Posts Tagged ‘Defence Readiness Condition’

Defcon 16 – Hacking OpenVMS – A short history of the most secure said operating system in the World

Tuesday, April 3rd, 2012

Many younger people probably haven't heard of Digital Equipment / DEC Corporation neither PDP 8, PDP 16 and all of this arcane computer hardware. I'm sure many people nowdays determining themselves as hackers or tech professionals don't know about VMS nowdays known under the name of OpenVMS either. OpenVMS used to be often said as to be one of the most secure operatings systems in the World
What makes this OS unique is that it had a tremendous influence on modern computers as we know it. OpenVMS used to the first commercial operating system to be supporting a decent native clustering memory and hard disk sharing. I've played with OpenVMS on a test machine and it is really amazing. One of the main design engineers who planned VMS has later worked for Microsoft on the Windows NT technology. Therefore, many of the VMS ideas are nowdays embedded in most of Microsoft Windows products (Windows NT, XP, 2000, 2003, Windows '7 etc.). VMS was an absolute hit and many corporations used it until 1989, when the OS deployment slowly started to fall down, followed by a demise of DEC corporation as well. With its demise DEC was bought by Packard Bell which later was purchased by HP. VMS was renamed to OpenVMS as it was bought by Hewlett Packard in 1996.
What is interesting of OpenVMS is that it requires a specific hardware 64 bit architecture Alpha Processors).Hence OpenVMS is not nowdays compatible with modern Personal Computers 32 / 64 bit hardware. There are some emulator softwares which can make a PC to run OpenVMS (if someone wants to take a look at this nowdays considered archaic OS). OpenVMS comes with a command language similar to Linux's bash called DCL (Digital Command Language). DCL scripts are rather funny to read and see, and I'm sure anyone who has a love for scripting will be interested to learn it as a learning curve. Below is a DEFCON Video talk on DEFCON. For all those who don't know DEFCON, this is one of the most popular hacker conferences in America. DEFCON is a codename from the army and means (Defence Readiness Condition). As hacking is quite related to military someone decided to name this hacking / cracking conference under this sound name 🙂 To check out what OpenVMS is like you can immediately, launch:

# ssh -l NEWUSER

  Welcome to [Alpha DS10L Under OpenVMS 7.3-1]

 Public Access DEC Alpha/OpenVMS 7.3-1

 For more information about how to get a account here,
Please check out http://deathrow.vistech

 IRC Server: / IRC Channel: #vms

    The #vms channel password (if one is set) is shosys

   (Select "Deathrow Chat" @


Want an account?  New users   Login as -> "NEWUSER"/Password="NEWUSER"
Forgotten password?           Login as -> "NEWPASSWORD"/Password="NEWPASSWORD"
For "Guest" access to DCL     Login as -> "DEMO"/Password="USER"
To play the online GAMES      Login as -> "GAMES/Password="PRESSPLAY"


This Node was graciously donated by [Island Computers]'s password: 


To access it from Windows use Putty or any terminal emualator:

I hope below video will be of interest to you. It introduces OpenVMS shortly and also explains how it can be hacked. Enjoy 🙂