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   hanging off the networks like buds at the tips of tree branches.

  

   Conceptually, the difference was a little like using a basic PC, which

   can only run one program at a time, as opposed to operating a more

   sophisticated one where you can open many windows with different

   programs running all at once. Even though you might only be working in

   one window, say, writing a letter, the computer might be doing

   calculations in a spreadsheet in another window in the background. You

   can swap between different functions, which are all running in the
   background simultaneously.

  

   While DEFCON was busy scanning, Force could do other things, such as

   talk on Altos. He continued improving DEFCON, writing up to four more

   versions of the program. Before long, DEFCON didn't just scan twenty

   different connections at one time; it also automatically tried to

   break into all the computers it found through those connections.

   Though the program only tried basic default passwords, it had a fair

   degree of success, since it could attack so many network addresses at

   once. Further, new sites and mini-networks were being added so quickly

   that security often fell by the wayside in the rush to join in. Since

   the addresses were unpublished, companies often felt this obscurity

   offered enough protection.

  

   DEFCON produced lists of thousands of computer sites to raid. Force

   would leave it scanning from a hacked Prime computer, and a day or two

   later he would have an output file with 6000 addresses on different

   networks. He perused the list and selected sites which caught his

   attention. If his program had discovered an interesting address, he

   would travel over the X.25 network to the site and then try to break

   into the computer at that address. Alternatively, DEFCON might have

   already successfully penetrated the machine using a default password,

   in which case the address, account name and password would all be

   waiting for Force in the log file. He could just walk right in.

  

   Everyone on Altos wanted DEFCON, but Force refused to hand over the

   program. No way was he going to have other hackers tearing up virgin

   networks. Not even Erik Bloodaxe, one of the leaders of the most

   prestigious American hacking group, Legion of Doom (LOD), got DEFCON

   when he asked for it. Erik took his handle from the name of a Viking

   king who ruled over the area now known as York, England. Although Erik

   was on friendly terms with the Australian hackers, Force remained

   adamant. He would not let the jewel out of his hands.

  

   But on this fateful day in 1988, Par didn't want DEFCON. He wanted the

   secret Force had just discovered, but held so very close to his chest.

   And the Australian didn't want to give it to him.

  

   Force was a meticulous hacker. His bedroom was remarkably tidy, for a

   hacker's room. It had a polished, spartan quality. There were a few

   well-placed pieces of minimalist furniture:

   a black enamel metal single bed, a modern black bedside

   table and a single picture on the wall--a photographic poster of

   lightning, framed in glass. The largest piece of furniture was a

   blue-grey desk with a return, upon which sat his computer, a printer

   and an immaculate pile of print-outs. The bookcase, a tall modern

   piece matching the rest of the furniture, contained an extensive

   collection of fantasy fiction books, including what seemed to be

   almost everything ever written by David Eddings. The lower shelves

   housed assorted chemistry and programming books. A chemistry award