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  • Tools of the Trade

    CYBERNAUTS part 2

    by Joseph Miranda

    WHAT IS A CYBERPUNK, ANYWAY?

    Cyber comes from the Greek kybernetes, meaning helmsman. The term cybernetics was developed to describe the science dealing with the study of computers and related areas of the human nervous system, the idea being that the brain was the pilot of the body.

    Cyberspace is a term used originally by science fiction writer William Gibson (among others) to describe the virtual world of interactions created through linking computers and other related systems.

    Cyberpunk is a genre of science fiction dealing with the use of cybernetics in conjunction with various non-conformist ways. Cyberpunk posits a number of assumptions; these reinclude: Computer based information domains are the next frontier. Cybernetics will augment the human mind. The nation-state system is being superseded by global level corporations. A new computer based culture is rising, based on individuals who can utilize cybernetic systems. These cyberpunks will be in conflict with the state as they fight the age old battle of the individual versus authority.

    TOOLS OF THE TRADE

    A quick compendium of cybernetic terms...


    Algorithm. A set of computational procedures that performs a mathematical transformation.
    Back Door (or Trap Door). A set of instructions which allows entry into a computer system, usually by unauthorized personnel. This is done by inserting clandestine instructions in a program which allows one to bypass passwords and procedures. Sometimes, back doors are used by legitimate operators for quick access to deep parts of a system.
    Data Manipulation. This is the simplest form of hacking. It involves a computer operator changing data in an account. Usually, this is done by someone who is authorized access the account.
    Data Reduction or (Salami Slicing). This is a way to steal from a financial account by making incremental deductions. The program deducts a minuscule amount of cash from many accounts over a period of time, depositing the funds into another account set up by the hacker. Another way this is done is by rounding interest percentages down (instead of to the nearest whole number). The idea is that the incremental amounts will go unnoticed, but added together provide a considerable amount of cash.
    Disinfectant. Any number of programs which detect and eliminate hostile programs in a system.
    Data Encryption. This is an algorithm through which data is converted to an unintelligible alphanumeric sequence. Unencrypted data is referred to as "plain text. " Encrypted data is "cypher text."
    Decryption. The conversion of cypher text back to plain text.
    Fractal Resonance. This is the making of small changes which repeat themselves via iterative, chaotic cycles to create a larger change.
    Hacker/Cracker. Originally, a "hacker" was anyone who pushed the envelope of computer programs. The term later was used to refer to people conducting illegal activities via computer. In recent years, the term hacker has been rehabilitated to its original meaning, and "cracker" applied to that subset of hackers involved an illegal activities.
    Human Level Software/Hardware. This is postulated cybernetic equipment that would be on the same level of complexity of the human brain.
    ICE (Intrusion Countermeasure Electronics). This is a term popularized by cyberpunk writer William Gibson. It refers to assorted programs designed to protect the integrity and security of a computer system.
    Information Warfare. Term used by the U.S. Department of Defense to describe conflict conducted via the internet and the media (including electronically executed intelligence, propaganda and sabotage).
    Key. A combination/pattern of characters that serve as a secret parameter, thereby allowing the encryption/decryption of data. There are two types of keys: Private, in which both the sender and receiver use the same key; this requires both to maintain the secrecy of the key. Public, in which there are two separate keys: The encyphering key, which is public domain; and the decyphering key, which is kept secret by the users.
    Logic Bomb (or Time Bomb). A set of unauthorized instructions designed to sabotage a system. The Logic Bomb is usually intended to take effect some time after it has been inserted into a system. This may be triggered by the passing of a prespecified date/time in the system's internal clock. Or it may be triggered by an event, such as a counter recording a certain number of prespecified transactions. The usual effect of a Logic Bomb is to erase data or cause a system to "crash" (shut down).
    Masquerade. This is when the hacker takes on the guise of someone else to gain access to restricted areas/files. This can be done physically, by assuming a false identity; it can also be done electronically, by using a stolen password. One variant of masquerade is piggybacking. This involves an unauthorized operator using a terminal which the legitimate operator has failed to turn off.
    Nano-technology. Nano-technology is a term coined by Eric Drexler in his book "Engines of Creation". Nano-technology is the technological control over the structure of matter at the atomic level. Drexler predicts virus sized computers/robots. These "nanites" would be, essentially, very complex molecules, assembled one atom at a time. Each would have some specific purpose. Micro-miniaturization will have many advantages. Computers can gain far larger caches of RAM and ROM. But the nanites can also be used to engineer people themselves; for example, microscopic robots can be inserted into the human body to remove disease and to expand the power of the human mind. Nanites will have the ability to self replicate, building new nanites by utilizing organic materials. The big hope is that they can eventually assemble larger objects -- like living human organs.
    Password. An alphanumeric string which is used to gain access to a protected system.
    Phone Phreak. Individuals/groups who exploit the phone system by gaining illegal access to lines.
    Scavenging. This can be either physical, rooting through trash, for example, to find written passwords and other items which have been thrown out. Or it can be electronic, hunting through files to find information which is useful is gaining access to secure areas.
    Social Engineering. An alternative term for Masquerade or Scavenging.
    Spam. Unsolicited e-mail which overloads a system.
    Underground Economy. The portion of the national/global economy which is not monitored, taxed, regulated, etc.
    Trojan Horse. This is a set of unauthorized instructions clandestinely inserted into a program. The Trojan Horse allows the program to run normally while gaining some sort of advantage for the hacker.
    Virus. This is a program which can reproduce itself via the sharing of software programs. The Virus program attaches itself to another program and, when that program is intruded into another system, it reproduces itself and infects the new system. Results of a virus may be similar to a Logic Bomb.
    Worm. Similar to a Virus, but usually transmitted via a communications network. Worms do not attach themselves to a program; they survive independently.

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