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Undergound. Go to Table of Contents.

   In 1986, New Zealand announced it would refuse to admit to its ports

   any US ships carrying nuclear arms or powered by nuclear energy. The

   US retaliated by formally suspending its security obligations to the

   South Pacific nation. If an unfriendly country invaded New Zealand,

   the US would feel free to sit on its hands. The US also cancelled

   intelligence sharing practices and joint military exercises.

  

   Many people in Australia and New Zealand thought the US had

   overreacted. New Zealand hadn't expelled the Americans; it had simply

   refused to allow its population to be exposed to nuclear arms or

   power. In fact, New Zealand had continued to allow the Americans to

   run their spy base at Waihopai, even after the US suspension. The

   country wasn't anti-US, just anti-nuclear.

  

   And New Zealand had very good reason to be anti-nuclear. For years, it

   had put up with France testing nuclear weapons in the Pacific. Then in

   July 1985 the French blew up the Greenpeace anti-nuclear protest ship

   as it sat in Auckland harbour. The Rainbow Warrior was due to sail for

   Mururoa Atoll, the test site, when French secret agents bombed the

   ship, killing Greenpeace activist Fernando Pereira.

  

   For weeks, France denied everything. When the truth came out--that

   President Mitterand himself had known about the bombing plan--the

   French were red-faced. Heads rolled. French Defence Minister Charles

   Hernu was forced to resign. Admiral Pierre Lacoste, director of

   France's intelligence and covert action bureau, was sacked. France

   apologised and paid $NZ13 million compensation in exchange for New

   Zealand handing back the two saboteurs, who had each been sentenced to

   ten years' prison in Auckland.

  

   As part of the deal, France had promised to keep the agents

   incarcerated for three years at the Hao atoll French military base.

   Both agents walked free by May 1988 after serving less than two years.

   After her return to France, one of the agents, Captain Dominique

   Prieur, was promoted to the rank of commandant.

  

   Finally, McMahon thought. Something that made sense. The exclusion of

   New Zealand appeared to underline the meaning of the worm's political

   message.

  

   When the WANK worm invaded a computer system, it had instructions to

   copy itself and send that copy out to other machines. It would slip

   through the network and when it came upon a computer attached to the

   network, it would poke around looking for a way in. What it really

   wanted was to score a computer account with privileges, but it would

   settle for a basic-level, user-level account.

  

   VMS systems have accounts with varying levels of privilege. A

   high-privilege account holder might, for example, be able to read the

   electronic mail of another computer user or delete files from that

   user's directory. He or she might also be allowed to create new

   computer accounts on the system, or reactivate disabled accounts. A

   privileged account holder might also be able to change someone else's

   password. The people who ran computer systems or networks needed

   accounts with the highest level of privilege in order to keep the

   system running smoothly. The worm specifically sought out these sorts

   of accounts because its creator knew that was where the power lay.

  

   The worm was smart, and it learned as it went along. As it traversed

   the network, it created a masterlist of commonly used account names.