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Pentagon Hackers Speak Online

[whitespace] By Greg Cahill and Paula Harris

AN ENIGMATIC FIGURE who claims to have mentored a Cloverdale teen hacker accused by the FBI of breaking into several Department of Defense computer systems has taken credit for the crime.

In an exclusive Internet interview posted Wednesday on the Pittsburgh, Pa.-based AntiOnline website, a man identified only as Analyzer said he wants authorities "to release Makaveli"--the nickname for one of two local youths questioned by federal law enforcement officials but not charged with the computer crimes. Analyzer claims that he can prove that he entered the unclassified military and government computer sites in a massive cyberattack.

"He really didn't [do that]," Analyzer told AntiOnline founder John Vranesevich. "I can prove [it] myself by giving the [passwords to the] servers [that were broken into]."

On Tuesday, Analyzer--regarded as one of the best in the hacker community--struck again when he broke into the server at NetDex Inc., a local Internet provider that was used surreptitiously by hackers to access the Pentagon and other sites. During the most recent break-in, he changed the name of the business' website homepage to "The Hacked NetDex. Inc." and declared that he had cracked the site "in order to make things right." Then, Analyzer issued a brazen challenge to the FBI, which has been investigating the case for several months: "Makaveli did not hack any of those [Department of Defense] systems," he wrote on the NetDex page. "[H]e don't even know how to trojan a system. [I]f [you are] searching [for] anyone, [you] should search for me."

FBI spokesperson Patti Hansen had no comment Wednesday on the latest invasion of NetDex, which had just issued a statement to subscribers assuring them that confidential files and credit card numbers were safe.

However, the FBI was unaware of the interview with Analyzer posted just five hours after he hacked into
the NetDex system right under the watchful gaze of the FBI.

"It's a dubious honor to have been chosen as a way station [for hackers]," said NetDex owner Bill Zane. "I would prefer not to have been the one.

"This should be a wake-up call for schools, parents, and systems administrators."

ANALYZER is believed to be an 18-year-old Israeli who has operated out of his homeland. "We've known him for a while as the 'unknown hacker' and the mentor to several predominant hackers in the country," said Vranesevich, who started the AntiOnline site four years ago, "but this is the first time we've found out his nickname."

According to sources, Analyzer is part of an Israeli hacking group knaown as Enforcers. Analyzer plans to distribute passwords to 400 confidential U.S. government computer systems, including sensitive sites at NASA, the Navy Department, and other key defense agencies.

"[Analyzer] seems very boastful, very confident that nobody is going to find out who he is," said Vranesevich, whose website is getting "hundreds of hits every hour" from government and military agencies. "He believes that he's hidden himself well enough so that nobody will discover his identity."

The breach of computer security systems at U.S government and military offices and at universities is the largest case of computer break-ins.

In the AntiOnline interview this week, Analyzer described himself as an idealistic anarchist who loves "chaos" and "hates" big governmental organizations. He claims to have started hacking two years ago "as a challenge." Some of the systems he has cracked have contained classified information, he noted, adding that he has "rarely" looked at the documents and has never taken money in exchange for his work.

"I told you, I hack everything," he said. "If it's a big server or gov[ernment system], I will hack it."

He plans to retire "in the near future," he said, and acknowledged mentoring Makaveli. "Since I was going to retire, I was going to teach someone some of my knowledge and guide him," he claimed. "Also he was hard as hell to get rid of."

Zane--noting a rash of Microsoft Windows NT crashes this week at universities and government agencies coast-to-coast--likens computer hackers to terrorists. "It looks like cyber war," he said, noting Analyzer sees himself as "an evil genius."

In his March 2 interview with Vranesevich, Makaveli denied that he was in the midst of breaking into a government site when FBI agents stormed into his home. "That's bull," he said, "I was on [Internet relay chat] talking to some of my friends."

He admitted to having had the access codes to computers at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratories, which conducts research into nuclear weapons, and said he "may have given" those codes to some friends.

Throughout the interview, Vranesevich said, Makaveli made reference to Analyzer as the hacker the agency is really after.

If I was ever asked who is the best hacker that ever was, it would be him without a doubt," Makaveli marveled. "There are still 100 U.S. servers hacked that the FBI doesn't even know about."

And he explained the motivation that many hackers have expressed: "It's power, dude--you know, power."

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From the March 5-11, 1998 issue of the Sonoma County Independent.

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