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Undergound. Go to Table of Contents.

   proudly jutted out from the shelf housing a few Dungeons and Dragons



   He kept his hacking notes in an orderly set of plastic folders, all

   filed in the bottom of his bookcase. Each page of notes, neatly

   printed and surrounded by small, tidy handwriting revealing updates

   and minor corrections, had its own plastic cover to prevent smudges or



   Force thought it was inefficient to hand out his DEFCON program and

   have ten people scan the same network ten different times. It wasted

   time and resources. Further, it was becoming harder to get access to

   the main X.25 sites in Australia, like Minerva. Scanning was the type

   of activity likely to draw the attention of a system admin and result

   in the account being killed. The more people who scanned, the more

   accounts would be killed, and the less access the Australian hackers

   would have. So Force refused to hand over DEFCON to hackers outside

   The Realm, which is one thing that made it such a powerful group.


   Scanning with DEFCON meant using Netlink, a program which legitimate

   users didn't often employ. In his hunt for hackers, an admin might

   look for people running Netlink, or he might just examine which

   systems a user was connecting to. For example, if a hacker connected

   directly to Altos from Minerva without hopping through a respectable

   midpoint, such as another corporate machine overseas, he could count

   on the Minerva admins killing off the account.


   DEFCON was revolutionary for its time, and difficult to reproduce. It

   was written for Prime computers, and not many hackers knew how to

   write programs for Primes. In fact, it was exceedingly difficult for

   most hackers to learn programming of any sort for large, commercial

   machines. Getting the system engineering manuals was tough work and

   many of the large companies guarded their manuals almost as trade

   secrets. Sure, if you bought a $100000 system, the company would give

   you a few sets of operating manuals, but that was well beyond the

   reach of a teenage hacker. In general, information was hoarded--by the

   computer manufacturers, by the big companies which bought the systems,

   by the system administrators and even by the universities.


   Learning on-line was slow and almost as difficult. Most hackers used

   300 or 1200 baud modems. Virtually all access to these big, expensive

   machines was illegal. Every moment on-line was a risky proposition.

   High schools never had these sorts of expensive machines. Although

   many universities had systems, the administrators were usually miserly

   with time on-line for students. In most cases, students only got

   accounts on the big machines in their second year of computer science

   studies. Even then, student accounts were invariably on the

   university's oldest, clunkiest machine. And if you weren't a comp-sci

   student, forget it. Indulging your intellectual curiosity in VMS

   systems would never be anything more than a pipe dream.


   Even if you did manage to overcome all the roadblocks and develop some

   programming experience in VMS systems, for example, you might only be

   able to access a small number of machines on any given network. The

   X.25 networks connected a large number of machines which used very

   different operating systems. Many, such as Primes, were not in the

   least bit intuitive. So if you knew VMS and you hit a Prime machine,

   well, that was pretty much it.


   Unless, of course, you happened to belong to a clan of hackers like