The cuckoo's egg : tracking a spy through the maze of by Hess, Markus; Stoll, Clifford; Stoll, Clifford

By Hess, Markus; Stoll, Clifford; Stoll, Clifford

The account of Stoll stalking a methodical "hacker" who used to be prowling the nation's machine networks to realize unauthorized entry to American files.

summary: The account of Stoll stalking a methodical "hacker" who used to be prowling the nation's desktop networks to realize unauthorized entry to American documents

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Extra info for The cuckoo's egg : tracking a spy through the maze of computer espionage

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As an open lab, our computers could be networked anywhere, and we supported scientists from around the world. When problems developed in the middle of the night, I just dialed the LBL computer from my home—no need to bicycle into work when a phone call might solve it. But there I was, bicycling up to work, wondering if some hacker was in our system. This just might explain some of my accounting problems. If some outsider had picked the locks on our Unix operating system and acquired super-user privileges, he’d have the power to selectively erase the accounting records.

But what about someone from the outside—a hacker? The word hacker has two very different meanings. The people I knew who called themselves hackers were software wizards who managed to creatively program their way out of tight corners. They knew all the nooks and crannies of the operating system. Not dull software engineers who put in forty hours a week, but creative programmers who can’t leave the computer until the machine’s satisfied. A hacker identifies with the computer, knowing it like a friend.

For a year, these programs had run without a glitch, but weren’t quite perfect this week. The obvious suspect was round-off error. Probably each accounting entry was correct, but when added together, tenths of a penny differences built up until an error of 75 cents accumulated. I ought to be able to prove this either by analyzing how the programs worked, or by testing them with different data. Rather than trying to understand the code for each program, I wrote a short program to verify the data files.

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