TEK THOTS


Electronic Newsletter



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TEK THOTS
Volume 4, Number 4
April 25, 1999
Published irregularly by Scott C. Holstad

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Copyright Notice
Copyright (C) 1999  Scott C. Holstad
All enclosed material may be used for non-commercial purposes.
=============================================================

***********************************************************************
DISCLAIMER The view and analysis expressed in Tek Thots are the author's own, and do not in any
way reflect the views of EarthLink Network, Inc., the author's employer.
***********************************************************************

CONTENTS

-- News/Editorial
-- PC Thots
-- Mac Thots
-- This Issue's Software-O-Rama
-- Stock Thots
-- Newbie Thots 
-- Game Thots
-- Privacy/Security Thots


=============================================================

News/Editorial
------------------

* Hello, and welcome to another issue of Tek Thots.  Thanks for reading and passing it along to
your friends.  AT this point, we have readers in over 40 countries.

Well, I went to Spring Internet World here in LA this past week and really left unimpressed.  
It seemed smaller than usual, I didn't get the shirts I usually get ;) and there wasn't the
usual energy surrounding the news of new releases or technologies.  All in all, a
disappointment.  If you didn't go, you didn't miss much.  Frankly, I think there are too many
Internet Worlds, and that may contribute, ultimately, to its irrelevance.


*	Anyone heard any rumors about Adobe and Sun...?


*	My buddy, Dennis Poledna, weighs in again.


Convergence, or "Oh Luuuucy, I'm @Home!"

Recent speeches by Sony CEO Howard Stringer and by FCC Chairman William
Kennard have urged broadcasters and other media companies to embrace the
potential of broadband Internet access. 

There is only one thing wrong with this notion and that is everything. The
digital dystopia that these folks (Aided  by Microsoft, Yahoo, and others.)
are proposing has the potential to turn the 'Net into another vast
wasteland of homogenized trash; another medium where everyone is rushing to
be the second one to discover The Next Big Thing. To me, the Internet is
more attractive than television because of the the variety, the intensely
personal nature of some of the sites, and the fact that nearly anyone can
publish content. Yes, some of it should never see the light of day but
there are some real gems too, full of artistry, passion and insight. 

So what? These folks will still be able to put up their pages anyway.
Right? Just like anyone could broadcast a television signal in the year 1938. 

Oh, I forgot, the Internet doesn't work that way. It can't be regulated
like the airwaves are  can it? The airwaves are regulated by laws, not by
physics.  If the media companies smell money and/or the chance to extend
their de facto monopolies I would not be surprised to find myself paying
for a license for my website. For my own good, of course. And, then we'll
need to establish some guidelines for content; don't want any bad stuff out
there. And then the license fees have had to go way up because of the need
to hire people to make sure that the guidelines are being observed. 

And so it goes.


Dennis Poledna
defragc@hotmail.com


*
Kosovo Being Called First Internet War 
Web personalizes it with images, communications 

April Lynch, S.F. Chronicle Staff Writer                                                     


In the fight over Kosovo, the Internet is emerging as the newsreel of the '90s. 

Most major 20th century wars have had their own medium of the moment -- film in World War II,
television footage in Vietnam, live TV in the Gulf War. Now, computer enthusiasts have quickly
slapped a few labels on the Kosovo conflict, calling the fight everything from ``the first
Internet war'' to ``Web War I.''

The World Wide Web may mean relatively little to most of the war's victims, who don't have
Internet service in refugee camps in Macedonia or bomb shelters in Belgrade. But the war over
Kosovo is the first armed conflict in which all sides have an active presence on the Internet,
according to Web analysts and publishers.

Web audiences who want to know more about the conflict can access information that is only on
the Net -- from daily human rights updates from Macedonia to official Yugoslav proclamations.

So far, however, putting Kosovo online hasn't added up to major shifts in public opinion or
policy.

``There is no such thing as an `Internet war,' '' said Jon Katz, a media critic and author who
covers technology. ``This is real generals dropping real bombs on real people. There isn't a
single thing on the Internet that has truly affected this war.''

Thus far, television has carried the images that have defined the Kosovo conflict in the West -
desperate Kosovo Albanian refugees fleeing for their lives, defiant people in Belgrade
protesting NATO bombing, three American soldiers captured by Serbian troops, a refugee convoy
shattered by bombs.

But the Internet has made new inroads. Many Web sites on Kosovo focus on poignant personal
accounts and opinions that rarely make it into the traditional press.

Global Beat Syndicate, an online international news service based at New York University,
offers first- hand views of the war from a range of viewpoints. One is that of Gjeraqina
Tuhina, a journalist and ethnic Albanian resident of the Kosovo capital of Pristina who
reported in Kosovo before being expelled to Macedonia.

``Many of us are still in shock,'' Tuhina wrote in a recent posting. ``We're too proud to admit
that we are refugees. People are using new expressions, like `deportees.' . . . They want to
pretend that the past few weeks didn't happen and that it can all be reversed. Even though many
are dead. Even though we are, in fact, here in Macedonia.''

Paul Tooher, Global Beat's interim editor and assistant managing editor at the Providence
Journal- Bulletin, said Global Beat's site tries to offer the best aspects of the Web -- voice
and immediacy - while avoiding some of its pitfalls, such as anonymous sources and sometimes
dubious accuracy.

``The Internet is a tool, and in and of itself, it doesn't have much value,'' Tooher said.
``But people can still use (the Web) to make connections and form communities and get their
stories out in real time and get a dialogue going, and the value comes from there.''

The broad range of opinions available online also gives an immediacy to wartime voices that
normally can be squelched in the midst of conflict, especially those inside Yugoslavia. The
Internet offers access to an uncensored Serbian point of view, whether official or individual.

``There is information about this war that you will only find online,'' said John Pike,
director of the Space Policy Project at the Federation of American Scientists, which has posted
extensive satellite and other information about Kosovo on its site.

``The Serbian case is very well-represented on the Internet.''

So is the alliance's view. ``Every day, NATO is releasing spy satellite imagery that shows what
they did hit and the humanitarian situation in Kosovo,'' said Pike. ``The Internet is
unavoidably the primary distribution channel for this material.''

Other sites have moved beyond information to putting technology in the hands of the war's
victims.

One California company has created a free service to help Web users in Yugoslavia conceal their
identities from censors and police who might be tracking down dissenters by tracing e-mail or
Web traffic.

Anonymizer.com, which normally offers such privacy shields for a fee, launched its Kosovo
Privacy Project on March 26, two days after the war started. Since then, several thousand
people have signed up for the Kosovo shield each day, said Anonymizer founder and CEO Lance
Cottrell.

``As the war is continuing, privacy is becoming more important, because the flow of information
coming out of Kosovo is dwindling,'' said Cottrell. ``If there are fewer (Web users), it's
easier to go after them.''

The Illinois Institute of Technology's Chicago-Kent College of Law has created KRISYS-Net, an
online center for Kosovo Albanian refugees that provides both a database of refugees in Albania
and a central library of legal, emigration and aid information. The school has done other
online projects in the Balkans, and began to build this one last year to help ethnic Albanian
refugees being pushed out of Kosovo.

So far, KRISYS-Net has about 27,000 refugees in its database, only a fraction of the total
number of displaced people, but still more of a centralized list than had existed before,
according to Charles Rudnick, assistant dean at the law school. KRYSIS-Net also had a system in
Pristina that was designed to help ease the return of last year's refugees.

The Internet also has the power to do damage through misinformation or sabotage. NATO's Web
site has come under cyber-attack from users inside Yugoslavia who jammed access to the site. It
is also possible for anyone with a little technical know-how and some basic equipment to
counterfeit sites.

In the end, the Internet's strongest effect on Kosovo may be as a sort of ``net'' that
surrounds the conflict, informing it and keeping other media in check. It may not shape the
war, but the Web has personalized Kosovo, documented it and prevented outright censorship.

``You can really get alternative voices online, which is really difficult in war,'' said Joan
Walsh, news editor at the online magazine Salon. ``I don't think its effect is going to be as
dramatic as it was with TV with Vietnam. But the proliferation of voices is having an
incremental effect, a gradual influence.''


============================================================

PC Thots
-----------

*
HP Ties Messaging Systems With Software, Services
By Brian Riggs, InformationWeek 

Hewlett-Packard disclosed plans Wednesday to integrate its messaging systems with software from
Microsoft and Software.com, as well as to provide companies with consulting services for
messaging.

HP's Technical Advice for Microsoft Exchange Server is a suite of services intended to help
businesses improve the performance and availability of messaging and collaboration applications
running on the Microsoft platform. The consulting services are designed to help IT staffs learn
recovery methodologies, server optimization, upgrade and migration strategies, and problem
resolution for messaging applications running on Exchange servers.

Palo Alto, Calif.-based HP said it plans to integrate its Smart Internet Messaging platform
with Software.com's InterMail messaging software. The integrated products are expected to help
service providers deploy hosted messaging services.

Also Wednesday, HP began shipping OpenMail 6.0, the latest release of its Unix-based messaging
platform. The software is now more tightly integrated with Microsoft Outlook, providing users
with public folders and shared calendars. Improved scalability lets a single OpenMail server
support up to 1 million users. Version 6.0 also features Web-based management interface support
for LDAP version 3 and improved interoperability with Exchange and Lotus Domino servers.


=============================================================

Mac Thots
-------------------------------

*	Our friend Bill Evans writes the following:

So, not only are we obnoxious in our insistence that "our" OS is superior to
all others, the real problem with us Mac folks is that we refuse to just shut
up and go away. When Scott discontinued this part of Tek Thots about a year
ago, Apple was in deep shit and I was actually considering the
inconsiderable--having to switch over to a PC. But in the past year lots has
changed, and Apple is not just surviving but thriving. Space is short here,
so we'll just hit a couple of neat Mac happenings and one piece of software.

APPLE EMBRACES OPEN PLATFORM
You read that right, the company that refused to even allow it's OS to be
cloned for so long it nearly destroyed them and then allowed limited cloning
only to yank the program a short time later (as one who got stuck with a
StarMax, I was less than happy about it), has actually agreed to open up
major parts of the OS X Server. More info is available at
www.apple.com/darwin.

EVANGELIST BITES THE DUST
The popular  Mac mail list put together by Guy Kawasaki is over and this is
being touted as, not a bad thing, but further proof of Apple's rebound. In
the final post, Kawasaki wrote, "The original purpose of EvangeList was to
counteract the negative news about Apple and Macintosh,  and I believe that
EvangeList has served its purpose -- fantastically. So, after discussing what
we should do with EvangeList with the folks at Apple, we've decided to retire
the list."
The list topped out at some 45,000 subscribers.

COOL MAC TOYS
Undoubtedly the potentially coolest toy out there right now is the Connectix
PlayStation Emulator. Problem is that Connectix  got hit with a restraining
order in the past few days and the product could be history. But there are
boxes on the shelves and you may consider searching one out. I know I am.

But one I have a lot more experience with is the new Palm Desktop for the
Mac. Even if you don't have a Palm Pilot, this is worth the paltry $14.95
3Com is asking for.

Since the demise of the Claris Organizer (which 3Com bought and which became
the foundation for the Palm Desktop) and Now Contact and Up-to-Date. I have
been looking for a decent contact andappointment organizer. Getting my
PowerBook ripped off at the L.A. Convention Center, led me to buy a Palm III
and in the Palm Desktop I have found the organization software I have been
searching for. It does contacts, it does calendar, it does to-do lists, it
does notes. It combines them all--If I enter a business trip to, say,
Nashville into the calendar, it looks at my contact list for anyone with a
Nashville address and asks if I want to attach the contact. Sweet. It's
intuitive and easy to use as all things Mac should be. Combined with a Pilot,
it's the shit, but even without one, it's well worth checking out.




=============================================================

This Issue's Software-O-Rama
-------------------------------------

* Kleptomania 1.5 (http://www.structurise.com/kleptomania/) is a new shareware screen capture
program that allows to capture and process text from any (even clipboard-unaware) application.  
You can copy text onto the clipboard, launch your Internet browser or email editor, sum
numbers, count a number of words/characters. Also, you can process text of folder trees, file
lists, database reports, text content of messages and dialog boxes, menus, status lines,
visible text of legacy systems, and more. Kleptomania does not rely on any data communication
scheme behind the scene -- uses OCR and delivers ultimate text capture and processing
abilities.


=============================================================

Stock Thots
--------------

* Tech stocks, while going all over the place, rose last week amid 3Com takeover rumors, among
others.  IBM did quite well, as well.  I'd advise going for the blue chip tech stocks right now
- IBM, Lucent, AT&T, etc.  Stay away from the ETrade's of the world, a company which just
reported a net loss of over $14.  It attributed the loss to $250 million in system upgrades and
advertising.



=============================================================

Newbie Thots
---------------

*	Decode This!  Cryptography in a Nutshell


I don't have anything to hide.  This is a typical response when the subject of encryption, or
more accurately, cryptography arises.  But, have you ever wondered how many people can - and do
- access your information or correspondence?  Hmmm, how about your spouse, kids, co-workers,
mother-in-law (and I'm EVEN going to get into packet sniffers! --
http://www.instantweb.com/foldoc/foldoc.cgi?query=sniffer&action=Search).  Face it - with
Internet commerce growing daily by leaps and bounds, and with everyone seemingly sending all
sorts of sensitive (personal and business) information around, many of us DO need or will need
online security at some point.  So, it's worth taking a minute to think about cryptography and
the contribution it can make to your life on the Internet.

What exactly IS cryptography?


Cryptography (http://www.instantweb.com/foldoc/foldoc.cgi?query=cryptography&action=Search) is
the science of protecting communication by disguising it.  How does it work?  You encrypt a
message by scrambling it, making the message unreadable., Then, the recipient of the message
decrypts, transforming the data back into its original form.  A mathematical formula called an
algorithm allows this to happen.

An encrypted name might look like this:  A4&*gEK3Dsdfi^(TV.  A person holding the appropriate
algorithmic "key" would be able to decrypt this gibberish, ending with something that looks
like:  Scott Holstad.

How did cryptography come about?


People have been using codes to disguise messages to thousands of years.  As a matter of fact,
Thomas Jefferson himself developed a fairly elaborate code system, earning him the title of
father of U.S. cryptography.  Cryptography became a serious issue when the telegraph was
invented, and it was heavily pursued during World War Two, when digital computer were invented
to crack codes.  Interestingly, many people feel that the Allies might not have won the war
were it not for their unbreakable code system - namely, Navaho Indians exchanging messages via
their own language!

DES


Until the 1960s, the right to create and break codes was thought to belong to the government.  
It is believed that the NSA (http://www.nsa.gov/), the secret U.S. spy agency, was responsible
for protecting classified information, and for decoding foreign communications.  However, in
the late 1960s, IBM established a cryptography system named "Lucifer," which became a
successful commercial product.  Lucifer was controversial, for many of the Feds felt the
private sector did not need or deserve cryptography.

Other companies also began developing encryption systems, and there soon arose a need for a
common encryption standard.  In 1973, the National Bureau of Standards (now, the National
Institute of Standards and Technology or NIST -- http://www.nist.gov/) selected the Data
Encryption Standard algorithm (known as DES) to serve as this common standard.

DES uses a 56-bit encryption key.  (An "encryption key" is a phrase used to encrypt a message.)  
A 56-bit key was a strong one at the time - there are 72,058,000,000,000,000 (or 2 to the 56th
power) possible combinations that might be used to "unlock" such a key!  A message encrypted
with DES should take along time to crack.  Yet, despite its sophistication, when DES was
authorized in 1976 for use on all "unclassified" government communication, many people worried
that the government could crack it.  These suspicions didn't prevent DES from being adopted,
and it's now the standard used by banks to wire funds and operated ATM machines.

However, DES is becoming obsolete.  Technically unbreakable in 1976, it's now possible to make
a DES-breaking chip for about $10.

RSA


In 1977, as an alternative to DES, Ron Rivest, Adi Shamir, and Leonard Adelman introduced RSA,
a "public key" encryption standard.  (The name was created from the initials of their last
names.)  Improving on DES's single key structure, RSA provided double keys.  A user generates
both of these keys; one of them - the public key - is distributed openly, like a phone number.  
Anyone can use this public key to sent encrypted email to the key's owner, who then users his
or her second "private" key to decrypt the message.

PGP


But RSA proved to be unwieldy, its operations too complex for anything but scientific
computers.  So, in 1986, programmer Phil Zimmermann set out to create a program that would
allow the implementation of RSA on PCs.  The result was Pretty Good Privacy, 1 128-bit public
key encryption program, now widely in use.

As more people get online, there's an increasing need for privacy and security.  Check out
cryptography for yourselves; you may find what you like AND need.



=============================================================


Game Thots
---------------

* EA used to be one of the most reliable of game makers around.  Not only that, but their games
led the way in their respective categories in quality.  Well, even though EA very kindly fixed
a PC of mine that had died terribly due to one of their games, I can't get ANY of their recent
games to work on either of my PCs.  NCAA 99, NBA Live 99, Madden Football 99 - not a darn one
works on any of my machines.  Now, I'll grant that testing 2-3 computers does not work out to a
comprehensive test, but doesn't it strike you as odd that their games won't work...?


=============================================================

Privacy/Security Thots
---------------------------


*	Tek Thots AV Scanning Results:

PRODUCT			Number Caught (out of 200)		%

Anywhere AV				199				99.5%
Dr. Solomon's FindVirus (7.68)	        199				99.5%%
F-PROT (v. 2.24c) 			198 				99%
Sophos Sweep 				196 				98%
Leprechaun				195				97.5%
ThunderBYTE  				195 				97.5%
   (Tbav for Windows 95 v7.06)
Invircible				195				97.5%
Norton AntiVirus 			195				97.5%
McAfee VirusScan 95 (2.01.218)	        194				97%
IBM Antivirus 				191 				95.5%



* New Zealand is making hacking a crime. It will become a criminal act to access a computer
system with a "dishonest purpose," to attempt to access a computer system for a dishonest
purpose, to damage or interfere with a computer system, and to have unauthorized access to a
computer.


=============================================================


*	From the Crypt's homepage:

From the Josef K Guide to Tech terminology: 

EMP gun: n. Always suspected but never seen, the EMP -- electromagnetic pulse -- weapon is the
chupacabra of cyberspace. Accordingly, it is said to be responsible for much nettlesome
corporate computer and bank failure, almost always in countries where such things cannot be
verified.

Usage: Pelham was amused when the overly gullible newspaper reporter published his frank lies
about Russian computer programmers knocking over international banks with emp guns made from
stolen Radio Shack equipment.

------------

One of the most persistent fairy tales propagated in information warfare circles is the urban
legend of the electromagnetic pulse gun. When it shows up in the mainstream media, courtesy of
Reuters or the Associated Press, it looks something like this:

"Dateline BRUSSELS -- Criminals can use the Internet to create powerful electromagnetic weapons
that threaten society with chaos and destruction, a Latverian military officer warned Friday.

"Underground sites on the Internet contain instructions on how to put together dangerous
weapons that use electromagnetic or high-energy pulses that cripple computer systems, telephone
systems and alarms, according to Victor von Doom, chief engineer at the Defense Materials
division of the Latverian armed forces' electronic systems division.

"High-tech goods found everywhere in the world can be used to create powerful weapons using
recipes found on the Internet," said von Doom at a meeting of the International Association Of
Quack Computer Consultants in Europe.

"The problem is spreading from Russia, von Doom said."

Pretty scary. But sensationalistic garbage that was actually published by one of the wire news
services. Crypt News only changed the names of the parties involved.

[For a more recent example from the newsmedia, consider 20/20's coverage of radio frequency
weapons in the "Postscript."]

Crypt News took the time to talk to some scientists at Sandia National Laboratory in
Albuquerque. Neal Singer pronounced it an interesting urban legend. Sandia, of course, is one
of the national laboratories responsible for weaponization of the U.S. nuclear arsenal. The lab
has also done extensive research into shielding against and generation of electromagnetic pulse
effects.

Awareness of electromagnetic pulse effects happened in 1962 when a 1.4 megaton nuclear weapon
was detonated in Test Shot Starfish. The Starfish shot was conducted 400 kilometers high above
the mid-Pacific and the electromagnetic pulse from it destroyed satellite equipment and blocked
high frequency radio communications across the Pacific for 30 minutes. "Strings of street
lights in Oahu went out and hundreds of burglar alarms set off when the pulses overloaded their
circuits," wrote William Arkin in "S.I.O.P.: The Strategic U.S. Plan for Nuclear War." A
scientist at Lawrence Livermore, Nicholas Christofilos, had predicted this effect earlier in
the rear, calculating that high energy particles from a nuclear burst high in the atmosphere
would become trapped in the Earth's magnetic field, producing a series of lightning-like
pulses.

Since then, the idea of using electromagnetic effects as a death ray, of sorts, produced
without a messy 1.4 megaton nuclear explosion, has become increasingly interesting to fans of
the weird quack-science of non-lethality and, for some reason, computer security experts and
teenage hackers. For example, Crypt Newsletter frequently receives poorly spelled
advertisements put together by teenagers advertising schematics for electromagnetic computer
death rays for about $5.00 cash U.S. These, along with instructions for turning the telephone
handset into an electric chair, software for melting the circuitry in a PC, and recipes for
poisoning enemies with arsenicals -- come dirt cheap on pink photocopying paper or
cheesy-looking pamphlets sold at "Survival Books" in north Hollywood.

Interestingly, Winn Schwartau did much to embed the myth of the emp weapon in the mainstream
imagination with his 1994 book "Information Warfare." In it, Schwartau wrote of secret U.S.
missiles used against Iraq in the Gulf War to short circuit communications through bursts of
microwaves. It was an interesting mistake based on a more prosaic reality having nothing to do
with emp weapons. In the Gulf War, the Navy used a few Tomahawks containing spools of carbon
filament. The filament was deployed across Iraq's power lines and stations by the Tomahawks,
causing black-outs by short circuit around Baghdad.

Since 1992 the tale of the emp gun has been seized upon by hackers rather too eager to sell
gullible journalists on a pseudo-reality of imposing feats of technical legerdemain. (For
example, mention of it as a hacker tool contaminates Alvin and Heidi Toffler's "War and
Anti-War," published in 1993.)

In another such story, "Hack Attack," published as a cover feature in a 1996 issue of Forbes
ASAP magazine, a number of "dangerous ex-hackers" played the game, "Let's lie to the
journalist." The emp-weapon-used-against-Iraq myth was deployed:

Forbes writer: Have you ever heard of a device that directs magnetic signals at hard disks and
can scramble the data?

Dangerous ex-hackers, in unison: Yes! A HERF [high energy radio frequency] gun.

Dangerous ex-hacker A: This is my nightmare. $300: a rucksack full of car batteries, a
microcapacitor and a directional antenna and I could point it at Oracle . . .

Dangerous ex-hacker B: We could cook the fourth floor.

Dangerous ex-hacker A: . . . You could park it in a car and walk away. It's a $300 poor man's
nuke . . .

Dangerous ex-hacker A, on a roll: They were talking about giving these guns to border patrol
guards so they can zap Mexican cars as they drive across the border and fry their fuel
injection . . .

Dangerous ex-hacker A, really piling it on: There are only three or four people who know how to
build them, and they're really tight lipped . . . We used these in the Persian Gulf. We cooked
the radar installation.

In other parts of the article the "dangerous ex-hackers" discuss the ease of building what
purports to be a $300 death ray out of Radio Shack parts and car batteries. In a rare moment of
intellectual honesty and self-scrutiny the "dangerous ex-hackers" admit there are a lot of
"snake oil salesmen" in the computer security business.

The sticking point of the legend, according to Sandia's Singer and others Crypt News
interviewed, is the generation of militarily interesting amounts of electromagnetic pulse. To
generate the effects ascribed to the notional weapon requires power fluxes that would kill
everyone triggering the device and everyone in the vicinity of the detonation and target. Far
easier to use Tim McVeigh's fuel oil-soaked fertilizer truck bomb.

John Pike, director of the Federation of American Scientists' Space Policy Project puckishly
commented, "[This] is sorta like Dr. Strangelove saying that a Doomsday Machine 'would not be
difficult'! It is easily within the reach of even the smallest . . . nuclear power."

Nevertheless, the myth of electromagnetic pulse weapons remains powerful, gaining lodgment in
the damndest places. Indeed, in Crypt Newsletter 42 one article discussed how a U.S. Army
course on information warfare in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, was instructing about them in its
sub-lecture devoted to weaponry.

Now, Crypt News provides a thumbnail list of the myth's characteristic hearsay.

1. The emp gun is always seen in remote places, as in "Boris Badenov, a computer security
consultant, said criminal hooligans had destroyed a bank network in Dvinsk with an emp gun and
escaped with 8 millions rubles in blackmail money."

2. The emp gun is always developed by adjunct professors, fringe military reservists, or
hackers. For example: "Glip Popple, an adjunct professor of information warfare at the
Technical University of Gobble-Wallah in Australia, said he had built a working emp gun for
$2,000," or "Uber-Fiend, a hacker for a group calling itself Karn Evil 9, told Reuters
correspondents he had built a 12 gigaJoule electromagnetic pulse projector."

3. Emp guns are always secret, protected by classification, as in, "W. E. van Azathoth, a
computer scientist genius working for the northern Virginia company Nefari US Electronics, had
written a working paper on constructing emp weapons from four bags of sour cream and onion
potato chips, a roll of aluminum foil and a positronic hammer -- it was immediately seized and
classified by the National Security Agency.

4. Sometimes only unnamed "experts" talk about emp guns, as in: "Experts have revealed to
Associated Press reporters that U.S. banks lost $90 billion due to electromagnetic pulse
attacks in 1996 -- the assaults untraceable, the perpetrators -- unknown."

5. Illicit emp gun blueprints are on the Internet. Usage: "This reporter was told by a very
highly placed Pentagon consultant that plans for emp guns were on the Internet and that teen
hooligans and criminal gangsters had obtained them."

Indeed, it must be considered that in a country where a googly-eyed eunuch can persuade a large
group of educated adults to poison themselves in preparation for hitching a ride on a flying
saucer and a significant portion of the citizenry cannot be convinced that aliens didn't land
at Roswell, the emp gun must be a lead pipe cinch to sell.

Postscript: Interestingly, an EMP gun inventor, David Schriner, showed up on ABC's 20/20 in
mid-February 1999 to demonstrate the effects of it for an overawed Diane Sawyer. After donning
fancy protective suits and unusual-looking copper mesh headgear, Schriner tested his weapon on
Sawyer's corvette and a white limousine. At a range of about 5-10 feet and with the weapon
pointed directly into the automobiles' open engine compartment, Schriner's electromagnetic
pulse gun made Sawyer's idling corvette . . . run roughly. [Crypt News notes it can make any
car's engine stop permanently, not just hesitate, at a range of five feet with a sledgehammer
aimed directly into an open engine compartment.] Once, said Sawyer, the electric locks in her
car's doors went up and down, too. While Sawyer stood well away from her car, farther away from
it than Schriner's contraption, electronic videocameras inside the car continued to work during
the firing of the "weapon."

During the segment, Sawyer claimed "results" of testing of electromagnetic pulse on a Cobra
helicopter at Junction Ranch in China Lake were "classified." Curiously, Crypt Newsletter
covered the results of this test which were published on the Web over a year ago by the
government. [Found in the attached links at the end of this story.] Crypt News must now assume
posting a paper on the World Wide Web constitutes "classification."

Besides David Schriner's demonstration of a short range microwave's ability to occasionally
stall an idling, parked car at extremely close range, Sawyer's story -- like all Crypt News has
seen on the subject, relied a great deal upon hearsay.

Now, here comes the tricky part.

Sawyer also claimed on 20/20: "Russian criminals have used an RF weapon, we're told, to disarm
security and rob a bank."

Crypt Newsletter repeats from the top of the story:

"Pelham was amused when the overly gullible newspaper reporter published his frank lies about
Russian computer programmers knocking over international banks with emp guns made from stolen
Radio Shack equipment."

And:

"Boris Badenov, a computer security consultant, said criminal hooligans had destroyed a bank
network in Dvinsk with an emp gun and escaped with 8 millions rubles in blackmail money."

Read carefully: Crypt Newsletter made these statements up in 1997 as humorous examples -- jokes
-- to be used as material for this article. In the context of this piece, they are amusing
fictions.

Apparently, Crypt Newsletter's jokes about EMP guns have traveled sufficiently far away from
their original source to wind up gulling Diane Sawyer on 20/20 in 1999.

Update: March 03, 1998: One of Diane Sawyer's sources for the 20/20 broadcast was Victor
Sheymov, a KGB defector who advertised himself as a communications expert. Sheymov told Sawyer
the KGB has used a microwave weapon to start a fire in the U.S. embassy in 1997 for the
purposes of annoyance and in hope that firemen would be summoned. Using the firemen as cover,
the idea was to plant listening devices in the embassy.

Sheymov said the same thing before the House Joint Economic in February 1999, describing what
can only be characterized as trivial effects of alleged Russian EMP gun use:

Sheymov: Another example of a [EMP] attack was the KGB's manipulation of the United States
Embassy security system in Moscow in the mid-80s. This was done in the course of the KGB
operation against the Embassy which targeted the U.S. marines there. The security system alarm
was repeatedly falsely triggered by the KGB's induced [radio frequency] interference several
times during the night. This was an attempt to annoy and fatigue the marines [sic] and to cause
the turning of the "malfunctioning" system off.

Woo - a ringing alarm and, next, an alleged minor fire -- pretty scary stuff. Surely the cloth
a national emergency is woven from.

Sheymov: Additional example of an [EMP] attack was when the KGB used it to induce fire in one
of the equipment rooms in the U.S. Embassy in Moscow in 1977. A malfunction was forced on a
piece of equipment. It caught fire, which spread over a sensitive area of the Embassy. The KGB
tried to infiltrate its bugging technicians into the sensitive area under the cover of the
firefighters who arrived immediately after the fire started.

Subsequent to his appearance on 20/20, Sheymov was placed on the payroll of the National
Security Agency where what was unclassified trivial testimony for TV reporters is, apparently,
now classified. [Crypt Newsletter asks the question: How does one measure the incentive for
alleged KGB defectors to embroider their stories for American handlers in hopes they will be
put on a taxpayer-derived salary?]

Update -- March 23, 1999: Yellow Peril -- The EMP gun hallucination is now intermingled with
the hysteria over Chinese spying.

In a mid-March Newsweek story on alleged Chinese penetration of the U.S. network of nuclear
bomb-making national laboratories, magazine reporters write:

"[The Chinese] may also have stolen secrets about U.S. efforts [emphasis added] to devise a
nuclear weapon tailored to create an electromagnetic pulse; a man-made lightning bolt that
would short out anything in an enemy nation that uses electricity."

By the 19th, the Newsweek rumor had quickly mutated into a tale of stolen electromagnetic pulse
guns, courtesy of the New York Times.

Initially, during a White House press conference, President Clinton was asked by a Fox News
reporter:

"Mr. President, you said just a short while ago that no one has reported to you they suspect
Chinese espionage at U.S. nuclear labs during your administration, sir. But sources tell Fox
News, and we are reporting this evening, that China stole the technology for electromagnetic
pulse weapons from several nuclear labs during your first term in office, sir, and that the
Chinese have successfully tested these weapons in China. And the sources also say that the
administration, at least, was aware of this.

"Can you tell us, sir, were you not personally aware? Are you concerned about this? And what
will be your administration's response to the report?"

This raises an interesting question. How can the President determine if a weapon is stolen if
it is not known to exist?

Ambushed by phlogiston, the President nevertheless gamely tried to answer:

President Clinton: "Well, you didn't say what the source of what they sold was. You say they
'stole, is that the word you used?"

Fox reporter: "Yes, sir, the technology for EMP weapons, from four of the 11 nuclear labs."

The President susbsequently said he knew nothing of the matter and that he forgot little of
what went on during national security briefings.

By Saturday, the New York Times had picked it up. This time, the statements on EMP guns, not
nuclear weapons tuned for EMP broadcast, was attributed to the standard EMP red herring, the
anonymous government source.

The reader will notice the confusion and chronic abuse of anonymous sourcing common to all of
these stories.

From the New York Times, "When asked by a reporter from Fox News about whether China stole
information from the labs about a nuclear device called an electromagnetic pulse warhead,
during his tenure, the president said he knew nothing about that."

"A U.S. official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Friday night that intelligence
reports show that China is satisfied that it has obtained the technology to develop a so-called
electromagnetic gun. That gun, the official said, shoots an electromagnetic pulse."

"It is not a nuclear weapon, however," continued the New York Times, "and is different from the
electromagnetic pulse warhead in the U.S. nuclear arsenal."

In June 1997, the House Joint Economic Committee entertained testimony from a retired general,
Robert Schweitzer, who claimed China was attempting to obtain EMP gun technology from Russia.
During the same hearing, a great deal of effort was spent in bloviation about the Red Chinese
peril.

In early 1999, a KGB-defector named Victor Sheymov claimed on national television that the KGB
had used EMP guns to attack the U.S. embassy in Moscow, causing an alarm system to ring and the
instigation of a minor fire. As a result, Sheymov was hired as a consultant to the National
Security Agency.

One month later, amidst more Yellow Peril hysteria, the Chinese are accused of stealing not
only the plans for a standard nuclear weapon, but also electromagnetic pulse guns, which have
not been demonstrated to exist, and -- maybe -- plans for a nuclear weapon-tuned to create
maximum EMP. [Perhaps the NSA should be paying "the national labs" for consultation?]

The reader may notice how none of these rumors, or news reports, appear to be on the same page.

Update -- April 11, 1999: The war against Yugoslavia has spawned its own EMP weapon
chupacabras.

Rumors of new weaponry in use by the US Air Force floating around the Usenet and in and out of
mainstream news organizations which should know better appear to stem from a brief article of
extremely suspect credibility originally published by the Moscow ITAR-TASS news service on
March 29.

In "US Uses [Federal Republic of Yugoslavia] as Test Site for New Bomb," reporter Anatoly
Yurkin writes:

"The USA is using Yugoslavia as a testing ground for its latest secret offensive weapons. The
ITAR-TASS correspondent was told today at the Defence Ministry that, besides cluster bombs,
which are extensively being used during the air strikes, the American bomber crews are using
experimental samples of the latest aircraft bombs, the specifications of which differ
considerably from those of conventional offensive weapons.

"This aircraft bomb was developed in secret laboratories in Los Alamos, where the first
American nuclear bomb was created. The new weapon is designed to disrupt the enemy's
radio-electronic equipment. When it explodes, it generates an electric impulse, similar to the
electromagnetic waves during a nuclear explosion.  In its military specifications this bomb is
a cross between a conventional weapon and a nuclear one, which provides grounds for regarding
it as a weapon of mass destruction.

"It is reported that the US air force is using two strategic B-2 bombers, developed with the
'Stealth' technology, to test the latest American aircraft bomb."

Crypt Newsletter reminds its readers that "official Russian news agencies" like ITAR-TASS have
much in common with editorial practices at tabloids like the Weekly World News and National
Enquirer.  Traditionally, intelligence analysts have regarded it as a good source of fairy
tales.

For example, on December 16, Komsomolskaya Pravda, like ITAR-TASS, one of "Russia's largest
circulation and most outspoken dailies," published a feature entitled: "Electronic 'Hiroshima'
Already Hidden in Moscow; 21st Century Wars Will Be Like Computer Horror Games."

An interesting and rather amusing myth passed on by the Russian news agency was framed around
the appearance of Richard Pryce, one of two British hackers who broke into the Department of
Defense's Rome Labs installation at Griffiss Air Force Base in 1994. Pryce and his
[accomplice], claimed the Russian article, launched a "[space] shuttle" remotely and switched
all of "New York's traffic lights to green."

In the same piece, the EMP weapon chupacrabras is invoked. However, instead of U.S. bombers
using it over Yugoslavia, the situation is quite the opposite: The Russian military will use
EMP bombs, which it calls "beer cans," to destroy U.S. "supercomputers."

One hallmark of the EMP weapon chupacabras is its extreme flexibility.

One month it can be your secret weapon; the next it can be your enemy's.



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