A Beginners Guide

Guides of the Beginner's Series:  

    So you want to be a harmless hacker? 
    Hacking Windows 95! 
    Hacking into Windows 95 (and a little bit of NT lore)! 
    Hacking from Windows 3.x, 95 and NT 
    How to Get a *Good* Shell Account, Part 1  
    How to Get a *Good* Shell Account, Part 2  
    How to use the Web to look up information on hacking. 
    Computer hacking. Where did it begin and how did it grow?  


Beginners' Series #1 

So you want to be a harmless hacker?  
"You mean you can hack without breaking the law?" 

That was the voice of a high school freshman. He had me on the phone because his father had just taken
away his computer. His offense? Cracking into my Internet account. The boy had hoped to impress me with 
how "kewl" he was. But before I realized he had gotten in, a sysadmin at my ISP had spotted the kid's
harmless explorations and had alerted the parents. Now the boy wanted my help in getting back on line. 

I told the kid that I sympathized with his father. What if the sysadmin and I had been major grouches? This
kid could have wound up in  juvenile detention. Now I don't agree with putting harmless hackers in  jail, and
I would never have testified against him. But that's what some people do to folks who go snooping in other
people's computer accounts -- even when the culprit does no harm. This boy needs to learn how to keep out
of trouble! 

Hacking is the most exhilarating game on the planet. But it stops being fun when you end up in a cell with a
roommate named "Spike." But hacking doesn't have to mean breaking laws. In this series of Guides we teach
safe hacking so that you don't have to keep looking back over your shoulders for narcs and cops. 

What we're talking about is hacking as a healthy recreation, and as a free education that can qualify you to
get a high paying job. In fact, many network systems administrators, computer scientists and computer
security experts first learned their professions, not in some college program, but from the hacker culture.
And you may be surprised to discover that ultimately the Internet is safeguarded not by law enforcement
agencies, not by giant corporations, but by a worldwide network of, yes, hackers.  

You, too, can become one of us. 

And -- hacking can be surprisingly easy. Heck, if I can do it, anyone can! 

Regardless of why you want to be a hacker, it is definitely a way to have fun, impress your friends, and get
dates. If you are a female hacker you become totally irresistible to men. Take my word for it!;^D 

These Guides to (mostly) Harmless Hacking can be your gateway into this world. After reading just a few of
these Guides you will be able to pull off stunts that will be legal, phun, and will impress the heck out of your

These Guides can equip you to become one of the vigilantes that keeps the Internet from being destroyed
by bad guys. Especially spammers. Heh, heh, heh. You can also learn how to keep the bad guys from
messing with your Internet account, email, and personal computer. You'll learn not to be frightened by silly
hoaxes that pranksters use to keep the average Internet user in a tizzy. 

If you hang in with us through a year or so, you can learn enough and meet the people on our email list and
IRC channel who can help you to become truly elite. 

However, before you plunge into the hacker subculture, be prepared for that hacker attitude. You have been

So...welcome to the adventure of hacking! 


You may wonder whether hackers need expensive computer equipment and a shelf full of technical manuals.
The answer is NO! Hacking can be surprisingly easy! Better yet, if you know how to search the Web, you
can find almost any computer information you need for free. 

In fact, hacking is so easy that if you have an on-line service and know how to send and read email, you can
start hacking immediately. The GTMHH  Beginners' Series #2 will show you where you can download
special hacker-friendly programs for Windows that are absolutely free. And we'll show you some easy
hacker tricks you can use them for. 

Now suppose you want to become an elite hacker? All you will really need is an inexpensive "shell account"
with an Internet Service Provider. In the GTMHH  Beginners' Series #3 we will tell you how to get a shell
account, log on, and start playing the greatest game on Earth: Unix hacking! Then in Vol.s I, II, and III of the
GTMHH you can get into Unix hacking seriously. 

You can even make it into the ranks of the Uberhackers without loading up on expensive computer
equipment. In Vol. II we introduce Linux, the free hacker-friendly operating system. It will even run on a 386
PC with just 2 Mb RAM!  Linux is so good that many Internet Service Providers use it to run their systems. 

In Vol. III we will also introduce Perl, the shell programming language beloved of Uberhackers. We will even
teach some seriously deadly hacker "exploits" that run on Perl using Linux. OK, you could use most of these
exploits to do illegal things. But they are only illegal if you run them against someone else's computer
without their permission. You can run any program in this series of Guides on your own computer, or your
(consenting) friend's computer -- if you dare! Hey, seriously, nothing in this series of Guides will actually
hurt your computer, unless you decide to trash it on purpose. 

We will also open the gateway to an amazing underground where you can stay on top of almost every
discovery of computer security flaws. You can learn how to either exploit them -- or defend your computer
against them! 

About the Guides to (mostly) Harmless Hacking  

We have noticed that there are lots of books that glamorize hackers. To read these books you would think
that it take s many years of brilliant work to become one. Of course we hackers love to perpetuate this myth
because it makes us look so incredibly kewl.

But how many books are out there that tell the beginner step by step how to actually do this hacking stuph?
None! Seriously, have you ever read _Secrets of a Superhacker_ by The Knightmare (Loomponics, 1994) or
_Forbidden Secrets of the Legion of Doom Hackers_ by Salacious Crumb (St. Mahoun Books, 1994)? They
are full of vague and out of date stuph. Give me a break. 

And if you get on one of the hacker news groups on the Internet and ask people how to do stuph, some of
them insult and make fun of you.   OK, they all make fun of you.  

We see many hackers making a big deal of themselves and being mysterious and refusing to help others
learn how to hack. Why? Because they don't want you to know the truth, which is that most of what they
are doing is really very simple! 

Well, we thought about this. We, too, could enjoy the pleasure of insulting people who ask us how to hack.
Or we could get big egos by actually teaching thousands of people how to hack. Muhahaha. 

How to Use the Guides to (mostly) Harmless Hacking  

If you know how to use a personal computer and are on the Internet, you already know enough to start
learning to be a hacker. You don't even need to read every single Guide to (mostly) Harmless Hacking in
order to become a hacker. 

You can count on anything in Volumes I, II and III being so easy that you can jump in about anywhere and
just follow instructions. 

But if your plan is to become "elite," you will do better if you read all the Guides, check out the many Web
sites and newsgroups to which we will point you, and find a mentor among the many talented hackers who
post to our Hackers forum or chat on our IRC server at http://www.infowar.com, and on the Happy Hacker
email list (email hacker@techbroker.com with message "subscribe"). 

If your goal is to become an Uberhacker, the Guides will end up being only the first in a mountain of material
that you will need to study. However, we offer a study strategy that can aid you in your quest to reach the
pinnacle of hacking. 

How to Not Get Busted  

One slight problem with hacking is that if you step over the line, you can go to jail. We will do our best to
warn you when we describe hacks that could get you into trouble with the law. But we are not attorneys or
experts on cyberlaw.  In addition, every state and every country has its own laws. And these laws keep on
changing. So you have to use a little sense. 

However, we have a Guide to (mostly) Harmless Hacking Computer Crime Law Series to help you avoid
some pitfalls. 

But the best protection against getting busted is the Golden Rule. If you are about to do something that you
would not like to have done to you, forget it. Do hacks that make the world a better place, or that are at least
fun and harmless, and you should be able to keep out of trouble. 

So if you get an idea from the Guides to (mostly) Harmless Hacking that helps you to do something
malicious or destructive, it's your problem if you end up being the next hacker behind bars.   Hey, the law
won't care if the guy whose computer you trash was being a d***. It won't care that the giant corporation
whose database you filched shafted your best buddy once. They will only care that you broke the law.

To some people it may sound like phun to become a national sensation in the latest hysteria over Evil
Genius hackers. But after the trial, when some reader of these Guides ends up being the reluctant "girlfriend"
of a convict named Spike, how happy will his news clippings make him?  

Conventions Used in the Guides  

You've probably already noticed that we spell some words funny, like "kewl" and "phun." These are hacker
slang terms. Since we often communicate with each other via email, most of our slang consists of ordinary
words with extraordinary spellings. For example, a hacker might spell "elite" as "3l1t3," with 3's substituting
for e's and 1's for i's. He or she may even spell "elite" as "31337. The Guides sometimes use these slang
spellings to help you learn how to write email like a hacker. 

Of course, the cute spelling stuph we use will go out of date fast. So we do not guarantee that if you use
this slang, people will read your email and think, "Ohhh,  you must be an Evil Genius! I'm sooo impressed!" 

Take it from us, guys who need to keep on inventing new slang to prove they are "k-rad 3l1t3" are often
lusers and lamers. So if you don't want to use any of the hacker slang of these Guides, that's OK by us.
Most Uberhackers don't use slang, either. 

Who Are You?  

We've made some assumptions about who you are and why you are reading these Guides: 

· You own a PC or Macintosh personal computer 
· You are on-line with the Internet 
· You have a sense of humor and adventure and want to express it by hacking  
· Or -- you want to impress your friends and pick up chicks (or guys) by making them think you are an Evil

So, does this picture fit you? If so, OK, d00dz, start your computers. Are you ready  to hack?


Beginners' Series #2, Section One. 

Hacking Windows 95! 

Important warning: this is a beginners lesson. BEGINNERS. Will all you super k-rad elite haxors out there
just skip reading this one, instead reading it and feeling all insulted at how easy it is and then emailing me to
bleat "This GTMHH iz 2 ezy your ****** up,wee hate u!!!&$%" Go study something that seriously
challenges your intellect such as "Unix for Dummies," OK?  

Have you ever seen what happens when someone with an America Online account posts to a hacker news
group, email list, or IRC chat session? It gives you a true understanding of what "flame" means, right?  

Now you might think that making fun of dumb.newbie@aol.com is just some prejudice. Sort of like how
managers in big corporations don't wear dreadlocks and fraternity boys don't drive Yugos. 

But the real reason serious hackers would never use AOL is that it doesn't offer Unix shell accounts for its
users. AOL fears Unix because it is the most fabulous, exciting, powerful, hacker-friendly operating system
in the Solar system... gotta calm down ... anyhow, I'd feel crippled without Unix. So AOL figures offering
Unix shell accounts to its users is begging to get hacked.  

Unfortunately, this attitude is spreading. Every day more ISPs are deciding to stop offering shell accounts
to their users. 

But if you don't have a Unix shell account, you can still hack. All you need is a computer that runs Windows
95 and just some really retarded on-line account like America Online or Compuserve. 

In this Beginner's Series #2 we cover several fun things to do with Windows and even the most hacker-
hostile Online services. And, remember, all these things are really easy. You don't need to be a genius. You
don't need to be a computer scientist. You don't need to won an expensive computer. These are things
anyone with Windows 95 can do. 

Section One: Customize your Windows 95 visuals. Set up y our startup, background and logoff  screens so
as to amaze and befuddle your non-hacker friends. 

Section Two: Subvert Windows nanny programs such as Surfwatch and the setups many schools use in the
hope of keeping kids from using unauthorized programs. Prove to yourself -- and your friends and
coworkers -- that Windows 95 passwords are a joke. 

Section Three: Explore other computers  -- OK, let's be blatant -- hack -- from your Windows home computer
using even just AOL for Internet access. 


OK, let's say you are hosting a wild party in your home. You decide to show your buddies that you are one
of those dread hacker d00dz. So you fire up your computer and what should come up on your screen but the
logo for "Windows 95." It's kind of lame looking, isn't it? Your computer looks just like everyone else's box.
Just like some boring corporate workstation operated by some guy with an IQ in the 80s. 

Now if you are a serious hacker you would be booting up Linux or FreeBSD or some other kind of Unix on
your personal computer. But your friends don't know that. So you have an opportunity to social engineer
them into thinking you are fabulously elite by just by customizing your bootup screen.

Now let's say you want to boot up with a black screen with orange and yellow flames and the slogan " K-
Rad Doomsters of the Apocalypse." This turns out to be super easy. 

Now Microsoft wants you to advertise their operating system every time you boot up. In fact, they want
this so badly that they have gone to court to try to force computer retailers to keep the Micro$oft bootup
screen on the systems these vendors sell. 

So Microsoft certainly doesn't want you messing with their bootup screen, either. So M$ has tried to hide
the bootup screen software. But they didn't hide it very well. We're going to learn today how to totally
thwart their plans. 

Evil Genius tip: One of the rewarding things about hacking is to find hidden files that try to keep you from
modifying them -- and then to mess with them anyhow. That's what we're doing today. 

The Win95 bootup graphics is hidden in either a file named c:\logo.sys and/or ip.sys. To see this file, open
File Manager, click "view", then click "by file type," then check the box for "show hidden/system files."
Then, back on "view," click "all file details." To the right of the file logo.sys you will see the letters "rhs."
These mean this file is "read-only, hidden, system." 

The reason this innocuous graphics file is labeled as a system file -- when it really is just a graphics file with
some animation added -- is because Microsoft is afraid you'll change it to read something like "Welcome to
Windoze 95 -- Breakfast of Lusers!" So by making it a read-only file, and hiding it, and calling it a system file
as if it were something so darn important it would destroy your computer if you were to mess with it,
Microsoft is trying to trick you into leaving it alone. 

The easiest way to thwart these Windoze 95 startup and shut down screens is to go to
http://www.windows95.com/apps/ and check out their programs. But we're hackers, so we like to do things
ourselves. So here's how to do this without using a canned program. 

We start by finding the MSPaint program. It's probably under the accessories folder. But just in case you're
like me and keep on moving things around, here's the fail-safe program finding routine: 

1) Click "Start" on the lower left corner of your screen. 
2) Click "Windows Explorer"  
3) Click "Tools" 
4) Click "Find"  
5) Click "files or folders"  
6) After "named" type in "MSPaint"  
7) After "Look in" type in 'C:"  
8) Check the box that says "include subfolders"  
9) Click "find now"  
10) Double click on the icon of a paint bucket that turns up in a window. This loads the paint program. 
11) Within the paint program, click "file" 
12) Click "open" 

OK, now you have MSPaint. Now you have a super easy way to create your new bootup screen: 

13) After  "file name" type in c: \windows\logos.sys. This brings up the graphic you get when your computer
is ready to shut down saying "It's now safe to turn off your computer." This graphic has exactly the right
format to be used for your startup graphic. So you can play with it any way you want (so long as you don't
do anything on the Attributes screen under the Images menu) and use it for your startup graphic

14) Now we play with this picture. Just experiment with the controls of MSPaint and try out fun stuff. 

15) When you decide you really like your picture (fill it with frightening hacker stuph, right?), save it as
c:\logo.sys. This will overwrite the Windows startup logo file. From now on, any time you want to change
your startup logo, you will be able to both read and write the file logo.sys. 

16. If you want to change the shut down screens, they are easy to find and modify using MSPaint. The
beginning shutdown screen is named c: \windows\logow.sys. As we saw above, the final  "It's now safe to
turn off your computer" screen graphic is named c:\windows\logos.sys. 

17. To make graphics that will be available for your wallpaper, name them something like
c:\windows \evilhaxor.bmp (substituting your filename for "exilhaxor"  -- unless you like to name your
wallpaper "evilhaxor.") 

Evil Genius tip: The Microsoft Windows 95 startup screen has an animated bar at the bottom. But once you
replace it with your own graphic, that animation is gone. However, you can make your own animated startup
screen using the shareware program BMP Wizard. Some download sites for this goodie include: 
Or you can download the program LogoMania, which automatically resizes any bitmap to the correct size for
your logon and logoff screens and adds several types of animation as well. You can find it at  

Now the trouble with using one of the existing Win95 logo files is that they only allow you to use their
original colors. If you really want to go wild, open MSPaint again. First click "Image," then click "attributes."
Set width 320 and height to 400. Make sure under Units that Pels is selected. Now you are free to use any
color combination available in this program. Remember to save the file as c: \logo.sys for your startup logo,
or  c:\windows\logow.sys and or c:\windows\logos.sys for your shutdown screens. 

But if you want some really fabulous stuff for your starting screen, you can steal graphics from your favorite
hacker page on the Web and import them into Win95's startup and shutdown screens. Here's how you do it. 

1) Wow, kewl graphics! Stop your browsing on that Web page and hit the "print screen" button. 

2) Open MSPaint and set width to 320 and height to 400 with units Pels. 

3) Click edit, then click paste. Bam, that image is now in your MSPaint program. 

4) When you save it, make sure attributes are still 320X400 Pels. Name it c: \logo.sys, c:\windows \logow.sys,
c:\windows \logos.sys, or c: \winodws\evilhaxor.bmp depending on which screen or wallpaper you want  to
display it on. 

Of course you can do the same thing by opening any graphics file you choose in MSPaint or any other
graphics program, so long as you save it with the right file name in the right directory and size it 320X400

Oh, no, stuffy Auntie Suzie is coming to visit and she wants to use my computer to read her email!  I'll never
hear the end of it if she sees my K-Rad Doomsters of the Apocalypse startup screen!!!

Here's what you can do to get your boring Micro$oft startup logo back. Just change the name of c:logo.sys
to something innocuous that Aunt Suzie won't see while snooping with file manager. Something like
logo.bak. Guess what happens? Those Microsoft guys figured we'd be doing things like this and hid a copy
of their boring bootup screen in a file named "io.sys." So if you rename or delete their original logo.sys, and
there is no file by that name left, on bootup your computer displays their same old Windows 95 bootup

Now suppose your Win95 box is attached to a local area network (LAN)? It isn't as easy to change your
bootup logo, as the network may override your changes. But there is a way to thwart the network. If you
aren't afraid of your boss seeing your "K-Rad Dommsters of the Apocalypse" spashed over an x-rated
backdrop, here's how to customize your bootup graphics.  

0.95 policy editor 
(comes on the 95 cd) with the default admin.adm will let you change  
this. Use the policy editor to open the registry, select 'local 
computer' select network, select 'logon' and then selet 'logon banner'. 
It'll then show you the current banner and let you change it and save it  
back to the registry. 

Evil genius tip: Want to mess with io.sys or logo.sys? Here's how to get into them. And, guess what, this is
a great thing to learn in case you ever need to break into a Windows computer -- something we'll look at in
detail in the next section. 

Click "Start" then "Programs" then "MS -DOS." At the MS_DOS prompt enter the commands:  


Now they are totally at your mercy, muhahaha! 

But don't be surprised is MSPaint can't open either of these files. MSPaint only opens graphics files. But
io.sys and logo.sys are set up to be used by animation applications. 

OK, that's it for now.  You 31337 hackers who are feeling insulted by reading this because it was too easy,
tough cookies. I warned you. But I'll bet my box has a happier hacker logon graphic than yours does. K-Rad
Doomsters of the apocalypse, yesss!

Stay Tuned For More :D Coming up With Next Post Soon :)

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