Review of 2600 The Hacker Quarterly Autumn 2019
For almost a decade I have been an avid reader of one particular Hacker zine: 2600 The Hacker Quarterly. First launched in 1984 the title is reference to the dial tone that was used on older non-digital telephones. Mimicking this sound it allowed those so inclined to make long distance calls for free if necessary.
2600 has as such been around for a long time, along with the Hacker conference they organize every 2 years (HOPE). Alas the publishing market is not what it once was with diminishing subscriptions, ad revenue and increasing print costs. 2600 once had a readership of over 50.000 – now its about half that. Enter the first digital edition. As of last Wednesday 2600 The Hacker Quarterly is available for purchase ($5) from their website and can subsequently be downloaded as a PDF.
The end of an era, and the start of a new one
For me the timing could not be more perfect. As an overseas reader I obligated to purchase my copy from the American Book Center in Amsterdam. I could have gotten a subscription but I am notoriously forgetful for renewal dates. Getting a compact physical copy in my hands is such never a bad idea. Sadly, during the last few days the regular replacement date for 2600 was missed by the bookstore, leading to doubts they are no longer covering this publication. Its possible there has just been a delay, but I doubt it.
2600: Fully Homomorphic Encryption
And so I have to make due with the hardship of paying 5 dollars for a digital PDF. Let’s see what this edition of 2600 covers. The magazine does not emphasize technical detail. There is plenty of it, but it is only used to illustrate a particular point. As case in point is the article of this: “Fully Homomorphic Encryption and Privacy” by Thor Mirchandani. The author explains what FHE is and with a simple Python script shows how it may be used in the real-world. If you don’t know what FHE – its a way to perform operations on encrypted data as though with were plaintext. As an example, if you want to add 5 and 3, but you want to hide what it is you are doing you can encrypt both numbers and still perform the addition.
For those who want more code
2600 also contains articles on the present state of government and corporate policies. Two such articles in this issue are “Who is watching us?” by Ray Keck and “Student Privacy by Practice, not by Policy” by Matrix8967. These articles are written by authors who either work for a company that does not care for security or is actively working to undermine privacy. Both articles are not technical but might contain some jargon. If you are actively interested in computer security and how to undermine it then I suggest “Introduction to Computer Viruses” by Hristo Guerguiev. This contains a page and a half solely committed to a PowerShell script.
2600 for just $ 5
Besides the article 2600 contains plenty of regular sections such as editorials, reader letters, hacker happenings and meetings as well as a section were services can be bought. If you are interested in cybersecurity and hacking then I can recommend 2600, at 5 dollars per digital edition it is a steal. With 68 pages this will take you the better part of a week to read through.