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Home > Tech Views > General Computing

Wednesday, February 16, 2005
Captain Crunch

2. Page 2

When in prison he designed Easy Writer, the first word- processing program for the IBM PC. The program became a big success (it was given away with the IBM computers by the company itself) turning him into a millionaire…for a short time. He definitely was not the person to remain in the status he had gained. He went bankrupt after some unsuccessful attempts to set up his own business. Ever since, he has been homeless twice. He even became the victim of a robbery in Texas, when he had his lap top stolen, and with it, the unique copy of his autobiography, and due to judicial interdictions (he was banned from using a computer for a long time) he had to emigrate to India, where he worked for a company providing network services.

Now, at 57 he wants to start anew, making use of the Internet development. Things are not easy though, for he is making an appearance in the market at a relatively late time, and in a period of recession not to mention his “hacking” former experience that makes him an a priori suspect. Of course, this come-back of his has once again brought the old debate forward, namely whether it is possible for the outlaws of the past to turn into the sheriffs of the present with the blessings of the informatics industry. Those who claim that the “black hats” (the term refers to hackers in the informatics security industry jargon) are not entitled to becoming “white hats” no matter whether they have shown repentance or not, are many. There are others who say that repentant hackers master the “know-how” needed to make them the guards of cyberspace. “To the question whether black hats can be turned into white ones a straight black and white answer is not possible” Peter Neumann, the computer security guru states in the New York Times. “In general, very few of the black hats that chose to ride on the right road have been exceptionally effective. The naïve conception that hiring a hacker would increase security in the systems of informatics is a mere fable.”

By Pashos Mandravelis.

email to P. Mandravelis

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