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A UseNet newsgroup about hacking, although not necessarily cracking. The alt.hackers.* hierarchy is full of history which maybe one day we will go into here. However, by far the most interesting and most famous aspect of alt.hackers is the nature of its security model.

Prior to alt.hackers, the prevalent hacking newsgroup was news:alt.2600. alt.2600 was an open newsgroup, which meant anyone could post. Given the nature of hacking, that meant a lot of wannabes, idiots, liars, ScriptKiddies, and other wankers were hanging out on alt.2600 trying to gain some status or trying to trick someone with real skills to do some dirty work. [In 1990], Jef Poskanzer (of http://acme.com) created alt.hackers to get away from the noisy wanker fest that was alt.2600, but he had a brilliant idea.

A very simple idea.

In order to increase the SignalToNoiseRatio, Jef made alt.hackers the a moderated newsgroup--but without a moderator. Jef called this "self-moderated". While normally on UseNet, moderated newsgroups need a moderator's e-mail address, since all messages posted must be manually approved by that person, Jef faked the newsgroup creation announcement so it would read as moderated without the required e-mail address. The challenge to all who want to post in the newsgroup is quite simply to hack it; you have to fake the moderator approval message.

This solution acts as a very important IdentifyingSignal. Only those with actual skill could post in the newsgroup. Those without even the basic skill to do such a simple hack were excluded, which dramatically increased the SignalToNoiseRatio in the newsgroup compared to alt.2600.

According to [1], AltHackers died out in 1995, many of its members moved on to news:alt.sysadmin.recovery and news:alt.tech-support.recovery, which also adopted this strategy.

See http://www.samiam.org/alt.hackers.html for a little bit of history. Sam has also created a more detailed archive of AltHackers than the Google DejaNews? archive for the period of January to November 1995.

Other notable bits of history yet to be written

The notion of the "obhack". news:alt.hackers.malicious.

CategorySoftSecurity CategoryCase CategoryHacking CategoryOnlineCommunity


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