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Federal Charges Brought Against Accused Teen-Age Hacker

August 9, 1988 GMT

CHICAGO (AP) _ A teen-age high school dropout is charged with using his personal computer to break into AT&T and government computers and steal more than $1 million worth of software.

″This is not malicious mischief,″ U.S. Attorney Anton Valukas said in announcing the federal charges Monday. ″It’s a felony.″

Herbert Zinn Jr., 18, also is accused of advertising on a computer bulletin board how to electronically break into AT&T’s computers.

The charges against Zinn mark the start of ″an aggressive position toward computer crimes,″ Valukas said.


Zinn allegedly committed the crimes when he was a juvenile, and could be sent to prison until his 21st birthday in August 1991.

Federal agents raided Zinn’s home last year and confiscated three computers and software allegedly stolen during the electronic break-ins.

The telephone at Zinn’s North Side residence went unanswered this morning.

Zinn was quoted in today’s editions of the Chicago Sun-Times as saying that since the raid on his home, he had not pursued his computer techniques ″with quite the same vim and vigor.″

He said he nonetheless hoped eventually to resume his schooling and become an electonics engineer, the newspaper said. Zinn would not discuss details of the case, it said.

The federal charges were brought after Zinn had been arrested several times, including for alleged computer break-ins at the Keller Graduate School of Management and at Commodity Perspective Inc., both in Chicago.

″Before and after the computer break-ins (at Keller and Commodity Perspective), Zinn was, by his own admission, breaking into AT&T computers,″ Valukas said.

Court documents said Zinn broke into an AT&T computer at the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s Maintenance and Supply Headquarters in Burlington, N.C., and an AT&T computer at Robins Air Force Base, Ga.

Valukas said the software taken from NATO and the Air Force base were ″low level in terms of sensitivity.″

Agents raided Zinn’s home after an AT&T security officer logged onto the so-called Phreak Class-2600 computer bulletin board and spotted messages signed by ″Shadow Hawk,″ a code name the goverment said the teen-ager used.

In the messages, Shadow Hawk bragged that he had gained access to AT&T computer files. In a similar message, Shadow Hawk made the mistake of including his telephone number, which the security officer spotted, the government said.

The purpose of the Texas-based Phreak Class-2600 is ″to educate computer enthusiasts ... to penetrate industrial and government sector computer systems,″ said William J. Cook, an assistant U.S. attorney.

The government said Zinn also tried to electonically break into computers at the Washington Post’s accounts payable department, a hospital in South Bend, Ind.; and computers in Columbus, Ohio; Rye, N.Y. and Pipe Creek, Texas.