Today is the anniversary of the testimony I and other members of the l0pht gave to the US Senate in 1998. It was the first time the US Govt. publicly referenced “hackers” in a positive context. The coverage was national and even international. Come behind the scenes. /Thread

6:42 PM · May 20, 2019

70
870
109
3,142
I dislike flying, so we rented a Dodge Ram 3500 15 passenger van to drive down to the US Senate. As a bonus, we could stop by the NSA Crypto Museum! We met at the L0pht around 4am to load up. Group picture (L to R): Brian Oblivion, Stefan, Weld, Tan, Kingpin, Spacerog, Mudge
7
10
2
264
We decided to do some signals collection on the drive from Boston to DC. Remember it was 1998 so not your modern war driving. We had RF experts in the L0pht, so we were equipped ;) There was a veritable antenna farm on the roof.
6
15
3
243
Around that time I was lecturing and teaching inside NSA (I4, C4, ... ) and I accidentally went on auto pilot and we drove into the employee entrance of the NSA... Some stuff happened... but that’s a different story...
6
8
1
233
We eventually made it to the NSA Crypto Museum (@cryptmf) on our way to the Senate. I don’t know what kingpin is doing to the display in this picture...
4
4
1
166
We finally arrived at the hotel and went to check in. Part of the arrangement was the Senate would reimburse us for travel and take care of hotel costs (e.g. ‘travel orders’). The other part of the arrangement was we would do *all* of this under aliases. See the problem?
3
6
2
158
The government agreed. They knew me (I’ll do a thread on the NSA teaching and lecturing later), so they extended the trust. The hotel clerk wouldn’t let us check in without ID. The manager sees the initials on the cover names (A. A., B. B., C. C., etc.) says: “It’s fine.”
3
5
0
194
Food time
5
4
0
139
And off to the Dirksen Senate Office Building to meet with the staffers and make sure things are set for the hearing the next day. Tan was, as many know, a lot more ‘gangsta’ than I.
6
3
0
160
We were then taken to the room where the hearings would be held. I was pretty happy that I was wearing a phone phreak t-shirt endorsing blue-box style phreaking. And yes, the shirt and tie was what Stefan wore at the L0pht too.
4
4
1
176
Then it was off to the hotel room to compose, review, modify, review, modify, compose some more, our oral statements. Here I’m reading parts aloud to a very tired @spacerog and Stefan Von Neumann. OBhack: composed on a thinkpad running OpenBSD
6
14
3
173
A quick cigarette for Spacerog and myself, a habit I broke over a decade ago I’m happy to say, and we were ready to go in. As this whole thing was a polite dissent against what we saw as a broken system, I’m pleased to see I appropriately took-a-knee :)
4
8
0
177
The full testimony recorded from CSPAN has been up on YouTube for a while. It’s worth a watch. When you’re done, come on back here and I’ll finish the anniversary date storytime and picture show (spoiler alert: White House shenanigans...) piped.kavin.rocks/VVJldn_MmMY
11
35
10
277
Around then I was spending more and more time with members of the White House National Security Council ( en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United… ). Richard Clarke was my main contact. We hit it off. He not only listened but also acted upon technical explanations and insights I was providing.
4
7
1
143
This goes back to why I was willing to engage the government (I always refused financial compensation) on technical items during the l0pht days. I felt the bad decisions (CFAA, DMCA, etc.) were due to ignorance. They needed to be better informed to make better decisions.
2
16
5
188
Through those efforts and engagements came opportunities to change bad narratives and educate, such as what we attempted in our testimony. It’s also what got us our after-hours-full-access White House tour. That’s not normally given to people (traveling under hacker handles).
1
6
0
137
What a lot of people don’t know about the White House Press room is that it’s super tiny and cramped. Cell phones weren’t as ubiquitous then. So the seats were full of messy wiring such as this setup for the CNN seat in the room.
4
7
0
147
In exchange for me having repeatedly extended a technical olive branch to them, the government was (in hindsight) extending the same gesture back. Here we are entering the NSC office (302 room) in the White House. The locks on the door were fun, as was the Hirsch scramblepad.
1
7
0
136
There was an embarrassing moment as I darted behind a special desk, made a comment about a former NSC member of whom I disapproved (involved in an arms scandal, ...and then realized a ‘clean desk’ policy wasn’t being followed and some govvie faces had drained of color. [No pic]
3
5
1
159
The Situation Room was under construction in the White House at the time. Service members were working under tarps there [no photo]. The soldiers referred to us as ‘The Dirty Dozen’. I later received a Situation Room coin.
1
6
0
190
It was pretty late at this point, around 10:30pm or so) so the NSC principle and staffers decided to “let us run around outside in the rose garden” for a bit.
4
4
0
133
It was time for us to go back to the hotel. It had been a very long and very surreal day. Oh, and yes, we resisted the urge to demonstrate infrastructure vulnerabilities right then. ...but ask me about the communications satellite that went dark the next day sometime ;)
11
7
0
249