th Congress, the atmosphere may be more emotionally
    charged than it has been in years. 
    The CCC's annual meeting between Christmas and the new year has been a
    holiday tradition since the early 1980s, when hackers and hobbyists would
    show up to trade tips and passwords. Last year, over 1,500 converged on a
    humble school building in Hamburg for three days of hacking, workshops,
    and lectures on topics ranging from lockpicking to social engineering to
    the history of German Net culture. 
    Late in October, however, one of the CCC's most accomplished hackers,
    Boris Floricic, who had taken the name Tron, was found dead, hanging from
    a belt strung from a tree in a Berlin park. He was 26. 
    The mysterious and as yet unsolved case is eerily reminiscent of the death
    of another CCC associate, Karl Koch, nearly 10 years ago.  Indeed, Berlin
    police were quick to call Tron's death a suicide, as Koch's had been. But
    the CCC, as well as Tron's family and friends, have vehemently denied that
    suicide was even remotely in his nature. 
    Unlike Koch, Tron was not only a well-balanced personality but also a
    brilliant hacker. He was the first European to hack phone cards so that
    they could be used freely and forever, and had figured out a way to make
    ISDN phone calls tap-proof. 
    "Often, he was the focus of attention," remembers Heinrich Seeger, a
    Hamburg journalist who has covered many CCC congresses. "I guess one of
    the reasons for that, aside from his undebatable genius and expertise,
    were his good looks and his charm, which made him stand out." 
    Despite ruling the death a suicide, Berlin police have assigned eight
    officers to investigate, noting more than a few oddities about the case.
    Although Tron appeared to have hanged himself, for example, his feet were
    firmly on the ground. German newspaper and television reports have
    suggested that considering the potential value of Tron's knowledge of
    smartcards and telephony, organized crime may have been involved. 
    Two hours are slotted on the very first evening of this year's CCC
    Congress for a presentation of what is known about the case, as well as a
    discussion of the dangers in cracking valuable secrets. "We know the
    police will be there, but they won't be presenting any information," says
    CCC spokesman Andy Mueller-Maguhn. "Our position has always been not to do
    or say anything that would hinder their investigation." 
    Nevertheless, given the CCC's firm and publicly stated conviction that
    Tron was murdered, the evening session will hardly be a dispassionate one.
    "I'm anxious to know if the CCC's version of his death differs
    substantially from the police's," says Seeger. 
    The CCC had already planned to convene in Germany's future capital rather
    than Hamburg before Tron's death, but now, with the fact that Berlin was
    also his hometown, this Congress promises to be more intense and more
    somber than the others preceding it. 
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