Colonel Panic

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Colonel Panic last won the day on August 31 2012

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About Colonel Panic

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  1. First piece of advice I can offer is, learn how to build things before you start trying to figure out how to take them down. Understanding how systems operate is the most important thing, then understanding how and why they fail is the next (but almost equally) important thing. Here are a few ideas on how to get started: Get yourself a few cheap, old, hand-me-down computers, reformat the hard drives and install some different operating systems (both proprietary and open source) on them, then network them together. Experiment with various flavors of Linux. Start with some real nonthreatening and pared-down distro like Xubuntu. Install it and be diligent about making sure you get all features of the system working. That is how you learn. Try it out, familiarize yourself with the various applications and how they work. Learn how to do everything in Linux that you used to do in Windows or Mac OS. Try out various environments, window managers, and workflows. Memorize all the most useful shell commands and keyboard shortcuts. Take the initiative to mess around and do things the low-level, "hard" way instead of the high-level, "user-friendly" way. Familiarize yourself with the command line interface and maybe delve into some shell scripting. Get to know the various configuration files, what they do, and learn how to modify them to make your system work how you want it to. Once you have your OS installed and working, try compiling and installing some new programs from raw source code instead of just using a package manager to grab them off the repos. Install and run a Linux Backtrack distro on a laptop, and learn to use the penetration-testing tools, including Metasploit. Try out various attacks against your own systems, investigate the root problems that caused the vulnerabilities, and research how to close those security holes. Learn how to conduct a variety of different attacks against various kinds of systems, by setting up your own systems in various configurations, running various vulnerable programs and services, and then attacking them using your Backtrack laptop. Get a wireless router and install DD-WRT on it. Explore the various awesome features and functionalities of that alternate firmware. Use your Backtrack laptop to investigate wireless vulnerabilities of various services on your DD-WRT router. Learn how to set up a firewall and lock down your router to repel such attacks. Pick up a high-level, object-oriented programming language like Java, Visual Basic or C++, and put some effort into working with it. Learn how to code simple functions, organize those functions together into discrete classes, then how to structure classes together into more complex applications. Think of a simple problem, figure out a way to use programming to solve that problem, then move on to a more difficult problem. Don't be put off by failures. Analyze your failures and try different approaches until you find something that works. Use online resources like Stack Overflow, Ycombinator, Coding Forums, TopCoder, etc. to find others who may have faced the same problem as yours, or a similar one. Learn to adapt solutions to new applications. If all else fails, don't be afraid to ask for help, but never resort to asking for help until you've thoroughly explored all the avenues you can think of. After you've achieved a familiarity with object-oriented programming, try investigating a lower-level, procedural language like C or even Assembly. This kind of programming is certainly not for everyone, but the rewards can be great if you can master it. While you're learning to program, and once you've achieved a comfort level of familiarity with an easy "beginner's distro," start working your way toward more "hands-on" distros like Debian, SUSE, Sabayon, and Arch. Each step you take along the road to more and more "challenging" distros will force you to make more important, low-level decisions about your computer that require more fundamental understanding of how the machine works. At some point, you should set a goal to achieve the successful installation and configuration of an extremely "techy" distro like Slackware or Gentoo. Successfully installing and configuring Gentoo for the first time will undoubtedly be a nightmare, but perseverance will reward you with a level of insight and familiarity into Linux that you probably cannot achieve in any other way. Plus you'll have a totally custom, personalized, screamingly fast Linux system tailored specifically for the hardware it runs on, that you built yourself from scratch and compiled package by package. That's something you can really take pride in. After you've become intimately familiar with Linux, move on to a more generic UNIX variant like OpenBSD. If you've been through the Gentoo trial-by-fire, OpenBSD installation will be a snap. Learn to set up a file server, Web server, proxy server, and firewall on your BSD box. Learn how to secure your BSD box, then try using your Backtrack machine to test vulnerabilities and close security holes in your BSD system. Explore all avenues of computing that you find interesting. Learn to build hardware systems from scratch (it's not difficult). Build a home network, set it up and make it do all the awesome things you can dream of, like: serve movies and games to your TV, play music in any room of your house, monitor your environment with security cams, stream the camera feeds and other media on the Internet. Read lots of books on computing, code, cryptography, the history of computing, the history of technological innovations, the history of warfare and strategy. Read books on various sciences and how different kinds of businesses operate. Broaden your mind as much as possible by reading. Read about psychology, and read books about the exploits of ingenious hackers, phreakers, scientists, politicians, businessmen, con-men, spies, and thieves. Learn how the criminal mind operates, but don't ever lose a grip on your own personal sense of ethics and morality. Set a code of conduct for yourself based on the standards of behavior you'd expect from other people whom you trust and respect, and dedicate your life to living up to that standard. Read lots of fiction as well as nonfiction: novels, short stories, comic books, whatever. Especially, seek out books that challenge your understanding and personal conceptions about the world. It's important to have a balanced life, and a balanced mind. Inspiration often arises from the most unexpected of places, so don't deny yourself the indulgences of the heart and imagination. They certainly pay tremendous dividends in the life of the mind. Don't take anything for granted. Question everything. Learn to use logic and critical thinking to differentiate evidenced truth from unevidenced hearsay and bullshit. Be social within your community. Join users groups, attend conferences, join a hackerspace and attend Maker Fairs. Meet people with similar interests. Share ideas and collaborate. Make friends and be happy. Help your friends excel in their projects, and in most cases they'll return the favor for you. Have respect for others. No matter how much you think you know, you can always learn more and you're not always right about what you think you know. Even people whose intellect you don't respect can surprise you and teach you something you never realized before. So just be cool and don't be a dick. There are far too many assholes in this world as it is. That's all I can think of at the moment. I'll post again if and when I think of more.
  2. I mostly like the depiction of hackers as beer-swilling punk rockers holed up in an empty, abandoned warehouse typing on computers and snickering under a bare light bulb.
  3. My money's on "too good to be true." Like I said, the cost of materials is bound to be at least 5X that.
  4. Senator Ted Stevens has gone through the Big Series Of Tubes In The Sky...
  5. Just looks to me like a network share on a LAN. You know, like a shared hard drive or something.
  6. +1. Good ole Darik's Boot And Nuke. Been using it for years.
  7. Not surprising, considering the shit he's been getting. Perhaps he'd expected to be celebrated as a hero in the hacker community?
  8. Looks like India's latest technological pipe dream, like last year's $10 laptop or the Tata Nano automobile, originally promoted with a projected sticker price of $700 (the cost has since been raised to $2500 and it hasn't even hit the showrooms yet). So yeah, I appreciate the wishful thinking of low-cost digital technology for the developing world. But $35 won't even cover the the unit's batteries, let alone touchscreens, SSD storage chips, or development, production and distribution costs.
  9. Yeah I happen to disagree with a lot of the current legislation (especially where it concerns issues of social freedoms), and that would pose a real problem for me as a cop. Criminal law always breaks down to "guilty" or "not guilty," and that duality tends to foster a "good guys vs. bad guys" mentality for the police. Getting a lot of busts is good for a cop's career, but he has to balance that against his own discretion and his own conscience. I'd imagine that would involve a lot of rationalization, which tends to harden a person against merciful sentiments. As the first line of contact between individuals and the Law, cops have are in a unique position to either bust somebody and place them at the mercy of a system that often amounts to a crap shoot, or let them off and risk the consequences. If you're a cop and you're serious about your career, you have to put those considerations aside and just do the job. Lots of people have had their entire lives ruined over one bad decision which might not otherwise have made much difference in the grand scheme of things. Look at all the people who are doing long sentences in prison for something like selling mushrooms or marijuana, for instance. It's crazy to think that an 18-year-old can be locked up for 20 years for something like that because of laws that resulted from some sleazy politician trying to further his own career. I'm not a vindictive person, and the idea that my actions might help to ruin the entire life of somebody who's really not a bad guy (but just made a single bad choice in his youth) is enough to keep me away from that kind of work.
  10. Well most of the cops I know seem to have a strange attitude I can only describe as an "idealistic pragmatism." Most of them are pretty firm in their beliefs. I think they really do believe they're doing the right things. Even the ones whom I've heard make racist comments and jokes, would probably defend themselves with the notion that by the "n-word," they meant the young black gangster-types (the criminals), not the proper, honorable, upstanding black folks. Though I believe it's a bullshit excuse, I understand why they have that attitude. There's a lot of racism on the streets. There are a lot of assholes of all kinds out there, and the cops have to deal with all of them. Of course I get pissed when some cop gets drunk and beats the shit out of some 120-lb female bartender because she had the audacity to cut his drunk ass off after he couldn't stand straight and was acting belligerent. Of course I got even more pissed when I read the "department" sent a sergeant to the bar to try and talk her out of lodging a complaint, then the officers at the station gave her shit when she tried to complain anyway. I was furious when I read about an off duty cop beating a panhandler to death outside a nightclub and got off scot-free, and when I read about Jon Burge and his torture squad, smothering suspects with plastic bags and using electric shocks like government thugs from some 3rd-world dictatorship. I've had plenty of bad experiences with police in this town. I've been wrongly accused, locked up, and treated unfairly. I've had cops issue me traffic tickets for complete bullshit just because they had something to prove or were having a shitty day. I once had a cop call me "Paco" because I was with an hispanic girlfriend and he just assumed I was Mexican or something (maybe because I have dark hair? dunno). Once I got robbed on the street and I knew exactly where the robber was at that very minute. I saw where he'd run to and knew exactly what house he was in, and I had this lazy-assed good for nothing cop telling me, "What do you expect me to do if we go over there and he doesn't wanna open the door? I can't break it down... If you want to fill out a robbery report, just go down to the police station." But I also know a few decent and honorable cops who are out there every day and night doing their job, dealing with all the worst assholes and all the bullshit. I respect them for what they do because I'd never do it.
  11. Maybe they haven't gotten around to reassigning them yet? Maybe there are hosts there that aren't accepting incoming connections.
  12. i disagree that just because someone may have had a criminal background that that would be the only reason to suspect them as a crime, unless there was further evidence pointing to the possibility that a specific individual might have some knowledge of the crime.. people can rehabilitate and become productive members of society.. I didn't say that a criminal background is the only reason to suspect somebody of a crime. What I'm saying is, cops go looking for "usual suspects" when they see a crime that fits those suspects' M.O. It's one of their investigation tactics. For real. The larger point I was trying to make was that law enforcement "profiling" of hackers is not necessarily a bad thing as long as a distinction is made between hackers who work legitimately to learn and to help others, and the "black hat" hackers who use their skills to steal or cause harm to others. If authorities' profiling of hackers is accurate, then law enforcement will be trained to understand that all hackers are not criminals, and understand that security analysts, forensic experts, private investigators and even some police officers themselves are also hackers in the true sense of the word. And yes, of course it's possible for somebody to reform themselves and become a law-abiding citizen. Again with the generalizations and name calling! "All cops"! You don't personally know every single cop in the world, or even all cops in the NYPD. Such statements are a result of extreme personal bias, not objectivity. One bad childhood acquaintance should not be made to stand for all police officers in the world. The "main purpose" of cops... Are you kidding? I know you don't actually believe that is the reason why our society has instituted police forces. The purpose of the police is to enforce laws--especially, stopping predatory crimes--and to act as first responders to help resolve personal disputes between citizens. If some bad officers abuse their authority to harm others or take advantage, those cops are criminals and not representative of the good ones who work hard and put their own lives at risk for what amounts to a largely thankless job. Of course I'm outraged when police commit crimes and then go unpunished. This is a serious problem everywhere in the USA, especially in our major cities. However, sometimes justice is served. Here in Chicago, Commander Jon Burge was recently convicted for covering up torture of criminal suspects under his command. But too often, police departments try to cover up the crimes of bad officers instead of investigating and prosecuting them. In terms of corruption, the CPD makes the NYPD look like a choir of fucking angels. There are a lot of asshole cops in this city, but I'm lucky enough to know a few decent Chicago cops whom I would trust with my life. Now I'm not going to argue with your claims of personal experience, but I find it exceedingly difficult to believe you have adequate evidence say every cop you've ever encountered is a racist. I have a question for you: How do you know that every cop you've come across is racist? Did every cop you ever dealt with (even in passing) find some pretense to work a racist statement into your conversation? "Do you know you made an illegal right back there at that last light? I'm going to have to write you a ticket. By the way, I HATE MOTHERFUCKING KIKES!" "You need directions to where? OK then, make a left at this intersection here, then go down a few miles and MAKE SURE TO RUN OVER SOME OF THEM GODDAMN SPICS ALONG THE WAY!" "Hi. This is Officer Joe from the Fraternal Order of Police. We're selling tickets to our annual dance ball, and I'm calling you this evening to ask if you would please donate to THE NEO-NAZI PARTY AND THE KKK!!!" Really... I think you're projecting your own prejudices. You've had a lot of bad run-ins with cops, until now you only know how to think of them as the enemy. It's not an uncommon opinion, but it is wrong. Profiling is just part of police work. Profiling is not bad as long as it's done properly. However, when profiling targets general groups of people solely by their race, sexual orientation or religious affiliation, then it's bad and illegal.
  13. True, the decision to make a traffic stop is largely up to the policeman's discretion. If the cops suspect something, they can try to spot minor compliance violations on the suspect's car that would justify a stop. They could follow the suspect in a obvious manner to make him nervous in the hopes he'll make a mistake and justify a traffic stop. If they're less than honest, they can stop the guy and trump up a legitimate-sounding reason after the fact: "The driver was swerving erratically," "The driver was drinking a from a bottle that looked like an alcoholic beverage," "the driver looked straight at us, then quickly executed an illegal lane change maneuver to try and avoid us." The fact of the matter is, they can stop you for any reason they like. They can even stop you at random (like in a DUI roadblock). Once the stop has been made, the cop cannot legally search the car without the driver's permission unless there is indication of danger to the cop (like a weapon in plain sight, or the suspect grabbing under the front seat). The officer can also search the vehicle if he detects something indicating "probable cause" of a crime in progress. This could be something as obvious as a weapons or burglary tools in plain view, the perceived scent of marijuana inside the car, or something as arbitrary as "the driver was acting suspiciously nervous and paranoid." Again, this is up to the officer's discretion at the time of the stop, and once the suspect is in court facing serious charges it can be a difficult point to argue. i would think that if the safe was broken it would not have been a professional locksmith or safe cracker, so questioning them is only wasting resources that could be used to actually attempt to solve the mystery... You're really going to nitpick about this? It all depends how the safe was broken, doesn't it? Maybe it was drilled out at exactly the right spot to break a specific linkage within the lock and cause it to open, a technique that would indicate detailed knowledge of the safe's inner mechanism. Perhaps I should have said, "the safe was opened and there was evidence it was done by an experienced safe expert"? Regardless, that's an ancillary detail beside my point. My point was, the police sometimes investigate crimes by consulting experts with knowledge of the crime M.O., and then go looking for known criminals who have operated in that manner. They do it that way because experience has shown it's a very effective way to investigate. It sucks that racial profiling still happens. It's been proven that racial profiling is not a particularly effective method in and of itself, but most importantly it's unfair, unethical, and illegal. However, your accusations about cops are extremely arbitrary and vague, based on common stereotypes and completely unverifiable by objective evidence. While I don't doubt it might be many peoples' opinions of police in some communities, even most police in certain communities, It's still a subjective opinion. Furthermore, I don't think it's fair to generally characterize all police in this manner. Police officers are human beings. Being human, they are not a homogeneous group. They have a diversity of personalities, social views and political alignments. I happen to know quite a few cops on a personal basis (and even one "government agent," a DEA chemist). While I have indeed witnessed some cops making racist remarks and jokes in my presence, I have to say I have a great deal of respect for most of the cops I know. The majority of cops I've personally known have been decent, honest guys who've never shown any racist inclinations. One particular cop I know would take extreme offense at the notion that he's a self-hating racist who despises the people he grew up with and swore an oath to protect in his own neighborhood. Calling police "pigs" and indiscriminately painting them out as racist assholes makes you sound like a hippie malcontent. It's intellectually dishonest and biased to the point of unreason. Yeah, that shit sucks too. I don't doubt that the AZ profiling laws will be overturned by the Supreme Court, as will the laws banning ethnic studies in public schools. That kind of legislation is racist, divisive and shameful. The Japanese interments in the 1940s are a stain on the history of our country. "Profiling" is a specific activity of picking out individuals for criminal investigation based on outward appearances or specific behavioral cues. The mosque issue is not really profiling. What it is, is a bunch of politically-active racists voicing their bigotry publicly within political forums. Conservative radio hosts and "Teabagger" types like Sarah Palin have been protesting the building of the mosque, but the last I heard, the city itself is allowing construction to go ahead.
  14. It's a fact of life that cops profile people all the time. It's part of human nature. If you see a guy on the street wearing a Mets cap and jersey, you'd probably feel safe making a bet on which MLB team he roots for. You see a guy wearing a pot leaf t-shirt, you'd probably be pretty spot-on in guessing he's a stoner. If highway patrol records have indicated that a common profile of arms traffickers is a male wearing European tailored clothing and driving a late model automobile with out-of-state plates and tinted windows going 5 miles under the speed limit, then that's a valid criterion for cops to consider whether to investigate. If a jewelry store gets robbed and the safe has been broken, are the cops forbidden from picking up known safecrackers for questioning, or interviewing locksmiths about suspicious people who may have purchased tools at their shops? Profiling criminals has always been a part of police work. As long as the cops aren't identifying potential suspects by broad, general characteristics like race, color, religion, sexual preference, etc. then there's nothing wrong with it. Of course, it also doesn't mean it's okay to railroad people based upon profiling. This is why criminal profiles are generally not allowed as evidence in court.