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Brazillian Hacker Scene



Before talking about hacking here, it’s good to describe the conditions
of living. Right now, the country is a mix of Belgium and India. It’s
possible to find both standards of living without travelling long
distances. The Southern part of the country concentrate most of the
industry, while in the west one can find Amazonia jungle. There are many
Brazils, one could say.

Beginning with the hacking and phreaking.

Hackers and computers enthusiasts have several different places for
meeting. When this thing started, by the time of that film “Wargames”,
the real place to meet hackers and make contacts were the computer
shops, game-arcades and “Video-texto” terminals. The computer shops were
a meeting place because many of those “hackers” had no computers of
their own and the shop-owners would let them play with them as part of
a advertising tool to encourage people buying it for their kids.

Today that is no longer needed, since prices dropped down and people
make a team already at schools or sometimes just join a BBS (most people
who buy a modem, end up thinking about setting up a BBS). By the way,
most schools are advertising computer training as part of their
curricula, to charge more, and like everywhere, I guess, people no
longer learn typewriting, but computer-writing, and many brazilian
newspapers dedicate a section on computer knowledge once a week, with
advertising, hints, general info and even lists of BBS’s.

A few years ago, the “Video-texto” terminals were also big meeting
places. That was part of a effort to make popular the use of a
computer linked by modem to get services like msx-games, info on
weather, check bank account and so on. Just like the Net, one could do
e-mail, by some fancy tricks and other things that could be called
hacking. The difference was that it was made by the state-owned
telephone company and each time the trick was too well know, it was
changed. The only way to keep in touch was keeping in touch with the
people who used the system like hell. It’s no different than what it
happens with the computer gurus. The protocol used for that, X-25 is the
same used for the banking money transfers, but don’t think it was
possible to do anything more than checking how much money one had and a
few other classified data. People who used that at home (not too many,
since the company didn’t think it would be such a hit, and didn’t
provide for it) could spend their fathers money discovering funny things
about the system, like messing with other people’s phones and so. One
could also use the terminals at the Shopping Centers to make phone
calls to their friends without paying. The guy at the other end would be
heard by the small speaker.

Phreaking here in Brazil is something secret. Apart from the trick
described in the section “Letters to read by” at the summer 1994 of the
2600 Magazine, where one would call through locked rotatory telephone,
little is known about phreaking. One thing is that people who enrolled
in Telecommunications Engineering could call Europe and USA with ease,
but they would not tell you how. It must be said that all public phones
have metal cables around the cables and that the phone machines are
quite tough to break down. I guess it wasn’t for beauty.

The phones use some sort of metal coins called fichas, which must be
bought somewhere. The trick is to use a coin with a string, so it would
not be collected. But if the police caught… The police doesn’t follow
rules about that. Either they put a fine on the guy for that, or arrest
him for vandalism or anything else they think of at the moment. It is
hassle, anyway. My friend who was doing electrical Engineering told me
that boxing in Brazil was impossible. The system is just not good enough
to be boxed. Another friend of mine told me that in the Northeast part,
where people are a little bit different and more easy-going, the phone
system can be boxed, because some top-brass asked the company to let
that feature implemented. The Phone company doesn’t admit any knowledge
about that.

Internet access is something quite hard to get today. Until a few weeks
ago, the system would not let the creation of a Internet site that was
not part of some research project. So, only Universities and like were
capable of putting people in the Net Universe. In the University of Sco
Paulo, people in the post-graduation courses could get it with ease, but
graduating students would have to show some connection to a research
project. That in theory, because the students found out that one could
use the IBM CDC 4360 to telnet without a Internet account. Also, all the
faculties that had computer rooms full of AT 386 which where linked by
fiber optics to this computer. Another one did the file transfers
between the accounts and the computer at the computer rooms and that
ftp was also possible without an account, but only to a few sites, like
oakland and so. That lasted for about a year, until that thing was
fixed in the router, but only at the Politechnik School. Says the legend
that the guys were downloading too much GIF and JPG pictures of Top
Models from a ftp site nearby. That spent so much bandwidth that the
site started to complain and both things happened: the site stopped to
store GIF’s of wonderful women in swimsuit and the router was fixed to
prevent ftp without a Internet account. One can still today connect the
outside world via telnet and many people have accounts in Internet BBS
like Isca BBS, Cleveland Freenet and like. The Bad Boy BBS was “in”,
until it went out of business. This kind of access is not good, though,
for it is very slow, sometimes. Also, it is hard to download something
bigger than 60 kbyte. The way I devised, downloading the file inside
the bbs and uuencoding it. This way you could list the file and capture
the screen listing, uudecode it after some editing and have a working
.exe or .zip file.

By these means one could, inside the Campus, do all downloading one
wanted, from anywhere in the world. Outside the campus, it is possible
to do it by phone lines, but: the Modem will not go faster than 2400
without character correction (no Zmodem at all). Which makes quite hard
to download compressed files. One could an account: that would be
possible by these means, but the amount of trash during the phone
connection would make it real hard to type in passwords and like. To try
doing any kind of thin g but reading letters by modem is some kind of
torture. The real thing is to do it by “linha dedicada”, a special line
for computer transmission. It’s much more expensive though, but if you
have the money to spend with that…

Perhaps the best way to get access to an Internet account though is to
be part of the research project “Escola do Futuro” that among other
things get schools linked by the Net. That’s what I did and they pay me
quite well to search for data in the Net, for the students of those
schools. The University of Campinas is said to give all students a
Internet account regardless of knowledge of what-it-is, as soon as the
guy(girl) gets in. Of course here there’s BITNET also. That’s doomed for
extinction, but this or that reason keeps people from closing it down.
Most teachers use it, guess there’s even some post-graduation work
written about that. It’s easier to access via modem, also. Old habits
die hard.

Outside the Campus, for common people, there are few opportunities. The
only thing you can get, at least until the opening of commercial
internet sites, something about to happen one of these days, is access
by mail. You join one BBS with Internet access, and your mail is sent by
a Internet account later during the day. This is not a direct access,
as one can see, but it’s a easy way to access by modem. Problem is that
you have to pay if you use it too much. The BBS’s that do it don’t do it
for free, also. Connection to the Compuserve is also possible, but it
also costs a lot of money, for my point of view.

Because of the newspapers, the knowledge about Internet is spreading
fast and the number of sites is growing the same way everywhere else in
the world. Even the military people are starting with it. There are plan
s to enhance it and make better connections, and some informative
material is being translated in Portuguese, like “Zen and the Art of
Internet” and made available in the There are many
mirrors from many famous sites, like Simtel20 and at least one Internet
BBS, the “Jacare BBS” (Alligator bbs, available by telnetting – – login bbs. World Wide Web sites are
becoming sort of popular also, but still available only to a few people
who are lucky enough to get the access. Brazilian hackers are not very
fond of sharing the knowledge of how to get access and other things,
sometimes because of fear of losing it, sometimes because the greed of
it would overcharge the system. There’s no hacker magazine here, yet,
and very few people confess their curiosity about hacking for knowledge
for fear of not finding jobs. Anyway most would-be hackers either get a
job and stop hacking for fun or keep their activities secret in order to
pursue their objectives.

Today, Brazilian Hacker Underground did change a little. Lots of
magazines, dealing only with Internet Issues, are being published. There
is a hacker zine, the now famous “Barata Eletrica”. This and the hacker
list I created is starting to unite the computer rats, here. But I had
to stop hacking in order to write the e-zine. Too famous to do that.
Another guy just started the thing. He did not learn with my mistake and
is signing it with his name, also. Received lots of letters, even as far
as Mozambique, praising the material, which is very soft, for fear of
losing my net access. Twice my account was “freezed”. The people at my
site are paranoid. Suffered too much from break-ins already. Most BBS’s
are trying to turn themselves in Internet providers or else, to get
e-mail access. There was a fear the State would control the thing, like
they did with the Phone system. Can any of you guys imagine what it is,
to pay 4.000 US$ dollars for a phone line? In the City of Sao Paulo,
(look like L.A., one can say), that’s the average price. Cellular is
cheaper. Motorola rules. The public phone system was changed again. No
more “fichas”. At least for long distance calls. It’s a small card that
looks like plastic one side and magnetic material in the other. m still
trying to do 2600 meetings. Oh, once in a while, there is a break-in
here and there, and a hacker is interviewed in TV, but people are only
now making the difference between the good guys (hackers) and the bad
guys (crackers). With Win95, people are losing fear of exchanging
virus-sources files. The lack of philes in Portuguese makes it dificult
for people to learn about hacking. People who know about it, don’t have
enough time to write. I started to unite some guys to do a translation
of “hacker crackdown”, but that’s another story. I shortened the name of
the book to “crack.gz”. Guess what’s happened? My account is blocked up
to this day. They told me I’ll get my access back. One of these days.
One of these days I’ll re-write this article, and tell the whole thing
in detail.

Any Portuguese speaker that does not know about my e-zine,
try a mirror. The URL:

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