[Snort-users] [ISN] Woz blesses Captain Crunch's new box (fwd)

Daniel Monjar Daniel.Monjar at ...5156...
Thu Feb 28 08:34:17 EST 2002

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Date: Thursday, February 28, 2002 1:23 AM -0600
From: InfoSec News <isn at ...5157...>
To: isn at ...4340...
Subject: [ISN] Woz blesses Captain Crunch's new box


By Andrew Orlowski in San Francisco
Posted: 27/02/2002 at 21:31 GMT

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 converation"'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

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

[Link - http://www.webcrunchers.com/crunch/ ]

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Daniel Monjar
IS Manager, Technical Services
bioMérieux, Inc.
Durham, NC US

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