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                  It's been nice playing with your system.

  

     We didn't do any damage and we even improved a few things. Please

                 don't call the Australian Federal Police.

  

   The admin ignored the message and continued his search for the hacker.

   He ran a program to check which telephone lines were active on the

   system's serial ports, to reveal which dial-up lines were in use. When

   the admin saw the carrier detect sign on the line being used by the

   hacker, Mendax decided it was time to bail out. However, he wanted to

   make sure that his call had not been traced, so he lifted the receiver

   of his telephone, disconnected his modem and waited for the NorTel

   modem to hang up first.

  

   If the NorTel admin had set up a last party recall trace to determine

   what phone number the hacker was calling from, Mendax would know. If

   an LPR trace had been installed, the NorTel end of the telephone

   connection would not disconnect but would wait for the hacker's

   telephone to hang up first. After 90 seconds, the exchange would log

   the phone number where the call had originated.

  

   If, however, the line did not have a trace on it, the company's modem

   would search for its lost connection to the hacker's modem. Without

   the continuous flow of electronic signals, the NorTel modem would hang

   up after a few seconds. If no-one reactivated the line at the NorTel

   end, the connection would time-out 90 seconds later and the telephone

   exchange would disconnect the call completely.

  

   Mendax listened anxiously as the NorTel modem searched for his modem

   by squealing high-pitched noises into the telephone line. No modem

   here. Go on, hang up.

  

   Suddenly, silence.

  

   OK, thought Mendax. Just 90 seconds to go. Just wait here for a minute

   and a half. Just hope the exchange times out. Just pray there's no

   trace.

  

   Then someone picked up the telephone at the NorTel end. Mendax

   started. He heard several voices, male and female, in the background.

   Jesus. What were these NorTel people on about? Mendax was so quiet he

   almost stopped breathing. There was silence at the receivers on both

   ends of that telephone line. It was a tense waiting game. Mendax heard

   his heart racing.

  

   A good hacker has nerves of steel. He could stare down the toughest,

   stony-faced poker player. Most importantly, he never panics. He never

   just hangs up in a flurry of fear.

  

   Then someone in the NorTel office--a woman--said out loud in a

   confused voice, `There's nothing there. There's nothing there at all.'

  

   She hung up.

  

   Mendax waited. He still would not hang up until he was sure there was

   no trace. Ninety seconds passed before the phone timed out. The fast

   beeping of a timed-out telephone connection never sounded so good.

  

   Mendax sat frozen at his desk as his mind replayed the events of the

   past half hour again and again. No more NorTel. Way too dangerous. He