The Cuckoo’s Egg — a large-ish post
This semester I was required to read a new book. The book this time around was the Cuckoo’s Egg. A story highlighting the adventures of an Astronomer turned computer wizard.
The Cuckoo’s Egg follows Clifford through the long journey he goes on to catch a hacker in search of new military intelligence. While Clifford did only work at a college, it did happen to be on the edge of many new discoveries, which happened to make it the perfect target for someone looking for new information. Clifford, or Cliff for short, was spending time down in Berkeley to originally as, like stated, an astronomer. Yet, after his grant wore out he had to figure out something else. From there he became the Mainframe Master for Berkeley. That is where his story really begins.
Once he got acquainted with the personalities around him he was alerted of a small amount of unaccounted for uses of the computers. Once he started to look into this issue he uncovered a whole new world. He found that he had an unwelcome guest poking around in there system and he made it his personal mission to rid this scum from ‘his’ mainframe. This lead to him attempting to catch this hacker on his own. After a couple mostly unsuccessful attempts and gaining some new information about his new ‘friend’ he gained the recognition of a certain group, which may or may not be the FBI.
Once the FBI took over the case, Cliff was essentially put in the dark. Cliff was responsible for finding out the hacker was in Germany, but the German police wouldn’t do anything because they couldn’t get a warrant on Cliffs knowledge alone. Yet, turns out the FBI can make things happen. From there the German police got there warrant and the international hacker was tossed in the slammer. Satisficed with his work, Cliff went back to being an astronomer and gave up the computer wizardry he had messed around with.
All in all, I really enjoyed this story. It gave me a deeper look at the lower levels of computer management and some of the trouble you can get into by getting/going into places that you shouldn’t be. Moral of the story is if you are going to be a hacker, you need to be a better hacker than an ex-hippie astronomer.