[ News ] [ Paper Feed ] [ Issues ] [ Authors ] [ Archives ] [ Contact ]

..[ Phrack Magazine ]..
.:: International scenes ::.

Issues: [ 1 ] [ 2 ] [ 3 ] [ 4 ] [ 5 ] [ 6 ] [ 7 ] [ 8 ] [ 9 ] [ 10 ] [ 11 ] [ 12 ] [ 13 ] [ 14 ] [ 15 ] [ 16 ] [ 17 ] [ 18 ] [ 19 ] [ 20 ] [ 21 ] [ 22 ] [ 23 ] [ 24 ] [ 25 ] [ 26 ] [ 27 ] [ 28 ] [ 29 ] [ 30 ] [ 31 ] [ 32 ] [ 33 ] [ 34 ] [ 35 ] [ 36 ] [ 37 ] [ 38 ] [ 39 ] [ 40 ] [ 41 ] [ 42 ] [ 43 ] [ 44 ] [ 45 ] [ 46 ] [ 47 ] [ 48 ] [ 49 ] [ 50 ] [ 51 ] [ 52 ] [ 53 ] [ 54 ] [ 55 ] [ 56 ] [ 57 ] [ 58 ] [ 59 ] [ 60 ] [ 61 ] [ 62 ] [ 63 ] [ 64 ] [ 65 ] [ 66 ] [ 67 ] [ 68 ] [ 69 ] [ 70 ]
Current issue : #69 | Release date : 2016-05-06 | Editor : The Phrack Staff
IntroductionThe Phrack Staff
Phrack Prophile on Solar DesignerThe Phrack Staff
Phrack World NewsThe Phrack Staff
LoopbackThe Phrack Staff
The Fall of Hacker GroupsStrauss
Revisiting Mac OS X Kernel RootkitsfG!
Adobe Shockwave - A case study on memory disclosureaaron portnoy
Modern Objective-C Exploitation Techniquesnemo
Self-patching Microsoft XML with misalignments and factorialsAlisa Esage
Internet Voting: A Requiem for the Dreamkerrnel
Attacking Ruby on Rails Applicationsjoernchen
Obituary for an Adobe Flash Player bughuku
OR'LYEH? The Shadow over Firefoxargp
How to hide a hook: A hypervisor for rootkitsuty & saman
International scenesvarious
Title : International scenes
Author : various
                              ==Phrack Inc.==

                Volume 0x0f, Issue 0x45, Phile #0x10 of 0x10

|=----------------------=[ International scenes ]=-----------------------=|
|=------------------------=[    By Various     ]=------------------------=|
|=------------------------=[ <various@nsa.gov> ]=------------------------=|

In this issue of your damn favorite magazine we bring you, not one, but
three international scene articles. The first is about the glorious
Spanish hacking scene. We had some very respected hackers review it and
we believe we have brought you a real gem.

For the second phile, rather than assembling information on a specific
locale in the world, we have approached some of the predominant
wargaming networks and have asked them to write up about their history
and scene. We're happy with what we have got, hopefully you are too. We
have all played wargames some time in our life, right? It's a hell of
a hard work to maintain a wargaming platform and some people are there
to do it for you, for the community.

Our third phile was a late addition due to absent minded Phrackstaff,
but a strong contribution none the less. Austin Texas seems to have a
strong lock picking scene, and jgor has thankfully written up this phile
to tell us all about it.

We would like to point out that the following articles are probably
outdated, as their original submissions date back to mid-2015, however
we believe they cover a fair deal of the, more or less, recent past and
thus are worth publishing. The Phrack Staff cannot, in any way,
guarantee the validity or the level of detail of the information presented
herein. Want to add/correct something? Mail us and we will try to
publish your side of the story as well.


-Phrack Staff

--[ Contents

  1 - A small historic guide of the first Spanish hackers
      The Spanish 90's Scene .................... Merce Molist & Jay Govind

  2 - Wargaming Scene Phile ..................... Steven, adc & weekend

  3 - The Austin Lockpicking Scene .............. jgor

|=[ 0x01 ]=---=[ A small historic guide of the first Spanish hackers
                 The Spanish 90's Scene - Merce Molist & Jay Govind ]=---=|

|=--=[ A short historical guide to the first Spanish hackers ]=---=|
|=---------------=[  The Spanish 90's Scene  ]=-------------------=|
|=---------------------=[ Merce Molist ]=-------------------------=|
|=--------------=[ English version: HorseRide ]=------------------=|
|=---------------------=[ hackstory.net ]=------------------------=|

= Index =

1. Old old school
2. X25 hackers
3. 29A: "I am the scene"
4. The community
5. Credits

1. Old old school

"Hi, I'm Mave
What I am going to tell you is of VITAL IMPORTANCE. YOUR FUTURE IS IN
****DANGER**** A LOT OF ****DANGER****
This morning, of January 31st 1996, at 9 in the morning, the judicial
police turned up at my home, more precisely the computer crime brigade,
and have ** ARRESTED ** me."

This is how started the message that Mave sent to his colleagues of the
Konspiradores Hacker Klub (KhK) when he had the "honour" of becoming the
first hacker arrested in Spain. He was accused of penetrating systems
belonging to the Carlos III university and of having used a stolen card in
Compuserve, which was pretty standard among hackers back then. He was
caught because of a mistake: he entered a chat channel under police
surveillance with an account under his real name.

KhK were 5 who were passionate about social engineering, meeting up in a
Madrid cafe. Along with a limited few groups and lone wolves, between the
late 80's and early 90's, they set down the bases of the Spanish hacking
community. Another member of KhK, Lester the Teacher, would later write
the first Spanish social engineering course, with those hacking pioneers
mentioned in its introduction:

"There was a time in which the Internet was only a place for survivors, a
time in which Knowledge was acquired through a lot of personal work.

A time in which respect was gained by sharing with those that didn't know,
things you had learnt with effort.

A time in which technology ceased to be magical because you learned to
read its innards and you could manage to understand it.

At that time a Hacker was one who found that no matter how much he learnt
about systems he always knew very little.

A Hacker was the one that managed to program that routine even smaller and
more beautiful.

A Hacker was he who respected the work of others that he recognized as

This is a simple and somewhat spartan page, as things were then, dedicated
to all those friends I had the fortune of finding online during that time,
and here are a few of them:

Ender Wiggins, Omaq, Akira, CenoIx, Agnus Young, D-Orb, Partyman, Quijote
AFL, Pink Pulsar, HorseRide, BlackMan/KhK, Wendigo/Khk, Mave/KhK, El
Enano, Bugman, Joker, Spanish Taste, Cain, Savage ...

As far as I can remember, I have never heard or read any of them call
themselves a hacker."(1)

The first Spanish hackers started appearing in the 70's, from the fields
of electronics and CB radio, when the word "hacker" had yet to reach
Spain. They would build their own calculators and personal computers and
worked in the few companies that used computers, such as the airline
Iberia, state investigation centres, banks and local branches of
northamerican companies. Among those few "computer nuts" Alberto Lozano
stands out as one of the few Spaniards that bought an Apple I. Some years
later he would help create the first Apple clones.

Alberto Lozano: "A Barcelona company built the Unitron, but couldn't sell
them because they contained two ROMs copyright Apple. They said to me:
Make it work without having the same ROM. I encrypted the contents of the
ROM and wrote a routine that decrypted it and placed a copy in RAM of that
Apple ROM when you turned on the Unitron. However, when you turned off the
machine, that would be lost. If a judge took the ROM and read it, it
wouldn't look in any way like the Apple one. In other words, I didn't
design a BIOS, I encrypted the same one. It was a hack: an interesting
solution to an important problem."

In 1978 Lozano created the first personal computer user club in Spain
Apple II, Commodore Pet and Radio Shack's TRS-80). The club reached 100
members and in 1985 Lozano made a BBS out of it.

Mave or Lester the Teacher were part of the generation following Lozano,
when there was sufficient critical mass to talk of a hacker community.
Many started out as crackers, among them the mythical Zaragoza duo of
Super Rata Software & AWD, active from 1983 to 1986 and addicted to de
protecting (cracking) games. They already had a rudimentary hacker ethic:
their work had to be copyable using the ZX-Spectrum copy program Copion by
Arguello, one that everyone had, was easy to copy and easy to find.
Alternatively the games would autocopy using a key combo.

However, AWD, as many others, left the cracking scene for the hacking one,
obtained a modem and changed his handle to Depeche Mode. He joined
HorseRide, Han Solo and Alf and together they created the first Spanish
hacking group, active between 1987 and 1989. It was called Glaucoma, like
the illness that attacks the eyes iris, a reference to their main hobby:
penetrating RedIRIS (Iris-net), the Spanish university network, from where
they would jump onto international X25 networks.

It is still remembered how Glaucoma managed to get the password that gave
access to the Telefonica X25 nodes (or PADS) in Spain: HorseRide and Han
Solo, who were in their early twenties, passed off as sales rep for an
English company selling shared mainframe time and wanted to buy X25
accounts. When Telefonica did a demo, they memorized the password as the
technician repeatedly entered it: ORTSAC, the reversed last name of the
engineer that had set them up (CASTRO).

2. X25 Hackers

Depeche Mode met The Phreaker through the Minitel chat called QSD, a hub
for European hackers. The Phreaker was Catalan and wrote comm programs for
modems, such as COMS4, which in 1988 were used worldwide. His are the blue
box for MX BB.BAS, the exploit for Linux imapd.c, NePED -one of the first
IDS, resulting from a bet after a few too many beers-, and QueSO
("cheese"), which remotely determined OS's and on which Nmap was based (2).

The Phreaker created QueSO in 1996, when under the alias of Savage he
helped the Portuguese group ToXyN in the first campaign of systematic
attacks in the history of hacktivism against the government of Indonesia
in favour of the independence of East Timor. The campaign consisted in
assaulting and defacing the largest possible amount of Indonesian
governmental and corporate systems. Savage contributed creating exploits
and other purpose created tools such as QueSo.

Savage: "We set up search scripts for all .id domains. For each one found,
we'd look for the machines hosting www ftp mail and news and tried to
attack all four. We set off as many automated attacks as we could. When
we'd get a positive hit, we'd finish it off manually. We owned thousands
of machines. When you have a working exploit and nobody knows the
vulnerability, it's really easy."

In the end, Indonesia recognized East Timor and QueSO became a weapon for
peace: the Internet Operating System Counter project used it to produce a
monthly report on the OS's of European computers connected to the
Internet, including Israel. The promoter of IOSC was a German who ran
QueSO from a machine in USA maintained by Lebanese, called beirut.leb.net
. There was a curious conflict when two Israeli security companies
reported that Israeli machines were being attacked from a Lebanese site.
The news media exaggerated the event and IOSC ended up shutting down.

Returning to 1989, The Phreaker and Depeche joined El Maestro and Petavax
to form the group Apostols. Later on they would be joined by Sir Lancelot
and Ender Wiggins, who in 1987 wrote the first book in Spanish about
hacking and phreaking: "Manual del novicio al hack/phreack" [The novices
manual to hack/phreak] (3). Ender offered the Apostols his ample knowledge
about phreaking in exchange for something he didn't know: why the American
blue-boxes didn't work in Spain.

Apostols: "We figured it out together, spending a ton of money calling
each other. It was thanks to some high voice-pitched ladies in the Girona
area who when answering the phone saying "digui" (hello), the tone was so
high that it was hitting 2,500Hz and cutting the link. Someone from
Telefonica told us and from there it dawned on us: Heck, it's Sokotel!
Sokotel was a type of link with in-band signalling. The US was signalling
in 2,600Hz, which we had tried thousands of times and it didn't work in

Phreaking was essential to reach BBS's and X25 networks, the natural field
of action. As the European and USA X25 networks were linked, hacking
sessions would generally extend beyond the ocean. The main port of entry
for USA networks was the MITRE system, from a provider for the US Army.
MITRE would gain fame from the book "The Cuckoo's Egg" by Stiff Stoll,
which recounts how hackers from CCC (Chaos Computer Club) used it to steal
corporate secrets from USA and sell them to the KGB:

The Phreaker: "MITRE was well connected to all the active networks back
then. There was an entry menu to access a phone directory service which
you could break out with the sequence CTRL-Y **Interrupt**. If you did it
right, the menu would abort and drop you in a shell from where you could
connect anywhere. It was known nearly worldwide and for years all the
hackers would go in through there."

"US X25 entry nodes/PADS were incorrectly configured. If you went in
through the back, you had a modem to connect wherever you wanted
worldwide. You only needed a list of nodes, which was easy to get: you'd
go into a US university, check who's connected and you'd get a list with
the identification number of the network entry port that he had used. If
you'd connect to that number when the user was no longer online, some
operators had it pretty badly configured and with little effort (AT OK)
you'd have the modem right there. Lists of accounts that everyone knew
were circulating, one of them RMS belonging to Richard Stallman, on an MIT
system, with no password."

Another source of entertainment for Spanish hackers was to run and
maintain their own BBS and visit those of their friends. Among the most
notorious were Public NME, God's House, Jurassic Park, MSX-Access,
VampireBBS or Waikiki Island. Ender Wiggins even had the gall to open a
hacker BBS (4) at the newspaper where he worked as the IT guy, taking
advantage of the foreign journalists phone line. As a side note, Wiggins
landed this job thanks to his expert knowledge of VMS, obtained hacking
VAXes. On his first day at work he came across a problem: he didn't know
how to turn it on! He had never physically accessed one.

3. 29A "I am the scene"

The Galician BBS Dark Node would become the most famous BBS, breeding
ground for 29A, the most internationally known Spanish group. Respected
virus authors worldwide were part of 29A during its 13 year run from 1995
to 2008: Mister Sandman (es), Anibal Lecter (es), AVV (es), Blade Runner
(es), Gordon Shumway (es), Griyo (es), Leugim San (es), Mr. White (es),
Tcp (es), The Slug (es), VirusBuster (es), Wintermute (es), Darkman, Jacky
Qwerty, Rajaat, Reptile, Super (es), Vecna, Mental Driller (es), SoPinky,
Z0mbie, Benny, Bumblebee (es), LethalMind, Lord Julus, Prizzy, Mandragore,
Ratter, roy g biv and Vallez (es).

Amongst their always original creations stood out the first virus for WinNT
/Win95/Win32s (Cabanas/Jacky Qwerty), and for 64 bits (Rugrat/roy g biv),
the first multiplatform (Esperanto/MrSandman), the first reverse executing
(Tupac Amaru/Wintermute), the first for Windows 2000 and Windows 98 (
appearing prior to the public launch of those OS's, the first that ran
under Linux and Windows (Winux/Benny), the first 32 bit polymorphic (
Marburg/GriYo), the first PHP trojan (Pirus/MaskBits as colaborator), the
first virus to infect PDA's (Dust/Ratter) the first for mobile phones (
Cabir/Vallez) or the first anti-ETA hacktivist virus (GriYo) and Tuareg (

Marburg, the first 32 bit polymorphic virus, saw the light in October of
1997 after a bitter discussion on alt.comp.virus between 29A members and
the antivirus industry. 29A was criticizing the industry for false
advertising, as their products could not detect 100% of virus, to which
the industry responded with taunts. Following this, GriYo created Marburg
which none of the existing antivirus could detect. Somehow Marburg ended
up on the free CD's that came with the magazines "PCGamer" and "PC Power
Play", and on the MGM/Wargames game CD. Marburg spread throughout the
world like wildfire.

As 29A was an international group, so were its meet-ups which would last
for days and days. They spent a month in Amsterdam, in Brno a few weeks. A
nice and well loved Belgium female follower, Gigabyte, went to the latter
one, who was so young that she travelled with her cheerful grandfather.

Bernardo Quintero: "I went to a 29A meetup in Madrid. One afternoon we
went to the funfair. While we were queueing up at one of the rides, one of
them was wearing a print of a virus hex-dump on his back, and the two who
were behind him, bored, started to translate it out loud on the run into
assembler and to interpret what it did as if they were reading a book... I
was amazed (any normal human being, including myself as someone
knowledgable in that field, needed a computer, a disassembler and to spend
a while to do something like that)."

The long lifespan of 29A had it witness in first person the decadence and
criminalization of the whole virus scene, a decadence which would also
apply to the whole hacking scenario.

Benny, in 29A ezine, 2002: "The whole scene and many things in it will no
longer be the way it was. Some programmers talk of "death", "decadence",
some talk of serious problems. (...) Script kiddies and their so called
"virus/worms" rule in cyberworld. (...) Antivirus earn money off people
whose stupidity is 99.99% responsible for vast virus outbreaks ("click
here" viruses). Where are those elite programmers, those elite groups?
Where are those hi-tech viruses that *yesterday* dominated the world?

4. The community

However, prior to the decadence, the latter half of the 90's had a
bubbling fertile and noisy community, proud heirs of the pioneers, meeting
in newgroups such as es.comp.hackers, mailing lists such as hacking or
hackindex, the IRC-Hispano chat group and ezines such as Raregazz,
NetSearch, 7a69ezine, Cyberhack, CatHack, JJF Hackers Team or Virtual Zone
Magazine. This breeding ground would give fruits in the form of tools that
are still useful today such as Halberd (rwxrwxrwx), OSSIM (Ulandron),
RKdetector (aT4r) or Unhide (Icehouse).

The appearance of scores of newbie hackers showing up at the end of the
90's on the Spanish Internet is due to Infovía, the low cost phone network
set up by Telefonica to access the Internet at local calling rates. This
multiplied the number of ISP's, who practically gave away access, and the
amount of internauts grew exponentially.

Heading this small horde of apprentices were two veteran rival groups:
!Hispahack from Catalonia and Saqueadores from Murcia. The former started
in 1992 and their high technical level was apparent through the tools
created and distributed by their members: SMBScanner (Flow), ICMPush (
Slayer), HTTPush (JFS) or Yersinia (Tomac and Slayer). Amongst their
multiple feats, hacking forum.phrack.org with a PHP exploit in 2000.

Unfortunately !Hispahack will not be remembered so much for their high
level but for a police raid transformed into media circus in 1998 which
ended up with one of its members, JFS, going on trial. His two seized
computers produced password files allegedly stolen off machines from all
over the world, from Thailand to Kiev, passing through Sweden, Canada,
Australia, Germany or the European Organization for Nuclear Research (
CERN). A total of 9,459 accounts. In the end he was absolved due to
inconsistencies in the proof presented.

As for Saqueadores, they stood out due to the ezine of same name, born in
1996, the longest running of the Spanish arena. Some of the notable hacks
of the time were narrated inside, such as when the editor of the ezine in
1997, Paseante, took control of Infovía (5), or when he obtained control
of another sister, also owned by Telefonica, that controlled important
networks of companies and institutions, amongst them the Iberia airline,
the parliamentary congress, or Caja Madrid (a bank).

Saqueadores is also credited with organizing the first hacking convention
in Spain: the UnderCon (1997-2004), a private event with 30 to 60
participants, depending on the edition, precursor of many conventions that
are currently held throughout the country.

Homs: "There were a lot of people interested in phreaking and hardware
hacking, hacking lifts, foosballs, phone booths, the hotel pbx, etc. At
night the people would gather according to their interests and you'd see
phreakers in booths with crocodile clips or metal plates, hackers who
would stay "working" in the hotel rooms, others scanning RF frequencies,
others just hanging out and partying (ending up getting call-girls and
talking about hacking with them, or loosing a chicken in a taxi...), etc."

From 2000 onwards, when the scene had reached its climax and little by
little the decadence was taking root, a new generation of hackers gained
strength, more transversal due to the groups they belonged to and more
collaborative from an international point of view. Amongst them Zhodiac
from !Hispahack stands out as author of EMET and multiple exploits (6). He
published an article in Phrack in 2001 about overflows in PA-RISC, which
opened the gates for others who would also publish there: Pluf and Ripe,
Ilo, Dreg and Shearer, Pancake and Blackngel.

They also created notable exploits, as Doing(7)(8) and RomanSoft(9)(10),
well known for having written, in 1997, the most downloaded text of the
Spanish underground "Tácticas de guerra en el IRC" (War tactics in IRC).
RomanSoft is today a member of Int3pids, one of the 20 best CTF teams in
the world, and of the group !dsR, who in 2004 managed the epic feat of
hacking the actual Chaos Computer Club (11) (12). Taking advantage of a 0-
day exploit in the CCC wiki, they obtained the 2003 congress participants
list, which they published.

Alejandro Ramos: "Hans Ulrich, from the CCC, after doing some forensics on
the systems announced the vulnerability, attributing it to himself. It
wasn't until then that RomanSoft reacted and explained that he had
discovered the exploit a few months before and spread it to a small group
of people from where it had filtered. Even the author of Twiki himself
confirmed that Román had notified him of the vulnerability a few days

As a final note, the numerous and always collaborative Spanish cracking
community deserves mention, very active on both sides of the ocean.
Spanish crackers from the 90's created a multitude of refuges and a
cathedral called "La Página de Karpoff" (Karpoff's page), where hundreds
of translations, tools and manuals in Spanish about cracking, reverse
engineering and computer programming were uploaded. This fountain of
knowledge watered today's fertile community of Spanish reversers, amongst
them Rubén Santamarta (reversemode), Joxean Koret (matalaz), Ero Carrera,
Hugo Teso, Mario Ballano or Sergi Àlvarez (trufae), the creator of

(1) http://www.netcomunity.com/lestertheteacher/index.htm
(2) https://nmap.org/nmap-fingerprinting-old.html
(3) http://hackstory.net/Manual_del_novicio_al_hacking
(4) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jXmAzeMoZNs
(5) http://set-ezine.org/ezines/set/txt/set11.zip
(6) http://zhodiac.hispahack.com/index.php?section=advisories
(7) http://examples.oreilly.com/networksa/tools/rpc-statd.c
(8) http://www.vfocus.net/hack/exploits/os/linux/suse/6.2/su-dtors.c
(9) http://examples.oreilly.com/networksa/tools/rs_iis.c
(10) http://archives.neohapsis.com/archives/fulldisclosure/2006-07/
(11) http://www.digitalsec.net/stuff/fun/CCC/camp-server-hack.htm
(12) http://www.digitalsec.net/stuff/fun/CCC/ccc_and_cccs.txt

5. Thanks to:

Dreg, Homs, Zhodiac, HorseRide, Han Solo, Depeche, Rampa, Savage,
Partyman, Lester, Mave, Darkraver, RomanSoft, X-Grimator, Karpoff,
Pepelux, JFS, Alberto Lozano, VirusBuster, rwxrwxrwx, aT4r, Crg, TaNiS,
MindTwist, uCaLu, MegadetH, Pancake, Crash, Metalslug, Angeloso, Nico,
dAb, Snickers, Rayita, Yandros, Icehouse, DrSlump, Deese, L, Altair,
thEpOpE, Belky, El-Brujo, ReYDeS, Bernardo Quintero, Carlos Sánchez
Almeida, Manoleet, Cyteck, Yoriell, Mónica Lameiro, Jay Govind, Rock
Neurotiko, Albert StateX and the rest of the Hackstory's crew. Also:
Jericho. Wau Holland.

|=[ 0x02 ]=---=[ Wargaming Scene Phile - Steven, adc & weekend ]=--------=|

--[ An Overview of the Wargaming Scene Through the Eyes of adc

In 2007, 3 dudes captured the first slot in the DEFCON CTF Qualifiers.
They didn't come from anywhere, and they werent actually planning on
playing, which is why they had to decline. The only explanation is
wargames. So if you eat your veggies and do loads and loads of wargames
you too will have brains, discipline, and hilarity.

And the wargame scene has bloomed! There are CTFs available just about
every month now, many of which can be played remotely. And persistent
shell-based wargames and web-vuln sites continue to run, year after year,
completely free.

Here's why I love wargames:
- The people attached to the keyboards on the other side
- Easy, piecemeal, bite-sized levels
- Decent learning curve on most games (easy to HARD)
- Easy to discipline yourself into a hacking machine
- Good ego-boost after trying to hack unsolved things gets you down
  (see: real world)
- Friendly help readily available
- Knowledge itself is the reward, pure skill!
- Some people cheat, and those that do don't get much of anything out of it
- Cheating is more fun when noone knows how you cheated
- Adrenaline rush (though it's faded for me and others with great time)

I became addicted to wargames.unix.se in 2003. Before the summer, I had
been trying a website my friend showed me, hackerslab, but didn't really
get anywhere after copy pasting my way to somewhere not very far. The
swedish site was started by norse and had lots of other people
participating and making games, a bunch of which are still not far from
wargames today.

At wargames.unix.se something special happened for me though, it all
just really clicked. Perhaps it was the web design or maybe the slogan:
"Unregulated knowledge is pornography". There was just tons of cool
information being discussed in the forums and on irc, things people
wondered about, highly technical, and those people were exploring them
full-on. I think it really was the community. A bunch of charming and
cool swedes were making fun, addictive wargames to play. The attitude
there was A+, the challenges were good, and something about the way
they were presented just made them very appealing. It could have been the
scoreboard, or just listening in on the irc and thinking damn, these are
some genuine hackers. And people were very polite and helpful. Some of
those early games can still be played on overthewire.org:

Leviathan - this was the first shell based game, where all newbies start
Behemoth - where I exploited my first buffer overflow
Utumno - A little harder
Maze - Harder again, easy remotes

There used to be a bunch of other games on wargames.unix.se, some that
taught network skills, and then some that did crypto from easy (balthasar)
to hard (halls of despair) to insane (halls of torment).

The four shell-based games above I would highly recommend to anyone just
starting out. They are just easy enough that it's welcoming to a beginner
but after leviathan the esoterism begins to seep through and make the
levels something else altogether. They're fun and captivating to this

The thing of it is, I used to actually get a huge adrenaline rush from
solving these back then. Like my heart would be pounding while I was
waiting for some shellcode to land, and when it did, it was always a
great smile. After spending an evening to a week or two miserably stuck,
taking copious notes, and then finally solving a level, I couldn't wait
to be working my way up to the next one. It was really damn addictive.
Oddly enough, real-world hacks rarely got close to the rush from wargames
for me, as the real world has lots of complications which my biology
begins to think about.... I'm weird.

Many wargamers also keep copious notes in order to capture the subtleties
of the different game levels. The notes directories usually begin only
with the credentials for each level, but as most wargamers find, the notes
directory tends to escalate. It contains for each level of each game: which
vulnerabilities have been identified, which exploits might work, which
exploits failed, and finally which exploits succeeded. It's also a good
idea to keep notes on different shellcodes, different techniques for
debugging, heap tricks, and so on. I would probably learn a ton from the
disclosure of other people's notes :-).

wargames.unix.se transformed into Digital Evolution dievo.org and was
around until '06 or so. Digital Evolution was quite awesome. It had
basically everything I use from the internet still today: wargames, a
chill music station (delphium radio!), an awesome picture gallery from the
userbase, an extensive archive of links to knowledge, irc!!!, and
leaderboards to compete about everything on the website.

In '06 or so at some point the community dispersed after the demands of
running the site became too great for the people running it and the site
leaders just kind of moved on after a lot of downtime.  runixd offered to
host the games and intruded.net came up. I helped restore and retest a
bunch of them. It seems like ages ago, but I remember administering the
games on user-mode-linux, then Xen (and finding tons of ways to kernel
panic), and finally Vserver. We stopped updating the games around '07,
and it turns out turns of privesc vulns were being introduced to the
kernel and libc in late '07 and '08, heh, so the games didn't need
too much maintenance for awhile. Till some hardware failed quite poorly in
early '11. Luckily, overthewire.org has taken everything back up in '12
and continues to host them

So tempting to namedrop some greetz here to all the nick, but archive.org
really says it best!.
So what's around today if you're looking to get yet-better at memory
corruption when CTFs are not around? I highly recommend two oldies, which
I consider transformative in my exploitation education. The first of
these is vortex on overthewire.org, the second is #io on smashthestack.org.

When I first played vortex, the first level showed me that I did not really
understand pointers as well as I thought I did. I recall andrewg telling
me to draw a stack diagaram. So I did, and finally the &s and *s made
sense when combined with my diagram and the assembly code. It was mind
bendingly difficult for something quite simple the first time through. And
other levels repeat the experience. Subtly exploitable bugs that at first
don't appear to be possible because of certain limitatio yns. The level of
difficulty does continue to grow until at some point you become somewhat

When showing up to play #io, the first time through, I got to 11 and was
utterly disappointed until then. And then something happens, the levels
become hard. Quite hard. I had been a wargame veteran at this point, so
#io was a gift! Today, the first 10 have been rewritten to all be fun.
Now up to about 30 levels, #io continues to grow with well-researched,
subtle vulnerabilities for exploitation. At least one level has a real
world, remotely exploitable vulnerability found by a player and crafted
into a challenge for your intellectual pleasure. Beat #vortex and #io and
you will be rather _good_ at exploiting unix memory corruption.

After that, go play them all. Play every wargame. They all contain
knowledge that will enhance your skills. Also play CTFs when you can and
if they're fun! If they're not as fun or getting stale, then hack the

- adc

old rant:
When I was younger I was aggressive and persistent, probably still so.
Wargames were the perfect outlet to mold my energy into some pretty useful
tricks. I remember coming and going back to wargames many times, the same
challenges continually kicking my ass. I started out as a google copy
pasta chef. I didn't know how to code very well, though I remember checking
out a copy of Turbo C once when I was 12, then a C++ book from the store
when I was 13, and being bored while attempting to learn something from it.
I still hate C++, I think that Bjarne Stroutsups overgrown haircut explains
it all.

I have always, always kept coming back to really play with the machine
though. I want to watch it tick and take it apart. I think I always had
the itch when peering into a screen.

I started out wargaming in 2003. From memory, there are some good ones I
remember from that year, there was web stuff like try2hack.nl,
hackthissite.org, and C stuff like hackerslab (a korean site),
pulltheplug.com (now overthewire.org), and wargames.unix.se (a swedish
site which later became dievo.org). I remember not really knowing my way
around a command shell after cheating on some of the hackerslab levels.
Then one day, a friendly hacker started talking to me through my bash
shell. I had no idea how he did it. Peering up, the difference of skill
level between us was laughable. I wanted to learn :-)

Wargaming in the military is running battle simulations. Wargaming for
computer security is also a simulation. The nice thing about computers is
that they enable very cheap simulations on very real systems. When
wargaming really started to take off in the early 2000s, internet
connections became cheaper as did servers, so it wasn't too much of a
hassle to host something. Though you had to remain careful where you
hosted in case you invited skilled company inside.

Sometimes the systems you're hacking are completely synthetic, which can
be quite tame at times. Sometimes the synthetic game is hackable to
reveal the real game, which is a lot more fun, and I always have more
fun when the real game comes out from the synthetic. For example, I recall
one roothack in 07 or so, eagerly awaiting Epic (RIP) to kick off a 5-way
king of the box game when felinemenace crew ended the game on the gateway
machine before the event had even started. Meanwhile, beist was on my team
had hacked another team's account, and we thought *we* were the ones being

Those two week lulls before classes would pick up again in high school,
and nothing felt better than procrastinating the binges of assigned
summer reading with some real intellectual stimulation of my own volition.
Landing some code.

Since 07, CTFs have just exploded. I am lucky to have played with the
loller skaterz dropping from rofl copters as well as RPISEC and pick up
teams here and there. One thing that always impressed me about the teams I
encountered was when they *hadnt* played persistent wargames before. You
can have a read of atlas' blog to see what kind of catching up they have
to do. Many CTF players have managed to compress an year's worth of
debugging exploits into a few months, it's impressive.

Here's what I love about wargames. One, it will expand your understanding
of programs and debugging like nothing else can. Many wargame levels will
be little 100-line programs that don't *appear* to have any security
bugs and they will kick your ass for awhile. Others will be obviously
exploitable, until you go and try and exploit them, and find all the
difficulties whether an XSS filter, a NUL byte in the wrong place, or the
compiler reordering stack variables...

Two, there's always a solution* once a challenge is up. Some brilliant
minds thought through and tested something special just for you very
thoroughly to make sure you'd have a good time. Real world code can
REALLY kick your ass and get your self esteem down. It's hard, you can't
always be smarter than the programmers that wrote it. But a wargame level
was made to be broken. It will help you pick up the momentum you need to
tackle the real world again.  *Some CTFs mess up the testing phase which
is disappointing for everyone.

Three, they come in baby steps. The way most persistent wargames and CTFs
are organized is through a potpourri of easy medium hard and random
challenges. Each challenge itself is usually quite manageable and
bite-sized. A well designed game makes it effortless to figure out which
pieces to solve first.  A common strategy among wargame players it to keep
a copious notes with the successes (and sometimes failures) of each level.
I personally logged most of my failed attempts, and always felt great
satisfaction revisiting them. The games provided excellent facilities for
conquering genuinely hard, unknown problems with a lot of research, gdb
(or whatever web stuff for web stuff), and head scratching. Was also
always a joy ;-) to grab a copy of someone's note directory and learn
little tricks.

Four, you will learn real skills. There are skills encoded in the levels of
the games out there that haven't been yet published in an article. I'm
fairly certain #io on smashthestack.org revealed linux ASLR bypasses quite
awhile before they were patched and semi-public. Though many wargames start
out quite easy the difficult ones are there. And it is the difficult ones
that will transform you from a noob into a conscious hacker.

Five, the people. Yes some people are ornery, and if you're vain then you
think I'm talking about you. Some people are trolls. And some people are
just so genuinely cool. Throughout my time in the computer security space,
I am persistently impressed and inspired by people. Both competitively and
creatively, I feel like I've always worked best in pairs or small groups
of people. It's always just a pleasure for me to work with others. And
people of very different backgrounds and goals come to sharpen their skills
on wargames, which means there will be fun.

I remember the first guy I learned to exploit a stack buffer overflow with,
we both had no clue, but we figured it out after a few days of gdbing. This
was on the wargames.unix.se website, which I am EXTREMELY nostalgic for. I
owe Sweden a lot of beers.

Throughout the different wargaming sites and CTFs you will find lots of
different attitudes, some very mysterious people, and some incredibly
ordinary. Back in 2003 when I found wargames.unix.se I knew nothing but
just had a compulsion to solve some levels. I was doing whatever it took
to get to the next one, but I often couldn't figure it out *on my own*.
On wargames.unix.se I found mentorship and just a super inviting attitude
to do the hard stuff. The standard of thinking hard was well-ingrained,
and more impressively, people were just really damn friendly and accepting.
And the reason that is impressive is because I asked *a lot* of dumb
questions. It also had a great scoreboard with green dots that I lived for,
plus the rankings.

I'm pretty sure that I can crash in pads around the world on the promise of
explaining a wargame level to someone.

Steven, I'll race you...


Wargames: overthewire.org, smashthestack.org, hackthissite.org, try2hack.nl
CTFs: blah blah blah

--[ OverTheWire

OverTheWire.org (OTW for short) is, as far as we are aware, the oldest
hacker wargame community on the internet. The goal of OTW is to learn
security principles and coding practices through a hands-on approach, and
have fun while doing it. The regular OTW community idles on IRC and is very
supportive of new users willing to learn. They answer technical questions
about the games, provide hints and often discuss all kinds of topics
surrounding computer security.

We currently host 11 online games and 3 downloadable images for games that
can be played offline. The topics covered in these games are typically
related to lowlevel security in linux userland (vortex, semtex, leviathan,
narnia, behemoth, utumno, maze, manpage), but we also cover commandline
scripting (bandit), networking (semtex), crypto (krypton), web (natas) and
some kernelland (monxla).

OverTheWire.org was originally called PullThePlug.com, and was created by
Brian Gemberling around 1999. It consisted of 4 physical machines connected
to a network in his basement, behind a cable modem with a single IP.
Through portforwarding, all these machines could be reached from the

More people joined in the following years and PullThePlug (PTP) grew out of
Brian's basement and into a dedicated hosting enviroment. Now being run by
a core management team and a lot of volunteers, the games existed on 4
physical machines and a bunch of vserver instances.

To avoid a conflict between the PTP games and Brian's business
(ptptech.com), the community moved from PullThePlug.com to PullThePlug.org.
After a dispute over the PullThePlug.org domain name, PullThePlug.org moved
again to OverTheWire.org around 2006.

At this point, most of the old games were gone and replaced by newer games.
Because of all the turbulence caused by moving domain names and problems
with hosting providers and DDoS attacks, development of new games stalled
out. It took a couple years before the server infrastructure got back on
it's tracks. By this time though, a lot of the crew had moved on to other

In 2010, OTW created its first custom wargame for the French Hackito Ergo
Sum (HES) conference and has been doing that annually ever since: HES2010
and abraxas (HES2011) can be downloaded as VM images, while monxla
(HES2012) can be downloaded as a livecd ISO. Kishi, a custom game for 2013,
will be shared by HES and NSC (No Such Conference, also French) and offered
as a download later on.

In 2012, it became apparent that games from intruded.net went offline and
were staying offline. We were asked to adopt these games and, with the help
of their former administrators, managed to resurrect them all 6 on the OTW
servers: leviathan, narnia, behemoth, utumno, maze and manpage. In addition
, 2 games for complete beginners were developed to lower the barrier for
newcomers. Bandit focuses on the very basics of systems security, and natas
covers serverside websecurity.

Because of relentless DDoS attacks on both the OverTheWire.org and
SmashTheStack.org IRC networks, it was decided in 2012 to link both of them
together into one bigger network, reuniting us with our long lost brothers
and sisters.

This is not the end of the story.

We will keep working on developing new games and maintaining the old ones,
for as long as we can. Several new games are already in development,
covering topics such as kernel exploitation, web-security and others.

Many great hackers started out playing, or at some point regularly visited
the PTP/OTW games.
It's an honor to be part of their lives in this way and it is our hope to
continue to provide this kind of hands-on experience to the next generation
of hackers.

Remember, kids: "Experience is what you get, when you don't get what
you want!"

This looks like a good place to thank some people: andrewg, arcanum, astera
,aton, bk, Brian Gemberling, deadbyte, dusty, gizmore, jduck, joernchen,
kripthor, l3thal, malvina, mercy, morla, mxn, nemo, rainer, samy, everyone
else of #social and probably a ton of people who slip my mind right now <3

Go forth, and be a force of the awesome!

|=[ 0x03 ]=---=[ The Austin Lockpicking Scene - jgor ]=---=|

|=----------------=[ The Austin Lockpicking Scene]=---------------=|
|=------------------------=[ by jgor  ]=--------------------------=|

The hobbyist lockpicking scene in the U.S. has become wildly organized in
the last decade. If you've been to a hacker conference in that time you've
likely heard the names TOOOL (The Open Organization Of Lockpickers) [0] or
Locksport International [1]. While TOOOL has been going strong in the
Netherlands for far longer, the U.S. branch didn't make an appearance until
the mid-2000's, and Locksport International popped up around the same time
in 2005 as a joint effort between U.S. and Canadian founders.

Enter Doug Farre. An early officer and now president of Locksport
International, Doug came to Austin in early 2006. After his principal put
the kibosh on attempts to start a lockpicking club at his high school in
Houston, and a short-lived group at UT Dallas, he founded the Longhorn
Lockpicking Club [2] at the University of Texas at Austin. This student
organization soon became the flagship chapter of Locksport International.
The club held general meetings on campus each month but core members found
themselves gravitating to the Spider House Cafe & Bar down the street for
weekly informal picking sessions. Not so coincientally, Spider House was
also the location for Austin 2600 [3] at the time.

Longhorn Lockpicking enjoyed great success; with meetings exceeding 50
people in attendance and over 150 registered members in a year it became
one of the largest hobbyist lockpicking groups in the U.S.. DEFCON 16 saw
no less than 5 Longhorn Lockpicking officers on staff in the lockpick
village, bringing with them an epic obstacle course competition involving
picking locks underwater. Doug gave one of the more popular talks at DEFCON
that year as well, "Identification Card Security: Past, Present, Future."
By DEFCON 17 Longhorn Lockpicking officer jgor (yours truly) won the
speedpicking championship, winning a trip to compete at the invitation-only
LockCon in the Netherlands. In the next few years Longhorn Lockpicking went
on to organize or help run lockpick villages and contribute games such as
"Locksport Wizard" and "24 Hours of Locks" to DEFCON, HOPE, and a number of
other hacker conferences.

In 2011 due to lack of volunteers for leadership the Longhorn Lockpicking
Club on campus took a hiatus, officially splintering off a separate group
dubbed L.I-Austin [4] with meetings continuing off-campus. Eventually the
name Longhorn Lockpicking was restored but the club remained unaffiliated
from the university, meeting regularly every other Saturday on the Spider
House patio. As of 2016 they're still going strong and looking forward to
their 10th anniversary in the fall.

In addition to Longhorn Lockpicking, the ATX Hackerspace [5] has held
lockpicking meetings on occasion and has hosted multiple lockpicking
workshops in conjunction with College of Lockpicking [6], an initiative by
Eric Michaud and Jamie Schwettmann which brought lockpicking workshops to
hackerspaces around the U.S.

If you're interested in getting involved in lockpicking check out the
organization websites mentioned above to find a chapter near you, or
resources to start your own chapter.

[0] TOOOL U.S.
[1] Locksport International
[2] Longhorn Lockpicking
[3] Austin 2600
[4] L.I Austin
[5] ATX Hackerspace
[6] College of Lockpicking

|=[ EOF ]=---------------------------------------------------------------=|
[ News ] [ Paper Feed ] [ Issues ] [ Authors ] [ Archives ] [ Contact ]
© Copyleft 1985-2021, Phrack Magazine.