[ISN] Retailer Frustrates Hackers

From: mea culpa (jerichoat_private)
Date: Sat Mar 20 1999 - 04:20:50 PST

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    Retailer Frustrates Hackers
    by Leander Kahney 
    3:00 a.m.  20.Mar.99.PST
    Promoting a new line of backpacks aimed at "hackers," a European bag
    manufacturer is running a crack-the-password competition on its Web site. 
    But to the fury of hackers trying to bypass the competition and crack the
    site in earnest, all attempts to date have been unsuccessful. 
    According to an amusing line of posts to Slashdot, an information
    clearinghouse for computer nerds, the hackers reveal their mounting
    frustration at being unable to thwart the password competition. 
    "Come on!" wrote one. "Out of the 10,000 people who have read this
    article, no one has found the username and password? I find that very hard
    to believe. It has to be something completely insanely easy, right?" 
    Apparently not. 
    The "crack and win" password competition is organized by Kipling, a
    manufacturer of travel bags, backpacks, and accessories based in Antwerp,
    Belgium. The competition promotes its Hacker line of bags and backpacks,
    which have names like bookmark, mailbomb, browser, spam, firewall, and
    "The game challenges every pirate out there to break into our security and
    win a Hacker bag," the company said in a press release. 
    "You can find the code in two ways," the release continued. "Real computer
    freaks will find the information in the traditional hacker manner. Those
    with less hacking experience can follow the hints which appear on the
    screen, which refer surfers to a Kipling sales point. Those who remain
    alert will surely find the letter/number code." 
    Kipling confirmed it would give a bag to everyone who cracks the code,
    which takes the form of a username login and password. 
    Rising to the challenge, readers of Slashdot quickly encouraged each other
    to break the code, just for the hell of it. But after a week of trying,
    most efforts have been abandoned. 
    "I'm sorry to say that so far no one has been able to beat the login,"
    said Slashdot contributor Greg Boyce, who offered to buy a Slashdot hat
    for the first person to crack it. "Turns out it was a bit more complicated
    than I thought it would be." 
    The most ambitious attempt adopted a "brute force" strategy generating all
    possible combinations of username and password. Special software to
    automate the process is available on the Web. 
    Other attempts ranged from examining the source code for the Web page,
    which is coded in Javascript, to breaking into the site. 
    However, Kipling said attempts to breach the site's security have so far
    "No one has cracked it," said Edith Iris, Kipling's marketing manager.
    "We've had no problems." 
    To add to the hackers' irritation, Kipling also garbled the definitions of
    cherished computer terms in its marketing blurb. 
    According to Kipling's site, "A hacker is a cunning computer expert who
    cracks the security systems of computers in order to steal or destroy
    But in the programming community, a malicious computer expert is called a
    "cracker." A hacker is simply a harmless programmer. 
    "Hacker is the term in common parlance," countered Larry Lein, executive
    vice president of Kipling USA. "If you asked me what a cracker was, I'd
    say someone who lived in a trailer park down South." 
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