A Candid Look into the Global Underground Community of Hackers

Premieres October 13, 1999 at 10:00 PM ET/PT

New York, New York/August 18, 1999 ó MTV will premiere "True Life: Iím a Hacker," the newest installment in the networkís award-winning and critically acclaimed documentary series on Wednesday, October 13 at 10:00 PMET/PT.

As computer experts around the globe scramble to rectify the Y2K computer glitch, the vulnerability of the systems we all rely upon has become an topic of intense scrutinyónot to mention a dilemma of potentially catastrophic proportions. An investigative report by Newsí Serena Altschul, "True Life: Iím a Hacker" goes to the heart of this international issue, taking a chilling half-hour look into the global underground community of young hackers who thrive on the security flaws that are endemic to an overwhelming majority of computer systemsósystems that monitor everything from their own school grades and the countryís phone services to other peopleís bank accounts and classified military software.

Venturing into the inner-most sanctums of this cyber subculture, "True Life: Iím a Hacker" explores how hackers communicate with one another and where they learn the tricks of the trade. Further, the special examines the seduction and psychological appeal of hacking, talking to several young hackers about what entices them to cross the line from mere exploring to egregious trespassing. Contrary to news reports which often vilify hackers as malicious opportunists, "True Life: Iím a Hacker" reveals that many are ordinary kids and cyber pioneers whose curiosity gets the best of them, and nudges them into places where they know they shouldnít be. Once across the boundaries of propriety, however, they become easily sucked in by an intoxicating sense of power. As one hacker in the special admits, "Being a teenager, itís hard to get a voice in school or with

your parents, but if you go and change the main page for NASA....thatís going to get attention." Another boldly states, "Itís like being God."

"True Life: Iím a Hacker" also exposes another major factor adding to the appeal of hackingóthe possibility of virtual cyber-stardom. Through on-line chats and talk shows cybercast to thousands of their peers worldwide, many young hackers, who otherwise would have simply blended in, have an opportunity to achieve major levels of recognition and adulation. "True Life: Iím a Hacker," introduces one such cyber star, "Chameleon," who explains how his access to the U.S. Governmentís military satellite software led to an unsolicited proposal by a well-known international terroristóand eventually an FBI raid. The program also trails "Shamrock," whose specialty is phone phreaking (breaking into the phone companyís system and stealing services), on a wild goose chase for a missing disc; and talks with "Mantis," a young black hacker who is single-handedly redefining the typical characterization of hackers as white suburban computer geeks. Finally, the show examines a more productive side of hacking, visiting The L0pht, a group of Boston hackers who develop security software for major companies, and act as advisors to the U.S. Government on how they can maximize security mechanisms on their own systems.

"Iím a Hacker" is a part of MTVís documentary series "True Life" which examines the issues, concerns, and lifestyles of young adults. Other upcoming installments in the series will attempt to demystify sexual health clinics and dismantle the stigmas attached to them; investigate the controversy surrounding racial profiling and how it affects young adults; explore the dangers and seductions of Crystal Meth, the latest drug craze among young people; and take viewers inside the lives of a rising young supermodel, an MTV intern, and a group of young modern-day hobos who consciously choose to hop freight trains across the country and beg for money in favor of the creature comforts of modern life. "True Life" airs regularly on Wednesday evenings at 10 PM.

"True Life: Iím a Hacker" is produced by Serena Altschul and Anthony Lappe. C. Scott Gorman is the Associate Producer. Lauren Lazin and Dave Sirulnick are the Executive Producers.

MTV Networks, a unit of Viacom Inc., owns and operates five cable television programming services -- MTV: Music Television, MTV 2, VH1, Nickelodeon/Nick at Nite, and TV Land -- all of which are trademarks of MTV Networks. Information about MTV and MTV 2 is available on MTV Online, on America Online (Keyword: MTV) and the World Wide Web (


Contact: Marnie Malter Allison Bennett


212-258-7004 212-846-8655