The Hacker Crackdown


Introduction


This is a book about cops, and wild teenage whizkids, and lawyers, and hairy-eyed anarchists, and
industrial technicians, and hippies, and high-tech
millionaires, and game hobbyists, and computer security experts, and Secret Service agents, and grifters, and
thieves.

This book is about the electronic frontier of the 1990s.
It concerns activities that take place inside computers and over telephone lines.
A science fiction writer coined the useful term "cyberspace" in 1982. But the territory in question, the electronic frontier, is about a hundred and thirty years old.

Cyberspace is the "place" where a telephone conversation appears to occur. Not inside your actual phone, the plastic device on your desk. Not inside the other person's phone, in some other city. *The place between* the ones. The indefinite place *out there,* where the two of you, two human beings, actually meet and communicate.

Although it is not exactly "real," "cyberspace" is a genuine place. Things happen there that have very
genuine consequences. This "place" is not "real," but it is serious, it is earnest. Tens of thousands of people have dedicated their lives to it, to the public service of public communication by wire and electronics.

People have worked on this "frontier" for generations now. Some people became rich and famous from their efforts there. Some just played in it, as hobbyists. Others soberly pondered it, and wrote about it, and regulated it, and negotiated over it in international forums, and sued one another about it, in gigantic, epic
court battles that lasted for years. And almost since the beginning, some people have committed crimes in this
place.

But in the past twenty years, this electrical "space," hich was once thin and dark and one-dimensional -- little
more than a narrow speaking-tube, stretching from phone to phone -- has flung itself open like a gigantic jack-in-the-box. Light has flooded upon it, the eerie light of the glowing computer screen. This dark electric netherworld has become a vast flowering electronic landscape. Since the 1960s, the world of the telephone has cross-bred itself with computers and television, and though there is still no substance to cyberspace, nothing you can handle, it has a strange kind of physicality now. It makes good sense today to talk of cyberspace as a place all its own.

Because people live in it now. Not just a few people, not just a few technicians and eccentrics, but thousands of people, quite normal people. And not just for a little while, either, but for hours straight, over weeks, and months, and years. Cyberspace today is a "Net," a "Matrix," international in scope and growing swiftly and steadily. It's growing in size, and wealth, and political importance.
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