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   I was knee-deep in NASA networks last night.' The thought made him

   laugh.

  

   He saw girls as a unwanted distraction from hacking. Sometimes, after

   he chatted with a girl at a party, his friends would later ask him why

   he hadn't asked her out. Prime Suspect shrugged it off. The real

   reason was that he would rather get home to his computer, but he never

   discussed his hacking with anyone at school, not even with Mentat.

  

   A friend of Force's and occasional visitor to The Realm, Mentat was

   two years ahead of Prime Suspect at school and in general couldn't be

   bothered talking to so junior a hacker as Prime Suspect. The younger

   hacker didn't mind. He had witnessed other hackers' indiscretions,

   wanted no part of them and was happy to keep his hacking life private.

  

   Before the Realm bust, Phoenix rang him up once at 2 a.m. suggesting

   that he and Nom come over there and then. Woken by the call, Prime

   Suspect's mother stood in the doorway to his bedroom, remonstrating

   with him for letting his `friends' call at such a late hour. With

   Phoenix goading him in one ear, and his mother chewing him out in the

   other, Prime Suspect decided the whole thing was a bad idea. He said

   no thanks to Phoenix, and shut the door on his mother.

  

   He did, however, talk to Powerspike on the phone once in a while. The

   older hacker's highly irreverent attitude and Porky Pig laugh appealed

   to him. But other than those brief talks, Prime Suspect avoided

   talking on the phone to people outside the International Subversives,

   especially when he and Mendax moved into ever more sensitive military

   computers.

  

   Using a program called Sycophant written by Mendax, the IS hackers had

   been conducting massive attacks on the US military. They divided up

   Sycophant on eight attack machines, often choosing university systems

   at places like the Australian National University or the University of

   Texas. They pointed the eight machines at the targets and fired.

   Within six hours, the eight machines had assaulted thousands of

   computers. The hackers sometimes reaped 100000 accounts each night.

  

   Using Sycophant, they essentially forced a cluster of Unix machines in

   a computer network to attack the entire Internet en masse.

  

   And that was just the start of what they were into. They had been in

   so many sites they often couldn't remember if they

   had actually hacked a particular computer. The places they could

   recall read like a Who's Who of the American military-industrial

   complex. The US Airforce 7th Command Group Headquarters in the

   Pentagon. Stanford Research Institute in California. Naval Surface

   Warfare Center in Virginia. Lockheed Martin's Tactical Aircraft

   Systems Air Force Plant in Texas. Unisys Corporation in Blue Bell,

   Pennsylvania. Goddard Space Flight Center, NASA. Motorola Inc. in

   Illinois. TRW Inc. in Redondo Beach, California. Alcoa in Pittsburgh.

   Panasonic Corp in New Jersey. US Naval Undersea Warfare Engineering

   Station. Siemens-Nixdorf Information Systems in Massachusetts.

   Securities Industry Automation Corp in New York. Lawrence Livermore

   National Laboratory in California. Bell Communications Research, New

   Jersey. Xerox Palo Alto Research Center, California.

  

   As the IS hackers reached a level of sophistication beyond anything

   The Realm had achieved, they realised that progress carried

   considerable risk and began to withdraw completely from the broader