[RC5] Mersienne crack busted...

Ben Byer root at bushing.plastic.crosslink.net
Wed Sep 16 21:54:56 EDT 1998

Phil Gregory wrote:
> > > Somebody evidently installed the Mersienne(sp?) prime search client on
> > > 2000+ AT&T machines.
> >
> > This was just mentioned on the Mersenne mailing list.
> >
> > Please note that this is somewhat different than the accused's own
> > report of the situation, which can be found at
> > http://www.scruz.net/~luke/archives/digest/v01_0375.txt
> By either account, he did not get the necessary permission to run the
> client on the computers.  (I'll grant that the news article makes him out
> to be a much more evil person.)

That's the thing.  He *did*.

>My problem was that I got permission from our workstation crew to do a
>massive install, but I did not think to ask the people who run the >proxy server, or the network security folks, etc.

As I think he needs the chance to fully defend himself, here's a later
letter he just released to the Mersenne list discussing his case.

Subject: Mersenne: Yikes!
Date: Wed, 16 Sep 1998 11:01:07 -0600
From: "Aaron Blosser" <blosser at home.com>
To: <mersenne at base.com>

howdy folks...

Big news.

As Ernst Mayer posted to the list earlier (and emailed me a copy since I
haven't been reading the list), I was doing something peculiar with NT
(not Prime95) at US WEST.

As you might expect, there's more to the story than meets the eye.

Yes, I was running the software and a good number of machines, as you
regular list subscribers may recall from earlier in the spring of this
They found the program running and were un-appreciative, so they removed
(and removed me as well...it's cool, I was working as an outside

I'm thinking it's all blown over by now, then the FBI raids my place,
confiscates all my computer equipment, and, as it turns out, suspect
besides the prime number search, they believe I'm *still* getting into
network, planting trojans, installing surveillance software, etc. 

Just so you all know, besides running NT Prime on some machines, I
done anything else to computer on their network.

It's a bit funny...the local paper here, the Denver Post, ran the
first, and the guy just didn't understand what a prime number was. 
he read the search warrant which mentions www.mersenne.org, and he read
there and tried to include some info on primes in his article. 
he mentions that Mersenne thought there were only 11 prime numbers, and
there are currently 37 known prime numbers...he failed to distinguish
between *prime* and *Mersenne prime*.

Oh well...

The Post article was on their web site yesterday and may still be found
there (I don't know)... www.denverpost.com

Ziff-Davis News contacted me and since I've been told not to talk to the
media (there *may* be charges filed regarding the unauthorized use of
network resources), I could only talk to the ZD News guy off the
record.  He
said he just might write an article on the GIMPS project though, so
hopefully that will spurn some positive interest.  Keep an eye on
www.zdnews.com just in case he does write something.

Meanwhile, it is US WEST's allegation that NT Prime was so affecting
computers that it was causing large delays in some of their other

As you and I well know, NT Prime (I hadn't changed it's default priority
setting) runs at the lowest priority.  I contend that the problems they
experienced on that particular day were due to the slow mainframe access
that the other programs were running into.  It's happened before I put
Prime on, and it's no surprise that it was still a problem for them. 
the problem only affected their machines in Phoenix, but NT Prime was
running on machines in Omaha, Denver and Seattle, which had *no*
problems at

It *may* be necessary to get testimony from other NT Prime (or Prime95)
users in case US WEST tries to go ahead and press charges so that I can
demonstrate that NT Prime does not cause the kinds of problems they
The burden of proof is with them to show that NT Prime is the problem,
they will (from other things) have a hard time proving that.

I hope my actions didn't make us prime number hunters look like doofuses
anything...at this point I'm hoping that the publicity will bring more

I resubscribed to the list, so I'll be reading responses to this topic,
I may not be able to fully comment on anything in particular.

Thanks and sorry,
Aaron Blosser

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