Hackers wreak havoc on systems

Ah, spring. The Rat, enjoying relief from the worst winter on record, has been
observing the time-honored rites of the season: cherry blossoms, high pollen count and
courtship rituals among phreakers and hackers.


The Rat is taking advantage of the season to do some spring cleaning and change all his
PIN numbers and passwords. A rodent can't be too careful in this dial-up, Webified world.
Just ask New York's finest.


Someone recently cracked the voicemail system for the city police there and re-recorded
the message played to incoming callers. The new message said, "Hello, you have
reached the New York City Police Department. For real emergencies, dial 119. Anyone
else--we're a little busy right now eating some doughnuts and having coffee."


Their password must have been something like NYPD, the Rat sighed.


Have you changed your passwords lately? In case you need more motivation, just remember
that on June 15, the Summercon IX hack/phreak convention takes place in our nation's
capital. The speakers' list is not yet final, but at least they picked a location
convenient for law enforcement types.


The conference pricing was designed with that in mind: The Secret Service and FBI rate
is $500. It's $80 for other law enforcement and government personnel, while the
"hacker/individual" rate is $20.


The Rat figures on reducing his expenses by attending at the rodent/reporter rate: 15
feet of gnawed 10Base-T.


Speaking of expenses, inmates at the Cook County, Ill., jail have found a way to cut
their phone costs by doing some "social engineering" on credulous employees of
the University of California at San Francisco.


UCSF staff members took collect calls through an automated system from someone claiming
to be a UCSF physician. Once the charge was accepted, the caller said he needed to make an
emergency long-distance call to a colleague and instructed the UCSF employee on how to
patch him into a long-distance access line.


Each of these calls has been traced to a pay phone in the Cook County jail.


"They could at least have put the university on the Friends and Parolees
long-distance program," the Wired One chuckled.


Of course, the inmates wouldn't have had to go to all that trouble if they'd had an
Internet connection. Products such as Voxware Inc.'s TeleVox and Netspeak Corp.'s WebPhone
make voice-over-Internet possible, with beta copies of some products available free on the
Web.


IBM, Microsoft and Netscape have announced their own voice services for the Internet.
"Net phone" software will be part of Netscape's Navigator 3.0 browser and
Microsoft's Internet Explorer 3.0, both set for release this summer.


Even AT&T is testing Internet voice software, but the Cyberodent figures it will
find a way to charge someone for each call.


That's certainly what the other telephone companies want. They're getting a little
nervous about all this free long-distance and are pressuring the Federal Communications
Commission to consider makers of Internet voice communications software as
telecommunications carriers and regulate them to keep them from giving away phone service
free.


phone companies also want the FCC to regulate the entire content of the Internet.


Rat, always suspicious of companies that are forced to give refunds for overcharging,
thinks the Baby Bells are wasting their bandwidth. The next thing you know, they'll want
billboards, signal flares and messenger pigeons regulated as long-distance carriers.


Packet Rat once managed networks but now spends his time ferreting out bad packets
in cyberspace.


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