Captain Crunch aka John Draper banned from DefCon for sexual misconduct

Legendary hacker John Draper has been banned from attending several security conferences in light of accusations of predatory sexual misconduct.

Hacker John Draper banned from DefCon for sexual misconduct
Sebaso (Own work) (CC BY-SA 4.0)

Due to accusations of sexual misconduct, legendary hacker John Draper, aka Captain Crunch, has been banned from attending several hacker conferences.

Tweets by security researchers about Draper’s “predatory behavior” first caught my attention in early November. One of the now-deleted tweets suggested “Captain Crunch is basically the Kevin Spacey of infosec.” Another referred to Draper’s actions as an “open secret,” adding, “If you run an event where Captain Crunch attends, ensure a member of staff is assigned to keep teenage boys away from him.” (No, I’m not linking to archived versions of them, since the researchers later deleted those tweets.)

Other people in the Twitter conversations said allegations of inappropriate behavior by Draper have been discussed online by alleged victims for over two decades.

Fast forward to last Friday when BuzzFeed published an article about Draper using his status as Captain Crunch while at security conferences to lure minors to his hotel room. The article includes stories from six men with knowledge of Draper “habitually meeting young, often teenage men at conferences between 1999 and 2007.”

If a teenage man took Draper up on the private invitation, it would reportedly lead to Draper’s request for them to participate in “energy” exercises. “These included him massaging men in public and urging them to come to his or their hotel room for private sessions,” BuzzFeed reported. “In multiple cases in which the men agreed, Draper would leap on their backs in ways the men described as unwanted sexual contact.”

People knew about Draper's inappropriate behavior for years

Steve Wozniak claimed Draper tried that with Steve Jobs in the 1970s, but Jobs was not interested in helping Draper “exercise by sitting on Draper’s back.”

Although many in the security community were aware of Draper’s predatory actions and accusations that he was a pedophile, he wasn’t banned from attending conferences. In 2013, a team at DefCon called itself “Too Old for Cap’n Crunch.” A DefCon spokesperson said the conference had never received a formal complaint, yet some of the “goons” at DefCon would reportedly intercede on behalf of the minors and escort young men out of Draper’s company.

A person can get by with a lot at hacker conferences, meaning it would take beyond a lot to get banned. But now, organizers of DefCon are taking a stand in regard to Draper’s alleged unwanted sexual advances. A DefCon spokesperson told BuzzFeed:

We applaud those individuals bravely stepping forward to tell their stories. The behavior described in these allegations is appalling and has no place in our community. Per DefCon’s Code of Conduct, this kind of behavior will result in a permanent ban from our events.

Draper banned from several hacker conferences

In fact, the newest set of public accusations have resulted in Draper being banned from several hacker conferences. ToorCon also said the 74-year-old Captain Crunch will be banned from attending future conferences. The founder of the Houston Security Conference told Ars Technica that Draper had been scheduled to speak in April 2018, but he has now been “disinvited.”

The article on BuzzFeed has caused numerous people to tell their own stories about Draper. As Ars pointed out, the respected cryptography professor Matt Blaze took to Twitter with his story. In the late 1970s, when Blaze was only in eighth or ninth grade, Draper became aggressive about sharing in those “exercises.”

Blaze was freaked out, or “creeped” out, and dropped contact, but then Draper allegedly started stalking him — claimed to be a relative to take Blaze out of school and even tapped his family’s phone.

More and more people are coming forward with their versions of what happened with Captain Crunch. 

Draper declines to comment

Via a spokesperson, Draper declined to comment on BuzzFeed’s article and the accusations.

Draper first became famous as “Captain Crunch” for phone phreaking after he discovered that a toy whistle that came in Cap’n Crunch cereal emitted the same frequency used by AT&T. He went on to work on the “Little Blue Box,” which put out the same tone as the cereal whistle. 

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