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Someday the Internet may become an information superhighway but right now it is more like a 19th-century railroad that passes through the badlands of the Old West As waves of new settlers flock to cyberspace in search for free information or commercial opportunity they make easy marks for sharpers who play a keyboard as deftly as Billy the Kid ever drew a six-gun It is difficult even for those who ply it every day to appreciate how much the Internet depends on collegial trust and mutual forbearance The 30000 interconnected computer networks and 25 million or more attached computers that make up the system swap gigabytes of information based on nothing more than a digital handshake with a stranger Electronic impersonators can commit slander or solicit criminal acts in someone elses name they can even masquerade as a trusted colleague to convince someone to reveal sensitive personal or business information Its like the Wild West says Donn B Parker of SRI No laws rapid growth and enterprise - its shoot first or be killed To understand how the Internet on which so many base their hopes for education profit and international competitiveness came to this pass it can be instructive to look at the security record of other parts of the international communications infrastructure The first biggest error that designers seem to repeat is adoption of the security through obscurity strategy Time and again attempts to keep a system safe by keeping its vulnerabilities secret have failed Consider for example the running war between ATT and the phone phreaks When hostilities began in the 1960s phreaks could manipulate with relative ease the long-distance network in order to make unpaid telephone calls by playing certain tones into the receiver One phreak John Draper was known as Captain Crunch for his discovery that a modified cereal-box whistle could make the 2600-hertz tone required to unlock a trunk line The next
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