First Pinoy Hacker and College Stories

Was I the first Pinoy Hacker, in the Internet sense. In fourth year, we had a bit of a scandal. Some colleagues and I were accused of hacking. The Internet was very new. My classmate did it. He gave himself credits in the time accounting system. I showed him how. One fateful night he stayed overnight. I logged into the school system using my 2400bps modem, and found that the time accounting shell script was setuid root but did not check the PATH. Scripting was still very new.

I started my Ateneo life in Chemistry/Computer Engineering (Chem CE). I figured that by that time, I had enough of computers and should try a physical science. After all, in my youth, I thought I’d be a “scientist” of the traditional type. This changed when I failed Fr. Schmitt’s class. He gave the name to the Chem building, and was probably the oldest x86 machine language programmer for lab control. He was my quantitative chemistry teacher in the hot summer of 1992.

I moved to Computer Science. My first class was CS 21a, and Turbo Pascal was the teaching language at that time. I hated it because of its inconsistencies. (Like: why does writeln work even when it’s not defined as a function?) For my first sem, the teacher (whose name I forgot), allowed me to pass the course without attending. I just needed to submit a final project, a blackjack simulation called CaSino 21. (What a coincidence in the name.) I made this with ASCII art graphics and PC speaker drumbeats. When I rejoined the mainstream CS, I was with the class of ’96 for most of my major subjects.

At some point I joined the Ateneo Virus Research Group, when viruses were all the rage. (I have some recollections in my previous post.) I implemented my code in C. C was heaven compared to Pascal. I used Turbo C, and then later Borland C/C++. For Christmas in 1993 or 1994, I made a “brick game” in Borland C++ and its proprietary VGA graphics module, as a gift. One of our senior projects was also in C or C++ – networking class. We made a multiplayer LAN shooting game – inspired by the CROBOTS fighting robots perhaps? It did not use IP, just layer 2 broadcasts.

I did not get over my old favorite BASIC so quickly. 1991-1992, I picked up Visual Basic 1.0 after it got rave reviews in PC Digest. It was not used in the CS curriculum at all, but I used it for a class project in psychology (of all things! it was a quiz called “EnviroPsych” when environmentalism became hot.) I also made a sliding puzzle game called “PushOver” which I have planned to remake many times.

All this time I was on DOS and Windows. I only moved to Linux/Windows in my senior year, 1994-1995. We had a Unix programming class where we had to implement a multiuser chat style app. This was when the Internet was new, and people used “finger,” “talk,” telnet BBS’s and IRC to communicate with other PHnet universities and the world at large. One of my friends was probably the first to get into online romance during this period, and she eventually moved to Florida and married.

I got introduced to Linux care of Doc Mana, during the days of Slackware and its numerous diskettes. I took the plunge and installed Linux in my computer (486DX33, 8 MB RAM, and 120 MB hard drive I think?) so that the Doc could present at an event in UA&P. I got involved in that event care of CompSAt, but UA&P (CRC at that time?) was the host. I got involved more in Linux as I did some work in making plans for the Internet (in what would lead to IPhil Communications), as well as my participation in the BBS community which was making moves towards the Net.

Those were historic times.


18 Responses

  1. Wow. In ’92, when you mention computers, sega and famcom comes to mind. It was in 94 that I finally understand GWBasic in a 40mins per week Computer subject in HS.

  2. Whew, reading this post made me remember my college days.

    I remember the Turbo Pascal days. I think the first turbo pascal version I used was v2 or 2.1 and I can recall the textbook (Turbo Pascal by Walter Savitch).

    I didn’t do any hacking but I did was crack an accounting software. We had a teacher which gave us a copy of an accounting software that we need to use for the subject. Back then, we had a friend called CopyIIPC and I think there was also (copywrite) which can copy those copy protected floppy disks.

    Copy protection before quite simple. It’ll just read a sector in a floppy disk. The technique back then was to find that part/subrouting that will check the “security sector”. In assembly language, it will have an “INT 13” which will read the sector. I disabled it and saved the resulting cracked version.

    I also dabbled with viruses. But more on finding out how it works. The first one I disassembled was (c)Brain and the second one was the Italian bouncing ball “pingpong virus”. I made some variations of it like changed the ball character and use “A” to “Z” so I have an Italian Bouncing A up to Italian Bouncing Z so that’s 26 variations..hehehe…:-)

    I had my share of Game projects too. The last one I remember worth mentioning was an AI tic-tac-toe. We built it using prolog and nobody can literally win against our AI tic-tac-toe.

    I also remembered my first modem. The Datatronics 2400. It was my first major hardware purchase. Our computer was bought by our parents but the modem was out of my own pocket. I was a couple of thousand pesos back then. Now you can get an internal 56k for PHP500 or less.

    Well, those were the old days.

    Migz, I bet when our children grow up, they’ll find our stories amuzing and primitive..hahaha. So better get married soon 🙂

  3. Kates: I was never into consoles. I did have a PlayStation (1) but only after a computer rental/LAN shop I helped put up went broke.

    noel: ah yes, Copywrite, Copy II PC, Central Point Software NoKey (No Key Disk) and other fun stuff.

    and something I buried deep in my memory: I did try to write a boot virus! But I couldn’t get it to work. I figured it was bad karma so I stopped.

  4. I just wish that you mentioned the UP folks – where you spent some time playing the Food Fight BBS game. 😛

  5. Oh yes I will. I’m not yet done reminiscing!

  6. At least your friend hacked the system jusy for some school credits. A friend of mine was a notorious hacker way back a decade ago. He used to tell us stories of how he used other people’s credit cards to purchase stuff online, including laptops, appliances, gadgets, etc. He became so popular (not in a good sense though) Time Magazine featured him in a story about hackers in third world countries. As far as I know, until now he tries to keep his identity secret cos the FBI and NBI, he says, are looking for him.

  7. Ah, Eyestrain and his Time article.

    So the authorities are still looking for him until now?

  8. Eyestrain and his Time article. I remembered reading that article years ago. Wow. Reminiscing. Here’s the sequel We Lead Perfectly Normal Lives .

    I’m not that much into hacking, but I was into a lot of Hex Editing / Patching DOS games saved files to cheat.

    Nice post btw, oh man, reading such inspires me as if I remember the days when I “truly” thirst for the keyboard and the screen, and dreaming more and more things to learn and grasp. Compared today that the info you want to learn is on the tip of your hands or in the Google’s search box 🙂


  9. Hey I didn’t know about the sequel. I don’t agree with:

    TIME: Why aren’t you working in the IT industry?
    Hiiro: They are looking for graduates, not for skills. So it’s hard to get a job if you don’t have that piece of paper. In Manila it’s not important that you’re good. I applied for work at an antivirus company and they weren’t interested. All that matters here is your diploma. It’s very biased. And most people that graduate don’t know what they’re doing. They’re just script kiddies.

    Not connected – how can you compare IT graduates with script kiddies? I think he’s just got a bad attitude and thus didn’t pass the nontechnical HR interviews.

    Hex editing… I remember writing a machine language program just to hex edit Microsoft QuickBASIC to change the colors. Why? I don’t remember!

    Well there’s still a lot of learn, that’s why we hack on, do SEO and game google, so and so forth.

  10. tol pa turo naman paano mag hack ng load gus2 ko maging hacker balang araw lalo sa mga cellphone load idol kita….

  11. idol

  12. 1994 i was in second year high school when i learned the language Turbo C / Turbo Pascal / Dbase III Plus / Basic.. before i graduated in High School in Ateneo de Naga i already created a pure assembly language virus that i did not release due to my fear that it might spread in our laboratory and a lot more.. it was a self terminating stay resident kind of virus that infects .com files. MS-DOS 6.22 was the operating being used before.. i still remember the MS-DOS and commands that we changed using hexadecimal editor call PCtools.exe.. I was really happy that i was able to learn and understand the assemblu language programming before i can graduate in high school.. 2 pages of white bond paper… i still remember the code i made.. by the time i went to college dial up internet was booming and there we used trojans.. keyloggers.. sniffers.. all made in VB.. i was still craving for more knowledge.. i was envy of subseven so i made my own so that it will be custom made and not easily detected.. we used that to gain access to dial up account for free.. i’ve learned a lot.. computer language for me are now just the same with any language.. it has syntax.. structures.. loops.. i’m blessed because i have very high logical analyzing capability… nowadays i’m just sitting in front of my computer using buffer overflow.. this is the best that i can see.. for now… you don’t need to social engineer a person inorder to gain access.. just scan an open port and there you have it.. i don’t say i’m a hacker nor cracker.. i am an explorer of the cyberworld curious about everything.. i know that there is always someone better than me i don’t deny the fact.. i’m not boasting that i have this skill. i’m just having fun and improving my knowledge more about computers and i’m not a popular person i’m just low profile but if i say my name i know that somebody here might recognize me so i’ll just leave my initials… A.T. ^_^ good luck with your lives have fun always and don’t break the law.

  13. all of you SUCK!!! pinoy wanna be hacker??!!

    >> HellHeart >> you said that you’ve learned the ASM language when you were just a high school??? screw your self man… you dont even know anything since high school… STOP PRETENDING to be a hacker!

  14. Manny Pacquiao pa din

  15. Sounds like a cool guy to me. Like to chat sometime as the topic fascinates me. I went more for business side of computing and higher lvl languages so am keen to chat with him if he’s still about, especially as I’m keen on moving to PH from UK

  16. I hate to say this but i hate hackers. I guess it’s because i am a victim of computer hacking. I have never been depress all my life until now. The hacker, who ever he is ruined my life. I live and work abroad to support my family back home (philippines). I work 7 days a week just to help my mother who has a heart problem. Now my relationship with my girlfriend is in jeopardy, due to the files and information that he had stolen from me. I try to be a good person everyday and i treat everyone with kindness. I can’t sleep and live a normal life now, to paranoid that he’ll find a way to ruin my even more. Everyday all I do is think about the damage that the hacker have done to me. Please to all of you, if have the knowledge of computer hacking I hope you use for a good cost. Im sure you don’t want this to happen to your family or friends, so pls dont do this to others…

  17. hoy putang na ka balik mo acc ko lolx ka

  18. I think that everything published made a great deal of sense. But, what about this? what if you were to write a awesome title? I ain’t suggesting your content isn’t solid., but what if you added a headline that makes people desire more? I mean BLOG_TITLE is kinda boring. You might peek at Yahoo’s home page and note how they create article headlines to get viewers to click. You might add a video or a pic or two to grab people excited about everything’ve written. In my opinion, it might make your posts a little livelier.|

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