Captain Crunch is a legend of the hacker underground and if he
isn't the father of Phreaking (hacking the phone system), he's
something very close to that. A while back he used to travel
the phone lines after he noticed that certain tones would operate
the phone company's switches.

Needless to say, the phone companies weren't all that pleased with
people making free calls and Captain Crunch actually spent a little
time in prison as a result of those exploits.

Nowadays, Captain Crunch aka John Draper is involved with computer
security and has a thing called the Crunch Box which fends off the
hack attacks of today. He's also been involved over the last few 
years with the rave scene in California and elsewhere.

Here, we chat to him about music and security.

related links:
There are a lot of Captain Crunch related stories on the web. You
can find some through John's personal website below.

  Lets kick off with some music. You're pretty well known for having
  been part of the rave scene and have travelled quite a bit in
  relation to it and there are a bunch of questions we can ask on that
  subject ...  How do you see the scene now?

John Draper aka Captain Crunch: 
Scattered.   Very small number of "Massives" now.   All have to stop at 2
am because of new anti-rave laws.   There are a lot smaller and more
underground parties,  and in summer,  most are out in the woods or outdoors.

  Are those out in the woods ones generally left alone or do the organisers
  have to carefully pick their spots?

They have to not only carefully pick their spots,  but they also have to
provide a way for people who get there to keep their cars hidden and
completely off the main road.    So sometimes they have shuttle busses,
were people meet in or near a public place,  then they use Ryder moving
vans to shuttle people to the party.  Ryder vans are the best,  they are
most obscure and not very well noticed.   So well organized parties provide

  a) Hidden parking
  b) Shuttle bus service
  c) Map point
  d) Phone tree and info numbers.
  Is it still quite healthy
  in California? What was your favourite travel place?

trance still rules,  but Jungle and techno still very strong as well.
Germany is my favorite travel place.    Outdoor open air parties like
Antaris,  Voov Experience,  and many other trance parties are always very

  In what ways are the German parties better than the ones you're used to
  at home?

They last for 5 days,  you don't get busted,  easy to get there without public
transport.   ALL parties have shuttle busses that shuttle people to the
parties from nearest train stations.

  Back in the time of the blue box, what were your musical preferences?

Rock music,  and "underground" music like King Crimson, Pink Floyd,  Rush,
Grateful Dead of course.

  Court of the Crimson King! Yeah, cool. I haven't heard what Robert
  Fripp is doing now.

Yea - I remember that one.   :-)

  'Information wants to be free' was a great slogan from a little while
  back that pretty much much summed up a lot of non-malicious hackers' ideas
  of what they were up to. Would you include your exploits under that
  banner? Or was it "just" fun?

It was just fun.

  What do you think of the ideas of people like the cypherpunks to use
  mass encryption to preserve individual freedoms, and of course making
  information anything but free in the process? 

I respect them for assisting us in making tools to protect our privacy.

  ... which in sort of a way leads to the current situation of p2p music
  and program sharing. Recently you were asked about it and the crux of
  what you replied seemed to be that record companies just shouldn't
  worry about inferior format copies (ie. mp3's) and just get on with
  issuing their broader bandwidth things. Is that correct?

Yes - because there are always going to people sharing MP3's,  music
companies cannot stop it,  so they should charge a LOT LESS for MP3
versions of music,   as MP3 is just the cheapest medium right now.

  A lot of people think that the concept of digital copyright is
  flawed but not many people are putting forward useful suggestions for
  how to treat artists fairly where the rules are a lot looser. What
  do you think?

I'm not really sure at this point.   This has always been a stickey issue.
(Ed: a reader sent in the URL for a GPL 'personal licence' for music.
This addresses the legality of free use but not other aspects.

  I guess kidz-with-skriptz, playing the net like a video game, are
  part of the malevolent side of the net these days. Just how much
  of a threat are these people to ordinary users?

Quite a bit actually.   Most of these scripts are pretty powerful,  and the
"kiddies" who use them,  don't know how they work,  which is ever more
worrysome. Script kiddys hate me.   They are always harrassing me,  subscribing me to
bogus and unwanted spam lists,  attacking our server,  DDOS'ing our server.

  For everyday users, what would you recommend they do to foil these
  people (hackers etc), where they just spend pocket money on their email,
  connectivity etc.?

Simple - get a Mac.   Then all their problems will go away.   DONT use

  Your crunch-box looks like a heavy-duty way to foil them where you
  really have to - tell us about it.

It's a hardware appliance.   Sensing attacks coming in from the ethernet,
if determined to be an attack,  the attacker is blocked.   In effect,
making the network dissapear to the hackers perspective.  It has a nice,
easy to use web based GUI,  also allows you to examine critical network
conditions as things happen,  as well as having tools to allow you to track
back to the attacker.

  I notice you're using Open BSD for the OS. Are there critical differences
  between that and the Mac OS X base, Darwin?

Yes,  it's called Audited code.  Code known not to have any exploits.

  Thanks a lot John.

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