• Released December 1st, 1994
    Size 98.8 MB
    Download unauthorized_access.mp4

    Unauthorized Access is a documentary produced by Annaliza Savage in 1994. Shot in 15 cities and 4 countries, this documentary offers an impressive array of topics dealing with hacking culture.

    The documentary begins with stories of several hackers who had trouble with the law. The first interview is with Mark Abene, aka Phiber Optik, who was just sentenced to a year of imprisonment for unauthorized access to federal interest computers among other charges. Mark describes the indictment as pathetic. According to Mark what is happening to him and other hackers is equivalent to communist witchhunt of McCarthyism. The judge who sentenced Phiber Optik wanted to send a message to other hackers by giving him the harshest sentence among other defendants. Justin Petersen, aka Agent Steal, is featured as another hacker who was on the run at the time. He is described as a very secretive individual who turned evidence to authorities on several other hackers in order to save himself. Agent Steal continued illegal hacking even as an FBI information and went on the run after pulling off a credit card fraud operation. The segment concludes with a story about a 14 year old hacker, Noah, who broke into a Westinghouse computer. He describes how he narrowly escaped prison sentence due to his age.

    In a more practical segment, the documentary explores some of the techniques used by hackers. First the viewer learns about a vast database called Information America. Used by lawyers and bounty hackers, Information America offers a wealth of information about American citizens including employment, property information, cohabitants and other sensitive details. Next we jump into a quick Solaris hacking session with Dan Farmer. In a section dedicated to phreaking, we learn about the powers of red and blue boxes. At last we learn how trashing can yield plenty of interesting information by digging through trash of target companies.

    The largest segment of the documentary is dedicated to the coverage of various hacker groups and communities. A predecessor of modern hacker spaces, l0pht, is described by its organizers as a club house without a secret handshake. Count Zero shares that l0pht got started as a storage space but turned into a communal phenomenon where hackers come from all over the country to exchange information and play with hardware. In the next section, Emmanuel Goldstein describes the community that has grown around the 2600 magazine as a collective with an attitude that challenges authority, questions things and spreads information. During one of the monthly 2600 meetings, the viewer is presented with a typical information sharing between hackers in Los Angeles. The segment ends with several clips from HoHo con in Austin, Texas. Drunkfux, the organizer of HoHo con, describes the need for law enforcement and private organizations to meet with hackers in order to learn that they are not some anarchists set out to destroy computers but a group of well-spoken and polite individuals.

    In its last segment, Unauthorized Access travels to Europe to document Dutch and German hacker scenes. There are several interviews with prominent hackers in Amsterdam. Rop Gonggripjp describes how physical security is inherently interesting to computer hackers due to similarities in the way of thinking how to break it. Felipe Rodriquez talks about his efforts to create the first consumer oriented Internet service provider as well as several side-projects such as Digital City. There is also coverage of Hacking at the End of the Universe hacker congress organized by Dutch Hak-Tic group. The section on German hackers includes a lot of hacktivist projects in former Yugoslavia. Many German hackers were involved in setting up Bulletin-Board Systems (BBS) in Sarajevo in order to allow for communication between the embattled country and the outside world.

    The documentary serves as an excellent and broad time capsule of worldwide hacking communities in the early 1990s. From the witchhunt in America to hacktivism in Germany, viewers will be amazed just how intertwined hackers became in societies throughout the world.

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