Computer underground Digest Wed July 28 1999 Volume 11 : Issue 34

Computer underground Digest    Wed  28 July, 1999   Volume 11 : Issue 34
                           ISSN  1004-042X

       Editor: Jim Thomas (
       News Editor: Gordon Meyer (
       Archivist: Brendan Kehoe
       Coupe Adolator:     Etaion Shrdlu, III
       Shadow-Archivists: Dan Carosone / Paul Southworth
                          Ralph Sims / Jyrki Kuoppala
                          Ian Dickinson
       Cu Digest Homepage:

CONTENTS, #11.34 (Wed, 28 July, 1999)

File 1--Is "NETFUTURE" 'Zine overly negative? (netfuture reprint)
File 2--At DefCon: Lovable Geeks or Crackers and Phreaks?
File 3--SANS Web Broadcast Announcement
File 4--Passing porn, Banning the Bible: N2H2's Bess Software
File 5--Gov't Study - Is the Net-racial gap growing?
File 6--Cu Digest Header Info (unchanged since 10 Jan, 1999)



Date:         Wed, 23 Jun 1999 16:25:55 -0400
From: Stephen Talbott 
Subject: File 1--Is "NETFUTURE" 'Zine overly negative? (netfuture reprint)

((CuD MODERATORS' NOTE: Stephen Talbott puts out an exceptionally
thoughtful newsletter that focuses especially on the impact of
computer technology on education and society. Here, he
responds to critics who find his assessments excessively
gloomy. Agree with him or not, his newsletter is thoughtful
and provocative. It's worth a look)).

Source: NetFuture #91

                    Technology and Human Responsibility

Issue #91      A Publication of The Nature Institute         June 23, 1999
             Editor:  Stephen L. Talbott (

           On the Web:
     You may redistribute this newsletter for noncommercial purposes.

NETFUTURE is a reader-supported publication.


The Negativism of NETFUTURE

Two readers, both of them appreciative subscribers to NETFUTURE, have
recently voiced concern to me about the sustained "negativism" of the
newsletter, which is beginning to sound to one of them like a "nay-saying

This hits me at a vulnerable spot.  The vulnerability needs owning up to
-- and I will come back to it.  But first, a little vigorous self-defense!

I was puzzled to receive these two messages directly on the heels of three
feature articles in successive issues (NF #88, 89, and 90), dealing with
medicine, with Jane Healy's *Failure to Connect*, and with

The first of these was, as much as anything else, a plea *for* alternative

The second reviewed a book that did it's best to find a role for the
computer in education, despite mostly disastrous evidence from the field
so far.  Yes, Healy's assessment was rather pessimistic, but my own
response to her case was to urge the consideration of concrete educational
approaches that work incredibly well with students, avoid the cost of
computers, and overcome the systematic one-sidedness of our culture into
which computers so readily play.  If that's not positive, I'm not sure
what is.

And the third was primarily a plug *for* local economics.

So the problem really seems to be, not negativism in general, but the
fairly consistent sorts of things I am negative about:  in particular, the
entire range of ways we as a society are putting digital technologies to
use -- that is, the overall patterns of our use.  Now, when I hear the
plaintive question, "Can't you find *some* positive use for computers in
the classroom?"  my immediate, and perhaps rather too self-serving
reaction is to make these points:

** Give me *anything* and I will find a positive use for it.  Dreaming up
positive uses is the simplest thing in the world.  (To begin with, it's
always positive to seek an understanding of something.)  But finding a
positive use for a particular tool is not always the urgent thing.

** In the second place, the form of the complaint looks a little
suspicious.  How is it that in our society questions about education have
become questions about the computer?  Why is *the* soul-vexing issue the
question whether one gives proper place to the computer or not?  Why do
other extremely hopeful approaches to education disappear from view as
issues in their own right, becoming little more than statements "for" or
"against" computers?  It sounds rather as if the very technologically
induced distortion of issues that is the target of much venom in these
columns has already been at work preparing the way for this complaint.

The question staring most people in the face today seems to be "How can we
make use of the computer in education?" rather than "What is the
educational need here, and how can we best supply it?"  That's the
incredible diversionary power of the computer:  we demand some sort of
balanced answer regarding the computer, rather than a balanced answer
regarding education.  But these are very different things.  Given the
unbalanced social context in which education occurs -- including the acute
lack of direct and meaningful engagement between child and adult mentor,
between the child and the natural world, and also between the child and
adult society -- it may well be that the computer's main tendency is to
carry us in the opposite direction from educational balance.

An example I've used before:  if you've got a balance with a hundred
weights on one side and five on the other, it doesn't make much sense to
add fifty more weights to the heavy side while saying, "It's all right as
long as we maintain balance."  The claim is true, but probably not to the

** Third, I guess I've always assumed that readers will give due heed to
the fact that I'm communicating with them over a computer network -- and
have been making my living with this technology for eighteen years.  Every
time you or I write a message to someone with kind intent, we are doing
something good with the computer.  Every time someone undertakes a
computer analysis of an environmental problem, or uses a computer model to
predict the weather for farmers who need to plant crops, or answers an
emergency health question in an online discussion group -- then good is
being done.

** But, in the fourth place -- and this is the crux of the whole matter --
we need to move to a deeper level of analysis.  There is also no end of
good things one can do with an automobile, from buying someone a present
at the mall to taking an injured person to a distant hospital.  But if you
lived at the beginning of the twentieth century, and if, possessed of
unusual foresight, you had grave misgivings about how the automobile was
beginning to restructure society, what would your message to your
contemporaries have been?

Certainly you would not be so malicious as to suggest it would be better
to leave the injured person lying in the gutter.  But if you really were
addressing the deeper level rather than the obvious, you would raise
questions about -- well, about an infinite range of things.  How would the
automobile itself contribute to overall patterns of injury and health?
How would it play into our besetting tendencies to abandon community and
flee ourselves?  How would it help to fragment and ghetto-ize society?

Depending on your own answers to such questions, you might find yourself
in the uncomfortable position of saying, "Yes, quickly, get this man to
the hospital", but then adding in quiet conversation afterward, "You know,
the more we as a society rely on this machine with our current imbalances,
the more we will, even with our good deeds, strengthen certain forces that
bring pain and suffering to society".

That's what I want to emphasize.  If you're addressing questions at an
underlying level where things and processes re-shape society, then you may
find that what you have to do -- even when you're talking about immediate
activities that are perfectly virtuous -- is to add an unwelcome warning
to the reigning sense of virtue.  And this is the level it is my whole
purpose to bring attention to.

** Finally, when I am arguing a position that is not widely accepted (and
I don't see much use in arguing positions of the other sort), I have
usually felt obligated to engage the main counterarguments.  So in this
sense it's always going to look as if I'm "against" conventional views,
despite the fact that the whole point is to make room "for" a non-
conventional one.

In this regard, I hope most readers have picked up on my dead-serious and
certainly positive advocacy of such things as the value of ecological
farming; the necessity for qualitative investigations (in every field) as
the justification and counterbalance for our powerful urge toward abstract
analysis; the grounding of all education in the experience of one human
being by another; and the irreplaceable values to be had from local

Okay, enough of that.  Once I am done with the huffing and puffing, I find
myself having to admit that the plaintiffs are right.  I think an
unhealthy negative element *does* creep into some of my writing.  That, at
least, is the rather vague intimation of my own conscience.  As to where
to go with the matter, I'm not yet sure.  I'll certainly continue to do my
best to puncture the nonsense surrounding so much of the contemporary
technological thrust; but perhaps, over time, you will notice a little bit
of a shifting balance and emphasis.

In any case, it seemed right to acknowledge a legitimacy to my
correspondents' case.  And, as a kind of temporary penance, I offer the
article, "Grounds for Optimism", that follows this one.  But please don't
hold me responsible for Eli Noam's essay in this issue!  (And do note
that, despite his title, his piece can more usefully be read as an
argument *for* a deeper understanding of democracy rather than as an
argument *against* the Internet.)

Grounds for Optimism

Several months ago, at a moment when I was wallowing in pessimistic
reflection upon current events, I started to make a list.  I dedicated one
of the 3x5 cards I carry around in my shirt pocket to the proposition that
some powerfully good trends must be developing in society, and that I
have, by temperament, allowed myself to discount them.

Well, that list is now four items long.  These are no small items.  Taken
together, they are almost enough to make me as optimistic about our future
as the extropians and transhumanists!  Here they are:

** Environmental movement.  When I was young this didn't exist.  There was
no pollution-control industry, and the public had not yet heard about
ecology.  Anyone who pushed recycling would have been a flake.

It is interesting to watch how attitudes can change, and how we eventually
become aware of a moral unconsciousness in ourselves that is, after the
fact, hard to fathom.  Think, for example, of the genuine indignation and
incomprehension once provoked by the request, "Would you mind not
smoking?"  It simply didn't occur to society as a whole that the noxious
effect of smoke upon unwilling participants posed ethical problems we
should address.  Yet today who would think otherwise?

** Organic agriculture and retailing.  This, too, could hardly have been
foreseen when I was young.  Even in my days as an organic farmer (late
1970s), the organic movement, such as it was, was dominated by hippies and
other drop-outs.  Yet, sneer at them as we might (I did some of my own
sneering), they performed a heroic service upon which societies
periodically depend for survival:  they planted a seed, thereby providing
an alternative that could be taken over by the rest of society when the
reigning models proved destructive beyond bearing any longer.

We certainly haven't yet "arrived" in organic terms.  But the progress is
gratifying at a time when mainline supermarkets and large-scale commercial
farms are discovering the virtues of what once was despised.

** Alternative medicine.  I wrote at length about this in NF #88.  As I
mentioned there, Americans now visit alternative medical practitioners
more often than conventional therapists, and they spend more money out of
pocket on alternative treatments than conventional ones -- this despite
the seemingly invincible power and aura of authority of the medical
establishment.  What is it that wakens in the once-deferential public?

** Alternative schooling.  This sign is, for me, hopeful above all the
others.  So long as the young are trapped upon the training grounds of the
old regime, how can new life be released?  But now millions of parents
have voted against the idea of politically mandated indoctrination by
denying their children to the institutions of indoctrination.  They reject
the notion that politicians should be empowered to enforce a kind of
lowest-common-denominator curriculum that offends no one -- which
inevitably turns out to offend everyone except the dullest-spirited.

The proper way to avoid offending anyone when it comes to the highest
stirrings of the human spirit -- which are, after all, what education
should give wings to -- is to honor so far as possible the freedom to
strive in all its incomprehensible diversity.

The necessity for this freedom is, I think, what we see at work in the
apparently irresistible movement toward a voucher system of some sort, in
the dramatically successful home schooling movement, and in the public
school system's grudging tolerance of various local, voluntary,
experimental schools.

                      *   *   *   *   *  *  *  *  *

So there *are* grounds for optimism, and I for one plan to keep them in
sight.  Something is afoot, and recognizing the seeds of the future is at
least as important as identifying the rot and decay within which (and,
perhaps only with which) the seeds can take root.



                          ABOUT THIS NEWSLETTER

NETFUTURE is a freely distributed newsletter dealing with technology and
human responsibility.  It is published by The Nature Institute, 169 Route
21C, Ghent NY 12075 (tel: 518-672-0116).  Postings occur roughly every
couple of weeks.  The editor is Steve Talbott, author of *The Future Does
Not Compute: Transcending the Machines in Our Midst*.

Copyright 1999 by The Nature Institute.

You may redistribute this newsletter for noncommercial purposes.  You may
also redistribute individual articles in their entirety, provided the
NETFUTURE url and this paragraph are attached.

NETFUTURE is supported by freely given user contributions, and could not
survive without them.  For details and special offers, see

Current and past issues of NETFUTURE are available on the Web:

To subscribe to NETFUTURE send the message, "subscribe netfuture
yourfirstname yourlastname", to .  No
subject line is needed.  To unsubscribe, send the message, "signoff

Send comments or material for publication to Steve Talbott

If you have problems subscribing or unsubscribing, send mail to:


Date: Sat, 10 Jul 1999 05:59:09 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: File 2--At DefCon: Lovable Geeks or Crackers and Phreaks?

((MODERATORS' NOTE:  For those not familiar with Pat Townson's
TELECOM DIGEST, it's an exceptional resource.  From the header
of TcD:
   "TELECOM Digest is an electronic journal devoted mostly but
   not exclusively to telecommunications topics.  It is
   circulated anywhere there is email, in addition to various
   telecom forums on a variety of public service systems and
   networks including Compuserve and America On Line. It is also
   gatewayed to Usenet where it appears as the moderated
   newsgroup 'comp.dcom.telecom'. Subscriptions are available to
   qualified organizations and individual readers. Write and tell
   us how you qualify:
                    * * ======"  ))

TELECOM Digest     Sat, 10 Jul 99 05:59:00 EDT    Volume 19 : Issue 206

Date - Sat, 10 Jul 1999 02:24:25 -0400
>From - Monty Solomon 
Subject - At DefCon: Lovable Geeks or Crackers and Phreaks?,1185,5468,00.html

At DefCon: Lovable Geeks or Crackers and Phreaks?

Time was, only Wired wrote feature articles about hacker conferences.
But this year's Melissa and Explore viruses have put malicious computer
programs on the front page. So it's not surprising to see the {New York
Times} and other outlets previewing DefCon, the annual hacker conference
which returns to a soggy Las Vegas this weekend.

To hear the Times' Matt Richtel tell it, DefCon is just a big frat
party. Geeky, mostly harmless but excessively pierced guys in their 20s
(some who "will have their first beer") can spend some quality time with
the Feds who spend the rest of the year chasing them. Richtel even got
the terminology right, differentiating between hackers and the more
malicious "crackers" - a welcome sign that even the grayest of old
media gals is becoming a bit more tech savvy. No need to worry about
these lovable pups: the worst they've done in past years is hack into
casino Web sites or "toyed with elevator systems." Don't you just want
to take one home?

Well, no one's laughing over at MSNBC. Bob Sullivan led with a warning
that a group known as the Cult of the Dead Cow would release an updated
software tool at DefCon called "Back Orifice," designed to hijack and
control Windows NT machines through the Net. "Much mischief is expected
to follow," Sullivan cautioned, shortly before the parenthetical
reminder that Microsoft is a partner in MSNBC. The Times' Richtel buried
mention of the Back Orifice tool in paragraph 13.

The Cult members must be smirking and stifling giggles when they
maintain that Back Orifice is just a network administration tool,
designed to expose security holes in NT that Microsoft should then fix.
No one who's ever dealt with a teenager is stupid enough to buy that.
But Richtel went to the trouble to quote Open Source pit-boss Eric
Raymond, who expertly told the Times that there was nothing well-meaning
in the tool and that "people who do real work don't bother with DefCon."
Grok is still trying to figure out if that includes journalists.

Bitter Cyberspace Foes Make Nice at Convention
[Registration required.]

'Cult' Gives Hackers Weapon vs. NT

Inside the Virus Writer's Mind

Does the Media Cause Hacking?


Date: Tue, 27 Jul 1999  0:23:45 -0600 (MDT)
From: The SANS Institute 
Subject: File 3--SANS Web Broadcast Announcement

The SANS Institute invites you to participate on Tuesday, August 3 in
a pair of free web broadcasts on networking and security.  You don't
have to leave your office or home, but you must register in advance to
receive the user name and password.  You can listen to both presentations
or just one of them.  Please do forward this invitation to your co-workers
who have responsibilities in networking and/or security.


Date: Tuesday, August 3, 1999
Time: 1 pm EDT, 12 noon, CDT, 11 am MDT, 10 am PDT, 5 pm GMT

First Hour: IP Behavior -- Part I: A LevelOne Foundation Course
Start time: 1 p.m. EST (and archived for listening at your convenience
        beginning 4 hours later)

This course is one of three important prerequisites for advanced work
in intrusion detection and firewall management.  It teaches you about
tcpdump and how to interpret the output for tcp, udp, and icmp packets.
It also teaches you how tcp connections are established and broken.
The visuals in this program, as in all LevelOne programs, are detailed
and thorough and have extensive notes.

                       *** ** *** ** *** ** ***

Second Hour: Internet Investigations
Start time: 2 p.m. EST

Warren Kruse and Bill Cheswick (author of "Chasing the Wily Hacker")
present an hour-long discussion of forensics, computer literate criminals,
garnering law-enforcement assistance, tracking offenders, culling and
processing computer evidence, and policies/procedures for successfully
dealing with Internet criminals.

Register for either talk at

   ============================         ============================

A Strategy for Learning Intrusion Detection

If intrusion detection and firewalls are going to be part of your job
description over the next year, please look over the document just posted
at .

It's a roadmap to help you plan your specific skills development program
in intrusion detection.  It covers all six of the in-depth courses
offered at SANS Network Security 99 (
and will help you select the right courses.  It also describes the free
web-based foundation courses that provide the basic knowledge and
foundations needed by anyone who aspires to do effective work in intrusion
detection and firewall management.

Rob Kolstad        The SANS Institute    301-951-0102
----- Upcoming Events: ------------------------ Current Publications: ----
Network Security 99 (New Orleans, 10/99)      SANS Network Security Digest
                                                        The SANS NT Digest
Windows NT Security: Step-by-Step                   SANS NewsBites Summary
Incident Handling: Step-by-Step          Intrusion Detection: Shadow Style
WindowsNT Power Tools: Consensus                   1998 SANS Salary Survey
See for info and bookstore


Date: Thu, 29 Jul 1999 12:08:27 GMT
Subject: File 4--Passing porn, Banning the Bible: N2H2's Bess Software


The Censorware Project Issues A Report on a Dangerous Product Popular in

Contact: Jamie McCarthy
Phone: 616-381-4893

New York, New York, July 28, 1999. The Censorware Project
, an activist group which opposes the use of blocking
software in schools and libraries, today released its new report, "Passing
Porn, Banning the Bible: N2H2's Bess in Public Schools", a study of the Bess
Internet blocking software from N2H2 Inc., a company planning to go public
later this week.  Bess, a network-based product, is used in approximately 8,000
schools, affecting more than 7.3 million students, according to documents filed
by N2H2 with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

"We were not surprised to determine that the product lets through substantial
amounts of hard core pornography," said Jamie McCarthy, a software developer
who is a founding member of the group. "Our report contains links to porn
sites, most of which have obvious, sex-related names and URL's, which were not
blocked by Bess."

indicate that there are about eight hundred million pages on the Web, a number
which grows by leaps and bounds every week. N2H2 claims that Bess blocks eight
million of them, a small fraction. Anyone who claims that censorware is a
substitute for parental supervision is selling you a bill of goods. But N2H2,
which stands to benefit greatly if Congress passes Senator McCain's S.97 e-rate
legislation, is the first company to seek a public offering based on these
kinds of claims."

The group also found a substantial number of innocuous sites blocked by the
software. James Tyre, a Pasadena, California attorney who is also a founding
member of the group, said, "These included a version of the Bible compiled by
Thomas Jefferson, a site on Darwin and evolution, an issue of Redbook Magazine,
and sites dealing with issues as diverse as Serbia, baseball, psychiatry and

One of the blocked sites identified by the group is Friends of Lulu,
, which promotes involvement of girls and women
in the comic book industry.  "Friends of Lulu is a national nonprofit
devoted to getting more women and girls involved in reading and producing comic
books and graphic novels...Our organization promotes the use of comics as an
educational medium (especially for literacy) and as a literary and an
medium. Why anyone would want to block access to our site is baffling to me,"
said Jackie Estrada, President of the Friends of Lulu, which maintains the

The report also examines N2H2's Searchopolis search engine, which it promotes
as a safe tool for use in schools.  "The search simply ignores words it doesn't
like," McCarthy said.  "For example, a search on 'cancer' returns 692,742
hits.  But a search on 'testicle cancer' returns...exactly the same 692,742
hits!  N2H2 ignores any body parts they think are naughty.  How educational is

The group, founded in 1997, has previously issued reports on the CyberPatrol,
Smartfilter, X-Stop and Websense products. Its website is located at


Date: Sun, 11 Jul 1999 13:49:32 -0500 (CDT)
From: Jim Thomas   >
Subject: File 5--Gov't Study - Is the Net-racial gap growing?

Source -

                             EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

   Information tools, such as the personal computer and the Internet, are
   increasingly critical to economic success and personal advancement.
   Falling Through the Net: Defining the Digital Divide finds that more
   Americans than ever have access to telephones, computers, and the
   Internet. At the same time, however, NTIA has found that there is
   still a significant "digital divide" separating American information
   "haves" and "have nots." Indeed, in many instances, the digital divide
   has widened in the last year.

   This report, NTIA's third in the Falling Through the Net series,
   relies on December 1998 U.S. Department of Commerce Census Bureau data
   to provide an updated snapshot of the digital divide. The good news is
   that Americans are more connected than ever before. Access to
   computers and the Internet has soared for people in all demographic
   groups and geographic locations. At the end of 1998, over 40 percent
   of American households owned computers, and one-quarter of all
   households had Internet access. Additionally, those who were less
   likely to have telephones (chiefly, young and minority households in
   rural areas) are now more likely to have phones at home. (Chart I-1)

   Accompanying this good news, however, is the persistence of the
   digital divide between the information rich (such as Whites,
   Asians/Pacific Islanders, those with higher incomes, those more
   educated, and dual-parent households) and the information poor (such
   as those who are younger, those with lower incomes and education
   levels, certain minorities, and those in rural areas or central
   cities). The 1998 data reveal significant disparities, including the
     * Households with incomes of $75,000 and higher are more than twenty
       times more likely to have access to the Internet than those at the
       lowest income levels, and more than nine times as likely to have a
       computer at home. (Chart I-2)
     * Whites are more likely to have access to the Internet from home
       than Blacks or Hispanics have from any location.
     * Black and Hispanic households are approximately one-third as
       likely to have home Internet access as households of Asian/Pacific
       Islander descent, and roughly two-fifths as likely as White
       households. (Chart I-22)
     * Regardless of income level, Americans living in rural areas are
       lagging behind in Internet access. Indeed, at the lowest income
       levels, those in urban areas are more than twice as likely to have
       Internet access than those earning the same income in rural areas.

   For many groups, the digital divide has widened as the information
   "haves" outpace the "have nots" in gaining access to electronic
   resources. The following gaps with regard to home Internet access are
     * The gaps between White and Hispanic households, and between White
       and Black households, are now more than six percentage points
       larger than they were in 1994.
     * The digital divides based on education and income level have also
       increased in the last year alone. Between 1997 and 1998, the
       divide between those at the highest and lowest education levels
       increased 25 percent, and the divide between those at the highest
       and lowest income levels grew 29 percent.

   Nevertheless, the news is not all bleak. For Americans with incomes of
   $75,000 and higher, the divide between Whites and Blacks has actually
   narrowed considerably in the last year. This finding suggests that the
   most affluent American families, irrespective of race, are connecting
   to the Net. If prices of computers and the Internet decline further,
   the divide between the information "haves" and "have nots" may
   continue to narrow.

   Until every home can afford access to information resources, however,
   we will need public policies and private initiatives to expand
   affordable access to those resources. The Clinton Administration is
   committed to connecting all Americans to the National Information
   Infrastructure. Pro-competition policies, to reduce the prices of
   basic phone and information services, and universal service policies
   will continue to be important parts of the solution.

   Community access centers (CACs) -- such as schools, libraries, and
   other public access points -- will play an important role. The 1998
   data demonstrate that community access centers are particularly well
   used by those groups who lack access at home or at work. These same
   groups (such as those with lower incomes and education levels, certain
   minorities, and the unemployed) are also using the Internet at higher
   rates to search for jobs or take courses. Providing public access to
   the Internet will help these groups advance economically, as well as
   provide them the technical skills to compete professionally in today's
   digital economy.

   Establishing and supporting community access centers, among other
   steps, will help ensure that all Americans can access new
   technologies. As we enter the Information Age, access to computers and
   the Internet is becoming increasingly vital. It is in everyone's
   interest to ensure that no American is left behind.


Date: Sun, 10 Jan 1999 22:51:01 CST
From: CuD Moderators 
Subject: File 6--Cu Digest Header Info (unchanged since 10 Jan, 1999)

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