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   trust Par, thinking the friendly American sailed a bit close to the

   wind. But Par was an expert in X.25 networks and was bound to have

   some clue about these numbers. Besides, if they turned out to be

   something sensitive, Force didn't have to tell Par where he found

   them.

  

   `I've just found a bizarre address. It is one strange system. When I

   connected, it just started shooting off numbers at me. Check these

   out.'

  

   Force didn't know what the numbers were, but Par sure did. `Those look

   like credit cards,' he typed back.

  

   `Oh.' Force went quiet.

  

   Par thought the normally chatty Australian hacker seemed astonished.

   After a short silence, the now curious Par nudged the conversation

   forward. `I have a way I can check out whether they really are valid

   cards,' he volunteered. `It'll take some time, but I should be able to

   do it and get back to you.'

  

   `Yes.' Force seemed hesitant. `OK.'

  

   On the other side of the Pacific from Par, Force thought about this

   turn of events. If they were valid credit cards, that was very cool.

   Not because he intended to use them for credit card fraud in the way

   Ivan Trotsky might have done. But Force could use them for making

   long-distance phone calls to hack overseas. And the sheer number of

   cards was astonishing. Thousand and thousands of them. Maybe 10000.

   All he could think was, Shit! Free connections for the rest of my

   life.

  

   Hackers such as Force considered using cards to call overseas computer

   systems a little distasteful, but certainly acceptable. The card owner

   would never end up paying the bill anyway. The hackers figured that

   Telecom, which they despised, would probably have to wear the cost in

   the end, and that was fine by them. Using cards to hack was nothing

   like ordering consumer goods. That was real credit card fraud. And

   Force would never sully his hands with that sort of behaviour.

  

   Force scrolled back over his capture of the numbers which had been

   injected into his machine. After closer inspection, he saw there were

   headers which appeared periodically through the list. One said,

   `CitiSaudi'.

  

   He checked the prefix of the mystery machine's network address again.

   He knew from previous scans that it belonged to one of the world's

   largest banks. Citibank.

  

   The data dump continued for almost three hours. After that, the

   Citibank machine seemed to go dead. Force saw nothing but a blank

   screen, but he kept the connection open. There was no way he was going

   to hang up from this conversation. He figured this had to be a freak

   connection--that he accidentally connected to this machine somehow,

   that it wasn't really at the address he had tried based on the DEFCON

   scan of Citibank's network.

  

   How else could it have happened? Surely Citibank wouldn't have a

   computer full of credit cards which spilled its guts every time

   someone rang up to say `hello'? There would be tonnes of security on a