Vulgar words in Underground (Page 1)
This book at a glance
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The idea for using these Oilz extracts came while researching Chapter 1, which reveals the tale of the WANK worm crisis in NASA.
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Next to the RTM worm, WANK is the most famous worm in the history of computer networks.
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With WANK, life imitated art, since the term computer 'worm' came from John Brunner's sci-fi novel, The Shockwave Rider, about a politically motivated worm.
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The WANK worm is also believed to be the first worm written by an Australian, or Australians.
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Your System Has Been Officically Wanked.
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Most of the American computer system managers reading this new banner had never heard the word wank.
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And that word, 'WANKED'.
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What did it mean when a system was 'wanked'?
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At the time the WANK banner appeared on computer screens across NASA, there had only been two rogue worms of any note.
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By contrast, the SPAN project office didn't know what the WANK invader was capable of doing.
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In this case, the WANK worm only attacked VMS computer systems.
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NASA was working in an information void when it came to WANK.
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Even as the WANK worm coursed through NASA, it was launching an aggressive attack on DOE's Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, near Chicago.
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They wanted him to analyse the WANK worm.
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It was easy to get lost in the bureaucracy of DEC, which employed more than 125000 people, posted a billion-dollar profit and declared revenues in excess of $12 billion in 1989.10 Such an enormous and prestigious company would not want to face a crisis such as the WANK worm, particularly in such a publicly visible organisation like NASA.
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John McMahon's analysis suggested there were three versions of the WANK worm.
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The WANK worm had invaded the corporation's own network.
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DEC was circumspect about discussing the matter publicly, but the Easynet version of the WANK worm was definitely distinct.
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When the WANK worm invaded a computer system, it had instructions to copy itself and send that copy out to other machines.
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Part of the worm, a subroutine, was named 'find fucked'.
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'Your system has officially been WANKED.'
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If its creator had wanted to, he could have programmed the WANK worm to obliterate NASA's files.
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The WANK worm had been instructed to perform several tasks which it didn't execute.
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Nonetheless, the fragmented and partly dysfunctional WANK worm was causing a major crisis inside several US government agencies.
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And what if the WANK worm was just a dry run for something more serious down the track?
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Even though the WANK worm did not seem to be intentionally evil, the SPAN team faced some tough times.
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The message had to be circumspect since no-one knew if the creator of the WANK worm was in fact on the network, watching, waiting.
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McMahon recalled that, some time before the WANK worm attack, a manager had tried to map the system.
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After the worm incident, various computer security experts would hypothesise that the WANK worm had in fact been written by more than one person.
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The first anti-WANK program did just that.
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It quietly sat on the SPAN computers all day long, posing as a NETW_ process, faking out any real version of the WANK worm which should come along.
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Oberman completed an anti-WANK program first and ran it by McMahon.
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McMahon worked up his own version of an anti-WANK program, based on Oberman's program, in preparation for releasing it to NASA.
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At the same time, Oberman revised his anti-WANK program for DOE.
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Your System Has Been Officically Wanked.
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Mutated worms will require modification of this code; however, this program should prevent the worm from running long enough to secure your system from the worms attacks.13 --- McMahon's version of an anti-WANK program was also ready to go by late Monday, but he would face delays getting it out to NASA.
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It was several days before NASA's anti-WANK program was officially released.
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DOE was not without its share of problems in launching the anti-WANK program and advisory across HEPNET.
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He pressed the key, sent out his final anti-WANK report and fled the building.
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Official estimates on the scope of the WANK worm attack were vague, but trade journals such as Network World and Computerworld quoted the space agency as suffering only a small number of successful worm invasions, perhaps 60 VMS-based computers.
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Figures were sketchy, but virtually everyone on the network--all 270000 computer accounts--had been affected by the worm, either because their part of the network had been pulled off-line or because their machines had been harassed by the WANK worm as it tried again and again to login from an infected machine.
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Also by the end of the crisis, NASA and DOE computer network managers had their choice of vaccines, antidotes and blood tests for the WANK worm.
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Regardless of the technical problems, the court challenges and the protesters, the whimsical weather, the natural disasters, and the WANK worm, NASA was still in control of the situation.
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Still, they managed to get copies of anti-WANK out, despite the limitations of the dated SPAN records and the paucity of good logs allowing them to retrace the worm's path.
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He doubted that someone who had gone to all that trouble of creating the WANK worm would let his baby be exterminated so quickly.
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Ron Tencati and Todd Butler had a copy of the new WANK worm ready for McMahon.
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The revised worm's penetration rate was much higher--more than four times greater than the version of WANK released in the first attack.
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'I ran your anti-WANK program, followed your instructions to the letter, and look what happened!'
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This worm didn't just kill the decoy, it also killed any other copy of the WANK worm.
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There were other disturbing improvements to the new version of the WANK worm.
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Finally, almost two weeks after the second onslaught, the WANK worm had been eradicated from SPAN.
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By McMahon's estimate, the WANK worm had incurred up to half a million dollars in costs.
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McMahon never found out who created the WANK worm.
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The WANK worm left a number of unanswered questions in its wake, a number of loose ends which still puzzle John McMahon.
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Did the use of the word 'WANK'--a most un-American word--mean the hacker wasn't American?
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Why had no-one, no political or other group, claimed responsibility for the WANK worm?
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The worm's creator had replaced the original process name, NETW_, with a new one, presumably to thwart the anti-WANK program.
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It was a complete mystery why the creator of the WANK worm, the hacker who launched an invasion into hundreds of NASA and DOE computers, should choose this weird word.
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It is not surprising, for example, that these officials should to this day be pronouncing the 'Oilz' version of the WANK worm as 'oil zee'.
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Yet, NASA and the US Department of Energy were half a world away from finding the creator of the WANK worm.
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The DST wanted to make it clear that the infamous WANK worm attack on the world's most prestigious space agency did not originate in France.
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Tencati was sure he could show the WANK worm attack on NASA originated in France.
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When he developed a timeline of attacks, he found that the GEMPAK machine showed X.25 network connection, via another system, from a French computer around the same time as the WANK worm attack.
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But these remnants of the WANK worm were not dated 16 October or any time immediately around then.
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Yes they told him, you might be able to point to a French system as ground zero for the attack, but our investigations reveal incoming X.25 connections from elsewhere which coincided with the timing of the development of the WANK worm.
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The French had satisfied themselves that it wasn't a French hacker who had created the WANK worm.
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Law enforcement and computer security people in the US and Australia had ideas about just who had created the WANK worm.
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Like many Australian hackers, the creator of the WANK worm had emerged from the shadows of the computer underground, stood momentarily in hazy silhouette, and then disappeared again.
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The Australian computer underground in the late 1980s was an environment which spawned and shaped the author of the WANK worm.
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In 1988, the year before the WANK worm attack on NASA, Australia was on an upswing.
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It was a place in which the creator of the WANK worm could sculpt and hone his creative computer skills.
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All he could think was, Shit!
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Par really liked Tammi, but he couldn't get the ugly phrase 'white trash' out of his thoughts.
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Par sat in the seat next to Chris, quietly freaking out.
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'Cause, I mean, you're so fucking stupid, it's not even funny.
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I mean, if you had to send my shit to Apple Computers [for analysis], you must be so stupid, it's pitiful.
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Subject: DAMN !!!
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From: The Parmaster Date: Sat Jan 13 08:40:17 1990 Shit, i got drunk last night and went onto that Philippine system... Stupid Admin comes on and asks who i am ... Next thing i know, i'm booted off and both accounts on the system are gone.
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Not only this .. but the whole fucking Philippine Net isn't accepting collect calls anymore.
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- Par Subject: gawd From: The Parmaster Date: Sat Jan 13 09:07:06 1990 Those SS boys and NSA boys think i'm a COMRADE .. hehehe i'm just glad i'm still fucking free.
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And that's BAD fucking news for us.
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THE ONLY CONNECTION IS DISCONNECTION ... Oh well, maybe i'll take a few of the buggers with me when they come for me.
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He was a fat shit before he died anyway.
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To everyone who's been a good friend of mine and help me cover up the fact that i don't know a fucking thing--i thank u.
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- Par Subject: Par From: Erik Bloodaxe Date: Tue Jan 23 23:21:39 1990 Shit man, don't drink and think about things like that.
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Dead people can't get laid, but people in federal prisons DO get conjugal visits!!!
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I can see you are really getting worried, so just fucking call ... - Erik Subject: Hah From: The Parmaster Date: Thu Jan 25 18:58:00 1990 Just keep in mind they see everything you do.
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- Par Subject: Well shit.
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Eddie was a good friend, smartest damn UNIX box around ... And he called today to tell me goodbye.
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Now i know i'm fucked.
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Corrupt, the toughest, baddest guy in MOD, the black kid from the roughest part of New York, the hacker who gave shit to everyone because he could, apologised to Par.
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Told him none too nicely that he wanted to 'get the fuck outta here'.
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He had been on the run for more than two years from the frigging Secret Service, for Christ's sake.
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'Piece of shit machine.
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I did all this editing and the damn thing didn't save the changes,' Electron growled at the Commodore Amiga, with its 512 k of memory, sitting on the desk in his bedroom.
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