(Yeah, I could have milked those links for four days worth of posts, but that’s a chump move and it looks like Monday could be the start of a wholly different theme week. Maybe. You know, if I feel like it.)
A story as awesome as it sounds. A tiny little chip inside many modern Macs is secured with a secret backdoor password: SpecialisRevelio (a spell from the Harry Potter books that reveals hidden charms). Read the full story here.
Note: Not as devastating as it sounds, as the actual hack would take a lot of work, a lot of luck, and physical access to the machine for a length of time. It’s far easier to phish your way to fame and fortune.
Next up in comp-sec week: a flashback to 1991. Steve Jackson Games, publishers of GURPS, produced GURPS Cyberpunk. The Secret Service raided their offices and confiscated their computers, including the entire manuscript for the science-fictional RPG supplement. The legend, based on a Secret Service agent’s declaration that the stuff in the game manual was real, was that Steve Jackson Games was raided for making a fictional game.
In truth, the seizure was part of a nation-wide hacker crackdown, described in detail by Bruce Sterling in his truly fascinating book The Hacker Crackdown: Law and Disorder on the Electronic Frontier (legally available for free from any one of a number of sources, such as MIT). The book is great for tech geeks who want a look back at the days when the Internet was a new and unknown thing, and cracking was as much about the phone company as computers.
One of the most interesting stories from this period isn’t in the book, but intersects it at several points. Published in Wired, “Gang War in Cyberspace” (legally mirrored here) is about two groups of hackers waging electronic warfare, in computers and in phone systems. Much shorter than Sterling’s novel-length book, it’s nonetheless a fascinating look back at the early days of computer intrusion.