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The Internet Underground - A Hacker's Culture- Part II

Warez, pronounced “Wāres,” in the super tech encyclopedia, is a term used by software "pirates" to describe software that has been stripped of its copy-protection and made available on the Internet for downloading.

Oct 30, 2004

By Greg Richburg
Netricks, Inc.

Warez, pronounced “Wāres,” in the super tech encyclopedia, is a term used by software "pirates" to describe software that has been stripped of its copy-protection and made available on the Internet for downloading. Warez web sites cost software vendors billions of dollars each year, and predominately attack the major corporations like Microsoft, Adobe, Symantec, and Macromedia, to name a few.

“Information is and should always be, PUBLIC DOMAIN!” – The Hacker’s Manifesto. We spoke briefly about this initial structure and the basics of the Internet Underground in last Month’s issue of Business Street. In this issue, I want to address the higher lever echelon of the hierarchy and complex structure that form the demensions of Internet piracy.

We spoke of the peer to peer pirates, which we all know well (Kazaa, Morpheus…), moved up to the IRC bunch, then briefly mentioned the Fserves and script kiddies. To address the system, I feel it is important to understand the reasons first.

Many of us have jumped into the peer to peer file sharing fiasco because it was fun, we didn’t see any harm, we got free music, we got free software, we got free adult media, and everyone else was doing it. A small few graduated to the IRC channels, where there was more pirated software, and it required a bit more supra-tech knowledge to grasp the goods.

Once comfortable in that realm, people started to feel important, propositons for more began to arise. Simple file server functions and scripts let them share files direct from their personal hard drives. Pack rats began to hoard everything. It almost became a contest to collect more games, mp3s, and software applications than you could use in ten lifetimes. But it didn’t end there.

You see, people out grew their own means. The commodity tansfered in a peculiar sense. From wanting more computer games, music, movies, and software, the transition to wanting more hard drive space and transfer speed soon took front seat. Then the real race was on!
The Hacker came back into the picture in full force, and the organization hierarchy compounded.

Why use my own resources when I can use yours?

It became almost a contest at this point. You see, the people involved don’t really need the software or movies that they traded, but the actual action and involvement in the process was what excited them. In a simple form, it began with the Scanners.

Scanners

Scanners scan, that is what they do. And I don’t mean scanning photos and such, I mean scanning ip address ranges and servers looking for vulnerabilities in system setups. They are abundant as ever. I can put a free system on a DSL line without a firewall and it will be compromised in less than 10 minutes. And a beautiful thing about this is that the clever Scanners won’t even use their own systems to scan. They will often use an already compromised system to do their dirty work.

Hackers

Once ample data has been collected, the Scanners post their findings for the Hackers. Hackers then break through the vulnerabilities and plant hidden applications that run on the server level of the compromised units. These applications offer a means to access and transfer data to and from the subjugated system. This function is called rooting. Once a computer is rooted, the job again gets passed.

Fillers

They will use up every bit of space the systems have available. Their job is to fill and fill they do. If the compromised system is fast enough, the fillers will upload every form of data imagineable, just for the sake of trade.

I once found a hidden file transfer application on a server that belonged to a multi-million dollar business and the group that put it there was using the system to trade French films and pirated computer games. The company had no clue how long it had been there. Now that’s a clever hack.

So with all that in mind, can you see why space and bandwidth became the commodity, and the actual information or software being traded took a second seat? The people involved in the infrastructure didn’t really need or want the goods. They just wanted to make the goods available. Which takes you all the way back to the “Hacker’s Manifesto” as mentioned in last month’s article and at the beginnig of this one, “…public domain.”

I have just touched on the hierarchy here, there is really much more to it. There are many other individuals involved in the Internet Underground and all play important roles in the grand scheme of information trading. There are racers, leechers, taggers, crackers, suppliers, nukers, couriers, site traders, and many other participants in a chaotic world run on wires and airwaves.
So the next time you download that single song from Kazaa, the next time you install that copy of Microsoft’s Office that your neighbor gave you on the burned disc, the next time you buy that dvd at the swap meet, just remember you are an important part of that culture too.

A Rule for the Road: The Internet is a culture.

All past articles written by Greg Richburg are available at http://www.netricks.com/news. Please address article suggestions to: info@netricks.com.

Greg Richburg a Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer and the owner of Netricks, Inc. a network consulting, web design and hosting company located in Fresno, CA. Visit Netricks at http://www.netricks.com.

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