Feeds

Woz blesses Captain Crunch's new box

Legendary phone phreak debuts anti-hacker kit

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Remote control for virtualized desktops

John Draper, the man better known as legendary phone phreak Captain Crunch, is soon to debut the fruits of recent labors: a box designed to thwart hackers.

Crunch played a pivotal role in the phone underground thirty years ago, and paid for it with two spells in the clink. Crunch got his name by discovering that a plastic whistle included in a popular breakfast cereal perfectly reproduced the 2600Hz frequency which unlocked the AT&T phone network. Draper was also the inspiration for the first micro pioneers: Apple co-founders Wozniak and Jobs sold a Blue Box phone from their Berkeley dorm.

But the Crunchman, now 58, is happy to play gamekeeper. The new CrunchBox is a dedicated Pentium III system, running a tweaked version of the secure OpenBSD operating system, and it fits in a 1U rack shelf.

It uses the popular Snort IDS, but with added custom-written heuristics. New exploits can be identified, and authenticated rules sent back to the box within half an hour, Crunch tell us. A final price hasn't yet been set, but Crunch says the box will offer similar functionality to $8,000 boxes on show at the RSA conference last week, for considerably less money.

He's confident enough to put a public version of the new CrunchBox on line, and that confidence is justified, according to his old friend Steve Wozniak.

"He's devoted his life to it for the last few years," Woz told us.

Over lunch after CodeCon recently, Draper modestly played down his own involvement in the phone underground, which he said began when one night, when he received a random phone call from a hacker.

"It was going on before I got involved," he told us.

Over a meal and CodeCon, Draper recounted the story of how he and Woz had dialed the Vatican. It was 4am, and Woz wanted the Pope.

Draper recalls the conversation. "'Is the Pope there? I'm calling from California, and I need to confess!'".

Woz laughs when we tell him the anecdote. Did this reallyhappen?

"I've heard that story so many times," he says, "and read it so many times. So I guess it must be!"

But Woz credits Draper as a true technical pioneer. "He perhaps didn't have the skills of social engineering of someone like Kevin Mitnick, but he did discover a huge amount of technical information himself, the codes and switches," all of which undoubtedly helps secure the new CrunchBox.

The online demo is available at the ShopIP com. and Crunch's own website, which collects many stories about his life and deeds, is here. ®

Intelligent flash storage arrays

More from The Register

next story
'Regin': The 'New Stuxnet' spook-grade SOFTWARE WEAPON described
'A degree of technical competence rarely seen'
You really need to do some tech support for Aunty Agnes
Free anti-virus software, expires, stops updating and p0wns the world
You stupid BRICK! PCs running Avast AV can't handle Windows fixes
Fix issued, fingers pointed, forums in flames
Privacy bods offer GOV SPY VICTIMS a FREE SPYWARE SNIFFER
Looks for gov malware that evades most antivirus
Patch NOW! Microsoft slings emergency bug fix at Windows admins
Vulnerability promotes lusers to domain overlords ... oops
HACKERS can DELETE SURVEILLANCE DVRS remotely – report
Hikvision devices wide open to hacking, claim securobods
prev story

Whitepapers

Choosing cloud Backup services
Demystify how you can address your data protection needs in your small- to medium-sized business and select the best online backup service to meet your needs.
Getting started with customer-focused identity management
Learn why identity is a fundamental requirement to digital growth, and how without it there is no way to identify and engage customers in a meaningful way.
10 threats to successful enterprise endpoint backup
10 threats to a successful backup including issues with BYOD, slow backups and ineffective security.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
The hidden costs of self-signed SSL certificates
Exploring the true TCO for self-signed SSL certificates, including a side-by-side comparison of a self-signed architecture versus working with a third-party SSL vendor.