Computers, Hackers, and Phreaks

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The Internet is a wondrous place. Practically anything you could ever want is

available on the Net. It's like a big city, it has the highly prestigious areas, and the

sex-ridden slums (Mitchell). It has the upstanding citizens, and it has the criminals.

On the Net, crime is more abundant than in a large city, though, mainly because of

the difficulties in tracking and prosecuting offenders. Even from its beginnings, the

Internet has always been a battlefield between phreaks and administrators.

The Internet hasn't always been a public forum. In fact, the Internet has

been around for years. The Internet is just a new fad (Larson). The Internet

originally began as DARPANET, a government-created network, which was

designed for defense communications. The Net structure is such that it could

survive a nuclear war (Mitchell). The creation of the Net can not be blamed for the

existence of hackers though, hackers are older than the Net itself, but the Net is the

largest 'hacker haven' today (Spencer). The growth of the Net since its creation

has been nothing less than astounding. In the 25-plus years since its creation, the

Net now has over thirty million users using four million sites world wide.

Estimates rate the growth of the Net anywhere from ten to fifteen percent per

month (Spencer). The Internet was first released to major universities in the

United States of America. Since then, the universities have offered connections to

small business, service providers, and even to the individual user. Sometimes these

connections cost a fortune, and sometimes they can be obtained for free (Larson).

Although some of the original universities have dropped off the Net for various

reasons, every major university in the United States, and now, most others in the

world, have a connection to the Internet (Quittner).

Although it isn't easy for an individual to get a direct connection to the Net,

many private institutions are getting direct access. This is mainly due to the fact

that in order to support the very high speed of the Net, a fast computer is needed

and a fast connection. A fast computer can cost in the thousands of dollars, at

least, and a quick connection can cost hundreds dollars or more. Individuals can

still get on the Net through these private institutions. The private institution

spoon-feeds the Net to the slower computers over their delayed connection lines

(Jones). The Internet began very high-class, due to the fact that only super

intelligent college students and professors could access it. The discussions tended

to stay intellectual, with very little, if any, disturbance (Larson). However,

relatively recent changes in the availability of the Net have changed that

atmosphere. Now, almost anyone can access the Internet. Internet access is offered

by every major online service (Himowitz). The fact that the major online services

charge for their use keeps many people away from them. Those people simply

turn to public dial-ups, which are free connections offered by universities that are

available to the general public (Spencer).

Because accessing the Net is easier, and a lot more people are doing it,

naturally the amount of information on the Net is increasing at the same rate, if not

faster. In what is often referred to by Net users as the Resource Explosion, the

amount of information circulating the Internet has increased with the number of

users (Jones). Of all the other factors contributing to the large percent of online

crimes, perhaps the most influential is the design structure of the Internet. Experts

agree that the underlying structure with no central hub, where each computer is

equally powerful, gives unchecked power to the undeserving (Miller). The design

also makes controlling the frequency of break-ins almost impossible as well. Both

politicians and...
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