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How a Presidential Commission Was Tracking Hackers in 1996

The President’s Commission on Critical Infrastructure Protection is often cited as one of the most important initiatives from the 1990s that advanced our cybersecurity programs in the U.S.  The commission, which looked at cyber threats to critical infrastructure, created a lasting critical infrastructure framework that is still in use today.  In addition, it proposed the creation of Information Sharing and Analysis Centers (ISACs) to share cyber threat intelligence between private sector entities and the government.  The number of ISACs has only grown over the past 20 years, and some like the Financial Services ISAC (FS-ISAC) have greatly improved the cybersecurity posture of the financial services industry.  The PCCIP Report resulted in the execution of Presidential Decision Directive 63 which formalized the creation of sector ISACs and solidified the importance of cyber risk in protecting critical infrastructure.  Lastly, the report inspired a generation of cyberthreat intelligence companies with iDefense (now owned by Accenture) being the first out the gate.

As a young red teamer in 1996 I was tasked by the PCCIP to develop a Hacker Primer that would educate the commission and their staff.  The resulting document was widely read internally, but was not published for official release and has never been in the public domain.  When being interviewed for Joe Menn’s book on the Cult of the Dead Cow hacker group, I referenced the report and decided to make it available for historical purposes.

Per the reports introduction, it provides “an examination of hacker organizational and social considerations to include a detailed listing of hacker communication mechanisms and listings of high profile hacker groups. Subsequent sections identify hacker targets and off-line techniques hackers use to supplement their intrusion capabilities, provide a descriptive listing of common hacker tools with Internet reference points, and furnish a listing of hacker references to include WWW sites, related books, magazines and movies.”

You can access the full report below.  Enjoy!

Hacker Primer PCCIP Full 1996 Report (PDF Format)

Matt Devost

Matt Devost

Matthew G. Devost is the CEO & Co-Founder of OODA LLC. Matt is a technologist, entrepreneur, and international security expert specializing in counterterrorism, critical infrastructure protection, intelligence, risk management and cyber-security issues. Matt co-founded the cyber security consultancy FusionX from 2010-2017. Matt was President & CEO of the Terrorism Research Center/Total Intel from 1996-2009. For a full bio, please see