Computers, Hackers, And Phreaks

Computers,

Hackers, And Phreaks

The Internet is a wondrous place. Practically
anything you could ever want is
available on the Net. It\'s like a big
city, it has the highly prestigious areas, and the
sex-ridden slums (Mitchell). It has the
upstanding citizens, and it has the criminals.

On the Net, crime is more abundant than
in a large city, though, mainly because of
the difficulties in tracking and prosecuting
offenders. Even from its beginnings, the

Internet has always been a battlefield
between phreaks and administrators.

The Internet hasn\'t always been a
public forum. In fact, the Internet has
been around for years. The Internet is
just a new fad (Larson). The Internet
originally began as DARPANET, a government-created
network, which was
designed for defense communications. The

Net structure is such that it could
survive a nuclear war (Mitchell). The
creation of the Net can not be blamed for the
existence of hackers though, hackers are
older than the Net itself, but the Net is the
largest \'hacker haven\' today (Spencer).

The growth of the Net since its creation
has been nothing less than astounding.

In the 25-plus years since its creation, the

Net now has over thirty million users
using four million sites world wide.

Estimates rate the growth of the Net anywhere
from ten to fifteen percent per
month (Spencer). The Internet was
first released to major universities in the

United States of America. Since then,
the universities have offered connections to
small business, service providers, and
even to the individual user. Sometimes these
connections cost a fortune, and sometimes
they can be obtained for free (Larson).

Although some of the original universities
have dropped off the Net for various
reasons, every major university in the

United States, and now, most others in the
world, have a connection to the Internet
(Quittner).

Although it isn\'t easy for an individual
to get a direct connection to the Net,
many private institutions are getting
direct access. This is mainly due to the fact
that in order to support the very high
speed of the Net, a fast computer is needed
and a fast connection. A fast computer
can cost in the thousands of dollars, at
least, and a quick connection can cost
hundreds dollars or more. Individuals can
still get on the Net through these private
institutions. The private institution
spoon-feeds the Net to the slower computers
over their delayed connection lines
(Jones). The Internet began very
high-class, due to the fact that only super
intelligent college students and professors
could access it. The discussions tended
to stay intellectual, with very little,
if any, disturbance (Larson). However,
relatively recent changes in the availability
of the Net have changed that
atmosphere. Now, almost anyone can access
the Internet. Internet access is offered
by every major online service (Himowitz).

The fact that the major online services
charge for their use keeps many people
away from them. Those people simply
turn to public dial-ups, which are free
connections offered by universities that are
available to the general public (Spencer).

Because accessing the Net is easier,
and a lot more people are doing it,
naturally the amount of information on
the Net is increasing at the same rate, if not
faster. In what is often referred to by

Net users as the Resource Explosion, the
amount of information circulating the

Internet has increased with the number of
users (Jones). Of all the other
factors contributing to the large percent of online
crimes, perhaps the most influential is
the design structure of the Internet. Experts
agree that the underlying structure with
no central hub, where each computer is
equally powerful, gives unchecked power
to the undeserving (Miller). The design
also makes controlling the frequency of
break-ins almost impossible as well. Both
politicians and so-called \'experts\' believe
the Internet as a whole will be regulated
in the next five years. Hackers disagree,
using the arguments that the Internet was
designed to be uncontrollable, that the
basic structure doesn\'t support regulation
(Banja). In a network run by its users,
which is designed to be impervious to
attack, not even the government has much
muscle there. In fact, the Internet is one
of the few places that the government
has little power. Because the Net is
international, any regulations forced
upon domestic computer users can be
circumvented by routing through an overseas
computer(Savage). The government
doesn\'t have the power to completely shut
down the Net. In order to do that, every
one of the millions of computers on the

Net must be disconnected. Even if only
two remain, the Net will continue to exist
(Miller).

The ease of adding something to the

Net is also a factor preventing the total
regulation of the Net. A new site can
be added to the Net in a matter of seconds,
and can be removed just as quickly. It
takes authorities considerable time to trace a
connection back to it\'s physical address,
and if it disappears, it makes tracking it all
that more difficult. (Johnson) Once a
resource becomes widespread,