Karl Koch (hacker)

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Karl Koch
Karl Werner Lothar Koch

(1965-07-22)July 22, 1965
Died c. May 23, 1989(1989-05-23) (aged 23)
Celle, Germany
Occupation hacker
Known for Cold war hacker

Karl Werner Lothar Koch (July 22, 1965 c. May 23, 1989) was a German hacker in the 1980s, who called himself "hagbard", after Hagbard Celine. He was involved in a Cold War computer espionage incident.



Koch was born in Hanover. He was heavily influenced by The Illuminatus! Trilogy by Robert Anton Wilson and Robert Shea. Besides adopting his pseudonym from a character in the book, he also named his computer "FUCKUP" ("First Universal Cybernetic-Kinetic Ultra-Micro Programmer"), after a computer designed and built by that character.


Koch was loosely affiliated with the Chaos Computer Club. He worked with the hackers known as DOB (Dirk-Otto Brezinski), Pengo (Hans Heinrich Hübner), and Urmel (Markus Hess), and was involved in selling hacked information from United States military computers to the KGB. Clifford Stoll's book The Cuckoo's Egg gives a first-person account of the hunt and eventual identification of Hess. Pengo and Koch subsequently came forward and confessed to the authorities under the espionage amnesty, which protected them from being prosecuted. [1]


Koch was found burned to death with gasoline in a forest near Celle, Germany. The death was officially claimed to be a suicide. [2] [3]

Koch left his workplace in his car to go for lunch;[ when? ] he had not returned by late afternoon and so his employer reported him as a missing person. Meanwhile, German police were alerted of an abandoned car in a forest near Celle; upon investigation, it appeared as though it had not moved for years as it was covered in dust. The remains of Koch - at this point just bones [4] -were discovered close by, a patch of scorched and burnt ground surrounding them, shoes missing. The scorched earth itself was controlled in a small circle around the corpse; it had not rained in some time, and the grass was perfectly dry.[ citation needed ] No suicide note was found with the body. [4]

Despite his death being officially ruled a suicide, the unusual circumstances in which Koch's remains were found led to at least some[ by whom? ] speculation that Koch's death had not been self-inflicted; the patch of scorched ground surrounding the body was a small and seemingly controlled area, [5] ostensibly too much so for death by self-immolation, with no suicide note having ever been found.

Karl Koch in media



A German movie about his life, entitled 23 , was released in 1998. While the film was critically acclaimed, it has been harshly criticized as exploitative by real-life witnesses. A corrective to the film's take is the documentation written by his friends. [6]

In 1990 a documentary was released titled The KGB, The Computer and Me.


See also

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  1. Knight Lightning (March 29, 1989). "Phrack Inc. - Volume Three, Issue 25, File 10 of 11". Phrack . Retrieved 2009-01-06.
  2. Knight Lightning (June 20, 1989). "Phrack Inc. - Volume Three, Issue 27, File 12 of 12". Phrack . Retrieved 2009-01-06.
  3. Marko Rogge (July 2002). "Dead Hackers do not talk anymore! All that remains is the memory? (auto translate from German)". brain-pro. Retrieved 2009-01-06.
  4. 1 2 Stoll, Clifford. The Cuckoo's Egg.
  5. Mungo, Paul; Clough, Bryan. Approaching Zero: The Extraordinary Underworld of Hackers, Phreakers, Virus Writers, and Keyboard Criminals.
  6. Karl Koch aka. Hagbard Celine 22.7.1965 - 23.5.1989 - mostly in German