The KGB, the Computer, and Me

Brent Hilpert hilpert at
Tue Dec 29 01:34:50 CST 2015

On 2015-Dec-28, at 6:10 PM, steve shumaker wrote:
> On 12/28/2015 2:06 AM, jwsmobile wrote:
>> On 12/28/2015 1:45 AM, Rod Smallwood wrote:
>>> Hi
>>> Anybody who has not seen this film (The KGB, the Computer, and Me)
>>> its worth a look. 1980's DEC systems everywhere, LSI terminals, HP kit,
>>> Tape drives in action and apart from the Mac no Windows anywhere.
>>> I think LBL must have bought one of everything.
>>> The story (true) is not bad either.
>>> I now expect to get a long list of weveseenits.
>>> Ron
>> I have not seen that, but have the Stoll Book, Cuckoo's Egg.  A friend of mine is central to this, and is in the book (though I've not seen him for 30 years...)
>> Ron Vivier was a programmer @ Microdata for a couple of years before leaving and moving to the Bay area and resurfacing @ Tymnet.  There was a lull for a bit then all of a sudden the story about Stoll trapping the guy made headlines, and there in the front of it was Ron.  He did what I'd have expected him to do, but the people covering the story didn't get that was in his nature to help like that.
>> I ended up with the desk cleanout droppings from his desk and kept most of it for years, and still owe him a chess clock (which is around here somewhere).  Still has his name dymo'ed on the top.
>> I found the video you posted about, will take a look tomorrow, late here tonight.  thanks for the lead.  Wonder what Stoll is up to these days.
>> Thanks
>> Jim
> among the other activities mentioned here, he still gets speaking invitations to law enforcement functions.   He has a habit of showing up with a large envelope of viewgraph slides asking for an overhead projector.
> steve shumaker
> (yes...   I was there - the book is actually rather accurate)

I didn't recognise the title at first, watched it and realised I had watched it previously.
Sure was a snapshot of the time - even a trip to Radio Shack.
Even had a sexy shower scene.

In 1985 I was setting up our new email system at CERN, and the email system had a security flaw that allowed the users' mail access passwords to be seen.
This in of itself wasn't too big deal as there was little a hacker could do with it (only get access to mail pickup, and you'd need a system that talked X.400, which weren't prevalent).
What made it a big security problem, of course, was that users tended to use their login password for their mail password, so once the hackers uncovered the mail password they ipso-facto often got a login password.
The hacking was noticed and I was told they were networking in from Germany.

Given the commonalities: time proximity (85-86), hacker source (Germany) and hacking targets (HEP/nuclear/research community), I wonder now if it was the same group of hackers.

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