Computers, Hackers, And Phreaks

The Internet is a wondrous place. Practically anything you could ever want is
available on the Net. It\'s like a big city, it has the highly prestigious areas, and the
sex-ridden slums (Mitchell). It has the upstanding citizens, and it has the criminals.
On the Net, crime is more abundant than in a large city, though, mainly because of
the difficulties in tracking and prosecuting offenders. Even from its beginnings, the
Internet has always been a battlefield between phreaks and administrators.

The Internet hasn\'t always been a public forum. In fact, the Internet has
been around for years. The Internet is just a new fad (Larson). The Internet
originally began as DARPANET, a government-created network, which was
designed for defense communications. The Net structure is such that it could
survive a nuclear war (Mitchell). The creation of the Net can not be blamed for the
existence of hackers though, hackers are older than the Net itself, but the Net is the
largest \'hacker haven\' today (Spencer). The growth of the Net since its creation
has been nothing less than astounding. In the 25-plus years since its creation, the
Net now has over thirty million users using four million sites world wide.
Estimates rate the growth of the Net anywhere from ten to fifteen percent per
month (Spencer). The Internet was first released to major universities in the
United States of America. Since then, the universities have offered connections to
small business, service providers, and even to the individual user. Sometimes these
connections cost a fortune, and sometimes they can be obtained for free (Larson).
Although some of the original universities have dropped off the Net for various
reasons, every major university in the United States, and now, most others in the
world, have a connection to the Internet (Quittner).

Although it isn\'t easy for an individual to get a direct connection to the Net,
many private institutions are getting direct access. This is mainly due to the fact
that in order to support the very high speed of the Net, a fast computer is needed
and a fast connection. A fast computer can cost in the thousands of dollars, at
least, and a quick connection can cost hundreds dollars or more. Individuals can
still get on the Net through these private institutions. The private institution
spoon-feeds the Net to the slower computers over their delayed connection lines
(Jones). The Internet began very high-class, due to the fact that only super
intelligent college students and professors could access it. The discussions tended
to stay intellectual, with very little, if any, disturbance (Larson). However,
relatively recent changes in the availability of the Net have changed that
atmosphere. Now, almost anyone can access the Internet. Internet access is offered
by every major online service (Himowitz). The fact that the major online services
charge for their use keeps many people away from them. Those people simply
turn to public dial-ups, which are free connections offered by universities that are
available to the general public (Spencer).

Because accessing the Net is easier, and a lot more people are doing it,
naturally the amount of information on the Net is increasing at the same rate, if not
faster. In what is often referred to by Net users as the Resource Explosion, the
amount of information circulating the Internet has increased with the number of
users (Jones). Of all the other factors contributing to the large percent of online
crimes, perhaps the most influential is the design structure of the Internet. Experts
agree that the underlying structure with no central hub, where each computer is
equally powerful, gives unchecked power to the undeserving (Miller). The design
also makes controlling the frequency of break-ins almost impossible as well. Both
politicians and so-called \'experts\' believe the Internet as a whole will be regulated
in the next five years. Hackers disagree, using the arguments that the Internet was
designed to be uncontrollable, that the basic structure doesn\'t support regulation
(Banja). In a network run by its users, which is designed to be impervious to
attack, not even the government has much muscle there. In fact, the Internet is one
of the few places that the government has little power. Because the Net is
international, any regulations forced upon domestic computer users can be
circumvented by routing through an overseas computer(Savage). The government
doesn\'t have the power to completely shut down the Net. In order to do that, every
one of the millions of computers on the Net must be disconnected. Even if only
two remain, the Net will continue to exist (Miller).

The ease of adding something to