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TUCoPS :: Cyber Law :: zinn.txt

Article on Shadow Hawk bust





2-18-89 "AND HALE WAS THERE!"
An 18 year old telephone phreak from the northside/Rogers Park community
in Chicago who electronically broke into U.S. military computers and AT&T
computers, stealing 55 programs was sentenced to nine months in prison on
Tuesday, February 14 in Federal District Court here.
 
Herbert Zinn, Jr., who lives with his parents on North Artesian Avenue in
Chicago was found guilty of violating the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act of
1986 by Judge Paul E. Plunkett. In addition to a prison term, Zinn must pay
a $10,000 fine, and serve two and a half years of federal probation when
released from prison.
 
United States Attorney Anton R. Valukas said, "The Zinn case will serve to
demonstrate the direction we are going to go with these cases in the
future. Our intention is to prosecute aggressively. What we undertook is to
address the problem of unauthorized computer intrusion, an all-too-common
problem that is difficult to uncover and difficult to prosecute..."
 
Zinn, a dropout from Mather High School in Chicago was 16-17 years old at
the time he committed the intrusions, using his home computer and modem.
Using the handle 'Shadow Hawk', Zinn broke into a Bell Labs computer in
Naperville, IL; an AT&T computer in Burlington, NC; and an AT&T computer at
Robbins Air Force Base, GA. No classified material was obtained, but the
government views as 'highly sensitive' the programs stolen from a computer
used by NATO which is tied into the U.S. missle command. In addition, Zinn
made unlawful access to a computer at an IBM facility in Rye, NY, and into
computers of Illinois Bell Telephone Company and Rochester Telephone Company,
Rochester, NY.
 
Assistant United States Attorney William Cook said that Zinn obtained access
to the AT&T/Illinois Bell computers from computer bulletin board systems,
which he described as '...just high-tech street gangs'. During his bench
trial during January, Zinn spoke in his own defense, saying that he took the
programs to educate himself, and not to sell them or share them with other
phreaks. The programs stolen included very complex software relating to
computer design and artificial intelligence. Also stolen was software used
by the BOC's (Bell Operating Companies) for billing and accounting on long
distance telephone calls.
 
The Shadow Hawk -- that is, Herbert Zinn, Jr. -- operated undetected for at
least a few months in 1986-87, but his undoing came when his urge to brag
about his exploits got the best of him. It seems to be the nature of phreaks
that they have to tell others what they are doing. On a BBS notorious for
its phreak/pirate messages, Shadow Hawk provided passwords, telephone numbers
and technical details of trapdoors he had built into computer systems,
including the machine at Bell Labs in Naperville.
 
What Shadow Hawk did not realize was that employees of AT&T and Illinois
Bell love to use that BBS also; and read the messages others have written.
Security representatives from IBT and AT&T began reading Shadow Hawk's
comments regularly; but they never were able to positively identify him.
Shadow Hawk repeatedly made boasts about how he would 'shut down AT&T's
public switched network'. Now AT&T became even more eager to locate him.
When Zinn finally discussed the trapdoor he had built into the Naperville
computer, AT&T decided to build one of their own for him in return; and
within a few days he had fallen into it. Once he was logged into the system,
it became a simple matter to trace the telephone call; and they found its
origin in the basement of the Zinn family home on North Artesian Street in
Chicago, where Herb, Jr. was busy at work with his modem and computer.
 
Rather than move immediatly, with possibly not enough evidence for a good,
solid conviction, everyone gave Herb enough rope to hang himself. For over
two months, all calls from his telephone were carefully audited. His illicit
activities on computers throughout the United States were noted, and logs
were kept. Security representatives from Sprint made available notes from
their investigation of his calls on their network. Finally the 'big day'
arrived, and the Zinn residence was raided by FBI agents, AT&T/IBT security
representatives and Chicago Police detectives used for backup. At the time
of the raid, three computers, various modems and other computer peripheral
devices were confiscated. The raid, in September, 1987, brought a crude
stop to Zinn's phreaking activities. The resulting newspaper stories brought
humiliation and mortification to Zinn's parents; both well-known and
respected residents of the Rogers Park neighborhood. At the time of the
younger Zinn's arrest, his father spoke with authorities, saying, "Such a
good boy! And so intelligent with computers!"
 
It all came to an end Tuesday morning in Judge Plunkett's courtroom here,
when the judge imposed sentence, placing Zinn in the custody of the Attorney
General or his authorized representative for a period of nine months; to
be followed by two and a half years federal probation and a $10,000 fine.
The judge noted in imposing sentence that, "...perhaps this example will defer
others who would make unauthorized entry into computer systems." Accepting the
government's claims that Zinn was 'simply a burglar; an electronic one...
a member of a high-tech street gang', Plunkett added that he hoped Zinn
would learn a lesson from this brush with the law, and begin channeling his
expert computer ability into legal outlets. The judge also encouraged Zinn
to complete his high school education, and 'become a contributing member of
society instead of what you are now, sir...'
 
Because Zinn agreed to cooperate with the government at his trial, and at
any time in the future when he is requested to do so, the government made
no recommendation to the court regarding sentencing. Zinn's attorney asked
the court for leniency and a term of probation, but Judge Plunkett felt
some incarceration was appropriate. Zinn could have been incarcerated until
he reaches the age of 21.
 


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