A Net home for hackers
By Paul Festa
Staff Writer, CNET
January 19, 1999, 6:15 a.m. PT

Hackers are about to get a place they can call home on the Net. 

Hacking news and information site AntiOnline has embarked on a plan to
morph into a full-fledged portal. The next generation AntiOnline blueprint
features a network of sites serving up editorial content, search,
e-commerce, technical support, and free home pages, all focused on the
world of hacking and computer security. 

In order to achieve its goal, AntiOnline has secured something rarely
discussed in hacker circles: venture funding. And if that weren't enough
to distinguish the site from the culture of its scrappy followers, the
site already is in negotiations to acquire some of its competitors. 

[How can you have competitors before you offer a product
or service? And rarely discussed in hacker circles? Seems to be a broad
statement to say the least.]

AntiOnline founder (and now general partner) John Vranesevich started
AntiOnline in high school and reached a turning point when, by his
account, the University of Pittsburgh tried to expel him for running the
Web site from his dorm room. Vranesevich left college and ran the site out
of the corner of his parents' living room, going on to break numerous
stories about computer security breaches. 

[Amateur hackers running to him with their latest
scripted attack constitues 'breaking stories'?]

Shortly therafter, Cleveland-based Lamwright West--best known for its
craft stores--approached Vranesevich through its Zarite subsidiary about
funding AntiOnline. Now Vranesevich has an office, a full-time information
systems manager, and a staff of 30 freelance writers culled from a pool of
7000 applicants. 

"AntiOnline is going to be one of the most unique Web businesses out
there," Vranesevich said. 

The new AntiOnline may be first in its class, but in some respects the
business is falling in line with two Internet trends. One is the rise of
affinity portals, or sites aggregating information geared toward a
specific interest or identity group. Affinity portals see an opportunity
left by the sprawling--and enormously successful--megaportals like Yahoo. 

The other trend AntiOnline's move follows is the rising interest in
computer security issues, which affect not just the rag-tag, half-teen
army of hackers but multinational corporations and even governments
reeling from the implications of new concepts such as "infowarfare." 

While Vranesevich acknowledges both those groups as natural parts of his
target audience, his eye is firmly trained on a much larger population:
the novice user. 

"They're lost in this whole ordeal," Vranesevich said. "Companies are
trying to sell them products, the media is telling them about all these
hazards, and right now there's nowhere to go to find out what all these
things are and how to deal with them." 

[And Antionline's history of hyping up amateur hackers has
done nothing to help this image.]

Hacking and security resources abound on the Net and elsewhere,
Vranesevich acknowledged, but those materials fail to reach a broad

"There are magazines about this that are filled with source code,"  he
said. "That means nothing to the average user." 

The new AntiOnline, set to debut February 16, will feature six of its own
domains, along with at least one other property that Vranesevich is in
negotiations to acquire. will continue to provide news. will use
InfoSeek technology to search a database devoted to information security
Web sites. will provide more technically advanced editorial
content. will sell security software, books, and other
goods. will provide automated responses to security queries.
And will provide free Web space for users.