Hackers often communicate with each other through Usenet newsgroups. Unlike ordinary newsgroups where people share information and answer questions, hacker newsgroups more often resemble shouting matches full of insults, sprinkled between ads for get-rich-quick schemes or pornography websites.

Still, if you don't mind wading through these types of messages cluttering hacker newsgroups, you can learn about the newest hacker websites and share source code and hacker programs with others on the newsgroup.

General hacking newsgroups

To start learning about hacking in general, try a general-purpose hacking newsgroups. Unlike other types of newsgroups that focus on stamp collecting or photography, hacker newsgroups tend to stray from their topics. For example, the alt.binaries.hacking.beginner newsgroup, which says it is about helping new hackers find and use hacking programs, is often filled with discussions about virus programming and encryption or, if you're lucky, vicious insult wars. Here are some more hacking newsgroups: alt.hacker, alt.hacking, alt.binaries.hacking.beginner, alt.binaries.hacking.websites, alt.2600.hackers, and comp.hackers.

Computer virus newsgroups

Computer virus writers often publish their latest creations in newsgroups (or post URLs where you can download their latest virus creations). If you want to find the latest live virus (or the source code to a virus), visit one of the following newsgroups: alt.comp.virus, alt.comp.virus.source, alt.comp.virus.source.code, or comp.virus.

Encryption newsgroups

Since hackers often skirt the legal boundaries of their nation's laws, they wisely hide their identity or messages using encryption, the same technology that government agencies use to protect national secrets. To learn the latest about using and writing encryption (which you'll learn more about in Chapter 15) to protect your sensitive data, visit one of the following newsgroups: alt.cypherpunks, alt.security, alt.sources.crypto, misc.security, sci.crypt, or sci.crypt.research.

Cracking newsgroups

Most games and applications are copy-protected to keep people from sharing them with their friends. Likewise, many shareware programs provide limited features until the user pays for a code or key to unlock the additional features.

Some hackers try to circumvent, or crack, copy-protected and "locked" shareware programs. Cracking methods include sharing serial numbers, unlocking codes, or using programs designed to unlock or copy copy-protected games. To read about these programs and techniques, visit any of the following newsgroups: alt.2600.crack, alt.2600.crackz, alt.binaries.cracked, or alt.cracks. To learn more about how programmers try to protect their software from crackers, pick up Pavol Cerven's Crackproof Your Software, published by No Starch Press.