Forwarded from: security curmudgeon <email@example.com> http://www.orlandosentinal.com/features/lifestyle/orl-liv-view111102,0,526740.story? By Chris Cobbs Sentinel Staff Writer November 11, 2002 "The View From Here" is a slice of local life by Sentinel reporters. Today, technology writer Chris Cobbs contributes. As a teenage computer hacker, Ejovi Nuwere once tapped into a porn site, stole credit card numbers and bought new sneakers. Another time, he ordered a laptop computer and had it shipped to an abandoned building, where he planned to retrieve it. Watching from a hidden alley as the delivery truck arrived, he saw two FBI agents get out of an unmarked car and approach the building. He quickly forgot about the laptop. The hacker, who never did jail time, came face-to-face last week with 10 teenage boys who are behind bars, albeit for different sorts of crimes, such as carjacking, robbery and murder. Nuwere appeared at the Orange County jail Nov. 6 at the invitation of John Richter, coordinator of the Youthful Offender Program, which includes a Literature 'N Living reading component. "When I look at you guys, I see myself when I was younger," said Nuwere, 22, an Internet security consultant and co-author of Hacker Cracker -- A Journey from the Mean Streets of Brooklyn to the Frontiers of Cyberspace. Each of the teens in the audience had read Hacker Cracker and written a book report. Several hundred youngsters have participated in the reading program during the past seven years, and about one-third have gone on to earn a GED, Richter says. Along with improving their reading abilities, the program's goal is to change their outlook on life. "Strip away the tough-guy veneer and these are not bad guys," Richter says. "For many it's always been easier to act tough than to read." Nuwere's visit won't transform any of them into computer wizards -- there aren't even any PCs for them to use for e-mail -- but it seemed to meet the objective of giving them a modicum of hope, a reason to cling to self-respect as they prepare for possible multiyear terms in state prison. Wearing black jumpsuits and orange plastic slippers, they listened attentively as Nuwere spoke and fielded questions. "I came from the same kind of environment as you guys. Growing up in Bedford-Stuyvesant, you either sold drugs or used drugs. It's all so real to me, it all comes rushing back to me." As he talked about his mother's drug use and eventual AIDS-related death, Nuwere sat on the edge of a table, his blue shirt untucked, one leg swinging beneath him. "I didn't have a high and mighty goal when I got into hacking," he said. Hacking, he said, "gave me a sense of power and control. I grew up feeling there was nothing beyond the 'hood -- you are born in the 'hood, you stay in the 'hood. "When I got on the computer, I was in this new world for an hour or two while I was online. People were still selling drugs and shooting guns, but I was immersed in something different." Nuwere was good at what he did. So good, in fact, he was never caught or prosecuted. By the time he was 15, he had been hired as a security analyst by one of the companies whose network he had cracked. Later he worked for other companies, composed his biography and now plans to help blacks and minorities get into the technology field. Nuwere was able to touch a nerve with his audience because of the similarities in age and background, Richter said. "He came from the same sort of environment," Richter said. "There were criminals in his environment. He was in a gang and fought in a gang. Also, he grew up without a dad, just like seven of the 10 inmates. So he was like these kids in a lot of ways." For all his success, Nuwere regrets that he couldn't protect his mother from drug dealers or the disease that claimed her life. He couldn't rescue friends who died violently on the streets. Still, he has gained a life skill and a sense of empowerment. "I've become fearless," he said as the young inmates leaned forward in their seats. "When I go into some big office, I feel power because I understand the struggle: I've got nothing to lose. I started from the bottom like you guys. And when you get out of here, that's the power you will have -- the power to start new and without the feeling of worthlessness." Veteran corrections officers said Nuwere's message connected. "They can relate to his story," said Officer Jeff Harris. "When he talked about his mother, drugs and welfare, their situations are the same. Looking at them, I think they liked that he turned a bad situation into something good. There's a chance they can change their lives too." The inmates seemed to get it. "He never gave up; he stayed strong," said Charles Davis, 16. "He's a good role model. He's got his mind squared away, and I can do that. It's my choice. All that can stop me is me." Chris Cobbs can be reached at 407-420-5447 or firstname.lastname@example.org. - ISN is currently hosted by Attrition.org To unsubscribe email email@example.com with 'unsubscribe isn' in the BODY of the mail.
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