Page 240

Undergound. Go to Table of Contents.

   Something bad--very, very bad--was going to happen any day. Overcome

   with a great sense of impending doom, he lapsed into a sort of

   hysterical depression. Feeling unable to prevent the advent of the

   dark, terrible event which would tear apart his life yet again, he

   reached out to a friend who had experienced his own personal problems.

   The friend guided him to a psychologist at the Austin Hospital. Prime

   Suspect decided that there had to be a better way to deal with his

   problems than wasting himself every weekend. He began counselling.


   The counselling made him deal with all sorts of unresolved business.

   His father's death. His relationship with his mother. How he had

   evolved into an introvert, and why he was never comfortable talking to

   people. Why he hacked. How he became addicted to hacking. Why he took

   up drugs.


   At the end, the 21-year-old Prime Suspect emerged drug-free and,

   though still shaky, on the road to recovery. The worst he had to wait

   for were the charges from the AFP.


   Trax's recovery from his psychological instabilities wasn't as

   definitive. From 1985, Trax had suffered from panic attacks, but he

   didn't want to seek professional help--he just ran away from the

   problem. The situation only became worse after he was involved in a

   serious car accident. He became afraid to leave the house at night. He

   couldn't drive. Whenever he was in a car, he had to fight an

   overwhelming desire to fling the door open and throw himself out on to

   the road. In 1989, his local GP referred Trax to a psychiatrist, who

   tried to treat the phreaker's growing anxiety attacks with hypnosis

   and relaxation techniques.


   Trax's illness degenerated into full-fledged agoraphobia, a fear of

   open spaces. When he rang the police in late October 1991--just days

   before the AFP raid--his condition had deteriorated to the point where

   he could not comfortably leave his own house.


   Initially he rang the state police to report a death threat made

   against him by another phreaker. Somewhere in the conversation, he

   began to talk about his own phreaking and hacking. He hadn't intended

   to turn himself in but, well, the more he talked, the more he had to

   say. So many things had been weighing on his mind. He knew that Prime

   Suspect had probably been traced from NorTel as a result of Mendax's

   own near miss in that system. And Prime Suspect and Mendax had been so

   active, breaking into so many systems, it was almost as if they wanted

   to be caught.


   Then there was Prime Suspect's plan to write a destructive worm, which

   would wipe systems en route. It wasn't really a plan per se, more just

   an idea he had toyed with on the phone. Nonetheless, it had scared

   Trax. He began to think all three IS hackers were getting in too deep

   and he wanted out.


   He tried to stop phreaking, even going so far as to ask Telecom to

   change his telephone number to a new exchange which he knew would not

   allow him to make untraceable calls. Trax reasoned that if he knew he

   could be traced, he would stop phreaking and hacking.


   For a period, he did stop. But the addiction was too strong, and

   before long he was back at it again, regardless of the risk. He ran a

   hidden cable from his sister's telephone line, which was on the old

   exchange. His inability to stop made him feel weak and guilty, and