cover image Masters of Deception: The Gang That Ruled Cyberspace

Masters of Deception: The Gang That Ruled Cyberspace

Michelle Slatalla. HarperCollins Publishers, $23 (225pp) ISBN 978-0-06-017030-1

This riveting account of electronic gang warfare and computer crimes by two rival bands of hackers raises disturbing questions about computer security. One group of brainy teens based in New York City and calling themselves Masters of Deception (MOD) downloaded confidential credit histories (including those of Geraldo Rivera and Julia Roberts), broke into AT&T's computer system and stole credit-card numbers. Their arch rivals, the Texas-based Legion of Doom (LOD), launched a security service firm to assist corporations whose computers MOD has penetrated. MOD had one African American member, and it was the racial epithet electronically hurled at him by LOD hackers that triggered the feud, according to New York Newsday reporters Slatalla and Quittner, husband-and-wife coauthors of mystery fiction. The Secret Service, using unprecedented authorized datataps (wiretaps on a computer), helped bust MOD in 1992; four hackers got jail sentences ranging from six months to a year. First serial to Wired; author tour. (Jan.)