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Fri Mar 15, 2019, 12:51 PM

 

Beto O'Rourke's secret membership in America's oldest hacking group

Reuters

One thing you didn’t know: While a teenager, O’Rourke acknowledged in an exclusive interview, he belonged to the oldest group of computer hackers in U.S. history.

The hugely influential Cult of the Dead Cow, jokingly named after an abandoned Texas slaughterhouse, is notorious for releasing tools that allowed ordinary people to hack computers running Microsoft’s Windows. It’s also known for inventing the word “hacktivism” to describe human-rights-driven security work.

Members of the group have protected O’Rourke’s secret for decades, reluctant to compromise his political viability. Now, in a series of interviews, CDC members have acknowledged O’Rourke as one of their own. In all, more than a dozen members of the group agreed to be named for the first time in a book about the hacking group by this reporter that is scheduled to be published in June by Public Affairs. O’Rourke was interviewed early in his run for the Senate.

There is no indication that O’Rourke ever engaged in the edgiest sorts of hacking activity, such as breaking into computers or writing code that enabled others to do so. But his membership in the group could explain his approach to politics better than anything on his resume. His background in hacking circles has repeatedly informed his strategy as he explored and subverted established procedures in technology, the media and government.
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Reply Beto O'Rourke's secret membership in America's oldest hacking group (Original post)
brooklynite Friday OP
Demsrule86 Friday #1
blogslut Friday #2
LongtimeAZDem Friday #3
Demsrule86 Friday #4
crazytown Friday #6
LongtimeAZDem Friday #19
crazytown Friday #21
LongtimeAZDem Friday #25
crazytown Friday #26
LongtimeAZDem Friday #32
sfwriter Friday #35
LongtimeAZDem Friday #38
sfwriter Saturday #49
crazytown Friday #5
Demsrule86 Friday #10
sfwriter Friday #36
Demsrule86 Friday #39
dalton99a Friday #7
Hortensis Friday #8
Demsrule86 Friday #15
MH1 Friday #17
George II Friday #18
Hortensis Friday #20
Gothmog Friday #47
crazytown Friday #9
dalton99a Friday #12
Demsrule86 Friday #13
KayF Friday #27
dewsgirl Friday #11
Demsrule86 Friday #14
dewsgirl Friday #16
Demsrule86 Friday #23
dewsgirl Friday #24
Demsrule86 Friday #40
dewsgirl Friday #44
LongtimeAZDem Friday #22
MineralMan Friday #28
chillfactor Friday #29
LongtimeAZDem Friday #34
stonecutter357 Friday #30
Devil Child Friday #31
Hassler Friday #33
leftofcool Friday #37
Kablooie Friday #41
Gothmog Friday #46
radius777 Friday #42
applegrove Friday #43
Gothmog Friday #45
Awsi Dooger Friday #48
McCamy Taylor Saturday #50
thewhollytoast Saturday #51
coti Sunday #52

Response to brooklynite (Original post)

Fri Mar 15, 2019, 12:54 PM

1. That makes me like him more...as one who er might have played on the dark side and actually

 

might have had an FBI visit...it shows curiosity.
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Response to brooklynite (Original post)

Fri Mar 15, 2019, 12:58 PM

2. Sounds like a person who would adopt a workable strategy to fight our digital wars

 

I'm cool with it
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Response to brooklynite (Original post)

Fri Mar 15, 2019, 12:58 PM

3. This will be a tricky issue for him. It looks like he was a White Hat, but it may be hard to prove.

 

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Response to LongtimeAZDem (Reply #3)

Fri Mar 15, 2019, 01:01 PM

4. I don't think he has to prove anything...he has already acknowledged this.

 

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Response to Demsrule86 (Reply #4)

Fri Mar 15, 2019, 01:06 PM

6. This was before the internet.

 

There wasn’t really a whitehat / black hat back then. Hacking meant writing small smart programs.
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Response to crazytown (Reply #6)

Fri Mar 15, 2019, 02:32 PM

19. We didn't call them that, but yeah, there was. And, I dcompletely disagree with your definition.

 

Hacking has always meant unauthorized access; the intent didn't have to be sinister, but it was all about defeating security. Before the internet, it was mainframes.
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Response to LongtimeAZDem (Reply #19)

Fri Mar 15, 2019, 02:36 PM

21. cf The Difference Between a Programmer, a Hacker, and a Developer

 

https://danielmiessler.com/study/programmer_hacker_developer/

While this term originally referred to a clever or expert programmer, it is now more commonly used to refer to someone who can gain unauthorized access to other computers.

https://techterms.com/definition/hacker

cf Hacking has always meant unauthorized access;
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Response to crazytown (Reply #21)

Fri Mar 15, 2019, 03:43 PM

25. I don't care how they define it now; I know how we used the term 40 years ago.

 

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Response to LongtimeAZDem (Reply #25)

Fri Mar 15, 2019, 03:45 PM

26. OK

 

I’ll take your word on it
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Response to crazytown (Reply #26)

Fri Mar 15, 2019, 04:16 PM

32. The big test for us in '78 was breaking into Phoenix Honeywell to play Super Star Trek, which had

 

over 30 commands including "Attempt Corbomite Maneuver" (the Klingons never fell for it). Hacking was considered an offense meriting expulsion, but we were teenagers.

The term goes at least back to the early '60s, when phone systems were the most vulnerable targets:

"Many telephone services have been curtailed because of so-called hackers, according to Professor Carleton Tucker, administrator of the Institute telephone system. [...] The students have accomplished such things as tying up all the tie-lines between Harvard and MIT, or making long-distance calls by charging them to a local radar installation. One method involved connecting the PDP-1 computer to the phone system to search the lines until a dial tone, indicating an outside line, was found."

"In addition to being an interesting bit of phone phreak history, this is the first published use of the word "hacker" (used in its modern sense) that I'm aware of."

https://blog.historyofphonephreaking.org/2013/09/document-of-the-week-telephone-hackers-active.html


Over time, as computers became mainstream, everyone wanted to be thought of as a hacker, and the newer use evolved, to the point where nowadays everyone calls purportedly clever ideas "hacks".
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Response to LongtimeAZDem (Reply #19)

Fri Mar 15, 2019, 04:45 PM

35. Hacker is a positive term. It started at MIT

 

It was only vilified in the 1980s. Steven Levy wrote the best history of the term through that period.
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Response to sfwriter (Reply #35)

Fri Mar 15, 2019, 04:54 PM

38. I'm done arguing; from 1963:

 

The first known mention of computer hacking occurred in a 1963 issue of The Tech.

http://tech.mit.edu/V83/PDF/V83-N24.pdf

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Response to LongtimeAZDem (Reply #38)

Sat Mar 16, 2019, 12:21 AM

49. That is the first mention of hackers in a black hat context, but it is an administration take.

 

The MIT administration had every reason to dislike the hackers by 1963, but they owed them a lot as well. Hack and hacker predate that story by 8 years. By that time, the term had been popularized by Peter Samson, Alan Kotok, Jack Dennis, and Bob Saunders with the Tech Model Railroad Club starting around 1955. Their layout is massive and they wired all kinds of things into it over the years, including industrial automation and a control panel from the Apollo guidance computer. These innovative solutions became known as hacks.

When this core and others became interested in the schools IBM 704, the ingrained culture of "hacking" moved with them. But alas, the lads were denied meaningful 704 access. When Lincoln Laboratories loaned MIT a TX-0, the hackers took to hanging out late at night to use the slots of students who failed to show up. They built out the TX-0, including a phone connection which brought them into phone phreaking.

By now, they had an ethos that could only be born in an academic institution where consequences were scant. Typically, this included: We're here to make new knowledge. This must be done atop existing knowledge. Therefore, all knowledge must be free. Anything that prevents the acquisition of knowledge is bad.

An ethos that works one way within the institution is different outside it. Again, Steven Levy is your gold standard, and the evolution of hacker is an interesting story reflecting multiple cultures.

This article is pretty good:

https://www.newyorker.com/tech/annals-of-technology/a-short-history-of-hack
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Response to brooklynite (Original post)

Fri Mar 15, 2019, 01:04 PM

5. Beto might have won if this was public in 2018

 

The Cult of the Dead Cow was legendary - the smartest guys online (before there was an online). Beto ran a cyberpunk BBS. Major cred.
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Response to crazytown (Reply #5)

Fri Mar 15, 2019, 01:19 PM

10. I am very impressed. As anyone who participated in pre-internet hacking can tell you, it was very

 

smart folks doing it.
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Response to Demsrule86 (Reply #10)

Fri Mar 15, 2019, 04:48 PM

36. I'm so old I did some phone phreaking.

 

I built and sold a red box in those bygone days.
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Response to sfwriter (Reply #36)

Fri Mar 15, 2019, 05:00 PM

39. That was not easy stuff...we used to use the phones as we had no money to pay for service.

 

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Response to brooklynite (Original post)

Fri Mar 15, 2019, 01:07 PM

7. So, he doesn't need remedial instruction about computers

 



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Response to brooklynite (Original post)

Fri Mar 15, 2019, 01:10 PM

8. Although I like computer savvy, overall this article is a HIT JOB.

 

Stated down in the article is this re-copied for emphasis:

"There is no indication that O’Rourke ever engaged in the edgiest sorts of hacking activity, such as breaking into computers or writing code that enabled others to do so."

This article is NOT investigative journalism but merely discussing what a new BOOK is saying, heavily weighed with negativisms chosen by the author and innuendo created by the author. After the quote above, comes this for instance: "An ex-hacker running for national office would have been unimaginable just a few years ago."

So far, it still is.

Btw, the part of his history that the article brushes off as "software entrepreneur" is a successful IT company he started in the late 1990s, Stanton Street Technology Group, which is still going today, 20 years later.

Well, whoever the people behind this, they must be taking Beto's candidacy seriously.

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Response to Hortensis (Reply #8)

Fri Mar 15, 2019, 01:25 PM

15. I read the article too and it is a hit piece...but I think it will backfire.

 

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Response to Hortensis (Reply #8)

Fri Mar 15, 2019, 02:19 PM

17. Yes, I sort of think it's pointing out Beto's "wild" youth. Including minor law-breaking ...

 

(emphasis added)

O’Rourke didn’t say what techniques he used. Like thousands of others, though, he said he pilfered long-distance service “so I wouldn’t run up the phone bill.”

Under Texas law, stealing long-distance service worth less than $1,500 is a misdemeanor, punishable by a fine. More than that is a felony, and could result in jail time. It is unclear whether O’Rourke topped that threshold. In any event, the state bars prosecution of the offense for those under 17, as O’Rourke was for most of his active time in the group, and the statute of limitations is five years. Two Cult of the Dead Cow contemporaries in Texas who were caught misusing calling cards as minors got off with warnings.


So he can't be prosecuted but it is an admission of illegal activity as a minor. At least he isn't saying "but I didn't inhale".

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Response to Hortensis (Reply #8)

Fri Mar 15, 2019, 02:25 PM

18. And this:

 

"...he explored and subverted established procedures..."
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Response to George II (Reply #18)

Fri Mar 15, 2019, 02:32 PM

20. Yes, definitely noticed that stab at the heart.

 

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Response to Hortensis (Reply #8)

Fri Mar 15, 2019, 06:36 PM

47. Read the Washington Post version and you will like Beto even more

 

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2019/03/15/beto-orourkes-hacking-universe-explained/?utm_term=.0b9e2d0b9d53
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Response to brooklynite (Original post)

Fri Mar 15, 2019, 01:16 PM

9. Beto sponsored the only girl admitted to the CDC

 

Carrie Campbell, 16 years old, living in California.


O’Rourke befriended a 16-year-old California girl who was a regular on TacoLand, and he put her up for membership in the CDC. With Wheeler’s approval, she got in, making the CDC one of a very few hacker groups of the time that weren’t all-male.

“I joined happily, honored, and proceeded to write crappy, horrific, 16-year-old bloody t-files,” Carrie Campbell wrote to friends in the group 20 years later. “I loved the community of smart people (and their girlfriends) to converse with and bounce ideas off of. The acceptance of my female gender is extremely rare in the hacker scene and I appreciate it…Somehow I ended up purely by accident as the only girl in the world’s most notorious hacker group.”


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Response to crazytown (Reply #9)

Fri Mar 15, 2019, 01:20 PM

12. +1

 

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Undecided

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Response to crazytown (Reply #9)

Fri Mar 15, 2019, 01:20 PM

13. That is an adorable picture by the way.

 

It's like AOC dancing...makes me like him more.
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Response to crazytown (Reply #9)

Fri Mar 15, 2019, 03:50 PM

27. i was picturing this

 

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Bernie Sanders

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Response to brooklynite (Original post)

Fri Mar 15, 2019, 01:20 PM

11. I feel a jury duty coming.

 

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Undecided

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Response to dewsgirl (Reply #11)

Fri Mar 15, 2019, 01:22 PM

14. Why is that?

 

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Response to Demsrule86 (Reply #14)

Fri Mar 15, 2019, 01:26 PM

16. If this thread continues, I think someone will think he is being picked on. Idk usually

 

they are Bernie related. I probably shouldn't have mentioned it. I hope I didn't break any rules.
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Response to dewsgirl (Reply #16)

Fri Mar 15, 2019, 03:24 PM

23. I don't think you did.

 

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Response to Demsrule86 (Reply #23)

Fri Mar 15, 2019, 03:35 PM

24. Thank you, I don't know if we are allowed to bring

 

Jury duty up.
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Response to dewsgirl (Reply #24)

Fri Mar 15, 2019, 05:02 PM

40. I don't know either.

 

But in my opinion (which counts for nothing) you were not interfering with anything.
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Response to Demsrule86 (Reply #40)

Fri Mar 15, 2019, 06:24 PM

44. Thank you, that's very kind of you,

 

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Response to dewsgirl (Reply #11)

Fri Mar 15, 2019, 02:36 PM

22. I hope not; it seems like a valid subject for discussion. I personally think it's cool,

 

but it may not play as well in Peoria.
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Response to brooklynite (Original post)

Fri Mar 15, 2019, 04:00 PM

28. Well, back in the 60s, I was a bit of a phone hacker.

 

I had a tape loop of the sound of a quarter being dropped in a pay phone. It was very expensive for me, a college freshman to call my old girlfriend, but my little tape loop on a portable tape recorder could insert as many quarters as needed.

Back then, the operator listened to the sounds to count up how much money had been inserted into the pay phone. A simple system, indeed, that lent itself to hooligans like my 18 year old self to exploit.

I was a bad boy, but smart enough not to use the pay phone on my dorm floor with that tape loop.

Later, I built my own blue box, which made things even simpler.
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Response to brooklynite (Original post)

Fri Mar 15, 2019, 04:04 PM

29. i used to really enjoy reading your posts....

 

but I will stop now since you are consistency trying to beat Beto up.
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Response to chillfactor (Reply #29)

Fri Mar 15, 2019, 04:19 PM

34. That's pretty sad. It's a factual report of O'Rourke's association.

 

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Response to brooklynite (Original post)

Fri Mar 15, 2019, 04:08 PM

30. lol fail !

 

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Response to brooklynite (Original post)

Fri Mar 15, 2019, 04:13 PM

31. Thanks for sharing brooklynite, this bolsters my positive regard for O'Rourke

 

A past "hacktivist" president is something I'm cool with!

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Response to brooklynite (Original post)

Fri Mar 15, 2019, 04:18 PM

33. Anyone trying to win Undecideds over might try to make the

 

Case for your preferred candidate, rather to than take aim at other Dems. The Drumpfster Fire is the enemy.
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Response to brooklynite (Original post)

Fri Mar 15, 2019, 04:49 PM

37. Makes me like him more

 

If I were to vote in a presidential
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Beto O'Rourke

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Response to brooklynite (Original post)

Fri Mar 15, 2019, 06:11 PM

41. So he's someone that will be able to understand and judge cyberattack protections.

 

Sounds like a big plus to me since cyberattacks are one of our biggest threats.
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Response to Kablooie (Reply #41)

Fri Mar 15, 2019, 06:34 PM

46. There was no internet at this time

 

This was still the age of “bulletin-board system” or BBS
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Response to brooklynite (Original post)

Fri Mar 15, 2019, 06:19 PM

42. IOW, Beto was a normal Gen-Xer. /nt

 

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Response to brooklynite (Original post)


Response to brooklynite (Original post)

Fri Mar 15, 2019, 06:32 PM

45. Beto O'Rourke's hacking universe, explained

 

I like the Washington Post's explanation of this https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2019/03/15/beto-orourkes-hacking-universe-explained/?utm_term=.0b9e2d0b9d53

At the time that O’Rourke was engaged with the group, the Internet wasn’t the Internet we have today. This was the late 1980s, and it wasn’t until the early 1990s that Americans began to regularly use something like the Internet as we understand it now, connecting over networks to pages on the Web. O’Rourke wasn’t sitting in front of a computer and clicking a Web browser. In fact, he wasn’t clicking anything.

What O’Rourke was using was a “bulletin-board system,” or BBS, which is to the Web what going to a restaurant is to going to a food festival. A food festival that’s also on Seamless.

How much of this is familiar to you will depend on how old you are. You may, for example, remember modems, little boxes attached to your computer or (in later years) built into it, into which you’d plug a regular phone landline. (If you don’t know what a phone landline is, which seems plausible, it’s the physical cord that ran phone lines into houses before cellphones became ubiquitous.) The modem converted a signal that could run over a phone line into one that a computer could recognize.

In the early days of the Internet, people used modems to connect to Internet service providers (ISPs), which would connect them to the broader Internet. But in the BBS era, modems were used to connect directly to other computers that were running software that could host small communities of users. To connect, you would actually call a specific phone number with your computer and connect to the computer hosting the BBS.

This story actually makes me like Beto more.

BTW, I still remember using something called mag cards and floppy disks to revise documents.
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Response to brooklynite (Original post)

Fri Mar 15, 2019, 11:17 PM

48. Now I'm seeing articles about unfortunate misogynistic remarks from same time frame

 

I'm not going to link to them or mention them specifically but they don't read well and might cause Beto some problems. They apparently are from the same late '80s time frame as the hacking group. Beto was 18 years old or thereabouts.
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Response to brooklynite (Original post)

Sat Mar 16, 2019, 01:14 PM

50. Ooo! Beto is smart! How scarrrrrry!

 



If I were to vote in a presidential
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Beto O'Rourke

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Response to brooklynite (Original post)

Sat Mar 16, 2019, 02:12 PM

51. brooklynite are you DU's Mothman?

 

Whenever there is a train wreck you always seem to be there.

Toast
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Response to brooklynite (Original post)

Sun Mar 17, 2019, 01:27 PM

52. The article refers to a "Swamp Rat" in Texas, to whom Beto was apparently close

 

Could that be DU's own Swamp Rat?
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