Hacking Tools

Topics: Hacker, Hackers: Heroes of the Computer Revolution, Computer Pages: 21 (3685 words) Published: September 27, 2005

The word 'hacker' is used in two different but associated

ways: for some, a hacker is merely a computer enthusiast of any kind,

who loves working with the beasties for their own sake, as opposed to

operating them in order to enrich a company or research project --or

to play games.

This book uses the word in a more restricted sense: hacking is a

recreational and educational sport. It consists of attempting to make

unauthorised entry into computers and to explore what is there. The

sport's aims and purposes have been widely misunderstood; most

hackers are not interested in perpetrating massive frauds, modifying

their personal banking, taxation and employee records, or inducing

one world super-power into inadvertently commencing Armageddon in the

mistaken belief that another super-power is about to attack it. Every

hacker I have ever come across has been quite clear about where the

fun lies: it is in developing an understanding of a system and

finally producing the skills and tools to defeat it. In the vast

majority of cases, the process of 'getting in' is much more

satisfying than what is discovered in the protected computer files.

In this respect, the hacker is the direct descendant of the phone

phreaks of fifteen years ago. Phone phreaking became interesting as

intra-nation and international subscriber trunk dialling was

introduced, but when the London-based phreak finally chained his way

through to Hawaii, he usually had no one there to speak to except the

local weather service or American Express office, to confirm that the

desired target had indeed been hit. One of the earliest of the

present generation of hackers, Susan Headley, only 17 when she began

her exploits in California in 1977, chose as her target the local

phone company and, with the information extracted from her hacks, ran

all over the telephone network. She 'retired' four years later, when

friends started developing schemes to shut down part of the phone


There is also a strong affinity with program copy-protection

crunchers. Most commercial software for micros is sold in a form to

prevent obvious casual copying, say by loading a cassette, cartridge

or disk into memory and then executing a 'save' on to a

** Page VII

blank cassette or disk. Copy-protection devices vary greatly in

their methodology and sophistication and there are those who, without

any commercial motive, enjoy nothing so much as defeating them. Every

computer buff has met at least one cruncher with a vast store of

commercial programs, all of which have somehow had the protection

removed--and perhaps the main title subtly altered to show the

cruncher's technical skills--but which are then never actually used

at all.

Perhaps I should tell you what you can reasonably expect from this

handbook. Hacking is an activity like few others: it is semi-legal,

seldom encouraged, and in its full extent so vast that no individual

or group, short of an organisation like GCHQ or NSA, could hope to

grasp a fraction of the possibilities. So this is not one of those

books with titles like Games Programming with the 6502 where, if the

book is any good and if you are any good, you will emerge with some

mastery of the subject-matter. The aim of this book is merely to give

you some grasp of methodology, help you develop the appropriate

attitudes and skills, provide essential background and some

referencing material--and point you in the right directions for more

knowledge. Up to a point, each chapter may be read by itself; I have

compiled extensive appendices, containing material which will be of

use long after the main body of the text has been absorbed.

It is one of the characteristics of hacking anecdotes, like those

relating to espionage exploits, that almost no one closely involved

has much...
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