Hacking History: LOD vs. MOD Part 1. [The Gangs Form]

Hacking History: LOD vs. MOD Part 1. [The Gangs Form]

Legion of Doom Masters of Deception

In the early 1980’s, around the same time the 414s and Chaos Computer Club formed, many hacker groups started popping up all around the world. One of the earliest of these groups was the Knights of Shadow. Hacker groups recruited hackers via Bulletin Board Systems (BBS), or as The Atlantic calls them, the original social network.

The Legion of Doom

LOD vs. MOD

In 1984, a hacker by the name of Lex Luther had a falling out with a hacker group he was a part of called the Knights of Shadows because they did not accept a hacker specialist whom he wanted to join the group. So, Lex Luther left the Knights of Shadows and started his own group called the Legion of Doom. Through member vetting and voting, the Legion of Doom (LOD) formed through laborious telephone conferences, utilizing three-way calling capabilities.

The original, notorious Legion of Doom, in its early years, was made up by hackers: Lex Luthor, Karl Marx, Mark Tabas, Agrajag the Prolonged, King Blotto, Blue Arher, EBA, The Dragyn, and Unknown Soldier. Aside from hacking into telephone companies and organizations, the Legion of Doom also published (online) the Legion of Doom Technical Journals with hacking information for their members. LOD also had one of the first invitation-only, hacking-based BBSes that remained idle until authenticated with a password.

While LOD is affectionately known, in the hacking community, as innovators and knowledge-sharers; while others viewed their activities as organized crime or even a threat to the nation. However, they have only been formally charged with three counts of credit fraud, though these frauds were performed by individuals operating outside of the group’s efforts.

In 1988, a new hacker on the block by the name of Phiber Optik (Mark Albene) was admitted into the LOD after he had already been claiming the gang for himself on BBSes. Phiber’s brash personality and overly-confident, New York City demeanor rubbed some of the laregely-Texan group members the wrong way and in 1989, Phiber Optik was exhiled from the group.

The Masters of Deception

LOD vs. MOD

Eli and Paul, two blue-collar kids from New York began “trashing” together in the late 1980s. (Trashing referenced digging through phone company dumpsters in search or discarded equipment and confidential paperwork containing network passwords.) Eli and Paul were up-and-coming hackers at the time, looking to gather as much information about hacking telephone companies as possible. They were active on bulletin boards and looking to start their own crew.

Choosing a name was a lightbulb moment for Eli, “”We should call ourselves MOD,” Eli says. It’s like a joke. It’s a finger in the eye of LOD. He explains that it’s an allusion to LOD, the Legion of Doom. From L to M, the next iteration, the new “kewl dewds” of cyberspace. The boys from New York are the opposite of the boys from Texas. How better to define themselves?” The initial name had no true meaning, aside from being a direct opposition to LOD, in hopes of attracting the attention of Phiber Optik- who eventually joined forces with Eli and Paul to form the original MOD.

Essentially, the Masters of Deception’s whole platform for their group relied on the opposition of LOD. What they didn’t know is that two New York Telephone investigators, Tom Kaiser and Fred Staples, on the forefront of cyber investigation had already identified three hackers and had been monitoring their phones for months.

The same year (1989) a new hacker had appeared on the scene with extensive knowledge about new technology VAXEN (corporate computers). His name was Corrupt (John Lee), and Eli and Paul were quick to recruit Corrupt to the team as their scout. Corrupt’s fervent passion of breaking into new systems made him the perfect scout for MOD. He would break into new systems and share found information with the MOD crew.

John Lee would prove the essential pivot point to the LOD vs. MOD war. Stay tuned next week for Part II to this notorious Original Hacker Gang War story.

To learn about the Original Teenage Hackers, see our post about The 414s here! 

the 414s

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