In 2006, a hacker going by the name “DerEngel” (“The Angel”) wrote a book for respected tech publishers No Starch Press on Hacking the Cable Modem. The book came with a warning: “The practice of modifying a cable modem violates service agreements, and hackers risk being banned by service providers for life. This book is not intended to be used for stealing Internet service or any other illegal activity.” It was intended, you know, for research. Not for stealing Internet access.
An early review of the book noted this warning didn’t seem to fit with the tone of the text, which repeatedly implied “that uncapping, MAC [Media Access Control] cloning, and evading detection is a noble pursuit.” (Though one section did include “recommendations to ISP engineers on how to improve their systems to more easily defeat and detect cable modem hackers.”)
The feds weren’t buying the “research” angle, either; they were convinced that DerEngel was running the country’s largest cable modem hacking operation, showing thousands of people around the country how to get free or higher-speed service from local Internet providers. And they were going to stop it.