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   place? The worm would, in theory, go after the dummy, which could be

   designed with a hidden bomb. When the worm sniffed out the dummy, and

   latched onto it, the creature would explode and die. If it worked, the

   SPAN team would not have to depend on the worm killing itself, as they

   had during the first invasion. They would have the satisfaction of

   destroying the thing themselves.


   Ron Tencati procured a copy of the French manager's worm-killing

   program and gave it to McMahon, who set up a sort of mini-laboratory

   experiment. He cut the worm into pieces and extracted the relevant

   bits. This allowed him to test the French worm-killing program with

   little risk of the worm escaping and doing damage. The French program

   worked wonderfully. Out it went. The second version of the worm was so

   much more virulent, getting it out of SPAN was going to take

   considerably longer than the first time around. Finally, almost two

   weeks after the second onslaught, the WANK worm had been eradicated

   from SPAN.


   By McMahon's estimate, the WANK worm had incurred up to half a million

   dollars in costs. Most of these were through people wasting time and

   resources chasing the worm instead of doing their normal jobs. The

   worm was, in his view, a crime of theft. `People's time and resources

   had been wasted,' he said. `The theft was not the result of the

   accident. This was someone who deliberately went out to make a mess.


   `In general, I support prosecuting people who think breaking into

   machines is fun. People like that don't seem to understand what kind

   of side effects that kind of fooling around has. They think that

   breaking into a machine and not touching anything doesn't do anything.

   That is not true. You end up wasting people's time. People are dragged

   into the office at strange hours. Reports have to be written. A lot of

   yelling and screaming occurs. You have to deal with law enforcement.

   These are all side effects of someone going for a joy ride in someone

   else's system, even if they don't do any damage. Someone has to pay

   the price.'


   McMahon never found out who created the WANK worm. Nor did he ever

   discover what he intended to prove by releasing it. The creator's

   motives were never clear and, if it had been politically inspired,

   no-one took credit.


   The WANK worm left a number of unanswered questions in its wake, a

   number of loose ends which still puzzle John McMahon. Was the hacker

   behind the worm really protesting against NASA's launch of the

   plutonium-powered Galileo space probe? Did the use of the word

   `WANK'--a most un-American word--mean the hacker wasn't American? Why

   had the creator recreated the worm and released it a second time? Why

   had no-one, no political or other group, claimed responsibility for

   the WANK worm?


   One of the many details which remained an enigma was contained in the

   version of the worm used in the second attack. The worm's creator had

   replaced the original process name, NETW_, with a new one, presumably

   to thwart the anti-WANK program. McMahon figured the original process

   name stood for `netwank'--a reasonable guess at the hacker's intended

   meaning. The new process name, however, left everyone on the SPAN team

   scratching their heads: it didn't seem to stand for anything. The

   letters formed an unlikely set of initials for someone's name. No-one

   recognised it as an acronym for a saying or an organisation. And it

   certainly wasn't a proper word in the English language. It was a