Feeds

Woz blesses Captain Crunch's new box

Legendary phone phreak debuts anti-hacker kit

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Next gen security for virtualised datacentres

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. ®

The essential guide to IT transformation

More from The Register

next story
Goog says patch⁵⁰ your Chrome
64-bit browser loads cat vids FIFTEEN PERCENT faster!
Chinese hackers spied on investigators of Flight MH370 - report
Classified data on flight's disappearance pinched
NIST to sysadmins: clean up your SSH mess
Too many keys, too badly managed
Scratched PC-dispatch patch patched, hatched in batch rematch
Windows security update fixed after triggering blue screens (and screams) of death
Researchers camouflage haxxor traps with fake application traffic
Honeypots sweetened to resemble actual workloads, complete with 'secure' logins
Attack flogged through shiny-clicky social media buttons
66,000 users popped by malicious Flash fudging add-on
prev story

Whitepapers

Best practices for enterprise data
Discussing how technology providers have innovated in order to solve new challenges, creating a new framework for enterprise data.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Advanced data protection for your virtualized environments
Find a natural fit for optimizing protection for the often resource-constrained data protection process found in virtual environments.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?