Nahshon Even-Chaim

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Nahshon Even-Chaim (born May 1971), aka Phoenix, was the first major computer hacker to be convicted in Australia. He was one of the most highly skilled members of a computer hacking group called The Realm, based in Melbourne, Australia, from the late 1980s until his arrest by the Australian Federal Police in early 1990. His targets centred on defence and nuclear weapons research networks.[1][2][3][4]

The trail of evidence[edit]

Even-Chaim began breaking into systems by dialing in directly or placing a call through X.25 networks, later taking advantage of Internet connectivity as it became available. He developed a reputation within The Realm, his computer hacking group, for skill and arrogance.

In late 1988 Australian Federal Police officers discovered his identity using a combination of undercover work and informants. Aided by new computer crime legislation that came into force in June 1988, the AFP obtained a warrant in January 1990 to eavesdrop not only on Even-Chaim's phone conversations but also the data transmitted through his modem. The tap on his voice calls, which began on 26 January 1990, ran for eight weeks, while the data tap started two weeks later and ran for six weeks. The intercepts were being monitored by the AFP at its Telephone Intercept Branch in Canberra, 650 km from Even-Chaim's home.[1]

Both intercepts provided police with sufficient evidence to prosecute him and two other members of his hacking group, Richard Jones, a.k.a. Electron and David John Woodcock, a.k.a. Nom. The data taps revealed Even-Chaim spent marathon sessions at his computer, working at a rapid pace to enter and tamper with computer systems. It was the first time in the world a remote data intercept had been used to gain evidence for a computer crime prosecution.[1][5]

Transcripts of the phone taps captured Even-Chaim laughing with another hacker about how he had been "fucking with NASA", adding: "Yeah, they're gonna really want me bad. This is fun!"[1][6] In another conversation, this time with an American hacker, he claimed: "The guys down at the local universities here are screaming with rage because they couldn't get rid of us. The Americans are getting pretty damn pissed off with me because I'm doing so much and they can't do much about it. I'm getting to the point now where I can get into almost any system on the Internet. I've virtually raped the Internet beyond belief."[7]

Accounts of the police investigation that identified Even-Chaim and the two other offenders, as well as their arrest and prosecution, are contained in the book Hackers: The Hunt for Australia’s Most Infamous Computer Cracker, co-written by Bill Apro, an AFP computer crime investigator who led the investigation, in the book Underground: Tales of Hacking, Madness and Obsession on the Electronic Frontier by Suelette Dreyfus and In the Realm of the Hackers, a film by Kevin Anderson.

Even-Chaim's targets[edit]

Even-Chaim pleaded guilty to 15 charges, which involved his intrusion into computers at:

After allegedly compromising computers used by computer security experts Eugene Spafford, Clifford Stoll, and Russell L. Brand (at LLNL), Even-Chaim called New York Times journalist John Markoff in response to an article in which Markoff had attributed a recent spate of computer break-ins to a worm. Even-Chaim boasted to Markoff that the break-ins had been the work of himself and his associates, and ridiculed the computer security community, claiming: "It used to be the security guys chasing the hackers. Now, it's the hackers chasing the security guys."[4] Markoff published the claims in a follow-up article in March 1990.[9]

The raid and aftermath[edit]

In the early hours of 2 April 1990, Even-Chaim's home in Caulfield North, suburban Melbourne, was raided by the Australian Federal Police and he was arrested. Simultaneously, the AFP raided the homes of fellow Realm members Jones and Woodcock. Even-Chaim was charged with 48 offences, most of which carried a maximum 10-year jail sentence. On 6 October 1993, Even-Chaim, who by then had negotiated a deal in which he would plead guilty if the number of charges was reduced to 15, was sentenced to 500 hours of community service, with a 12-month suspended jail term. Unlike his two co-accused, he had revealed little at his police interview or in court that might explain his motivation for his hacking.

Even-Chaim apparently worked in IT for at least some time after his conviction and has pursued an interest in music. Despite approaches by The Age newspaper in 2003 and the producer of a television documentary on The Realm, Even-Chaim has declined to discuss his hacking career.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Bill Apro & Graeme Hammond (2005). Hackers: The Hunt for Australia’s Most Infamous Computer Cracker. Five Mile Press. ISBN 1-74124-722-5. 
  2. ^ "Court 'no power' in hack case," Herald Sun, 14 August 1991, page 9. Story covered Even-Chaim's appearance in Melbourne Magistrates Court on 48 computer crime charges. Victims mentioned in the story include NASA, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and an unspecified Texas company.
  3. ^ "Hacker 'revelled in American publicity", Herald Sun, 26 August 1993, page 5. Story covered Even-Chaim's plea hearing in Victorian County Court. Even-Chaim had pleaded guilty to 15 charges. Victims mentioned in the story include University of California, Berkeley, NASA, Execucom Systems Corporation, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, University of Wisconsin, Madison and Purdue University, Indiana.
  4. ^ a b Suelette Dreyfus (1997). Underground: Tales of Hacking, Madness and Obsession on the Electronic Frontier. Mandarin. ISBN 1-86330-595-5. 
  5. ^ How I Nailed the Master Hacker, Sunday Herald Sun, 31 July 2005, page 82-83.
  6. ^ Summary of Facts, The Queen Vs Nahshon Even-Chaim and David John Woodcock, County Court document, page 20
  7. ^ Extract from Australian Federal Police phone intercept in "Hackers" by Bill Apro & Graeme Hammond
  8. ^ Transcript of proceedings, Victorian County Court, 6 October 1993: The Queen v. Nahshon Even-Chaim and David Woodcock.
  9. ^ "Self-proclaimed hacker sends message to critics" by John Markoff, New York Times, March 1990.

Books

Newspapers

Magazines

  • Hackers 'plan revenge' for police clampdown on computer crime: Extract of New Scientist article on arrest of hackers, 21 April 1990: [2]

Film

E-zines:

  • Reprint of article Hacker Revelled In Spotlight, Court Told (The Age, 23 Aug 1993) in Phrack. [4]
  • Reference to article in New York Times, 4 April 1990, on arrest of hackers in The Risks Digest. [5]

External links[edit]