Page 068


Undergound. Go to Table of Contents.

   Craig Bowen didn't like where the part of the underground typified by

   Blue Thunder was headed. In his view, Chunder and Trotsky stood out as

   bad apples in an otherwise healthy group, and they signalled an

   unpleasant shift towards selling information. This was perhaps the

   greatest taboo. It was dirty. It was seedy. It was the realm of

   criminals, not explorers. The Australian computer underground had

   started to lose some of its fresh-faced innocence.

  

   Somewhere in the midst of all this, a new player entered the Melbourne

   underground. His name was Stuart Gill, from a company called

   Hackwatch.

  

   Bowen met Stuart through Kevin Fitzgerald, a well-known local hacker

   commentator who founded the Chisholm Institute of Technology's

   Computer Abuse Research Bureau, which later became the Australian

   Computer Abuse Research Bureau. After seeing a newspaper article

   quoting Fitzgerald, Craig decided to ring up the man many members of

   the underground considered to be a hacker-catcher. Why not? There were

   no federal laws in Australia against hacking, so Bowen didn't feel

   that nervous about it. Besides, he wanted to meet the enemy. No-one

   from the Australian underground had ever done it before, and Bowen

   decided it was high time. He wanted to set the record straight with

   Fitzgerald, to let him know what hackers were really on about. They

   began to talk periodically on the phone.

  

   Along the way, Bowen met Stuart Gill who said that he was working with

   Fitzgerald.4 Before long, Gill began visiting PI. Eventually, Bowen

   visited Gill in person at the Mount Martha home he shared with his

   elderly aunt and uncle. Stuart had all sorts of computer equipment

   hooked up there, and a great number of boxes of papers in the garage.

  

   `Oh, hello there, Paul,' Gill's ancient-looking uncle said when he saw

   the twosome. As soon as the old man had tottered off, Gill pulled

   Bowen aside confidentially.

  

   `Don't worry about old Eric,' he said. `He lost it in the war. Today

   he thinks I'm Paul, tomorrow it will be someone else.'

  

   Bowen nodded, understanding.

  

   There were many strange things about Stuart Gill, all of which seemed

   to have a rational explanation, yet that explanation somehow never

   quite answered the question in full.

  

   Aged in his late thirties, he was much older and far more worldly than

   Craig Bowen. He had very, very pale skin--so pasty it looked as though

   he had never sat in the sun in his life.

  

   Gill drew Bowen into the complex web of his life. Soon he told the

   young hacker that he wasn't just running Hackwatch, he was also

   involved in intelligence work. For the Australian Federal Police. For

   ASIO. For the National Crime Authority. For the Victoria Police's

   Bureau of Criminal Intelligence (BCI). He showed Bowen some secret

   computer files and documents, but he made him sign a special form

   first--a legal-looking document demanding non-disclosure based on some

   sort of official secrets act.

  

   Bowen was impressed. Why wouldn't he be? Gill's cloak-and-dagger world

   looked like the perfect boy's own adventure. Even bigger and better

   than hacking. He was a little strange, but that was part of the