Tsutomu Shimomura is a senior
fellow at the San Diego Supercomputer Center, where he works on problems
in areas as diverse as computational physics and computer security. He
came to the University of California at San Diego in 1989 to join the physics
department as a research scientist.
He has studied physics with Nobel Laureate Richard Feynman at the California
Institute of Technology and has worked as a research associate with physicist
Steven Wolfram. In the summer of 1984 he worked at Thinking Machines Corporation,
helping the Cambridge, Mass.-based massively parallel computer start-up
company design a disk system to support the rapid movement of vast databases.
In the fall of 1984 he became a staff physicist at the Los Alamos National
Laboratory, where he was one of the architects of an advanced parallel
computer. He also worked in the Laboratory's theoretical division with
Brosl Hasslacher, one of the nation's leading researchers in computational
physics. Shimomura assisted Hasslacher in developing a radical approach
to simulating the flow of fluids based on a new model of computation, known
as lattice gas automata. It takes advantage of natural parallelism and
dramatically speeds computing on a variety of problems.
In recent years Shimomura has also worked in the area of computer security
research. He has consulted with a number of government agencies on security
and computer crime issues. In 1992 he testified before a Congressional
Committee chaired by Representative Edward Markey on issues surrounding
the lack of privacy and security in cellular telephones. In February 1995
he helped several online service and Internet companies track down computer
outlaw Kevin Mitnick, who had stolen software and electronic mail from
Shimomura's computers. He is the author of Takedown: The Pursuit and
Capture of America's Most Wanted Computer Outlaw -- By The Man Who Did
It, with John Markoff< (Hyperion, January 1996).
A Japanese citizen, Shimomura was raised in Princeton, New Jersey. He
lives in the San Diego area where he is an active inline skater. He is
also an avid cross country skier.
An excerpt from Takedown.
Who is Kevin Mitnick?
The picture that emerged after his arrest in Raleigh, N.C. last February
was of a 31-year old computer programmer, who had been given a number of
chances to get his life together but each time was seduced back to the
dark side of the computer world. Kevin David Mitnick reached adolescence
in suburban Los Angeles in the late 1970s, the same time the personal computer
industry was exploding beyond its hobbyist roots. His parents were divorced,
and in a lower-middle-class environment that lacked adventure and in which
he was largely a loner and an underachiever, he was seduced by the power
he could gain over the telephone network. The underground culture of phone
phreaks had already flourished for more than a decade, but it was now in
the middle of a transition from the analog to the digital world. Using
a personal computer and modem it became possible to commandeer a phone
company's digital central office switch by dialing in remotely, and Kevin
became adept at doing so. Mastery of a local telephone company switch offered
more than just free calls: It opened a window into the lives of other people
to eavesdrop on the rich and powerful, or on his own enemies.
Mitnick soon fell in with an informal phone phreak gang that met irregularly
in a pizza parlor in Hollywood Much of what they did fell into the category
of pranks, like taking over directory assistance and answering operator
calls by saying, "Yes, that number is eight-seven-five-zero and a half.
Do you know how to dial the half, ma'am?" or changing the class of service
on someone's home phone to payphone status, so that whenever they picked
up the receiver a recorded voice asked them to deposit twenty cents. But
the group seemed to have a mean streak as well. One of its members destroyed
files of a San Francisco -based computer time-sharing company, a crime
that went unsolved for more than a year -- until a break-in at a Los Angeles
telephone company switching center led police to the gang.
The case was actually solved when a jilted
girlfriend of one of the gang went to the police...
That break-in occurred over Memorial Day weekend in 1981, when Kevin and
two friends decided to physically enter Pacific Bell's COSMOS phone center
in downtown Los Angeles. COSMOS, or Computer System for Mainframe Operations,
was a database used by many of the nation's phone companies for controlling
the phone system's basic recordkeeping functions. The group talked their
way past a security guard and ultimately found the room where the COSMOS
system was located. Once inside they took lists of computer passwords,
including the combinations to the door locks at nine Pacific Bell central
offices and a series of operating manuals for the COSMOS system.. To facilitate
later social engineering they planted their pseudonyms and phone numbers
in a rolodex sitting on one of the desks in the room. With a flourish one
of the fake names they used was "John Draper," who was an actual computer
programmer also known as the legendary phone phreak, Captain Crunch, the
phone numbers were actually misrouted numbers that would ring at a coffee
shop pay phone in Van Nuys.
The crime was far from perfect, however. A telephone company manager
soon discovered the phony numbers and reported them to the local police,
who started an investigation. The case was actually solved when a jilted
girlfriend of one of the gang went to the police, and Kevin and his friends
were soon arrested. The group was charged with destroying data over a computer
network and with stealing operator's manuals from the telephone company.
Kevin, 17 years old at the time, was relatively lucky, and was sentenced
to spend only three months in the Los Angeles Juvenile Detention Center,
followed by a year's probation.
A run-in with the police might have persuaded most bright kids to explore
the many legal ways to have computer adventures, but Mitnick appeared to
be obsessed by some twisted vision. Rather than developing his computer
skills in creative and productive ways, he seemed interested only in learning
enough short-cuts for computer break-ins and dirty tricks to continue to
play out a fantasy that led to collision after collision with the police
throughout the 1980s. He obviously loved the attention and the mystique
his growing notoriety was bringing. Early on, after seeing the 1975 Robert
Redford movieThree Days of the Condor, he had adopted Condor as
his nom de guerre. In the film Redford plays the role of a hunted
CIA researcher who uses his experience as an Army signal corpsman to manipulate
the phone system and avoid capture. Mitnick seemed to view himself as the
same kind of daring man on the run from the law.
After he was released, he obtained the license
plate "X HACKER" for his Nissan...
His next arrest was in 1983 by campus police at the University of Southern
California, where he had gotten into minor trouble a few years earlier,
when he was caught using a university computer to gain illegal access to
the ARPAnet. This time he was discovered sitting at a computer in a campus
terminal room, breaking into a Pentagon computer over the ARPAnet, and
was sentenced to six months at the California Youth Authority's Karl Holton
Training School, a juvenile prison in Stockton, California. After he was
released, he obtained the license plate "X HACKER" for his Nissan but he
was still very much in the computer break-in business. Several years later
he went underground for more than a year after being accused of tampering
with a TRW credit reference computer; an arrest warrant was issued, but
it later vanished from police records without explanation.
By 1987, Mitnick seemed to be making an effort to pull his life together,
and he began living with a woman who was taking a computer class with him
at a local vocational school. After a while, however, his obsession drew
him back, and this time his use of illegal telephone credit card numbers
led police investigators to the apartment he was sharing with his girlfriend
in Thousand Oaks, California. He was convicted of stealing software from
the Santa Cruz Operation, a California software company, and in December
1987, he was sentenced to 36 months probation. That brush with the police,
and the resultant wrist slap, seemed only increase his sense of omnipotence.
In 1987 and 1988, Kevin and a friend, Lenny DiCicco, fought a pitched
electronic battle against scientists at Digital Equipment's Palo Alto research
laboratory. Mitnick had become obsessed with obtaining a copy of >Digital's
VMS minicomputer operating system, and was trying to do so by gaining entry
to the company's corporate computer network, known as Easynet. The computers
at Digital's Palo Alto laboratory looked easiest, so every night with remarkable
persistence Mitnick and DiCicco would launch their modem attacks from a
small Calabasas, California company where DiCicco had a computer support
job. Although Reid discovered the attacks almost immediately, he didn't
know where they were coming from, nor did the local police or FBI, because
Mitnick was manipulating the telephone network's switches to disguise the
source of the modem calls.
...he agreed to one year in prison and six
months in a counseling program for his computer "addiction."
The FBI can easily serve warrants and get trap-and-trace information from
telephone companies, but few of its agents know how to interpret the data
they provide. If the bad guy is actually holed up at the address that corresponds
to the telephone number, they're set. But if the criminal has electronically
broken into to the telephone company's local switch and scrambled the routing
tables, they're clueless. Kevin had easily frustrated their best attempts
at tracking him through the telephone network using wiretaps and traces.
He would routinely use two computer terminals each night -- one for his
forays into Digital's computers, the other as a lookout that scanned the
telephone company computers to see if his trackers were getting close.
At one point, a team of law enforcement and telephone security agents thought
they had tracked him down, only to find that Mitnick had diverted the telephone
lines so as to lead his pursuers not to his hideout in Calabasas, but to
an apartment in Malibu. Mitnick, it seemed, was a tough accomplice, for
even as they had been working together he had been harassing DiCicco by
making fake calls to DiCicco's employer, claiming to be a Government agent
and saying that DiCicco was in trouble with the Internal Revenue Service.
The frustrated DiCicco confessed to his boss, who notified DEC and the
FBI, and Mitnick soon wound up in federal court in Los Angeles. Although
DEC claimed that he had stolen software worth several million dollars,
and had cost DEC almost $200,000 in time spent trying to keep him out of
their computers, Kevin pleaded guilty to one count of computer fraud and
one count of possessing illegal long-distance access codes.
It was the fifth time that Mitnick had been apprehended for a computer
crime, and the case attracted nationwide attention because, in an unusual
plea bargain, he agreed to one year in prison and six months in a counseling
program for his computer "addiction." It was a strange defense tactic,
but a federal judge, after initially balking, bought the idea that there
was some sort of psychological parallel between the obsession Mitnick had
for breaking in to computer systems and an addict's craving for drugs.
After he finished his jail time and his halfway-house counseling sentence
for the 1989 Digital Equipment conviction Mitnick moved to Las Vegas and
took a low-level computer programming position for a mailing list company.
His mother had moved there, as had a woman who called herself Susan Thunder
who had been part of Mitnick's phone phreak gang in the early 1980s, and
with whom he now became reacquainted. It was during this period that he
tried to "social engineer" me over the phone. In early 1992 Mitnick moved
back to the San Fernando Valley area after his half-brother died of an
apparent heroin overdose. He briefly worked for his father in construction,
but then took a job he found through a friend of his father's at the Tel
Tec Detective Agency . Soon after he began, someone was discovered illegally
using a commercial database system on the agency's behalf, and Kevin was
once again the subject of an FBI investigation. In September the Bureau
searched his apartment, as well as the home and workplace of another member
of the original phone phreak gang. Two months later a federal judge issued
a warrant for Mitnick's arrest for having violated the terms of his 1989
probation. There were two charges: illegally accessing a phone company
computer, and associating with one of the people with whom he'd originally
been arrested in 1981. His friends claimed Mitnick had been set up by the
detective firm; whatever the truth, when the FBI came to arrest him, Kevin
Mitnick had vanished.
His escape, subsequently reported in the Southern
California newspapers, made the authorities look like bumblers who were
no match for a brilliant and elusive cyberthief.
In late 1992 someone called the California Department of Motor Vehicles
office in Sacramento, and using a valid law enforcement requester code,
attempted to have driver's license photographs of a police informer faxed
to a number in Studio City, near Los Angeles. Smelling fraud, D.M.V. security
officers checked the number and discovered that it was assigned to a Kinko's
copy shop, which they staked out before faxing the photographs. But somehow
the spotters didn't see their quarry until he was going out the door of
the copy shop. They started after him, but he outran them across the parking
lot and disappeared around the corner, dropping the documents as he fled.
The agents later determined that they were covered with Kevin Mitnick's
fingerprints. His escape, subsequently reported in the Southern California
newspapers, made the authorities look like bumblers who were no match for
a brilliant and elusive cyberthief.
John Markoff joined The New York Times in March of 1988 as a reporter for
the paper's business section. He now writes for the Times from San Francisco
where he covers Silicon Valley, computers and technology issues. At the
Times he broke the story identifying Robert Tappan Morris as the author
of the 1988 Internet worm that crashed thousands of computers. He writes
frequently on technology policy issues and he also broke the story of the
Clinton Administration's plan to introduce "Clipper"chip surveillance system.
He came to the Times from the San Francisco Examiner where he worked
for three and a half years. He has written about the field of technology
since 1977. From 1984 to 1985 he was West Coast editor for Byte Magazine
and from 1981 to 1983 he was a reporter and an editor at Infoworld.From
1983 to 1985 he wrote a column on personal computers for the San Jose Mercury.
In 1988 he received the Software Publishers Association's award for
best news reporting.
Born in Oakland,California on October 24, 1949, Mr. Markoff grew up
in Palo Alto, California and graduated from Whitman College, Walla Walla,
Washington, in 1971. He attended graduate school at the University of Oregon
where he received a masters degree in 1976.
Mr. Markoff is the co-author with Lennie Siegel of The High Cost
of High Tech, published in 1985 by Harper & Row. More recently
Cyberpunk:Outlaws and Hackers on the Computer Frontier
(Simon & Schuster,1991) with Katie Hafner.
He is married and lives in San Francisco.