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Current issue : #6 | Release date : 1986-06-10 | Editor : Taran King
IndexTaran King
Pro-Phile on GroupsKnight Lightning
The Technical RevolutionDr. Crash
Fun with LightersThe Leftist
Nasty Unix TricksShooting Shark
Smoke BombsAlpine Kracker
Cellular TelephonesHigh Evolutionary
Wide Area NetworksJester Sluggo
Phrack World News Part 1Knight Lightning
Phrack World News Part 2Knight Lightning
Phrack World News Part 3Knight Lightning
Phrack World News Part 4Knight Lightning
Phrack World News Part 5Knight Lightning
Title : Phrack World News Part 2
Author : Knight Lightning
                                ==Phrack Inc.==

                    Volume One, Issue Six, Phile 10 of 13


                         *-=+^ Phrack World News ^+=-*

                               Issue Five/Part 2

                            Compiled and Written By

                               Knight Lightning


Captain Midnight's Sneak Attack                                    May 12, 1986
               "A daring intruder airs the beefs of dish owners"

In the old days, people with complaints against the media had few recourses:
A stern letter to the editor, perhaps, or a protesting phone call.  "Captain
Midnight," an outraged consumer of the space age, took more daring action.  In
a sneak attack made on Sunday of last week, the self-appointed video avenger
broke into an HBO presentation of the movie "The Falcon and the Snowman" with a
cryptic message:

                               Good evening HBO
                             From Captain Midnight
                            $12.95/Month?   No Way!
                      (Showtime/The Movie Channel Beware)

The mysterious dispatch, seen for several minutes in the East and Midwest by
hundreds of thousands of subscribers to the pay-cable service, was clearly
intended as a rallying cry for the more than 1.5 million owners of home
satellite dishes in the U.S.  These video free-lancers are angry because many
of the TV signals they have been plucking from the sky are done by one tuning
into jumble.  In January, HBO and Cinemax (both owned by Time Inc.) became the
first two cable services to scramble their signals, thus preventing dish owners
from watching them without paying a monthly subscription fee.  Showtime and the
Movie Channel will begin similar scrambling on May 27, and most other
satellite-beamed cable channels, including ESPN, MTV, the Disney Channel, Cable
News Network and Superstation WTBS, will follow suit before the end of the
year.  Their actions have set off a heated battle over just who has the right
to TV signals bouncing through the skies.

In one blow, Captain Midnight has become a folk hero in that struggle, though
his identity remains a mystery.  Ordinary home dishes are able only to receive
signals, not to send them; thus experts think the pirate signal probably came
from a TV station or other commercial facility.  Wherever the stunt
originated, TV executives were not amused.  HBO has lodged a complaint with the
FCC, threatened to prosecute the pirate, and made technical adjustments that it
claims will prevent any repeat attack.

"He probably thinks this was a prank," says HBO Vice President Dave Pritchard.
"But the fact is someone has interfered with authorized satellite
transmissions." The incident has raised concerns that other satellite-borne
communications, including sensitive data transmitted by business and the
military, could be similarly disrupted.  Representatives of the three broadcast
networks insist that a 'hacker' would have difficulty breaking into their
programming.  But any satellite signal could theoretically be disrupted,
experts say "Most satellites are built with some safety measures," explains
Karl Savatiel, director of satellite communications for AT&T.  "But all
satellites, including military satellites, are vulnerable if a person knows
where the satellite is located, the frequency it uses for satellite
transmissions, and the sender's code."

            (This wasn't the full article, just the important part)

                     Taken from Time Magazine May 12, 1986
        Reported by Jim Byers/Los Angeles and Jerome Cramer/Washington.

                      Typed for PWN's usage by The Seker

News On Captain Midnight                                         April 28, 1986
             "Search for Cable TV Prankster Leads to North Texas"

The search for Captain Midnight, the disgruntled video prankster who briefly
commandeered Home Box Office's satellite transmissions over the eastern
two-thirds of the country early Sunday, has led federal investigators to North
Texas, a Justice Department official said Monday.

John K. Russell, a Justice Department spokesman in Washington, told
Knight-Ridder Newspapers that "the perpetrator is believed to be in North
Texas."  Later he said the search was in Texas "as well as other areas."

Other authorities told Knight-Ridder that investigators in the Dallas field
offices of the FBI and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) have been
focusing on a tip that Sunday's four-minute cable interruption originated in
North Texas.

FBI and FCC officials in Dallas could not be reached for comment Monday.

Captain Midnight interrupted a movie broadcast Sunday with a message protesting
new fees being charged the owners of satellite dishes for access to HBO.  The
five line message, superimposed on a test pattern, said:

                   "Good evening HBO from Captain Midnight.
                           $12.95 a month?  No way!
                       (Showtime-Movie Channel Beware.)"

In January, HBO began scrambling its broadcasts to prevent owners of satellite
dishes from unauthorized interception of the signal as it bounced from a
satellite to cable television systems.

HBO told dish owners that they would have to buy a descrambler for $395 and
pay $12.95 a month.

"While the man on the street may have once thought that Captain Midnight's
message was limited to being a prank, it does represent a very serious threat
to any company or entity using satellites to transmit information," said Alan
Levi, HBO's manager of corporate public relations.

Alan Levi:             [212] 512-1659 (Cooperate affairs)
David Pritchard:       [212] 512-1413 (Cooperate affairs)
Tim Larker:            [212] 512-5666 (Network scrambler assistant)
New York City FCC:     [212] 620-3438 (Federal Communications Commission)
HBO Cooperate Offices: [212] 512-1000
David Lightman:

I have spoken with several people about 'Captain Midnight'.  I have spoken to
everyone above.  This David Pritchard tried to tell me this:

DP = David Pritchard
DL = David Lightman
DL:  Where do you think this 'Captain Midnight' is?

DP:  Would assume he is in the North Texas region.  Possibly 214.

DL:  What makes you think this?

DP:  We believe this is true due to a tip from a Dallas resident.

DL:  How do you know that he was not lying to lead you away from the real
     Captain Midnight?

DP:  I know he was probably not lying because he left us his mailbox number.

DL:  Which is?

DP:  I cannot release that information right now.

      (This conversation went on for a while. Possibly 10-15 minutes...)
David Lightman earlier had spoken with Alan Levi...
DL:  Yes.  Do you have any idea who this Captain Midnight might be?

Alan:  No, but we are fairly certain it is someone in the 212 area with access
       to the scrambling offices of HBO.  The knowledge necessary for what
       this guy did could not be gotten very easily without getting it from our

DL:  Well, I believe I know who this Captain Midnight is.

Alan:  Could you please tell me who you think Captain Midnight is?

DL:  No.  If it is the person I suspect, I would rather not cause any trouble
     for them.

Alan:  You wouldn't cause much trouble for him.

DL:  Isn't what this guy did a federal offense?

Alan:  Well, yes it is, but you would be surprised how many people get away
       with breaking federal laws.

                         (He actually said that guys!)

DL:  Hmm....  What would happen to him?

Alan:  We would just let him know that what he did was not a prank.  It was
       very serious.  It could possibly change the entire industry and unless
       he stops transmitting over our satellites, we will ask the Department of
       Defense to handle it from then on.

DL:  Well, I would need to think about it a little more.  Can I call you back a
     little later?

Alan:  Could you just give me your number and I will have David Pritchard call
       you back?

DL:  It depends on who else will get my number.

Alan:  Just me.  I will consider this conversation and all of the conversations
       that follow to be an anonymous tip.

DL:  Sure then.  It is (214) 733-5162.

Alan:  Thanks.  Then I will have David call you if you do not call me back
       before tomorrow evening.

DL:  That would be fine.  Thanks.

Alan:  Thank you.
------------------------------End of Conversation------------------------------
Well as you may have guessed, my number (mailbox) was given to the FCC, FBI,
and David Pritchard as well as Tim Larker.  I got pretty pissed so I called
David Pritchard.  That was the first conversation I posted.  We (Alan Levi,
David Pritchard, Tim Larker, the FCC, the FBI, Knight-Ridder Newspapers, and I)
now have the country believing that the transmission originated in Dallas.  Of
course it did, but you may see that changed soon.  I plan on another
conversation with these intelligent people tomorrow 5:00 PM.

If you do call these guys, please do not mention the Administration, Team
Hackers'86, any member of either group or me to them as being the transmitter.
You have no proof at all about that.  I did not say if we were involved or not.
That will be left up to your imagination.

             Information and Interviews Provided by David Lightman

Captain Midnight Busted!                                           June 6, 1986
Captain Midnight probably isn't sleeping too well these days.  His name, still
publicly unannounced, is probably known by many, including the FBI.  He has
already been reported to have been fired from his job at an uplink facility, of
which there are only around 100 in this country.  The facility is east of the
Rockies and does not operate after midnight.  Also, a newer type of equipment
was used of which there are only a few in the country.  We expect charges to be
filed any day now, possibly just in time for the June 12th congressional
hearings on signal jamming.  Penalties could include a one year jail sentence
and up to $50,000 in fines; $10,000 maximum of which would be for jamming only.

We expect FM America to come to Captain Midnight's rescue financially by
raising defense money.  All segments of the TVRO industry condemned the signal
jamming.  It is interesting to note the grins and smiles while discussing the
subject, however, FM America knows who "Captain Midnight" is and even
interviewed him live on the air on "FM America."  Tapes of FM America including
Captain Midnight's interview have been turned over to federal investigators.

Several benefits can be realized by Captain Midnight's signal "interruption."
Mainly, the fact is now known by everyone that it can be done.  There are no
secrets either in that a transponder can easily be confused into locking onto
another signal and ignoring the correct signal as interference.  Also, the
signal that controls the satellite's positioning could also be accessed.  The
overall possibility that our entire "satellite system" in general can be
rendered ineffective from the ground is kind of unnerving.

Signal scrambling did not interfere with the HBO signal lockout because a
higher wattage beam over-powered it.  The networks all use pretty powerful
beams which are used 24 hours-a-day so they would be harder to jam.  If we had
to guess which uplink was used to jam HBO, we would pick one that was already
locked into the same satellite, such as one of the superstations. (Hint, Hint!)

                     Information provided by Handsomest One

Who is Ralph Meola?                                                May 20, 1986
Ralph Meola is the Head of AT&T Security in New Jersey and theoretically
everywhere else as well.  He is known to have a computer file on hackers and
phreaks, and an investigative team, that rivals John Maxfield's "BoardScan".

How did Meola enter into the public eye?  Well, we at Phrack really aren't
completely sure but, the general idea is that a friend of Sigmund Fraud (See
TelePub'86 in PWN issue III), using social engineering in order to gain
information from AT&T, somehow came into contact with Ralph Meola.

Later, Sigmund Fraud was also brought into this and decided to give Ralph Meola
a call himself.  With Gin Fizz on Sigmund's 3-Way, he got Meola on the phone
and said,"Hey! This is Sigmund Fraud!"  Typing sounds could be heard in the
background and in a few seconds Meola responded with Sigmund Fraud's real name,
address, phone numbers, and the names of several BBSes that he was on.

Meola then insisted that Sigmund Fraud give him his account on Stronghold East
or at the very least, all of the newuser logon procedures and passwords.
Failure to do so would mean big trouble for Sigmund Fraud.  Sigmund of course
gave Meola the always nice "fuck you!" and hung up on Meola.

Although Sigmund Fraud was (at the time) on Metal Shop Private, Meola didn't
know it, or at least he didn't mention it as a BBS that Sigmund was on.  This
means that Meola has no agents on Metal Shop Private.  It is also known that
Meola has no agents on Stronghold East.  Otherwise he wouldn't have needed the
password information from Sigmund.  It is believed that Meola was on Stronghold
East before the MASSIVE purge several months ago.

          Information Provided by Sigmund Fraud/Gin Fizz/Slave Driver
                  The assumptions and theories are my own -KL
Slave Driver has since sent Ralph Meola the following letter:
TO:  Ralph Meeola
     Head AT&T Security

From: Slave Driver

Re: My user.

   Hello.  I find it rather hard to get in touch with you through normal
means, but give me some time.

   I was told you have been threatening my users, trying to get access here.
That is not good.  Ralph, if you want access just ask for it, don't go
threatening my users.  That was not an intelligent idea, Ralph.

   If you are such a big guy [in your mind, and uh, hand] why not give me a
call.  I'm sure you have my number.  I would be very interested in talking to
you.  So, you decide, Ralph.  Either way, we'll talk one day.

                       Bye Ralph,

                       Slave Driver
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