How to fix "French Fries" and "Phlegm"
1/24/2011 3:25 PM EST
Just read your article on EDGAR on RSX-11. It reminded me of a hack I had to pull when I was working at DEC Marlboro on the TOPS-10 OS (which we called the “monitor” for the PDP-10.
One day, our KI-10 started to become the victim of a hacker somewhere in the building. This was the days before computers were routinely networked, so we knew it was one of the users, but didn’t know who.
The hack was benign, but annoying: When you looked at a username printout, people’s names were mangled. For example, Tony Wachs, our file system guru, became “Tony Wax;” Joe Fries became “French Fries;” Jim Flemming became “Jim Phlegm”. And so on.
Since we considered ourselves OS gurus extreme, we couldn’t let this stand.
I happened to have a monitor patch that could spy on the various teletype lines (called TTYs), and also connect your terminal in parallel with the other user.
Using the patch, I started looking around one day when we saw the usernames start to change, and sure enough, I caught one of the diagnostic engineers (let’s call him Dick M.) inside a renamed copy of the runtime executive debugger (renamed to TECO as I recall, the system text editor) opening up the locations of the username table and hacking the names.
I decided to have a bit of fun with him. After watching him for a while, I connected to his terminal in parallel and typed a Control-C, which dumped him back to the command prompt. Activity ceased for a second, and he then ran his stealth copy of the debugger again and began once again to hack.
I typed another Control-C on his terminal again. Another pause. Once again, he ran his debugger.
Finally, I typed Control-C and “del *.*” without the return . . . and you never saw so many control-Cs being typed in your life!!! Finally, I typed “you’re busted!” on his terminal, got up and went over to his terminal in the diagnostic group area. You never saw such a red face!
Needless to say, the username hacking stopped.