The Hacker Crackdown: Law and Disorder on the Electronic Frontier

The Hacker Crackdown: Law and Disorder on the Electronic Frontier

by Bruce Sterling
     
 

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A journalist investigates the past, present, and future of computer crimes, as he attends a hacker convention, documents the extent of the computer crimes, and presents intriguing facts about hackers and their misdoings.

Overview

A journalist investigates the past, present, and future of computer crimes, as he attends a hacker convention, documents the extent of the computer crimes, and presents intriguing facts about hackers and their misdoings.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Cyberpunk novelist Sterling (Involution Ocean) has produced by far the most stylish report from the computer outlaw culture since Steven Levy's Hackers. In jazzy New Journalism proE;e, sounding like Tom Wolfe reporting on a gunfight at the Cybernetic Corral, Sterling makes readers feel at home with the hackers, marshals, rebels and bureaucrats of the electronic frontier. He opens with a social history of the telephone in order to explain how the Jan. 15, 1990, crash of AT&T's long-distance switching system led to a crackdown on high-tech outlaws suspected of using their knowledge of eyberspace to invade the phone company's and other corporations' supposedly secure networks. After explaining the nature of eyberspace forms like electronic bulletin boards in detail, Sterling makes the hackers-who live in the ether between terminals under noms de nets such as VaxCat-as vivid as Wyatt Earp and Doe Holliday. His book goes a long way towards explaining the emerging digital world and its ethos. (Oct.)
Library Journal
This well-written history of ``cyberspace'' and computer hackers begins with the failure of AT&T's long-distance telephone switching system in January 1990 (the subject of Leonard Lee's The Day the Phones Stopped , LJ 7/91). Subsequently, a number of hackers were accused of being responsible, although AT&T formally acknowledged otherwise. In detailing various formal efforts to prosecute the ``phone phreaks'' and hackers, cyberpunk sf author Sterling ( Islands in the Net , LJ 6/15/88) avoids attributing the near-mystical genius qualities that too many authors have bestowed upon the computer and telephone ``outlaws.'' Instead, he realistically describes their biases and philosophical shortcomings. Sterling's concern for the Steve Jackson Games prosecution, which occurred erroneously in conjunction with several legitimate raids in Austin, leads him to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and he concludes with a well-balanced look at this new group of civil libertarians. Written with humor and intelligence, this book is highly recommended. See also Katie Hafner and John Markoff's Cyperpunk , LJ 6/1/91.--Ed.-- Hilary D. Burton, Lawrence Livermore National Lab, Livermore, Cal.
Booknews
Father of "cyberpunk" science fiction and techno-journalist, Sterling writes in his popular style for this nonfiction book that looks at computer hacking from both sides of the law. He interviews outlaw hackers and phone phreaks, law enforcement personnel, and civil libertarians, and presents a look at the people involved in the world of cyberspace and the politics of the new technological world. No references. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
John Mort
Sterling collaborated with William Gibson on "The Difference Engine" (BKL D 1 90), about what might have resulted had Charles Babbage's 1842 prototype of the computer succeeded. That novel seems to have impelled Sterling toward the present effort, a feisty survey of the dilemmas electronic technologies present for software firms, law enforcement agencies, hackers, and civil libertarians. He begins with a colorful portrait of Alexander Graham Bell and the Bell System, since Bell's divestiture in 1982 heralded much of the contemporary confusion, and it was with the telephone that cyberspace, that place somewhere between speakers, became "real." He discusses the Computer Fraud and Abuse and the Electronic Communications and Privacy acts of 1986. But his attentions center on the AT&T long-distance crash of 1990 and subsequent federal raids on hackers such as NuPrometheus, which once stole a jealousy guarded piece of Apple software, and Knight Lightning, actually tried for software piracy. Nineteen ninety was a year of raids, arrests, and trials, the upshot of which is that a host of groups have dug in on the battle for the free flow of electronic information. At the same time, electronic crimes are likely to become more sophisticated and international. Sterling relates all this with an insider's grasp of detail, and with irreverent humor. Offbeat and brilliant.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780553563702
Publisher:
Random House Publishing Group
Publication date:
11/28/1993
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
336
Sales rank:
898,158
Product dimensions:
4.17(w) x 6.87(h) x 0.85(d)

Meet the Author

Bruce Sterling (1954) is an American science fiction author, journalist, and futurist. He is considered one of the founders of the cyberpunk movement along with William Gibson, John Shirley, and others. He is also included in the cyberpunk anthology Mirrorshades. Some of his most famous works of fiction include Swarm, Distraction, and Heavy Weather. Since 2003 he has blogged for Wired.

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