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The making of a hacker · Article

The Making Of A Hacker
by Framstag of West Germany
June 2, 1989

Prologue For None VMS Users
DECnet is the network for DEC machines, in most cases you can say VAXes. DECnet allows you to do:
- e-mail
- file transfer
- remote login
- remote command
- remote job entry

PHONE is an interactive communication between users and is equal to TALK on UNIX or a "deluxe"-CHAT on VM/CMS.

BELWUE, the university network of the state Baden-Wuerttemberg in West Germany contains (besides other networks) a DECnet with about 400 VAXes. On every VAX there is standard-account called DECNET with pw:= DECNET, which is not reachable via remote login.

This account is provided for several DECnet-Utilities and as a pseudo-guest-account. The DECNET-account has very restricted privileges: You cannot edit a file or make another remote login.

The HELP-menu is equipped by the system and is similar to the MAN command on UNIX.

More information on DECnet can be found in "Looking Around In DECnet" by Deep Thought in this very issue of Phrack Inc.

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Here, at the University of Ulm, we have an incredibly ignorant computer center staff, with an even bigger lack of system-literature (besides the 80 kg of VAX/VMS-manuals). The active may search for information by himself, which is over the level of "run," "FORTRAN," or "logout."

My good luck that I have other accounts in the BELWUE-DECnet, where more information is offered for the users. I am a regular student in Ulm and all my accounts are completely legal and corresponding to the German laws. I don't call myself a "hacker," I feel more like a "user" ('s more a defining-problem).

In the HELP-menu in a host in Tuebingen I found the file and the corresponding explanation, which sends commands to the DECNET-Account of other VAXes and executes them there (remote command). The explanation in the HELP-menu was idiot-proof -- therefore for me, too :-)

With the command "$ mcr ncp show known nodes" you can obtain a list of all netwide active VAXes, as is generally known, and so I pinged all these VAXes to look for more information for a knowledge-thirsty user. With "help", "dir" and other similar commands I look around on those DECnet accounts, always watching for topics related to the BELWUE-network.

It's a pity, that 2/3 of all VAXes have locked the DECNET-Account for NETDCL.COM. Their system managers are probably afraid of unauthorized access, but I cannot imagine how there could be such an unauthorized access, because you cannot log on this account -- no chance for trojan horses, etc.

Some system managers called me back after I visited their VAX to chat with me about the network and asked me if they could help me in any way. One sysop from Stuttgart even sent me a version of NETDCL.COM for the ULTRIX operation system.

Then, after a month, the H O R R O R came over me in shape of a the following mail:

From: TUEBINGEN::SYSTEM 31-MAY-1989 15:31:11.38
Subj: don't make any crap, or you'll be kicked out!
From: ITTGPX::SYSTEM 29-MAY-1989 16:46
Subj: System-breaking-in 01-May-1989

To the system manager of the Computer TUEBINGEN, On May 1st 1989 we had a System-breaking-in in our DECNET-account, which started from your machine. By help of our accounting we ascertained your user FRAMSTAG to have emulated an interactive log-on on our backbone-node and on every machine of our VAX-cluster with the "trojan horse" NETDCL.COM.

Give us this user's name and address and dear up the occurrence completely. We point out that the user is punishable. In case of repetition we would be forced to take corresponding measures. We will check whether our system got injured. If not, this time we will disregard any measure.

Inform us via DECnet about your investigation results -- we are attainable by the nodenumber 1084::system Dipl.-Ing. Michael Hager

My system manager threatened me with the deleting of my account, if I would not immediately enlighten the affair. Gulp!

I was conscious about my innocence, but how to tell it to the others? I explained, step by step, everything to my system manager. He then understood after a while, but the criminal procedure still hovered over me...

so, I took quickly to my keyboard, to compose file of explanations and to send it to that angry system manager in Stuttgart (node 1084 is an institute there). But no way out: He had run out of disk quota and my explanation-mail sailed into the nirwana:

$ mail explanation

To: 1084::system
%MAIL-E, error sending to user SYSTEM at 1084
%MAIL-E-OPENOUT, error opening SYS$SYSROOT:[SYSMGR]MAIL$00040092594FD194.MAI;
as output

-RMS-E-CRE, ACP file create failed
-SYSTEM-F-EXDISKQUOTA, disk quota exceeded

Also the attempt of a connection with the PHONE-facilty failed: In his borderless hacker-paranoia, he cut off his PHONE... and nowhere is a list with the REAL-addresses of the virtual DECnet-addresses available (to prevent hacking).

Now I stood there with the brand "DANGEROUS HACKER!" and I had no chance to vindicate myself. I poured out my troubles to an acquaintance of mine, who is a sysop in the computer-center in Freiburg. He asked other sysops and managers thru the whole BELWUE-network until someone gave him a telephone number after a few days -- and that was the right one!

I phoned to this Hager and told him what I had done with his DECnet-account and also what NOT. I wanted to know which crime I had committed. He promptly cancelled all of his reproaches, but he did not excuse his defamous incriminations.

I entreated him to inform my system manager in Tuebingen that I have done nothing illegal and to stop him from erasing my account. This happens already to a fellow student of mine (in this case, Hager was also guilty). He promised me that he would officially cancel his reproaches.

After over a week this doesn't happen (I'm allowed to use my account further on). In return for it, I received a new mail from Hager on another account of mine:

From: 1084::HAGER 1-JUN-1989 12:51
To: 50180::STUD_11
Subj: System-breaking-in

On June 1st 1989 you have committed a system-breaking-in on at least one of our VAXes. We were able to register this occurrence. We would be forced to take further measure if you did not dear up the occurrence completely until June 6th. Of course the expenses involved would be imposed on you. Hence enlightenment must be in your own interest.

We are attainable via DECnet-mail with the address 1084::HAGER or via following address:
Institut fuer Technische Thermodynamik und Thermische Verfahrenstechnik Dipl.-Ing. M. Hager Tel.: 0711/685-6109
Dipl.-Ing. M. Mrzyglod Tel.: 0711/685-3398
Pfaffenwaldring 9/10-1
7000 Stuttgart-80 M. Hager
M. Mrzyglod

This was the reaction of my attempt: "$ PHONE 1084::SYSTEM". I have not answered to this mail. I AM SICK OF IT!

([email protected])

With Special Thanks For Translation Assistance To Schrulli B.
Posted By Gremelin Posted on October 3rd, 2009 · Updated on December 31st, 2010
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