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Karl Werner Lothar Koch

Karl Werner Lothar Koch published on by: Paolo Del Bene

Berlin Prepares for Chaos by David Hudson 3:00 a.m. 24.Dec.98.PST

The mysterious and as yet unsolved case is eerily reminiscent of the death of another CCC associate, Karl Werner Lothar Koch, nearly 10 years ago.

Indeed, Berlin police were quick to call Tron’s death a suicide, as Koch’s had been. But the CCC, as well as Tron’s family and friends, have vehemently denied that suicide was even remotely in his nature. Unlike Karl Werner Lothar Koch, Tron was not only a well-balanced personality but also a brilliant hacker.

He was the first European to hack phone cards so that they could be used freely and forever, and had figured out a way to make ISDN phone calls tap-proof.

“Often, he was the focus of attention,” remembers Heinrich Seeger, a Hamburg journalist who has covered many CCC congresses.

“I guess one of the reasons for that, aside from his undebatable genius and expertise, were his good looks and his charm, which made him stand out.

” Despite ruling the death a suicide, Berlin police have assigned eight officers to investigate, noting more than a few oddities about the case.

Although Tron appeared to have hanged himself, for example, his feet were firmly on the ground.

German newspaper and television reports have suggested that considering the potential value of Tron’s knowledge of smartcards and telephony, organized crime may have been involved.

Our next dead Chaos Computer Club hacker is Karl Werner Lothar Koch, who became obsessed with Robert Anton Wilson’s Illuminatus trilogy.

A German film based on his life was even called “23″ due to the number’s prominence in Wilson’s book.

He was involved with the KGB scandal that involved hackers being bought by drugs in exchange for breaking into key NATO and corporate installations. .

Here are several articles dealing with this case.

They were originally in German and translated, so that explains the clumsiness (sometimes hilarious on multiple levels) of some of the writing.

One of Cliff Stoll’s “Wily Hackers” Is Dead (Suicide?) June 5, 1989 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

According to West German publications, the “Wily Hacker” Karl Werner Lothar Koch, of Hannover, West Germany, died Friday, June 3, probably by suicide.

His body was found burnt (with gasoline) to death, in a forest near Celle (a West German town near Hannover where he committed his hacks, as had been observed by German Post).

Karl Werner Lothar Koch was one of the 2 hackers who confessed their role in the KGB hack to the public prosecutors, there with bringing the case to public attention.

As German newspapers report, he probably suffered from a psychic disease: He thought he was permanently observed by alien beings named Illimunates’ which tried to kill him.

Probably, he had internalized the role of “Captain Hagbard” (his pseudonym in the hacking scene), taken from a U.S. book, who (like him) suffered from supervision by the Illuminates.

Police officials evidently think that Karl Werner Lothar Koch committed suicide (though it is believed, that there are “some circumstances” which may also support other theories; no precise information about such moments are reported).

According to German police experts, Karl Werner Lothar Koch’s role in the KGB case as in daily life can properly be understood when reading this unknown book.

Information Provided by Klaus Brunnstein (University of Hamburg)

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Illuminatus! June 14, 1989


The book in question is believed to be “Illuminatus!” by Harold Shea and Robert Anton Wilson.

The book is a spoof on conspiracy theories, and suggests that many and probably all human institutions are just fronts for a small group of “enlightened ones,” who are themselves a front for the Time dwarves from Reticuli Zeta, or perhaps Atlantean Adepts, remnants of Crowley’s Golden Dawn, or even more likely the Lloigor of H.P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos.

A leading character in this book is named Hagbard Celine.

German Hackers Break Into Los Alamos and NASA March 2, 1989 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Three hours ago, a famous German TV-magazine revealed maybe one of the greatest scandals of espionage in computer networks:

They talk about some (three to five) West German hackers breaking into several secret data networks (Los Alamos, Nasa, some military databases, (Japanese) war industry, and many others) in the interests of the KGB, USSR.

They received sums of $50,000 to $100,000 and even drugs, all from the KGB, the head of the political television-magazine said.

The following news articles (and there are a lot) all deal with (directly and indirectly) the recent Spy scandal situation that occurred in West Germany. The majority of the articles shown here are taken from RISKS Digest, but they have been edited for this presentation.

Computer Espionage: Three “Wily Hackers” Arrested March 2, 1989 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Three hackers have been arrested in Berlin, Hamburg and Hannover, and they are accused of computer espionage for the Soviet KGB.

According to the television magazine “Panorama” (whose journalists have first published the NASA and SPAN hacks), they intruded scientific, military and industry computers and gave passwords, access mechanisms, programs and data to 2 KGB officers; among others, intrusion is reported of the NASA headquarters, the Los Alamos and Fermilab computers, the United States Chief of Staff’s data bank OPTIMIS, and several more army computers.

In Europe, computers of the French-Italian arms manufacturer Thomson, the European Space Agency ESA, the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear Physics in Heidelberg, CERN/GENEVA and the German Electron Accelerator DESY/Hamburg are mentioned.

The report says that they earned several 100,000 DM plus drugs (one hacker evidently was drug addict) over about 3 years.

For the German Intelligence authorities, this is “a new quality of espionage.”

The top manager said that they had awaited something similar but are nevertheless surprised that it happened so soon and with such broad effects.

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Computer Spy Ring Sold Top Secrets To Russia March 3, 1989 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


In Karlsruhe, the West German Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office, which is in charge of spy cases, would only confirm last night that three arrests have been made March 2nd during house searches in Hannover and West Berlin.

Those detained were suspected of “having obtained illegally, through hacking and in exchange for money, information which was passed on to an Eastern secret service.

” But the spokesman did not share West German television’s evaluation, which said the case was the most serious since the unmasking in 1974 of an East German agent in the office of ex-Chancellor Willy Brandt.

The Interior Ministry in Bonn last night also confirmed several arrests and said the suspects had supplied information to the KGB.

The arrests followed months of investigations into the activities of young computer freaks based in Hamburg, Hannover and West Berlin, the ministry said. According to the television report, the hackers gained access to the data banks of the Pentagon, NASA Space Center, and the nuclear laboratory in Los Alamos.

They also penetrated leading West European computer centers and armament companies, including the French Thomson group, the European Nuclear Research Center, CERN, in Geneva; the European Space Authority, ESA, and German companies involved in nuclear research.

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News From The KGB/Wily Hackers March 7, 1989


Now, five days after the “sensational” disclosure of the German (NDR) Panorama Television team, the dust of speculations begins to rise and the facts become slowly visible; moreover, some questions which could not be answered in Clifford Stoll’s Communications of the ACM paper may now be answered.

Though not all facts are known publicly, the following facts seem rather clear.

In 1986, some hackers from West Berlin and Hannover discussed, in “hacker parties” with alcohol and drugs, how to solve some personal financial problems; at that time, first intrusions of scientific computers (probably CERN/Geneva as hacker training camp) and Chaos Computer Club’s spectacular BTX-intrusion gave many hackers (assisted by newsmedia) the *puerile impression* that they could intrude *into every computer system*;

I remember contemporary discussions on 1986/87 Chaos Computer Conferences about possibilities, when one leading CCC member warned that such hacks might also attract espionage (Steffen Wernery recently mentioned that German counter-espionage had tried several times to hire him and other CCC members as advisors — unsuccessfully). -

A “kernel group” of 5 hackers who worked together, in some way, in the “KGB case” are (according to Der SPIEGEL, who published the following names in its Monday, March 6, 1989 edition):

-> Markus Hess, 27, from Hannover, Clifford Stoll’s “Wily Hacker” who was often referred to as the Hannover Hacker and uses the alias of Mathias Speer; after having ended (unfinished) his studies in mathematics, he works as programmer, and tries to get an Informatics diploma at the University of Hagen (FRG); he is said to have good knowledge of VMS and UNIX.

-> Karl Werner Lothar Koch, 23, from Hannover, who works as programmer; due to his luxurious lifestyle and his drug addiction, his permanent financial problems have probably added to his desire to sell “hacker knowledge” to interested institutions.

-> Hans Huebner, alias “Pengo,” from Berlin, who after having received his Informatics diploma from Technical University of West Berlin, founded a small computer house; the SPIEGEL writes that he needed money for investment in his small enterprise; though he does not belong to the Chaos Computer Club, he holds close contacts to the national hacker scenes (Hamburg: Chaos Computer Club; Munich: Bavarian Hacker Post; Cologne: Computer Artists Cologne, and other smaller groups), and he was the person to speak about UUCP as a future communications medium at the Chaos Communication Congress.

-> Dirk Brezinski, from West Berlin, programmer and sometimes “troubleshooter” for Siemens BS-2000 systems (the operating system of Siemens mainframe computers), who earned, when working for Siemens or a customer (BfA, a national insurance for employees) 20,000 DM (about $10,800) a month; he is regarded (by an intelligence officer) as “some kind of a genius.”

-> Peter Carl, from West Berlin, a former croupier, who “always had enough cocaine.” No information about his computer knowledge or experience is available.

Next, we get to the man Wau Holland himself! Note: Like the other famous CCC members, Holland died young, of a stroke at the age of 49.

By Boris Groendahl Berlin Bureau Chief July 30, 2001

The year is 1981. IBM still has to introduce its first Personal Computer.

The movie “WarGames” and Steven Levys book “Hackers,” which will make the self-description of alternative computer nerds a household name in the U.S, are two years away.

In Western Berlin, in the offices of the left-wing daily “die tageszeitung,” fringe computer hobbyists are sitting at a conference table, sharing their knowledge of early computers and computer networks.

They followed the call of Wau Holland, a bearded, balding man in dungarees who looks more like an eco-warrior than an electronics enthusiast.

The assembled group is about to found the jj Computer Club (CCC) and go down in computing history.

Twenty years later, the CCC now has to continue without its honorary president Wau Holland, also known as Herwart Holland-Moritz. Holland suffered a stroke in late May and fell into a coma; he died Sunday morning, age 49.

Read today, Hollands editorial that appeared in the first issue of CCCs magazine “Datenschleuder” (roughly: “data sling”) back in 1984 appears almost visionary. For him and for the CCC, the computer was already not merely a technology but “the most important new medium.”

He held that “all existing media will be increasingly networked through computers, a networking which creates a new quality of media.” The first and foremost goal of the hackers association was to promote this new medium, by “distributing wiring diagrams and kits for cheap and universal modems.”

What should have earned the CCC a medal for the advancement of the information society, however, got him in conflict with the arcane German telecom law. At the time, as Holland remembered later, “the prolongation of a telephone cable was considered worse than setting off an atomic explosion.”

Involving everybody, not just big government and big business, into the information revolution, ways always Hollands and the CCCs main goal.

Its first famous hack was performed 1984 on Germanys first online service Btx, an atavistic network operated by the German postal service.

The CCC found a security hole in the network, but the postal service didnt react to the warning. So Holland and his colleague Steffen Wernry logged in, masquerading as a German savings bank, and downloaded their own billable Btx page all night long.

When the tab got to 134,000 deutschmarks, they stopped the program and called German TV Btx had its first scandal only months after its launch, and it wouldnt recover for more than a decade.

The Btx hack, as it became known later, would become a pattern for every CCC action. Holland, in particular, was at least as media-savvy as he as he was computer literate.

Whenever the CCC hacked into regions he wasnt supposed to see, he sought protection by seeking public attention, and used them to warn of weak security and insufficient data protection.

Though only a few of Waus CCC comrades shared his political background most joined the club as regular electronics nerds he shaped the German hackers association into a unique institution, incomparable with the U.S. hacker scene.

The CCC is different from both the technology-oriented Homebrew Computer Club that gave birth to the PC in the ’70s, and the cracker gangs that dominated media attention in the early ’90s.

Holland taught his fellow CCCers to never hack for profit, to always be open about what they were up to, and to fight for an open information society.

He was deeply embarrassed when some CCCers sold their discoveries from within the U.S. military computer network to the KGB.

This incident and the subsequent discussions in the club brought the next generation to the CCCs helm.

While the new leadership has a less strict moralistic, more postmodern sense of hacking, it remains true to the CCCs political objectives.

Holland became the clubs honorary president. Under his stewardship, the CCC gained considerable status in German politics, with its speakers invited by the parliament, telecoms firms, banks and even the secret service. That part fascinates me. The German secret service, the BND? That is quite a process of legitimization for a supposedly “outlaw” hacker club.

As we shall see in Part 4b, the Chaos Computer Club has a physical site in Berlin, which just blew my mind as I found out fairly late in my research. Are you kidding me?

A hacker gang that breaks into major corporate and defense systems has a PHYSICAL location?

How naïve are these guys? To underline the point that the story of WikiLeaks “security” is much more myth than fact, here is an interview by former insider John Young of the website, also designed for leakers.

As someone who has a fairly strong understanding of computer networks,

I’ve always found it comical how secure some of these radical groups (indybay for example) think their online communications truly are. John Young hits on many of the key points.

In my opinion, the world’s governments fail to police the Internet effectively not because of overwhelming technical issues, but because of political, financial, and human resource overload. The most difficult part is the sheer amount of data to go through and prosecute.

Hell, can you imagine what it would take just to police a day’s worth of Ebay transactions?

Also, the business culture of America sees the free Internet as part of our national brand that we market to the world.

But when the will is there to target something, in my opinion, the government cyber-security teams of the West can be QUITE effective. They have incredibly gifted hackers on their side, many who have been brought in through plea deals to avoid 10 years of federal time.

In fact, many of those hackers are sitting right next to the outlaws at their cute little “hacker conventions”, like DefCon in Las Vegas, wearing the same piercings and black shirts with skulls on them.

The whole “libertarian hacker myth” of courageous, sex-starved 400 lb Bohemian heroes who stay up all night hacking to save the world for Anarchy ,while eating fifty packs of Skittles and listening to Nine Inch Nails, applies to a relatively small portion of the hardcore nerd community.

They are outnumbered by sex-starved 400 lb military contractors who stay up all night tracking and infiltrating other hackers while eating fifty packs of Skittles, listening to crap like the Top Gun soundtrack. Oh, and playing role-playing games on the Internet with the guys they are going after.

Trust me, I’ve known guys like this. They’re the guys who had posters of F14 schematics on their dorm walls. And lest we forget, who created and paid for the Internet in the first place? DARPA, part of the Pentagon! Another great “libertarian hacker myth” is that the Internet was just sitting there unused by the military, and waiting in mothballs to be taken over by the world’s role-playing gamers, porn seekers, and music bootleggers. Again, are you serious? Nerds, you’re playing on “their” turf! While there is a significant element of “genie out of bottle” in the military’s relationship with it’s bastard stepchild, the Internet, let’s not kid ourselves… Here’s John Young to spoil the party.