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Simulator is traditional hack

To the Editor:

The recent article, "Student breaks Athena security," may have misled a lot of people who aren't closely familiar with computer systems and the mistrust engendered by security.

A login simulator is a traditional computer hack, much as going on the Great Dome is a traditional building hack. I suspect that many readers and Tech staffers don't know this -- otherwise, why would a login simulator be considered news -- so I want to make sure you know. These hacks are comparably exciting, and about equally harmless. They are so traditional that the lack of originality does not make them uninteresting, especially if you have to figure out how to do it on your own.

I would be surprised to see The Tech print a quote saying that actually to go onto the Dome, instead of just planning how you could do it, "has got to be some sort of mania." At least there would be some indication that not everyone agrees!

The uncautious reader might get the impression that breaking security hurt somebody. The tone, the diction, suggest that a serious crime has taken place; but if you look carefully, you won't find a victim anywhere. "Where people see smoke, they will tend to assume there is a fire," seems to be the principle in use.

Perhaps the motivation for breaking security was a childish dare game: one starts with, "I have a file you can't read, nyah nyah," and the other replies with, "I sure can!" in the form of a login simulator. Both sides of this game are immature. By declaring that the one side can do no wrong, and calling the other one an "offender," one is not serving the cause of maturity.

The way to end the security game is to refuse to play either side of it. The other Athena users are other MIT students. Instead of trying to protect yourself from them as if they were enemies, it might be better to try to build up groups that trust each other. Perhaps all the people on a floor could share one machine, and turn off access control within the group. People can get a lot more done if they find people to trust, rather than studying distrust.

Richard Stallman->

Guillermo J. Rozas G->

Gerald Jay Sussman '68->

Professor of->

Electrical Engineering->

and Computer Science->

David Wallace->