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The Hacker Crackdown: Law and Disorder on the Electronic Frontier.

Security professionals interested in learning how the hacker crackdown of 1990 occurred will find the answer in Bruce Sterling's new book. The purpose of the book is to explore the worlds of law enforcement and the computer underground and the large, shadowy area where they overlap.

In the beginning of the book, Sterling describes Alexander Graham Bell's invention of the telephone and its evolution from what was described as an "electric toy" by its detractors to what we now know as a vital personal communications system.

The book addresses the impact of Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin, how they formed the group known as the Yippies, and conducted raids on the pay phone system in the 1960s. It also contains information on cellular phones and how their use has become a boon to the street drug trade. In addition, it analyzes how easy it is to penetrate and divert private branch exchanges (PBXs).

The author also examines a study showing that hackers of computer systems are mostly young, suburban, white males, while "phone phreaks" come from both sexes and many nationalities and age groups.

The 1990 crackdown was concerned with the computerized version of forbidden data. The crackdown was really about bulletin board systems. A bulletin board system is a computer that serves as an information and message passing center for users. Sterling devotes a full page and a half to naming different boards; the list is acknowledged to be incomplete, and the author notes that additions occur constantly.

Sterling mentions the actual names of several law enforcement people who became famous as part of the crackdown. Charitably, he has only used the pseudonyms of most of the hackers and phreaks because he thought that the parents and loved ones of those people suffered enough when the individuals were exposed. He does use the real names of hackers who were prosecuted and whose names were in the public record.

The Hacker Crackdown has an excellent index and denotes the extensive research conducted by the author. Security professionals will find this a great reference book and one that deserves to be part of their libraries.

Reviewer: Howard Keough, CPP, is a consultant in Rockville, Maryland, and a member of the ASIS Standing Committee on Computer Security.
COPYRIGHT 1993 American Society for Industrial Security
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1993 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Keough, Howard
Publication:Security Management
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Mar 1, 1993
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