"cult of the dead cow"

Cult of the Dead Cow: the untold story of the hacktivist group that presaged everything great and terrible about the internet

Back in 1984, a lonely, weird kid calling himself Grandmaster Ratte' formed a hacker group in Lubbock, Texas. called the Cult of the Dead Cow, a name inspired by a nearby slaughterhouse. In the decades to come, cDc would become one of the dominant forces on the BBS scene and then the internet -- endlessly inventive, funny and prankish, savvy and clever, and sometimes reckless and foolish -- like punk-rock on a floppy disk. Read the rest

Beto O'Rourke was in the Cult of the Dead Cow and his t-files are still online

Investigative tech journalist Joseph Menn's (previously) next book is a history of the Cult of the Dead Cow (previously) the legendary hacker/prankster group that is considered to be "America's oldest hacking group." Read the rest

Four Thieves Vinegar Collective: DIY epipens were just the start, now it's home bioreactors to thwart Big Pharma's price-gouging

When last we met the Four Thieves Vinegar collective -- a group of anarchist scientists who combine free/open chemistry with open source hardware in response to shkrelic gouging by pharma companies -- they were announcing the epipencil, a $30 DIY alternative to the Epipen, Mylan's poster-child for price-gouging and profiteering on human misery. Read the rest

Hacker history: videos from early Hackers on Planet Earth (HOPE) conferences

Emmanuel Goldstein from 2600 Magazine sez, "As part of a massive archiving project, 2600 Magazine is releasing all of the remastered videos from the second Hackers On Planet Earth conference - Beyond HOPE in 1997. Last month, videos from the first HOPE conference back in 1994 were put online. This weekend's hour-by-hour video release from 1997 will include speakers like cryptographer Bruce Schneier, *everyone* from The L0pht and Cult of the Dead Cow, privacy advocates, technologists, along with lots of glimpses at 1990s websites. It's an enlightening trip down Memory Lane to visit a pre-9/11 conspiracy theorist world - from a hacker perspective."


Hacker/fed seeks hackspaces to give DARPA grants to

Pemdasi sez, "Peiter Zatko, aka mudge, a former member of both the Cult of the Dead Cow and l0pht now works for DARPA and wants to give out short term DARPA contracts to places like hackerspaces to find solutions to cybersecurity concerns. Maybe some lucky hackerspace will get some money to make drone swarms."

He spoke of creating "hacker incubators" and made it clear that the DoD would not request commercial rights to any innovations discovered.

Essentially, Zatko wants to sponsor researchers, rather than providing them with rewards if they do well. This is much more in thinking with typical hacker aspirations--getting somebody to pay the bills while they do the things they love. And, in any case, at the end of the process the hacker or team concerned is free to seek all the rewards they can get for the work.

Zatko merely wants to exploit the huge brain power and creativity of the hacker community, and as a former member, he knows exactly what makes it tick. Although his scheme will not go into operation for a few months yet, the signs are that it might produce results that improve security for all of us.

Government Employs Hackers in Brave New Scheme

(Thanks, Pemdasi, via Submitterator!)

  NBC thinks Cult of the Dead Cow is 1337 - Boing Boing Hacktivism explained - Boing Boing High-larious hacker blog - Boing Boing Gary McKinnon: Wanted, Dead or Alive (Guest opinion/Oxblood Ruffin ... Boing Boing: Hacktivism demystified Read the rest

Goolag.org, CdC's new web data auditing tool, launches

Oxblood Ruffin shares word that Cult of the Dead Cow just launched a large-scale scanner project, Goolag.org:

SECURITY ADVISORY: The following program may screw a large Internet search engine and make the Web a safer place.

LUBBOCK, TX, February 20th – Today CULT OF THE DEAD COW (cDc), the world’s most attractive hacker group, announced the release of Goolag Scanner, a Web auditing tool. Goolag Scanner enables everyone to audit his or her own Web site via Google. The scanner technology is based on “Google hacking”, a form of vulnerability research developed by Johnny I Hack Stuff. He’s a lovely fellow. Go buy him a drink.

“It’s no big secret that the Web is the platform”, said cDc spokesmodel, Oxblood Ruffin. “And this platform pretty much sucks from a security perspective. Goolag Scanner provides one more tool for Web site owners to patch up their online properties. We’ve seen some pretty scary holes through random tests with the scanner in North America, Europe, and the Middle East. If I were a government, a large corporation, or anyone with a big Web site, I’d be downloading this beast and aiming it at my site yesterday. The vulnerabilities are that serious.”

Goolag Scanner will be released open source under the GNU Affero General Public license. It is dedicated to the memory of Wau Holland, founder of the Chaos Computer Club, and a true champion of privacy rights and social justice.

Read the rest

Self-tuning portable RF jammer disguised as menthol cigs

Myles Long from Cult of the Dead Cow writes,

Ninja Strike Force member Lady Ada has posted a design for a self-tuning, microprocessor controlled, wide band RF jammer.

Lady Ada (who is, omg, a girl! not knitting, but hacking hardware!) explains:

This website details the design and construction [of a] Wave Bubble: a self-tuning, wide-bandwidth portable RF jammer. The device is lightweight and small for easy camoflauging: it is the size of a pack of cigarettes.

An internal lithium-ion battery provides up to 2 hours of jamming (two bands, such as cell) or 4 hours (single band, such as cordless phone, GPS, WiFi, bluetooth, etc). The battery is rechargeable via a mini-USB connector or 4mm DC jack (a common size). Alternately, 3 AAA batteries may also be used.

Link. Before you go out and use one of these things, folks -- remember, RF jammers are illegal.

Here was an interesting item on Lady Ada's FAQ -- could this thing be used to remotely disable roadside bombs in Iraq?

Q: I'm a member/relation in xyz military service and I would like to use these devices to protect against RF-triggered IEDs A: While cell phone jammers are useful against some IEDs, many current designs are trigged by signal-loss. I have no more pointers, but perhaps someone in your organization with more experience can inform you of the best defences one can take against such devices.

(Thanks, Oxblood Ruffin!) Read the rest

NBC thinks Cult of the Dead Cow is 1337

The new NBC show "Kidnapped" refers to the Cult of the Dead Cow and Back Orifice during a character's explanation of "1337."

Link to video clip. (thanks, Oxblood Ruffin!) Read the rest

Tibetan mesh org hosting community WiFi event in India in Oct.

Tech luminaries, big Silicon Valley companies, and Nepalese sherpas are heading to a community Wi-Fi hoedown this October in the Himalayan foothill town of Dharamshala, India. The agenda: connect the developing world with cheap, wireless mesh networks. I filed a report today for Wired News, after visiting the summit organizers in India:

In October, the Tibetan Technology Center will host the Air Jaldi Summit for wireless community developers from around the world.

Expected to attend is Free Software Foundation founder Richard Stallman and Wi-Fi pioneer Vic Hayes.

"We want to show people that it's possible not only to build out this kind of technology at low cost in developing areas, but that it's possible for the community to really integrate it into their lives," said Yahel Ben-David, a one-time Silicon Valley dot-commer who left his native Israel to build Dharamshala's mesh network.

October's summit will be less of a who's-who and more of a how-to, says organizer Oxblood Ruffin, who is a member of underground computer security group Cult of the Dead Cow.

In addition to representatives from Intel, Cisco and wireless activists from Europe, "Some sherpas from Nepal are coming," says Ruffin. "I'm trying to make the panels as diverse as possible, mixing grassroots activists, techies and enterprise folk in each."

Presenters will include wireless advocate and University of Limerick President Emeritus Roger Downer and Dave Hughes, who brought internet connectivity to the base of Mt. Everest.

Link. The "AirJaldi Summit" will take place in Dharamsala, India, October 22-25. Read the rest

Wireless Binds Tibetan Exiles

I filed a story and photos for Wired News today on the innovative tech underpinnings of a community wireless project I visited recently in Dharamshala, India. Snip:

Across the border from Chinese-occupied Tibet, the tech infrastructure in this high mountain village is a mess.

But a former Silicon Valley dot-commer and members of the underground security group Cult of the Dead Cow are working with local Tibetan exiles to change that using recycled hardware, solar power, open-source software and nerd ingenuity.

The Dharamsala Wireless Mesh is an example of "light infrastructure," a concept gaining popularity among tech developers: decentralized, ad hoc networks that can deliver essential services faster than conventional means.

Attempts to deploy similar community wireless networks in America have been blocked repeatedly by national phone carriers. It takes a big company like Google to build citywide Wi-Fi networks (the company launched its first in Mountain View, California, this week).

So sustainable network builders are going where they're welcome -- in this case, a rural village 7,000 feet up in the Himalayas.

(...) Some of the technical challenges [network project founder Yahel Ben-David faces] are unique. This may be one of the only networks in the world where antennas must be monkey-proofed.

"Monkeys are everywhere," says Ben-David. "Often, you'll see a huge, gorilla-sized monkey hang on to an antenna, swing from it, eat it, try to break it. We lost a lot of cables that way, but now we use very strong equipment so that even monkeys can't break it."

Link to article, "Wireless Binds Tibetan Exiles", and Link to an extensive photo gallery: "Dharamsala Dreamin'."

Update: Here's a discussion about this article on Slashdot: Link. Read the rest

Exiled Tibetans in Dharamsala protest Google censorship in China

(Click on images for larger-size). Hacker and free speech activist Oxblood Ruffin says,

Today at 11AM in Dharamsala, India, the local chapter of The Students For A Free Tibet joined a global protest against Google. Nowhere is Google's evil more keenly felt than in Dharamsala. It is home to the Dalai Lama and thousands of Tibetans who fled here after their country was invaded by China in 1949. Now, thanks to Google, any Chinese who wants to get information about the Dalai Lama, human rights, or Tibet will only get criticisms, official government policy, and lies, respectively. For Tibetans this isn't just a censorship issue. It's an extension of China's de facto practice of cultural genocide into cyberspace, and Google is part of that. For shame!

When the Cult of the Dead Cow launched its global "Goolag" campaign against Google, I never imagined that it would take off as quickly as it did. But nothing has been as meaningful as seeing stickers printed up and distributed in Dharamsala. Just before we launched, I circulated the logo to a mailing list of technical experts, almost all of whom live in Dharamsala. Feedback was quite positive, and we were joking that this would make a great t-shirt.

Well, thanks to the wonders of technology, now anyone can get a Goolag t-shirt from Café Press. Well, *almost* anyone. I got an email from Dharamsala this morning and am posting the relevant fragment:

"I am sure many people here would love to have a tshirt or other 'Goolag' item!

Read the rest

Yahoo logo parodied over China: what's good for the Goolag...

This parody remix graphic was photoshopped by someone using the handle "Be Fair," commenting on the Goolag post at Cult of the Dead Cow. Image is cropped at left, here's the complete graphic.

Oxblood Ruffin of cDc sez, "the Goolag graphic is now being used as as desktop wallpaper by most of the cybercafes in Dharamsala. There are a lot of very steamed Tibetan students living there."

Previously on Boing Boing: Hacktivists parody Google logo for protest, China human rights fundraiser Read the rest

Hacktivists parody Google logo for protest, China human rights fundraiser

Hacker and free speech activist Oxblood Ruffin shares this parody logo remix with Boing Boing, and says,

The Cult of the Dead Cow has started a global protest against Google's appeasement policy towards the PRC. Haxors are already printing up t-shirts based on this graphic, and we're getting feedback from as far away as India and Taiwan, and that's just within the past 8 hours.

Our only request is that if anyone makes any profits from this idea that they donate them to Human Rights in China.

More info here. Image: PDF Link, and large GIF link

Reader Comment: Erik R. Derr says,

After seeing your Boing Boing blog post about Oxblood Ruffin's parody logo of Google, I had to get some products together and order some for myself. I went ahead and set up a cafe press shop with a load of products featuring the logo, with all profits going directly to HRIC (the checks from cafe press will be mailed directly to their New York address). The store website is here.

Read the rest

Hacktivism explained

Oxblood Ruffin, the spokesmodel for the hacker underground group, Cult of the Dead Cow, has a great interview in the current ish of Shift.

Essentially what we're interested in is preserving various internet rights and freedoms. Many of those are defined by documents. If you go to the Hacktivismo website, there's something called the Hacktivismo Declaration on there that's more or less inspired by things like the Universal Declaration on Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. What's kind of interesting about the Universal Declaration of Human rights is that it's a declaration, which means it doesn't have any binding authority; it's like a feel-good document. But the ICCPR is a statute. It is binding. [Laughs] I don't know who's ever been taken to the Hague as a result of violating the terms, but it is actually an enforcable document.

Right now, I'm probably quoting that more and more. And interestingly enough, it's article nineteen of both of those documents that talks about what we call information rights -- the ability to access information, regardless of how that information might be transmitted, whether it's a newspaper on the internet or whatever. It's sort of an umbrella statement that covers all those things. We're specifically interested in maintaining the free flow of what we call lawfully-published content. Information could mean anything, it could mean your bank statements or it could mean kiddie porn or it could mean national security secrets. That's not the information we're talking about. We're essentially talking about any publicly available information on the web, that's available throughout the liberal democracies.

Read the rest

High-larious hacker blog

The Cult of the Dead Cow hacker-clan has a funny, trash-talkin' hax0r blog. Many of the cDc folks can be found this weekend in Vegas, at DefCon, the hacker conference where Dmitry Skylarov was arrested last year for telling the world that Adobe eBook "protection" blows chunks.


Discuss Read the rest