Monday, July 21, 2014

My theory that the radiocarbon dating laboratories were duped by a computer hacker #8

Copyright ©, Stephen E. Jones[1]

Continuing from part #7 of my series, "My theory that the radiocarbon dating laboratories were duped by a computer hacker" with this part #8. Other previous posts in this series were part #1, part #2, part #3, part #4, part #5 and part #6.

[Above: "The hacker Karl Koch was only 23 years old. On 1 June 1989 they found his burnt corpse in a forest near Gifhorn (Lower Saxony)."[2]. As summarised by Wikipedia:

"Karl Werner Lothar Koch (July 22, 1965 – ca. May 23, 1989) was a German hacker in the 1980s, who called himself `Hagbard', after Hagbard Celine...Koch was born in Hanover... Koch was loosely affiliated with the Chaos Computer Club. He worked with the hackers known as DOB (Dirk-Otto Brezinski), Pengo (Hans Heinrich Hübner), and Urmel (Markus Hess), and was involved in selling hacked information from United States military computers to the KGB. Clifford Stoll's book The Cuckoo's Egg gives a first-person account of the hunt and eventual identification of Hess. Pengo and Koch subsequently came forward and confessed to the authorities under the espionage amnesty, which protected them from being prosecuted. Koch was found burned to death with gasoline in a forest near Celle, Germany. The death was officially claimed to be a suicide. However, some believe there is little evidence supporting suicide and many believe that Koch was killed in order to keep him from confessing more to the authorities. Why Koch would be targeted, and not Pengo and Urmel, is unknown. Koch left his workplace in his car to go for lunch; he had not returned by late afternoon and so his employer reported him as a missing person. Meanwhile, German police were alerted of an abandoned car in a forest near Celle. When they went to investigate, they found an abandoned car, that looked like it had been there for years, as it was covered in dust. Near to the car they found a burned corpse (Koch). His shoes were missing and have never been found. There was a patch of burned ground around him, which although it had not rained in some time and the grass was perfectly dry, was controlled in a small circle around the corpse. It is thought to be highly unlikely that this type of controlled burning could have been achieved by Koch himself which leads many to believe that his death was not suicide" (my emphasis)[3].]


• Koch is not essential to my theory First, as I have previously stated, Karl Koch is not essential to my theory:

"... Koch's role is not essential to my theory. If it turned out that Koch could not possibly have personally travelled to Zurich and Oxford to access their radiocarbon laboratories computers, it would not falsify my theory. My theory includes Koch because of the striking coincidence that they were both allegedly hackers working for the KGB and both allegedly committed suicide within days of each other"[4] (but not on the day-see below)
"...Karl Koch is not essential to my theory, as Linick could have hacked Zurich and Oxford's AMS computer some other way, e.g. by issuing them with a program `update', or one of the KGB's own operatives could have entered those two laboratories clandestinely and installed Linick's program on their AMS control console computers"[5]

If it turned out that Koch could not possibly have been involved, either directly or indirectly, in installing Linick's program on Zurich and Oxford laboratories' AMS control console computers, then my theory would not be falsified. In that case I would have to maintain that Linick's program was installed on those laboratories' computers by some other way. For example, Linick himself could have flown over to Zurich and Oxford, installed his program clandestinely on their computers, and returned to Arizona, in a few days. This is why my theory always has been "that the radiocarbon dating laboratories were duped by a computer hacker" (singular).

Also, as I have also previously stated, it is not essential to my theory that Linick knew Koch, or even about Koch (and vice-versa):

"... I don't claim that the laboratories, or even Linick, knew about Koch"[6]

I have included Karl Koch in my theory, despite there being as yet no known link between Koch and Linick, nor between Koch and the Shroud, because of: 1) the striking coincidence of both Koch and Linick dying of suspected suicide within days of each other (but not on the same day-see below); 2) Koch's death being almost certainly the work of the KGB; 3) the KGB having no known reason to kill Koch unless he had been involved in an entirely different type of hacking for them which they did not want to become public knowledge; 4) Koch's expertise would have been useful in hacking into Zurich and Oxford's AMS computers; and 5) Koch's living in Germany would have made it comparatively easy for him to travel to Zurich and Oxford to install Linick's program on their computers (although that too is not necessary to my theory as Koch may have only provided expert advice on how to hack into those computers and a KGB operative may have entered the laboratories clandestinely and installed Linick's program on their AMS computers, or Linick himself could have installed it).

• Koch's background Karl Werner Lothar Koch was born in Hanover, West Germany, on 22 July 1965[7]. Both his parents were dead by the time he was 16 and Koch's inheritance supported his expensive drug habit[8].

• Koch was a German computer hacker in the 1980s Koch began computer hacking in Hannover, then West Germany, in the early 1980s[9]. Koch's adopted name was "Hagbard Celine" after the hero of the The Illuminatus! Trilogy[10] novels, who fights against The Illuminati, a fictitious, but to Koch real, all-powerful secret society[11]. Unlike other hackers, Koch was no programmer but was expert at guessing logins and passwords[12]. However what Koch lacked in programming skills he more than made up for by his deep intuition, fertile imagination[13], unusual insight, infinite patience, single-mindedness[14] and persistence[15]. Other hackers were part-time but Koch, supported by his inheritance, devoted every waking moment to hacking[16].

• Koch was a hacker paid by the KGB In 1985, at a hacker meeting in Hannover, Koch was recruited by a Peter Carl as a the first member of a ring of hackers to break into Western computer systems, particularly those on military or defence industry sites, and sell the information and programs to the KGB[17]. Others who joined Koch in the Hannover KGB hacker circle[18] included Hans Heinrich Hübner (Pengo)[19], Dirk-Otto Brzezinski (Dob)[20] and Markus Hess[21]. In September 1986 Peter Carl went to the Soviet trade mission in East Berlin with a proposition to sell them secret information from USA military computers[22]. A KGB agent, Sergei Markov, agreed to Carl's hacking proposition[23]. At subsequent meetings in East Berlin with Carl and Brzezinski, from 1986 through 1988, Sergei paid for information and software the hackers provided[24].

• Koch allegedly installed Linick's program on Zurich and Oxford's AMS computers By early 1987, Koch had spent his inheritance and his drug dependency had become acute[25]. It is in this 7 month period between October 1987, after the Archbishop of Turin announced that only three AMS laboratories, Arizona, Oxford and Zurich, would date the Shroud[26] and April 1988 when samples were cut from the Shroud and given to the three laboratories for dating[27], that according to my theory, the KGB's Sergei Markov secretly approached Koch, with an offer of drugs[28] and/or money in return for Koch installing Linick's program on Zurich and Oxford AMS computers. How exactly it was done is not essential to my theory. Except that since Arizona's and Oxford's (and presumably Zurich's) AMS control console computers were never online[29] Linick's program would have had to be installed manually and locally, either by Koch alone, or by a KGB operative following Koch's instructions, or by both Koch and a KGB operative.

The hacking itself would have been easy for the very experienced Koch. In 1987 it was known by hackers (including Koch[30]) that VMS, the operating system for the "DEC computer system" that the AMS control console computer at Arizona[31] (and presumably also at Zurich and Oxford) was, had a major security flaw, in that if an unauthorised user entered any login and password and ignored the error messages, he could gain access to the system:

"Two ... Hamburg students. ... had exploited a devastatingly simple flaw in the VMS operating system used on VAX. The machines, like most computer systems, required users to log in their ID and then type their password to gain access. If the ID or the password was wrong, the VMS system had been designed to show an 'error' message and bar entry. But ... if they simply ignored all the 'error' messages, they could walk straight into the system - provided they continued with the log-on as though everything was in order. When confronted with the 'error' message after keying in a fake ID, they would press `enter', which would take them to the password prompt. They would then type in a phoney password, bringing up a second, equally ineffectual 'error' message. By ignoring it and pressing enter again, they were permitted access to the system. It was breathtakingly easy, and left the VAX open to any hacker, no matter how untalented. ... The VAX operating system, VMS, had been subjected to stringent tests ... It beggared belief that VMS could have gone through such testing without the back door being discovered. [Later, it would be established that although early versions of VMS had been fully tested, later ones hadn't. It was these newer versions that contained the back door. (Users update their computers with the latest versions of the operating systems almost as a matter of course, so nearly all VAXen became insecure for a time.)]"[32].

And even when "Digital issued a 'mandatory patch' ... in May 1987. ... many users didn't bother to install it"

"Responding to complaints from its users, Digital issued a 'mandatory patch', a small program designed specifically to close the back door, in May 1987. Despite the 'mandatory' tag, many users didn't bother to install it. So, at least for a time, VAX computers across the world provided hackers with an open house ..."[33].

And a good reason why many system managers did not install DEC's `mandatory patch" is that DEC were: "being real quiet about it. They don't want their customers to panic" (see below).

Indeed, in the "NASA hack," in which both Hess and Koch were involved[34], it was found that "DEC's [VMS] installation procedure works only" for a "SYSTEM account" but "most system managers do not change the preset default password MANAGER" and those who did change it used easy-to-guess passwords:

"In Hess' apartment, public prosecutors found (on March 3, 1989) password lists from other hacks. On Monday, March 6, 1989, the Panorama team (who had disclosed the NASA hack and basically the KGB connection) asked Klaus Brunnstein to examine some of the password lists; the material which he saw (for 30 minutes) consisted of about 100 photocopied protocols of a hack during the night of July 27 to 28, 1987; it was the famous `NASA hack.' From a VAX 750 (with VMS 4.3) ... to log-into other VAXes in remote institutes. They always used SYSTEM account and the `proper' password (invisible). ... DEC's installation procedure works only if a SYSTEM account is available; evidently, most system managers do not change the preset default password MANAGER; since Version 4.7, MANAGER is excluded, but on previous VMS versions, this hole probably exists in many systems! ... the hackers, in more than 40% of the cases, succeeded to login, their first activities were to ... to install ... the Trojan horse. With the Trojan horse ... they copied the password lists to their PCs. When looking through the password list, Klaus observed the well-known facts: More than 25% female or male first names, historical persons, countries, cities, or local dishes ... the password lists contained less than 5% passwords of such nature easy to guess!"[35].

And if the AMS laboratories' VMS was the very popular version 4.5, then "Anyone that logs into the system can become system manager by running a short program":

"Now if you want a tasty security hole, check out VMS. They've got a hole you could drive a truck through.' `Huh?' `Yeah. It's in every Vox computer from Digital Equipment Corporation that runs the VMS operating system Version 4.5.' `What's the problem?' Darren explained. 'Anyone that logs into the system can become system manager by running a short program. You can't stop 'em.' I hadn't heard of this problem. 'Isn't DEC doing something about it? After all, they sell those systems.' `Oh, sure, they're sending out patches. But they're being real quiet about it. They don't want their customers to panic.' `Sounds reasonable.' `Sure, but nobody's installing those patches. What would you do-some tape shows up in the mail saying, `Please install this program or your system may develop problems' ... you'll ignore it, because you've got better things to do.' `So all the systems are open to attack?' `You got it.' `Wait a second. That operating system was certified by NSA. They tested it and certified it secure.' `Sure they spent a year testing it. And a month after they verified the system, DEC modified it slightly. Just a little change in the password program.' ... `And now fifty thousand computers are insecure.'"[36].

So it would not be surprising if the three laboratories' AMS control console computers, being not online, were among the many VAX computers which were not patched. And in the "more than 40% of the cases" where the System password was still set to its default "MANAGER." And among the 95% whose passwords were easy to guess!

Hacking into such insecure 1980s computers would be easy for a very experienced hacker as Koch was. It may be significant that in late 1987/early 1988 Sergei wanted Koch excluded from the KGB hacking ring because of his drug-taking and talking to journalists for money[37]. But there is no evidence that Koch's talking was the source of any of the news stories about the KGB's hacking, so perhaps Sergei's real concern was that Koch would talk about his hacking of Zurich and Oxford radiocarbon dating laboratories' computers?

• Koch confessed to hacking for the KGB Following a period of treatment in psychiatric hospitals and drug rehabilitation centers[38], Koch was on the road to recovery[39]. In June 1987, due to Clifford Stoll's persistence, American and German authorities cooperated in tracing his Hess' modem call from Lawrence Berkeley Laboratories in California to his apartment in Hannover, Germany, but due to a police bungle, Hess was not caught in the act of hacking as planned[40], and although he was arrested and charged, Hess was later released on appeal[41]. A year later, in the summer of 1988, first Koch, then Hübner, independently, taking advantage of an amnesty provision for espionage in West German legislation, approached the authorities to confess their hacking for the KGB[42]. Both were interrogated by West German prosecutors[43], and on 2 March 1989 eight were arrested, including Hess, Hübner, Koch, Brescinsky and Carl, but all except Carl and Brescinsky were released after a few days[44]. Koch and Hübner, having confessed to espionage before they were caught, under the espionage amnesty legislation were in no danger of being jailed providing they co-operated[45].

• Koch was murdered between 23 and 30 May 1989 Before noon on 23 May 1989, Koch left his workplace at the Hannover office of Germany's Christian Democratic Union party, in his employer's vehicle, to deliver a package to a government office in Hannover, but he never arrived[46]. In the late afternoon, Koch's employer notified the police of his disappearance[47]. Koch's friends and the German domestic security agency (BFV) sent out search parties looking for Koch but after a week the searches were abandoned[48]. On or about 30 May a farmer who had been checking his irrigation daily noticed a car parked in the adjoining forest[49] near the village of Ohof, north of Hannover[50]. After a few days in a row, when he saw that the car was still there, he called the police[51], on or about 1 June. The police investigated the report that day and found that the car's roof, hood and windscreen were thick with dust[52], looking like it had been there for years[53]. In the undergrowth near the car, the police found a charred corpse lying next to an empty gasoline can[54]. He was lying face down with an arm over his head as though trying to shield himself from the flames[55]. The vegetation in the surrounding three or four metres had been burned black[56]. The police concluded that the driver of the car had committed suicide[57]. by pouring the contents of the gasoline can over himself, soaking the surrounding earth as well, lit a match, and was burned to death[58]. The police noted that the corpse was barefoot but no shoes were found in the car or in the surrounding area[59]. They were puzzled, because there had been no rain for five weeks and the undergrowth was as dry as matchwood, yet the scorched patch around the body was contained, as if it had been carefully controlled[60]. The body was later identified as that of Karl Koch[61].

[Above: Partially burnt forest trees from the gasoline fire that killed Karl Koch. Note that a fire that can partly burn "dry as matchwood" trees would not go out until all the wood was burned, unless it was controlled by one or more persons using fire extinguishers or fire hoses. Buckets of water would not put out a gasoline fire. But Koch couldn't have extinguished the gasoline fire that killed him and there were no fire extinguishers or hoses at the scene. Therefore Koch's death was murder, not suicide![62].]

But if Koch had killed himself, how had he been able to control the fire to prevent it spreading outside the confined perimeter[63]. Koch would have been wearing shoes when he left his office in the car, but they weren't in the car or the surrounding area, as if someone had taken them[64]. And no suicide note was found.[65].

Moreover, suicide made no sense, since Koch had confessed to the German authorities his selling of hacked Western computer secrets to the KGB[66]. He was therefore in no danger of being prosecuted, being protected from punishment by the terms of the espionage amnesty legislation[67]. The authorities had actually provided Koch with accommodation and found him a job with the Christian Democratic Party[68]. He was also receiving help with his drug dependency and seemed on his way to rehabilitation[69] Koch was even planning to move into an apartment of his own and had embraced conventional religion[70]. So murder was much more likely than suicide[71].

Continued in part #9.

1. This post is copyright. No one may copy from this post or any of my posts on this my The Shroud of Turin blog without them first asking and receiving my written permission. Except that I grant permission, without having to ask me, for anyone to copy the title and one paragraph only (including one associated graphic) of any of my posts, provided that if they repost it on the Internet a link to my post from which it came is included. See my post of May 8, 2014. [return]
2. Clauss, U., 2012, "Ancestor of the Pirate Party was charred in the forest," Die Welt, 25 May. Translated from German by Google. [return]
3. "Karl Koch (hacker)," Wikipedia, 30 May 2014. Footnotes omitted. [return]
4. Jones, S.E., 2014, "My theory that the radiocarbon dating laboratories were duped by a computer hacker #1," The Shroud of Turin blog, May 24. [return]
5. Jones, S.E., 2014, "My theory that the radiocarbon dating laboratories were duped by a computer hacker #5," The Shroud of Turin blog, June 13. [return]
6. Jones, S.E., 2014, "My theory that the radiocarbon dating laboratories were duped by a computer hacker #7," The Shroud of Turin blog, July 5. [return]
7. Wikipedia, 2014. [return]
8. Hafner, K. & Markoff, J., 1991, "Cyberpunk: Outlaws and Hackers on the Computer Frontier," Corgi: London, reprinted, 1993, p.207. [return]
9. Clough. B. & Mungo, P., 1992, "Approaching Zero: Data Crime and the Computer," Faber & Faber: London & Boston, pp.164-165. [return]
10. Shea, R. & Wilson, R.A., 1975, "The Illuminatus! Trilogy," Dell: New York NY. [return]
11. Hafner & Markoff, 1991, p.206. [return]
12. Ibid. [return]
13. Hafner & Markoff, 1991, pp.206-207. [return]
14. Hafner & Markoff, 1991, p.216. [return]
15. Hafner & Markoff, 1991, p.214. [return]
16. Hafner & Markoff, 1991, p.215. [return]
17. Clough & Mungo, 1992, p.164. [return]
18. Hafner & Markoff, 1991, p.208. [return]
19. Hafner & Markoff, 1991, pp.209, 185. [return]
20. Hafner & Markoff, 1991, p.209. [return]
21. Hafner & Markoff, 1991, p.211. [return]
22. Hafner & Markoff, 1991, p.224. [return]
23. Hafner & Markoff, 1991, pp.225, 293. [return]
24. Hafner & Markoff, 1991, pp.230-231, 239-240, 245, 249, 250, 254, 260. [return]
25. Hafner & Markoff, 1991, p.266. [return]
26. Gove, H.E., 1996, "Relic, Icon or Hoax?: Carbon Dating the Turin Shroud," Institute of Physics Publishing: Bristol UK, pp.213-214. [return]
27. Gove, 1996, pp.260-261. [return]
28. King, T., ed., 1989, "Computer Espionage: Three `Wily Hackers' Arrested," Phrack Magazine, Issue #25, 3rd March. [return]
29. Jones, S.E., 2014, "Were the radiocarbon dating laboratories duped by a computer hacker?: My replies to Dr. Timothy Jull and Prof. Christopher Ramsey," The Shroud of Turin blog, March 13. [return]
30. Clough & Mungo, 1992, p.173. [return]
31. Linick, T.W., et al. , 1986, "Operation of the NSF-Arizona accelerator facility for radioisotope analysis and results from selected collaborative research projects," Radiocarbon, Vol. 28, No. 2a, pp.522-533, 524. [return]
32. Clough & Mungo, 1992, pp.170-172, 228n5. [return]
33. Clough & Mungo, 1992, p.172. [return]
34. Stoll, C., 1989, "The Cuckoo's Egg Tracking a Spy through the Maze of Computer Espionage," Pan: London, reprinted, 1991, p.362. [return]
35. King, T., ed., 1989, "News From The KGB/Wily Hackers," Phrack Magazine, Issue #25, 7 March. [return]
36. Stoll, 1989, pp.341-342. [return]
37. Hafner & Markoff, 1991, pp.254, 266. [return]
38. Hafner & Markoff, 1991, p.283. [return]
39. Clough & Mungo, 1992, p.185. [return]
40. Stoll, 1989, p.363. [return]
41. Ibid. [return]
42. Clough & Mungo, 1992, p.184. [return]
43. Clough & Mungo, 1992, p.172. [return]
44. Clough & Mungo, 1992, p.184. [return]
45. Clough & Mungo, 1992, pp.183-184. [return]
46. Clough, & Mungo, 1992, p.163. [return]
47. Ibid. [return]
48. Hafner & Markoff, 1991, pp.302-303. [return]
49. Hafner & Markoff, 1991, p.303. [return]
50. Clough, & Mungo, 1992, p.163. [return]
51. Hafner & Markoff, 1991, p.303. [return]
52. Clough, & Mungo, 1992, p.163. [return]
53. Karl Koch (hacker)," Wikipedia, 30 May 2014. [return]
54. Clough, & Mungo, 1992, p.163. [return]
55. Hafner & Markoff, 1991, p.303. [return]
56. Ibid. [return]
57. Clough, & Mungo, 1992, p.163. [return]
58. Hafner & Markoff, 1991, p.303. [return]
59. Ibid. [return]
60. Clough, & Mungo, 1992, p.163. [return]
61. Ibid. [return]
62. "Cliff Stoll visiting Karl Koch's death forest," FirstPost, 2014. [return]
63. Clough, & Mungo, 1992, p.163. [return]
64. Ibid. [return]
65. Stoll, 1989, p.362. [return]
66. Clough & Mungo, 1992, p.185. [return]
67. Clough & Mungo, 1992, p.186. [return]
68. Clough & Mungo, 1992, p.185. [return]
69. Ibid. [return]
70. Hafner & Markoff, 1991, p.302. [return]
71. Clough & Mungo, 1992, p.185. [return]

Posted: 21 July 2014. Updated: 18 September 2016.

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