The Chaos Computer Club, Europe’s self-described “largest association of hackers,” has always taken an unorthodox approach to saving the world. Founded in 1981 by activist Wau Holland, the club — also known as the CCC — boasts 5,500 members and works to bring attention to technology-related security and privacy issues in the German-speaking world.
Some of their tactics have been controversial. In 1984, when the German postal service failed to heed the CCC’s warnings about security vulnerabilities in Bildschirmtext (an early Internet service), club members decided to prove their point by incrementally stealing almost $48,000 from a local bank. They used the bank’s identity to access a CCC-administered pay-per-view site. Club members later returned the money during an on-camera press conference. In December 1986, Ralf Burger warned the world that viruses could contain executable files. He issued his warning during a Chaos Computer Club demonstration of his own DOS malware, Virdem.
21st century exploits
In more recent times, the CCC has turned its attention to biometric data, publishing the fingerprint of German interior minister Wolfgang Schauble on plastic inserts in its magazine. Schauble had been a huge proponent of biometric data as a security measure. CCC proved it could use the plastic fingerprints to fool electronic ID readers. WikiLeaks also first gained notoriety at the 2008 CCC conference.
The CCC will meet for its 35th annual Chaos Communications Congress Dec. 27–30 in Leipzig, where “thousands of hackers, technology freaks, artists and utopians” will “engage in creative, skeptical discourse on the interaction between technology and society.” Hard to say what these hacktivists have on their agenda, but the world will undoubtedly find out soon enough.
Photo: Jefferson Santos / Unsplash.