Tron (hacker)

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Tron (born June 8, 1972 , † October 1998 in Berlin ; real name is Boris Floricic ) was a German hacker and phreaker . He dealt with attacks on commercial encryption and authentication systems such as pay TV and phone cards . In 1997 he developed a new method for encrypting voice telephony and demonstrated it in his Cryptophon , which he developed as part of his diploma thesis . Tron's early death prevented the further development of the Cryptophon into the Cryptron , which was to become a commercial mass product for use on the Internet. Various speculations have grown up about the - officially clarified - unnatural circumstances of death.


Tron grew up with his mother in Gropiusstadt in the south of Berlin. Even when he was still at school he was very interested in technical topics.

After completing the 10th grade, he began training as a communications electronics technician , specializing in information technology, at the Technical University of Berlin . After successfully completing his vocational training early, he obtained the technical college entrance qualification at the upper level center for communications technology in Berlin-Gesundbrunnen . He then began studying technical computer science with a focus on electronics at what was then the Technical University of Applied Sciences Berlin, now the Beuth University of Technology Berlin .

As part of his studies, Tron completed the practical semester at a company for electronic security solutions. In the 1997/1998 winter semester he completed his studies with his diploma thesis. In it he had developed the Cryptophon , an ISDN telephone with built-in encryption. Since the preliminary work to be done by another student was missing for health reasons, he could not finally finish the phone. Nevertheless, it went far beyond the original task, which only provided for the implementation of the encryption component.

In his free time he worked on further developing his thesis.

Areas of interest

Tron dealt with electronics and security systems of all kinds. His areas of interest included, among other things, attacks on German telephone card and pay TV systems . As part of his research and development, he exchanged ideas with other hackers and scientists.

On the tv-crypt mailing list , a closed group of pay-TV hackers, Tron wrote about himself in 1995 that his interests included microprocessors, programming languages, electronics of all kinds, digital radio and data transmission and, in particular, cracking supposedly secure systems. He claimed that, among other things, he had created an emulator for chip cards to activate the British pay TV system and that he would deal with the Nagravision / Syster encryption system , which was used by the German pay TV provider Premiere at the time .

The SIM card reader developed by Tron (back)

Later Tron dealt among other things with the implementation of an attack on chip cards for the mobile phone standard GSM , which had only been sketched theoretically by scientists from the USA. Together with other hackers from the Chaos Computer Club , he successfully simulated a copied card.

Tron was also successful in trying to produce phone card simulators. These were accepted by card phones like a real phone card and could therefore be misused for free calls. Tron's motive, however, was only to overcome protection; he did not try to use his knowledge financially. At the same time, however, such simulators were also developed and massively abused by criminals. Since Deutsche Telekom had noticed this and changed the protocol , Tron and a friend tried to dismantle a card phone with a sledgehammer on March 3, 1995 in order to be able to adapt his simulators. They were picked up by the police. As a result, Tron was 15-month-a, the probation sentenced suspended prison sentence.


Cryptophon is the name chosen by Tron for an ISDN telephone with integrated encryption that he developed as a prototype in 1998 as part of his diploma thesis. It should also be able to be reproduced by hobbyists at a reasonable price. Tron developed both the operating software for the microprocessor and the IDEA encryption algorithm . A working prototype was created. However, his untimely death prevented the final completion of the project.

Circumstances of death

Tron went missing on October 17, 1998 at the age of 26 and was found hanged five days later in a park in the Britz district of Berlin's Neukölln district . The investigation by the Berlin public prosecutor's office ended in summer 2001. The result of the investigation is suicide . Parts of the Chaos Computer Club (CCC) accused the investigative authorities of errors, but efforts to reopen the case finally failed in October 2003.

To this day, this result has been questioned by friends and relatives of Tron as well as representatives of the CCC. Andy Müller-Maguhn in particular , spokesman for the CCC at the time, spread the theory in several lectures and press conferences, some of which were controversial in the CCC, that Tron was the victim of a murder by a secret service or organized crime groups . As a possible motive, Tron's parents' lawyers named and described research in the areas of pay-TV hacking or voice encryption.

Andy Müller-Maguhn had special knowledge of Tron's activities and initiated the LKA investigations (on suspicion of kidnapping), in which he was then also involved. During the investigation, he was also the only journalist with insight into the investigation files. At the request of the parents and their lawyers, he wrote a critical assessment of the investigation file for the public prosecutor. Because of the official criminal offense of § 353d StGB ( forbidden notifications about court hearings ) one could only publish essential documents of the case after the termination of the investigation at the end of 2001.

The journalist Burkhard Schröder published a non-fiction book in 1999 with the title Tron - Death of a Hacker . The author has been criticized by parts of the Chaos Computer Club as well as by Tron's parents, as Schröder takes the view that Tron probably killed himself. Various other myths and conspiracy theories also exist . In the meantime, Tron's death has also been processed in several fictional works.

Naming controversy

At the request of the parents, Tron's name was usually abbreviated to Boris F. in the German-language media . However, some domestic and foreign reports (such as a report by Computerwoche from December 1998 or an article by the Observer from 2002) also gave the full surname.

On December 14, 2005, his parents initiated an injunction from a Berlin court that forbade the Wikimedia Foundation to use the real surname Trons on its websites, which was also reported in the Dutch and German press. This injunction had no concrete effects. on January 19, 2006

On January 17, 2006, a second preliminary injunction prohibited Wikimedia Deutschland e. V., from to, as long as Tron's real surname is mentioned there. Enforcement of the order was suspended on January 20; on February 9, the court overturned the injunction, as Tron's postmortem personal rights were not violated by the naming.

The former spokesman for the Chaos Computer Club, Andy Müller-Maguhn, supported the applicants' view, while the Chaos Computer Club itself did not take sides on this issue; contrary media reports were rejected. According to a report by ORF, Maguhn was asked about the background to the case. In it he stated that the real reason for the injunction was the novel Revelation 23 by the author Jan Gaspard . In the fictional work, the protagonist of which is a person with the pseudonym "Tron", the full name of Boris Floricic is mentioned. After a request from his family to abbreviate Tron's surname, the writer referred to the German-language Wikipedia, as he is also mentioned there.

Ultimately, the parents' appeal to the press chamber of the Berlin Regional Court also failed. The board rejected the request after the files were available and without a further hearing. The court saw neither Tron's postmortem personal rights nor the general personal rights of the parents or the informational right of self-determination of those involved as violated. The decision of the Berlin Regional Court is final.


Web links

Individual evidence

  1. , page 40
  2. Uwe Buse: Death of a Genius . In: Spiegel reporter 11/1999, November 1, 1999 ( online )
  3. Mined Terrain . In: Der Spiegel . No. 45 , 1998 ( online ).
  4. Kim Zetter: Rupert Murdoch Firm Goes on Trial for Alleged Tech Sabotage , on ABC News, April 21, 2008 - article that deals with Tron, among other things
  5. From the investigation file, the complaint from attorney Kaleck to the public prosecutor's office here
  6. This and other details were publicly presented by him at the CC Congress at the end of 1998, in the presence of representatives of the LKA, lawyers and parents
  7. This review was conducted at the end of 2001 Tronland as part of the investigation file here published
  8. The relevance of the paragraph regarding document publication, especially on the Internet, is documented in this thread
  9. For the entire procedure at under documents . For the procedures at the beginning of the investigation, see especially Andy's private page on Tron
  10. Example: Full attribution in a report from Computerwoche, December 28, 1998 ( Memento from December 4, 2012 in the Internet Archive )
  11. Example: Full attribution in an article in the Observer dated August 11, 2002
  12. Hackers don't live dangerously. In: Telepolis. January 10, 2006, accessed January 19, 2015 .
  13. Press release 04/2006 of the Court of Appeal on the judgment of the District Court of Charlottenburg of February 9, 2006 (Az. 218 C 1001/06). Full text via JurPC .
  14. ^ Declaration by the Chaos Computer Club dated January 13, 2006
  15. ORF report of January 19, 2006
  16. ^ Decision of May 2, 2006 (Az. 27 S 2/06). See also:, judgment: Wikipedia may continue to call Tron by name ; Heise online, Berlin Regional Court rejects appeal against Wikipedia judgment .