Cult of the Dead Cow

In the early 1980s, personal computers started entering our homes. Prior to the internet and services like America On Line (AOL), there were online bulletin board systems (BBS) where people could share text files via phone modem connections. Of course, if you wanted to connect to a BBS outside your home area code, you would have to dial long distance – which at the time could be prohibitively expensive. Necessity is the mother of invention and it’s no coincidence that some of the earliest hacking was of the phone system to get free long distance calls. One of the first named groups of hackers was The Cult of the Dead Cow (aka, cDc). Today I’ll reminisce about the old days with two prominent members of cDc: Deth Veggie and Omega. We’ll talk about what it was like in the days prior to the internet, how hackers think, and how hacking has evolved over the years. We’ll talk about how cDc pioneered the hactivist movement and how their group overlapped and interacted with other famous groups like L0pht Heavy Industries, Masters of Deception (MOD), Legion of Doom (LOD) and much, much more.

Interview Notes

Further Info

Table of Contents

Use these timestamps to jump to a particular section of the show.

  • 0:00:43: Interview prep
  • 0:03:51: How did cDc start and where did it get its name?
  • 0:08:11: How did you get involved with cDc?
  • 0:11:15: What is a BBS? What are textfiles?
  • 0:15:36: What sort of information did these textfiles contain?
  • 0:23:46: What really happened in the Hacker Wars?
  • 0:25:28: How did phone phreaking work?
  • 0:29:43: How did you choose your handle? When did you first use it in public?
  • 0:37:47: Two things War Games got right
  • 0:38:38: Blue boxes and red boxes
  • 0:40:26: What did your friends & family think? How have perceptions of hackers changed?
  • 0:45:16: What is hacktivism? What sort of hactivist behavior is acceptable?
  • 0:51:58: What are some examples of hactivism?
  • 0:55:19: What are some signs that I might enjoy hacking?
  • 1:01:49: Hacking in the real world, questioning everything.
  • 1:04:38: Books and movies with accurate portrayals of hackers & hacking?
  • 1:11:14: Interview wrap-up
  • 1:12:46: Patron bonus material & promo
  • 1:16:04: Next week’s show may be delayed