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Researchers Are Urged to Adopt a Hacker

December 22, 1985|Associated Press

LIVERMORE, Calif. — A magazine writer who became the target of angry computer hackers says scientists should start a "big brother" program for home-computer enthusiasts.

Most hackers took up the hobby of trying to gain unauthorized access to computer systems because their schools did not satisfy their curiosity about computers, Newsweek magazine reporter Richard Sandza said.

Few would become hackers if they had a more legitimate outlet, he told researchers from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratories.

Appealing to the lab's involvement in the Strategic Defense Initiative or "Star Wars," Sandza said, "they might be the ones who get to implement SDI."

"If we put all those brains in jail, that's not going to solve any problems," he said in urging the researchers to "adopt" a hacker.

Sandza became familiar with hackers while researching a series on them that appeared in the magazine in August, 1983.

In the wake of that series, some hackers turned their acumen against Sandza, running unauthorized credit checks on him and purchasing thousands of dollars worth of merchandise with his credit-card accounts.

He became the "defendant" in a "tele-trial" set up by hackers on a computerized bulletin board, a computer system hooked to the telephone system. The board allows hackers to call and leave computerized messages for each other.

The charges included "endangering freaks and hacks," he said. "Freaks" is a slang term for those who try to use the telephone system without paying.

When it became clear that the "trial" was running against him, his "defense lawyer"--a hacker using the moniker "King Blotto"--arranged for a "mistrial" by blowing up the bulletin board, Sandza said.

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