According to many historians, the “Greek miracle” of a polis was achieved as a result of a cultural transition from mythos to logos. That is the transition of a culture based on myths to one of reason. It was on logos on which society was born in Greek culture. But myths didn’t die, they just took a second seat. Even today we have myths. Myths have positive and negative qualities. In general, myths give many a key facet in their life, and that is hope. Hope that now is amazing, that the future will be better, and that we can achieve our dreams. We build myths around organizations. A good example is the many myths involved in military operations, with good and bad repercussions. A recent example is that of Marines attacking CIA HQ. Another myth is that of the Spartans of Thermopylae. We also build myths around people. An example is the technical prowess of Kevin Mitnick. While Mitnick certainly has technical skills, per his own admission, most of his victories derived from social engineering his targets. Finally, we also create entire fictional myths. Batman, Captain America, etc. come to mind.
However, while myths provide hope, it becomes important to resort to reason when confronted with people who have purposefully created a facade of murky notoriety or have achieved a notable amount of fame based on nebulous events. Particularly when this facade is emphasized through the lens of journalism (a profession not itself without hyperbole). Recently in the media we’ve seen at least two individuals accused of sexual harassment. Both have a substantial amount of myth within the information security and hacking community built around them.
The first is John Draper (AKA Captain Crunch). Draper earned the nickname after finishing a stint in the Air Force and at National Semiconducter, when he (with Dennis Teresi) discovered that a whistle provided as a free gift in a Captain Crunch cereal box blew a perfect 2600 Hz. Next to switch-hooking this is probably the most famous example of phreaking in hacker history. The 2600 Hz tone was unique at the time because AT&T’s long pipes used that frequency to indicated a trunk line was available for analog call routing. This connected the receiving end of the trunk and allowed the connected (transmitter) side to enter an “operator mode.” No not shooter-operator. Phone operator. This provided the impetus for Draper to build blue boxes and ultimately start the “2600: The Hacker Quarterly” zine. A zine that still runs today.
The problem recently (and not so recently) is that John Draper has been accused of sexually harassing several people dating back to the 1970’s. Furthermore, rumors within the hacker/information security community have suggested for some time that John Draper preferred his victims male and young. Underage young.