Great Hacker War

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The Great Hacker War was a purported 1990–1991 conflict between the Masters of Deception (MOD) and an unsanctioned splinter faction of the older guard hacker group Legion of Doom (LOD), amongst several smaller subsidiary groups. Both of the primary groups involved made attempts to hack into the opposing group's networks, across Internet, X.25, and telephone networks. In a panel debate of The Next HOPE conference, 2010, Phiber Optik re-iterated that the rumoured "gang war in cyberspace" between LOD and MOD never happened, and that it was "a complete fabrication" by the U.S attorney's office and some sensationalist media.[1] Furthermore, two other high-ranking members of the LOD confirmed that the "Great Hacker War" never occurred, reinforcing the idea that this was just a competition of one-upsmanship. However, there was indeed a conflict between the "New-LOD" led by Erik Bloodaxe, and the MOD hackers from primarily, NYC. And the one-upsmanship was not matched evenly on both sides, in fact if this was a "war", it was not a fight at all.

Latecomers to MOD and LOD[edit]

The Phrezh Prince of Bellcore (aka sw1tchg0d) was 16 when he allegedly controlled RBOCs Qwest, Bell Atlantic, and ILEC GTE (the latter two becoming Verizon) - and, according to his associates, all North American telcos from '99-'01. Long after the end of the 'war', there was still tension between sw1tchg0d and Erik Bloodaxe; largely attributed to MOD and sw1tchg0d's knowledge of Erik Bloodaxe being an informant. Members of sw1tchg0d's primary group, H4G1S, alleged friends and associates of MOD have stated that sw1tchg0d was the best at breaking internal bell systems and networks, as well as the last and probably youngest to learn the art of the Bell Systems in an age where more security was in place (SecurID authentication, among others). sw1tchg0d's (Jonathan) nickname was previously used by a mentor of his, H4G1S founder Shokwave Rider (sw_r), another telco hacker. Jonathan, assumed the sw1tchg0d nickname after a while, to pay homage to Mohammed (sw_r).

The respect sw1tchg0d had for MOD - through reading the published book - drove him to allegedly own even the switch of Phiber Optik, a Manhattan DMS, pulling qcm, qinfo and qdn records strictly as keepsakes, and not as a sign of disrespect. Phiber Optik was called at home and explained what had been taken, allegedly, from the DMS SuperNode information that allegedly validated this newcomer to the walking telco dictionary, Mark Abene. He apparently knows COSMOS replacements SWITCH and FOMS internals extremely well, as with the switches and Datakit network which are used to connect to switches and Bellcore (now Telcordia) OSS apps (FOMS/FUSA, FOMS/FM, SWITCH, MARCH, etc.) which ran on Amdahl Mainframes to which the internals were figured out via reverse engineering. sw1tchg0d has played pranks on Erik Bloodaxe, one of these involved purportedly distributing court records involving Bloodaxe emptying a shotgun towards his wife, specifically to the women of the hacking scene.

As of 2001, there were no new members in LOD, although this same person was affiliated with LOD.COM for a while and has become friends with members of the old-LOD. The new-LOD, primarily erikb's group of friends, is responsible for this demonstration of their own lack of skill - not LOD's as a whole.

The truth of the matter[edit]

Ironically, no LOD members had ever acquired switch access to the MOD switches, let alone full control of an RBOC - ever - and wasted X.25 MUXES calling QSD's insignificant and pedophile filled chat system with names like "phiber sux" filling all the chat slots and killing the mux that it is likeky, was not hacked directly by LOD members. Netw1z mentioned this in depth at his HOPE talk, juxtaposed with MOD's massive ownage of several X.25 PSNs. Yet despite this, Goggans claimed victory in the "war" - really a one-sided victory on all fronts for MOD, on T-shirts distributed at HoHoCon. They read "The Great Hacker War" and "LOD: 1 MOD: 0". Other members of LOD not present such as Marauder, and others, through so-called war, admit this is completely propaganda for Goggans "new-LOD".

It is also interesting to note that the only known person ever to gain access to MOD-territory telco and X.25 PSNs, himself did it to become peers with MOD (though he does not claim to be part of anything that went on when the initial war happened, he had participated in continuing it apparently). John Lee and Allen Wilson have stated that The Phrezh Prince of Bellcore is unassailably elite, and this is the general sentiment among hackers he relates to. Sometimes a troll on irc, his skill is still unparalleled in many areas.


The Masters of Deception had three members with extreme specialties. By general consensus, Phiber Optik possessed the greatest wealth of information regarding telecommunications. W1ng was generally considered very knowledgeable with UNIX, before lots of tricks were known, and John Lee (Corrupt) was a pure systems breaker being very well versed with VMS as well.

Phiber Optik figured out many DMS internals, including the undocumented remote headset feature, how to bypass authentication and privilege escalate, and others. These were extremely powerful things that were told to only a few people, in MOD. He also knew the internals of other systems, such as SCCS (called "minis" because they are minicomputers), as well as other knowledge that cannot be shared here for the safety of critical infrastructure.

MOD had X.25 ownership (X-RAY and ISIS on Tymnet), as well as access to forward the dialup modems for the hunt groups for X.25 PADs, allowing dialup-MITM, or just a fake X.25 PAD to collect NUA, NUI, NUI password and disconnect upon the sending of line noise. They had a firm grasp of Datakit VCS and ISN, the network protocol invented at Bell Labs for circuit switching between devices (mostly telephone switches and other critical infrastructure). They also controlled for long periods of time, crucial portions of the internet and other networks.

LOD had little to no interesting telco or X.25 knowledge and, as previously stated and then edited out of this article, had extreme difficulty gaining, and even maintaining for any length of time, access to these systems. LOD did not possess the knowledge of Datakit, crucial in a war waged on telco networks, in fact, there are archives from various hacker BBS's with inane questions from [Erik Bloodaxe] about telco systems themselves. It has been said that the "Only access Erikb had to telco systems was if he caught a COSMOS terminal still logged in on dialup."

According to Phiber Optik and C0rrupt (netw1z), the so-called war started because Erik Bloodaxe begged Phiber Optik for a path onto the Nynex Packet Switched Network (npsn - reachable at that time from Nynex Datakit, which Bloodaxe did not have.) The balance of skill was so favored towards the Masters of Deception that it is almost never argued otherwise, anywhere, except by Erik Bloodaxe [Chris Goggans] and friends of his.


The Great Hacker War escalated in the space of only a few days with a series of four key events.

Event One[edit]

The Great Hacker War began with the closing of an invite-only bulletin board called "Fifth Amendment", whose participants were some of the world's most successful hackers. It was run by members of the newly reformed LOD under the leadership of Chris Goggans ("Erik Bloodaxe") and Loyd Blankenship ("The Mentor").

The closing of the board had been blamed on John Lee ("Corrupt") of the MOD in a cryptic message left to users. Chris Goggans (LOD) had claimed that Lee had been distributing information that was discussed on the board. MOD had discovered that Chris Goggans and his friends had decided to use the information being posted on the board to start a security company and contact all companies being discussed about the security flaws posted on Fifth Amendment.

Event Two[edit]

A few prank phone calls to the home number of the new LOD upset Goggans and prompted him to put out a call to find the personal information of the members of the MOD. Peacemakers intervened and a conference call was arranged on an unnamed RBOC telephone bridge in the Midwest. As members of the MOD silently joined the conference call, they overheard the members of the LOD using racial slurs to describe the ethnicity of members of the MOD. The peace conference quickly degenerated into threats and prank calls to members of the LOD, whose personal information had already been uncovered by the MOD.

Event Three[edit]

A last-minute, late-night peace talk was held between Chris Goggans (LOD) and Mark Abene ("Phiber Optik") of MOD. Unknown to Goggans, John Lee ("Corrupt") was listening in on three-way. Goggans became angry that Abene would not fulfill his numerous demands for the personal information of MOD members, and for the MOD's hacking information that he considered the property of LOD.

Abene refused to meet Goggans's demands, and Goggans uttered his infamous phrase that began the war in earnest - "MOD is nothing but niggers, spics, and white trash." That night, prank phone calls began to flood Abene's house.

Event Four[edit]

The members of the MOD decided to eavesdrop on Chris Goggans's phone calls to determine his motives. Using the undocumented remote headset feature on a DMS-100 phone switch local to Goggans, the MOD overheard what they had suspected earlier. Goggans, Scott Chasin ("Doc Holiday"), and Jake Kenyon Shulman ("Malefactor") had decided to form a security company called ComSec.


In 1991 Phiber Optik, while attending the first CFP conference in San Francisco with Craig Neidorf, was invited to join a telephone conference bridge by fellow hackers where an apologetic Shulman expressed his remorse at how the situation had been blown out of proportion and his view that Goggans had crossed the line in informing on other hackers to law enforcement in an effort to increase the prestige of ComSec. Further, it was suspected by other LOD members that Goggans had baited Phoenix of the Australian hacker group The Realm, and was instrumental in providing evidence to Australian federal authorities. As a result, Phiber, a friend of Phoenix's, received a conference call from several original LOD members now suspicious of Goggans, wondering if they had been implicated by Goggans or other informants in Abene's pending legal case, in addition to expressing their general distaste and distrust of Goggans. In 1993 at the third CFP conference, also in San Francisco, Phiber/Abene met a small handful of his old LOD friends (minus Goggans) for the first time in person despite having been friends for nearly 10 years by that point, and briefly reminisced about old times. Some years later in a public statement Goggans would show some regret that he involved Abene in his testimonials to law enforcement. Perhaps the one thing in all this that Phiber and Lex Luthor agree on is that in reality there simply was no "Great Hacker War", and that the notion of "warring hacker gangs" was an invention of overzealous law enforcement which was latched onto by irresponsible mass media because the imagery made for good copy.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ Channel2600 (2013-12-31), The Next HOPE (2010): Informants: Villains or Heroes?, retrieved 2017-02-07 
  • The Masters of Deception: The Gang that Ruled Cyberspace (ISBN 0-06-092694-5)
  • "Gang War in Cyberspace." Wired 2.12 [1]
  • "Notorious M.O.D." Wired 9.06 [2]