Reformed Crackers Reveal Their Secrets

To Paying Audiences of Former Victims


February 12, 1998

SAN FRANCISCO -- Christian Valor, a phone freak of no small renown, drags on a Marlboro and explains how for the past two hours he has held Army, Air Force and NASA officials at rapt attention.

"no small renown", according to him and the media only.

"Who do you want to learn how to protect your system from?" Valor said. "Some corporate guy, or me -- a guy who's actually" hacked into your computer network?

After knowing se7en for three years, I can say pretty confidently that this statement is false. Someone who doesn't understand the most basic unix command is not likely to break into a corporate network.

Corporations and governments are spending megabucks these days to learn to guard networks from vandals, terrorists and punks with computer programming skills and too much time on their hands. This week in San Francisco, the authorities learned it first hand: from hackers themselves.


On the third day of the workshop, the class will hear from Jordan Payne, a well-known female hacker. On the fourth day, they'll hear from Peter Shipley, who will expound on Web security. He said he plans to tell attendees that they cannot expect networks to be secure, just because they use an expensive secure server. They need to audit the entirety of their systems to look for vulnerabilities, he said.

The second day belongs to the Valor, 29, who announced his "retirement" last year from malicious attacks. Because he has some extra time, though, he tells the audience about his exploits as a phone freak, which is someone who learns to manipulate the telephone system to pull pranks.

Possible because prank calls are the extent of his ability, and he lacked the creativity of well-known prank call groups.


Credit: Jason Grow / SABA for CyberTimes

From left: Michael Diamond, Jennifer Granick (a lawyer), Peter Shipley, Christian Valor and Fred Villella.

main page ATTRITION feedback