Three former slaughterhouse workers in Texas, known as Grandmaster Ratte (aka Swamp Ratte), Franken Gibe and Sid Vicious (no relation to the punk star), started the non-religious cult (dead cow not necessary to join) Cult of the Dead Cow (cDc) in 1984. They first were a text file authoring group, and then concentrated on hacker software. Their parent company is cDc Communications, which umbrellas Cult of the Dead Cow, Ninja Strike Force (the virtual cDc enforcement branch) and Hacktivismo, which concerns itself with human rights through anti-censorship software. Their most infamous product is called Back Orifice, which gets you into all the nooks and crannies of Windows. Big business and even governments are none too happy with the cDc’s outspoken, unapologetic people and products.
But the cDc feels they fill a gap in the ever expanding universe of cyberspace – that as watchdog. The virtual universe changes so rapidly, that conventional ways of doing business or lawmaking move at a snail’s pace. So, the Cult of the Dead Cow decided that the best people to check up and check out cyberspace were hackers, intent on hacking for the noble Cult Dead Cow. Who could know the area better? Although some cDc members claim that they are bent on world domination with a covert ninja army, they say that with tongue firmly in cheek. They are very much against net censorship, invasion of privacy and the imprisonment of bloggers. They have uncovered many security flaws in the computer programs we pretty much all depend on. If they announce that they can peek at your private information, then just who else can, too? Freedom on the net can logically lead to freedoms in other areas of human life, too. As with most hackers, they believe that information sharing can only make you and the world stronger.
Cult Dead Cow’s methods can make you blush. They often use strong language, sexual metaphors, shocking graphic images of death and dismemberment. Their logo is a steer’s head on a cross. They have accused Scientologist founder L. Ron Hubbard of being a Nazi, and said that they gave Ronald Reagan Alzheimer’s Disease. But they also draw attention to censorship, China’s occupation of Tibet and prisoners of hacker consciousness. They also have a great customer service reputation, as explained by cDc member Nightstalker on Slashdot.com, “Anyone emails me, they get a direct answer from me, not some flak from marketing.”
Why are they so popular? Well, if I told you, the Cult Dead Cow ninjas would have to kill us all. Yes, that was just a joke. But outrageous, shocking humor that provokes you to think is the cDc’s main tool. As well as making hacker software, they distribute music, hold hacker conventions, run a popular website, were the source of a popular episode of South Park, sell T-shirts and make themselves as available to the press as humanly possible. Truly, they live up to their self-mocking motto: “Global Domination Through Media Saturation.”
So, don’t have a cult dead cow, man. They are nothing to be scared of. Not yet, anyway.