rain forest puppy

Every now and then I go on a stream-of-linkage romp through blogs and security sites. Check out a site, head to the links, start spidering out and repeat. Well, today I brushed through the Nomad Mobile Research Center where I found a lot of 404 links to various people who were big in the security industry years ago. I then came across Rain Forest Puppy’s site and memorandum.

I’ve just finished reading The Cuckoo’s Egg by Cliff Stoll. The book details some of the early hacking attempts in a very new network of computers and systems and open sharing of information back in the mid-to-late 1980s, a time when I was just discovering Atari and Nintendo and Arcade gaming. In looking at the landscape of the time, of computing, networking, and security itself, things have much changed…I mean, DRASTICALLY changed since then. And I can see how people take values from back then and futiley fight the good fight for years and years, even when the time of those networks and openness are gone. The openness and phreaking got replaced with coding and open source and free tools and grassroots hacking…and today, we have commercialization of security.

I read RFP’s memo on his site and realized that this is one of the things I look for in my web romps through security links and blogs and personal sites (sites made back before “blog” was even a thought); the people who have been here already and where they are now, sometimes the dusty relics of long-forgotten websites or stories of how people have moved on, grown up, lost faith, or become part of the commercialization. The Internet and computing are still changing so much, and security even more. In 5 years from now, I could be like them or perhaps just part of the commercialization. Either way, I feel that this sort of web-trotting into the lives of other security persons from the present and past gets back to where the real security happens (or happened), where the real culture of hacking and security lies…not in the Symantecs and Microsofts of the world, but rather in the continued traditions of Black Hat and Defcon and the smaller underground groups of hackers (although slightly less underground than 5-10 years ago).

To anyone that feels like RFP, I just have to say that that kinda just happens, especially when you have a youth-fueled culture in the midst of a brand new, rapidly changing frontier like the Internet and networking. Things change so rapidly, people grow up and out of their hacking 24/7 mindsets, get married, move on in life, and into more conservative affairs. This happens, but it does not take away from the grassroots, “pure” hacking and security that has come before and still happens now.

I will say it is interesting running over sites of people whose names I know as part of the hacker scene, but their sites are outdated. Sometimes you see a resume or a post about where they’ve gone or what they were doing when their site got dusty. Then I realize just how weird the net is. Some sites disappear in moments, others, stick around on servers for years, decades. Just sitting there, waiting, listening, maybe logins have long been since forgotten and the servers just whirr away diligently maintaining their uptime. I’ve seen this in the early gaming scenes in Quake where clan pages are still sitting in cyberspace, waiting for really nothing. Links, images break over time, and they look like those old rusting cars you can find in overgrown pastures…

Some site designs I liked (for future reference): jexe and guninski. I would love a throwback design even if that throws back to a time before I was into computers, but there is something nearly romantic and appealing to the idea of a nighttime black world with the only light the soft greenish glow of a computer terminal illuminating the outline of a determined hacker…