Page 055

Undergound. Go to Table of Contents.

   The Inner Sanctum was not, however, the only private room. Two hacking

   groups, Elite and H.A.C.K., guarded entry to their yet more exclusive

   back rooms. Even if you managed to get entry to the Inner Sanctum, you

   might not even know that H.A.C.K. or Elite existed. You might know

   there was a place even more selective than your area, but exactly how

   many layers of the onion stood between you and the most exclusive

   section was anyone's guess. Almost every hacker interviewed for this

   book described a vague sense of being somehow outside the innermost

   circle. They knew it was there, but wasn't sure just what it was.


   Bowen fielded occasional phone calls on his voice line from wanna-be

   hackers trying to pry open the door to the Inner Sanctum. `I want

   access to your pirate system,' the voice would whine.


   `What pirate system? Who told you my system was a pirate system?'


   Bowen sussed out how much the caller knew, and who had told him. Then

   he denied everything.


   To avoid these requests, Bowen had tried to hide his address, real

   name and phone number from most of the people who used his BBSes. But

   he wasn't completely successful. He had been surprised by the sudden

   appearance one day of Masked Avenger on his doorstep. How Masked

   Avenger actually found his address was a mystery. The two had chatted

   in a friendly fashion on-line, but Bowen didn't give out his details.

   Nothing could have prepared him for the little kid in the big crash

   helmet standing by his bike in front of Bowen's house. `Hi!' he

   squeaked. `I'm the Masked Avenger!'


   Masked Avenger--a boy perhaps fifteen years old--was quite resourceful

   to have found out Bowen's details. Bowen invited him in and showed him

   the system. They became friends. But after that incident, Bowen

   decided to tighten security around his personal details even more. He

   began, in his own words, `moving toward full anonymity'. He invented

   the name Craig Bowen, and everyone in the underground came to know him

   by that name or his handle, Thunderbird1. He even opened a false bank

   account in the name of Bowen for the periodic voluntary donations

   users sent into PI. It was never a lot of money, mostly $5 or $10,

   because students don't tend to have much money. He ploughed it all

   back into PI.


   People had lots of reasons for wanting to get into the Inner Sanctum.

   Some wanted free copies of the latest software, usually pirated games

   from the US. Others wanted to share information and ideas about ways

   to break into computers, often those owned by local universities.

   Still others wanted to learn about how to manipulate the telephone



   The private areas functioned like a royal court, populated by

   aristocrats and courtiers with varying seniority, loyalties and

   rivalries. The areas involved an intricate social order and respect

   was the name of the game. If you wanted admission, you had to walk a

   delicate line between showing your superiors that you possessed enough

   valuable hacking information to be elite and not showing them so much

   they would brand you a blabbermouth. A perfect bargaining chip was an

   old password for Melbourne University's dial-out.


   The university's dial-out was a valuable thing. A hacker could ring up

   the university's computer, login as `modem' and the machine would drop

   him into a modem which let him dial out again. He could then dial