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Readers cheer our stand against hacker

technofile  by al fasoldt

Columns and commentaries in a life-long dance with technology

Simple gray rule

Readers cheer our stand against hacker 

By Al Fasoldt

Copyright © 1991, The Syracuse Newspapers

I've had many phone calls and electronic-mail letters from readers who told me they were glad I took a strong stand against the hacker who broke into the Syracuse Newspapers Telesystem. One even left a short message saying, "Hooray!"

Here's a sampling of comments:

"If you should catch him, I would try to push to see that he gets prosecuted," said a reader who manages computers for a law-enforcement agency. He passed along tips on protecting files.

Another reader, who runs one of the local computer bulletin board systems, wrote to recommend a software program. He added:

"Once a hacker has the code (to your telecomm system), it's like taking candy from a baby. It's a shame that people have to resort to this sort of thing. My opinion is that they are in it for the notoriety. It's a nice story to brag about to your friends, but in the meantime, the sysop (system operator) can watch hours of his work go down the drain."

Said another reader: "A crime is a crime—period. Go get ‘em, Al!"

Many who wrote asked why the Telesystem is not based on a regular BBS program. I've answered this before, so I'll just touch on it now.

The Telesystem has a special function unrelated to a BBS: It takes texts sent in by readers, reporters or others and immediately passes them along to the mainframe computer here. The program I wrote to accomplish this does it very well. The hacker got into the Telesystem by misusing an added feature, which I have since disabled.

This is also a good time to list the telecomm settings your computer program must use to call the Telesystem. The baud rate can be 300, 1200 or 2400. But your computer must be using half duplex (not full duplex), and must use "7-E-1" settings.

If that seems like technobabble, just look through your program's setup menus (or whatever it uses if they are not menus) and choose 7 data bits, even parity and no stop bits.

And be sure to give us a call!

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