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Hacked off with the Net; Bill Gates may be the highest profile to have his code violated, but the dark side of cyberspace hides some vicious e-warfare.

Byline: Edited by BOB LOW

THE unknown hacker who wormed into Bill Gates' Windows is being hailed as an audacious spy for the Russian Mafia or KGB.

After all, he broke in to the world's biggest computer company, stayed for five weeks and either changed or nicked the next generation software.

MS later claimed it was just 12 days. Now they say it was mere seven days and they tracked the culprits anyway.

Now the FBI are hunting Russian Mafia or KGB because an e-mail address in St Petersburg was used.

Personally, I wouldn't bother. Anyone can get a Russian e-mail address and get mail from it. Anyone can get the Qaz virus that was used in the hack and, if you look at all the online hacking links, you'll also get the - probably teenage - culprits around the same time as the FBI, because someone in that community will clipe.

No, the thing everyone should be worrying about is how easy it was to hack MS.

The Qaz virus, originating in China as Qa2, was identified in mid-June by Symantec as W32.HLLW.Qaz. Everyone else had updated their virus files - except the world's biggest software producers, who actually use Symantec's anti-virus software.

Who also kept top secret source code in easily-accessible places. Whose employees are dumb enough to open any e-mail attachments sent.

That is a criminal lack of security savvy about what is a truly serious problem - the ongoing e-wars in cyberspace. But they aren't alone.

Just recently, Jonathan James was jailed for hacking into top secret files at NASA and the Pentagon.

He said: "I don't think they should be putting me in jail because they don't have very good security."

He has a point. Jonathan is 16.

THE serious side of hacking is also a pointer to the future of conflict - the Arab-Israeli "war" has started. So far, at least 18 sites have been hit by pro-Palestinian attackers and at least nine sites by pro-Israeli attackers.

Pro-Israeli individuals and groups include and Pro-Palestinian individuals and groups include,ReALiST, Project Gamma and al-Muhajiroun - the latter based in London and linked to terrorist Osama bin Laden.

Under fire are the likes of the Bank of Israel, the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange, the Israeli Defence Forces and the Israeli Foreign Ministry.

MEANWHILE, in Romania, former seriously leftist president Ion Iliescu dominates a field of about a dozen candidates in elections for the top spot.

Scared that the 70-year-old might get back into power, anti-Iliescu hackers linked the poll favourite's website to a porn site in France ... and then to the FBI's Most-Wanted list.

EUROPOL, the European Union's six-year-old policing agency, has steadfastly refused to officially investigate cybercrimes.

Instead, they appointed Paulo Felix to be an unofficial expert.

Now, inside a building that once served as Gestapo headquarters in The Hague, Felix hunts down clues to the likes of the Portugese bank which lost millions of dollars when a system administrator added a few lines of code to the bank's software. It then credited his account, rather than deducted, every time he went to a cash machine.

ANDY MUELLER-MAGUHN thinks the US wields too much control over the Web, hates governments and once contemplated joining Germany's Red Army Faction terrorists. For the past decade, Mueller-Maguhn has gained notoriety as the mouthpiece for the Chaos Computer Club, a group of German code wizards who are, without doubt, the biggest nutters on the hacking bus. They've pulled such stunts as withdrawing $75,000 from the network of the German postal service, Deutsche Post, because they can.

Has Andy been arrested? No. He has just been elected, for an indefinite term, to the powerful board of ICANN, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers.

That's the nonprofit group that determines who gets what domain name on the Net and effectively, if anyone does, controls cyberspace.

YOU can't fault the hackers for persistence either - it took NINE MILLION attempts, admit AntiOnline, but someone called "n1nor" last week finally hacked the website which boasted it was unhackable.

The Net's premier security information website AntiOnline had the front page replaced by a rant against founder John Vranesevich and was down for 30 minutes.

The crack squad


PART of the so-called ethical, or white-hat hacking fraternity, who only break into systems to show the owners they'd better fix it, quick. They post virus warnings, but are so out of date they probably shouldn't bother.

2600 (

ORIGINALLY a quarterly magazine and the doyenne of hackers everywhere, this has dissolved in a welter of lawsuits involving cracking DVD.


WEBSITE devoted to gathering and disseminating the sort of computer security info you won't get from Microsoft and the like. Excellent.


THIS website offers all sorts of surveillance, tracking and anti-cybercrime software, from ways to watch individual computers, to finding stolen PCs or laptops anywhere in the world, or tagging electronic material so you can see who is trying to nick it and where they are. Maybe Microsoft should call them in.


RUSSIA'S premier website on all things webby and computer, including hacking. It has an auto- translate function, which is more hilarious than informative - but it is an interesting indication of how clued-up the Russians are

GEEKSPEAK GLOSSARY RRABBIT JOB - Originally a pointless piece of batch software that did nothing but create copies of itself, breeding like rabbits. Now used for any office department whose numbers seem to swell week on week.

RAIN DANCE - Used for any desperate action taken to correct a problem and originally used for computer hardware - reseating circuit boards, reconnecting cables, etc - as if that will magically fix an awkward bug.

RASTER BURN - Eyestrain brought on by too many hours of looking at low-res, poorly tuned, or glare-ridden monitors.

RASTERBATION - Self-indulgent use of computer generated effects in movies and graphic art, which would have been better without them.

RICE BOX - Any Asian-made commodity computer, built to IBM PC-compatible standards.

ROCOCO - Terminally baroque. Used to imply that a product - usually software - has become so encrusted with the code equivalent of gold leaf and curlicues that they have completely swamped the underlying design. Called after the later and more extreme forms of architecture and decoration prevalent during the mid-1700s in Europe.

TECHLIFE Q&A Got a problem? E-mail

QI HAVE managed to get loads of sounds and would love to trade and swap them - but how to I convert CDs into WAV format? - J. Kennedy, Glasgow.

A PLAY it through a CD player and use a utility such as Sound Recorder to record the output. A faster way is to use a CD Ripper to rip the tune from the CD and encode it in WAV format. If you use Goldwave ( with the BladeEnc DLL add-on, you can save it in MP3 format, too and save yourself a space for no loss of quality.

Q I HAVE created a website using CSS styles and am quite proud of it - it has loads of styles, coloured backgrounds to text boxes etc. In Netscape 4.0, though, you can't see any of this. Is there some way of making that happen? - K. Loudon, Edinburgh.

A NO.Netscape 4.0 doesn't support the full CSS spec apart from fonts and type sizes. Problem is that it simply ignores those style commands it doesn't comprehend. Stick with it, though - Netscape 6.0 supports the full CSS 1 and 2 specs.

Q MY IE5, on Win95, launches itself on startup without any instructions from me. It then says "cannot find server". How do I stop it opening automatically when all the DUN settings are on "never dial a connection" option? - L. Smith, Glasgow.

A IF you installed this from an ISP disk, there may be a folder at C:\Program Files\Internet Explorer\Signup. Change that to read \old Signup. If that fails, go to Add/Repair IE 5.0. Failing that, reinstall the whole thing. TOP Net news this week, especially if you've just popped your clogs, is that you can now e-mail the dead. Presumably those who use Hotmail know which way their dear departed went.

A burgeoning number of memorial sites on the Web means the PC has become the medium of choice for friends and family to convey their thoughts to those no longer among us.

Now American psychiatrist Tom Golden has a website where people are invited to contemplate their suffering and loss online. honor.html

LATEST celeb to step into cyberspace in search of dot-com fame and fortune is former topless model and former pop star Sam Fox.

Hoping to be an Internet tycoon, Sam is a shareholder in a new search engine called SearchTurtle and has also been chosen as the face of the firm.

She insists this will make net surfing faster and easier, in which case another name might have been better

However, SearchTurtle claims to solve the problem of losing track of one site after surfing to another by using fast-forward and rewind buttons which zap you to the one you want.

Sam claims to have had a great interest in computer technology - I guessed silicon, if not exactly chips.

YOU have always wanted to know - or maybe not - just how much of a babe magnet you really are.

Which is where Am I Hot Or Not? comes in. Put simply, this website lets people who think they are God's gift get an objective repsonse. Register, get _A dead letter drop .. a password and upload a picture of yourself - a digital one, either taken with a digital camera, or scanned from a print - to anywhere on the Net.

Tell Am I Hot Or Not? the location of your image and it starts a poll for you.

Visitors to the site are presented with the most recent pictures and are simply asked to vote for them.

LAST word on security idiocy - US security experts are red-faced that their top secret Mojave Desert "Skunk Works", home of Lockheed's stealth planes, was hacked.

For more than three years, Aleksey Yeremin logged on to their supercomputer from Moscow and nicked stealth plane technology secrets.

Yeremin, vice president of a software company that Lockheed actually employed, was also also e-mailed stealth plane secrets by the company

The potential loss makes MS source code look pathetic - nothing less than the US global monopoly on radar invisibility.

Yeremin was supposed to be collaborating on an ultra-high-speed, number- crunching computer program to accelerate design work.

Now, it turns out, he was working for the Russian military. Get more here.

http://seattle sabre ... You can forget your Swiss Army knife ... Colibri's All-Terrain lighter has all the bits for cutting, screwing and setting fire to life's annoying problems.

For more info contact 0116 234 4646Scorchio ... The Scaroni Tosto will do you perfectly ordinary toast - and will also roast the hell out of rolls and pannini, too

For more info contact www.desaster.comSpot the ex ... It has to be the perfect mobile - Ascom's Avena 233 has a built-in function which gives you a spoken warning when the call is from your mum-in-law, the ex, or anyone else you want to duck

For more info contact 0500 595 652

The pen you can't lego ... Architect Charles Debbas takes the work of Mr Biro a step further with this, the Ergo. The barrel-shaped design prevents you clenching and the Lego-like bit in the middle keeps your thumb in exactly the right position. So what if it looks like an aubergine from Sellafield?

For more info contact 0800 374 604
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Nov 4, 2000
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