Chapter 3-8
Hacker Crackdown

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America's computer police are an interesting group.
As a social phenomenon they are far more interesting,
and far more important, than teenage phone phreaks
and computer hackers.  First, they're older and wiser;
not dizzy hobbyists with leaky morals, but seasoned adult
professionals with all the responsibilities of public service.
And, unlike hackers, they possess not merely TECHNICAL
power alone, but heavy-duty legal and social authority.

And, very interestingly, they are just as much at
sea in cyberspace as everyone else.  They are not
happy about this.  Police are authoritarian by nature,
and prefer to obey rules and precedents.  (Even those police
who secretly enjoy a fast ride in rough territory will soberly
disclaim any "cowboy" attitude.) But in cyberspace there ARE
no rules and precedents.  They are groundbreaking pioneers,
Cyberspace Rangers, whether they like it or not.

In my opinion, any teenager enthralled by computers,
fascinated by the ins and outs of computer security,
and attracted by the lure of specialized forms of knowledge and power,
would do well to forget all about "hacking" and set his (or her)
sights on becoming a fed.  Feds can trump hackers at almost every
single thing hackers do, including gathering intelligence,
undercover disguise, trashing, phone-tapping, building dossiers,
networking, and infiltrating computer systems--CRIMINAL computer systems.
Secret Service agents know more about phreaking, coding and carding
than most phreaks can find out in years, and when it comes to viruses,
break-ins, software bombs and trojan horses, Feds have direct access to red-hot
confidential information that is only vague rumor in the underground.

And if it's an impressive public rep you're after, there are few people
in the world who can be so chillingly impressive as a well-trained,
well-armed United States Secret Service agent.

Of course, a few personal sacrifices are necessary in order to obtain
that power and knowledge.  First, you'll have the galling discipline
of belonging to a large organization;  but the world of computer crime
is still so small, and so amazingly fast-moving, that it will remain
spectacularly fluid for years to come.  The second sacrifice is that
you'll have to give up ripping people off.  This is not a great loss.
Abstaining from the use of illegal drugs, also necessary, will be a boon
to your health.

A career in computer security is not a bad choice for a young man
or woman today.  The field will almost certainly expand drastically
in years to come.  If you are a teenager today, by the time you
become a professional, the pioneers you have read about in this book
will be the grand old men and women of the field, swamped by their many
disciples and successors.  Of course, some of them, like William P. Wood
of the 1865 Secret Service, may well be mangled in the whirring machinery
of legal controversy; but by the time you enter the computer-crime field,
it may have stabilized somewhat, while remaining entertainingly challenging.

But you can't just have a badge.  You have to win it.  First, there's the
federal law enforcement training.  And it's hard--it's a challenge.
A real challenge--not for wimps and rodents.

Every Secret Service agent must complete gruelling courses at the
Federal Law Enforcement Training Center.  (In fact, Secret Service
agents are periodically re-trained during their entire careers.)

In order to get a glimpse of what this might be like,
I myself travelled to FLETC.