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   `No. That's not a good idea.'

  

   `How come? The computer's only going to read the first eight

   characters and encrypt those. So we should kill all the rest.'

  

   Sometimes Phoenix just didn't get it. But Electron didn't rub it in.

   He kept it low-key, so as not to bruise Phoenix's ego. Often Electron

   sensed Phoenix sought approval from the older hacker, but it was a

   subtle, perhaps even unconscious search.

  

   `Nah,' Electron began, `See, someone might use the whole word,

   Commerce or Commercial. The first eight letters of these words are not

   the same. The eighth character in Commerce is "e", but in Commercial

   it's "i".'

  

   There was a short silence.

  

   `Yeah,' Electron went on, `but you could kill all the words

   like Commercially, and Commercialism, that come after Commercial.

   See?'

  

   `Yeah. OK. I see,' Phoenix said.

  

   `But don't just kill every word longer than eight characters,'

   Electron added.

  

   `Hmm. OK. Yeah, all right.' Phoenix seemed a bit out of sorts. `Hey,'

   he brightened a bit, `it's been a whole ten minutes since my machine

   crashed.'

  

   `Yeah?' Electron tried to sound interested.

  

   `Yeah. You know,' Phoenix changed the subject to his favourite topic,

   `what we really need is Deszip. Gotta get that.' Deszip was a computer

   program which could be used for password cracking.

  

   `And Zardoz. We need Zardoz,' Electron added. Zardoz was a restricted

   electronic publication detailing computer security holes.

  

   `Yeah. Gotta try to get into Spaf's machine. Spaf'll have it for

   sure.' Eugene Spafford, Associate Professor of Computer Science at

   Purdue University in the US, was one of the best known computer

   security experts on the Internet in 1990.

  

   `Yeah.'

  

   And so began their hunt for the holy grail.

 

                            [ ]

  

   Deszip and Zardoz glittered side by side as the most coveted prizes in

   the world of the international Unix hacker.

  

   Cracking passwords took time and computer resources. Even a moderately

   powerful university machine would grunt and groan under the weight of

   the calculations if it was asked to do. But the Deszip program could

   change that, lifting the load until it was, by comparison,

   feather-light. It worked at breathtaking speed and a hacker using

   Deszip could crack encrypted passwords up to 25 times faster.