School of Engineering and Applied Science
Department of Computer Science
CSci 110 -- Technology and Society
Prof. Michael B. Feldman, course instructor

Week 5: Can We Trust the Computer?


The Hacker Mentality & Computer Crime
Baase, chapt. 7, Spinello/Tavani, chapt. 5

Notes on Computer Crime

The "Hacker Manifesto" was written by Lloyd Blankenship a/k/a THE MENTOR
shortly after his arrest; but some sources say shortly before--- It is
believed to have been written after the arrest as Phrack has indicated this as well as the dark, dark tone that is portrayed inthe manifesto. It provides insight into the psychology of hacking and is considered an important artifact of hacker culture. It's
proper title is "The Conscience of the Hacker."

The text (U of Dayton Law School):

Source of the text from Phrack magazine:

An interview with The Mentor:

Learning Activities:

A. Discussion Area -- Group progress of survey

B. Discussion Area -- Full-class Computer Crime

1. Authorities have tapped into several electronic bulletin boards used by hackers and crackers. They have raided the sites of the systems operators of the bulletin boards and seized their computing equipment and disks. They have also on occasion raided certain contributors to the bulletin boards who they suspected of possible illegal activity and seized all of their equipment. In some cases there was evidence of illegal activity and in other cases there was none. Those who were raided rarely get their equipment, which is confiscated as "evidence," returned to them. The rationale of the law enforcement officers is that they hoped to "scare the kids" and they hoped to catch some notorious crackers. Discuss the pros and cons of this type of activity.

2. Do you think that a hacker should be able to access a computer system when it isn't busy? Is a computer system with inadequate security an "attractive nuisance" the way a swimming pool is legally categorized as an attractive nuisance for small children?

3. In the book by Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid's Tale, a group of religious fundamentalists take over the US government. Because everyone is linked into an electronic funds transfer system, the group is able to electronically cancel all accounts belonging to women, thus robbing them of their ability to work or purchase any goods and subjugating them to the authorities. If we go to a completely electronic monetary system, what safeguards do we need to prevent people (and governments) from electronic terrorism, electronic government coup, or electronic kidnapping?