list the major events in the use of
computers and computer networks to comit
criminal acts, starting in the 1970's to
the present day. This list was put
together as part of our course Introduction to Computer
Crime Studies (FSCT7220)
presented at BCIT.
The list is not meant to be comprehensive,
but it is meant to be representative. If
you notice any errors or serious
omissions, please contact
- John Draper discovers the give-away
whistle in Cap'n Crunch cereal boxes
reproduces a 2600Hz tone. Draper
builds a ‘blue box’ that, when used
with the whistle and sounded into a
phone receiver, allows phreaks to make
free calls. Esquire publishes "Secrets
of the Little Blue Box" with
instructions for making one. Wire
fraud in the US escalates.
- A rogue program called the Creeper
spreads through early Bulletin Board
- The InterNetworking Working Group is
founded to govern the standards of the
Internet. Vinton Cerf is the chairman
and is known as a "Father of the
- Teller at New York's Dime Savings
Bank uses a computer to embezzle over
- First electronic bulletin board
system (BBS) appears; becomes the
primary means of communication
for the electronic underground..
- Ian Murphy, aka. "Captain Zap“,
becomes first felon convicted of a
computer crime. Murphy broke into
AT&T’s computers and changed the
billing clock so that people
receive discounted rates during normal
- Elk Cloner, an AppleII boot virus,
- Movie WarGames introduces public to
the phenomenon of hacking (actually
- US Secret Service gets jurisdiction
over credit card and computer fraud.
- Phiber Optik forms Masters of
Deception hacking group.
- US Comprehensive Crime Control Act
gives Secret Service jurisdiction over
- Hacker magazine 2600 begins
publication (still in print; see
Captain Crunch for the derivation of
- Online hacking magazine Phrack
- Pakistani Brain, the oldest virus
created under unauthorized
circumstances, infects IBM computers.
- After many break-ins into govt. and
corporate computers, Congress passes
the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act,
making this a crime. The law does not
- Computer Emergency Response Team
- Kevin Mitnick secretly monitors the
e-mail of MCI and DEC security
officials. He is convicted and
sentenced to a year in jail.
- Kevin Poulsen is indicted on
phone-tampering charges. He goes on
the run and avoids capture for 17
- First National Bank of Chicago is
the victim of $70-million computer
- Robert T. Morris, Jr., graduate
student at Cornell University and son
of a chief scientist at the NSA,
launches a self-replicating worm (the
Morris Worm) on the government's
ARPAnet (precursor to the Internet).
The worm gets out of hand and spreads
to over 6000 networked computers,
clogging government and university
systems. Morris is dismissed from
Cornell, sentenced to three years'
probation, and fined $10K.
- First large-scale computer extortion
case is investigated - under the
pretence of a quiz on the AIDS virus,
users unwittingly download a program
which threatens to destroy all their
computer data unless they pay $500
into a foreign account.
- Hackers in West Germany (loosely
affiliated with the Chaos Computer
Club) are arrested for breaking into
US government and corporate computers
and selling operating-system source
code to the KGB.
Section 2 - 1991-2000...
- The Electronic Frontier Foundation
(EFF) is formed.
- Legion of Doom and Masters of
Deception engaged in online
warfare - jamming phone lines,
monitoring calls, trespassing in each
other's private computers.
- After a prolonged sting
investigation, Secret Service agents
swoop down on organizers and members
of BBS’s in 14 US cities, including
the Legion of Doom. The arrests are
aimed at cracking down on credit-card
theft and telephone and wire
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