Suelette dreyfus julian assange

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Hacking, madness and obsession on the electronic frontier
`Gripping, eminently readable.. Dreyfus has uncovered one of this

country's best kept secrets and in doing so has created a highly

intense and enjoyable read' -- Rolling Stone
By Suelette Dreyfus with

Research by Julian Assange

First Published 1997 by Mandarin
a part of Reed Books Australia
35 Cotham Road, Kew 3101
a subsidiary of Random House books Australia
a division of Random House International Pty Limited
Copyright (c) 1997, 2001 Suelette Dreyfus & Julian Assange
All rights reserved. Without limiting the rights under copyright

above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or

introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or

by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or

otherwise), without the prior written permission of both the

copyright owner and the publisher.

Typeset in New Baskerville by J&M Typesetting
Printed and bound in Australia by Australian Print Group
National Library of Australia
cataloguing-in-publication data:
Dreyfus, Suelette.
Underground: tales of hacking, madness & obsession on the

electronic frontier

ISBN 1 86330 595 5
1. Computer hackers--Australia--Biography.

2. Computer crimes--Australia.

3. Computer security--Australia.

I. Assange, Julian. II. Title.





`...I hold your book `I have never before read a

responsible for destroying my book this good, literally!'

social life for the last two --

days...I bought it Friday

afternoon, and then finished `I just finished the book..

it at lunchtime today! and thoroughly enjoyed it.

(Sunday) *grin*. Excellent Dreyfus showed an amazing

reading!' -- insight into the world of

electronic exploration. I am

`A few pages into this book I sure it was in no small part

found it to be different to due to [the researcher's]

any other book I have ever excellent technical

read on the subject. Dreyfus assistance. Good Job!!' --

treats the people she writes

about AS PEOPLE not just

"computer junkies" or "cyber `I loved the book - couldn't

geeks"' -- put it down!' --

`A real pleasure' -- George

Smith, Crypt News `I wanted to say how much I

liked your book Underground'

`A tale of madness, paranoia -- Prof. Dorothy Denning

and brilliance among

Australian computer hackers - `I was blown away' --

and how they nearly brought

NASA undone' -- The Weekend

Australian Magazine `I'm grateful to Ms Dreyfus

for introducing me to a

`Adventure book for the brain' number of first-rate

-- Sarah McDonald, JJJ subversives' -- Phillip

Adams, Late Night Live

`After reading the extract of

Underground in The Age I `Joy knew no bounds' --

couldn't wait to read it. Phillip Adams, Late Night

Finally it came out in the Live

shops and I finished it all

within a few days. I wasn't `Just thought that I would

disappointed for a second.' -- say great job on your book very nice piece of work and

very informative!' --

`Amazing insight' -- Anonymous hacker

`Keeps the reader glued to

`Backed up by..detailed the page' -- Danny Yee, Danny

technical research' -- Trudie Yee's review of books

MacIntosh, The Australian

`La descripcion de las

`Best hacker book I've read' detenciones, registros

-- Jim Lippard yprocesos legales es

especialmente interesante' --

`Brillant read - will rest Cripto, Spain

safely next the rest of my

Gibson, Sterling and `Let me say how much I

Brunner...' -- enjoyed Underground. I really thought it was fascinating

and a great read.' --

`Brillant' -- (Editor, Network World)
`Compelling reading for those `Loved it' --

of us who want more than just

salacious and hyped snippets'

-- Trudie MacIntosh, The `Makes the esoteric world of

Australian the hacker accessible' --

Australian Bookseller and

`Compelling' -- David Nichols, Publisher

The Big Issue

`Matt Piening told me about

`Contains enough technical it and showed me the article

information to impress anyone in The Age.. consequently..

who can appreciate it' -- we bought it, we read it, we loved it. :)' --

`Couldn't put it down' --

Trudie MacIntosh, The `Meeslepende book' --

Australian Digiface, The Netherlands
`Depth of character and rapid `Meticulously researched' --

pacing' -- Ed Burns, IBIC Australian Bookseller and


`Displays a level of research

and technical understanding `Meticuously researched

not matched by other hacker psychological and social

books' -- Jim Lippard profile of hackers' --

Australian Bookseller and

`Dive into the Underground and Publisher

be swept into a thrilling

elite realm' -- `Most brilliant book I have ever read' --

`Dreyfus does not attempt any

sleights of hand with jargon' `Nice work' --

-- David Nichols, The Big


`Powerful' --

`Dreyfus has clearly done her

research well' -- Danny Yee, `Reads like Ludlum.. I love

Danny Yee's review of books the book.. The style of

writing is the clincher..' --

`Dreyfus hat hier Abhilfe

geschaffen' -- iX, Germany

`Reads like a thriller' --

`Dreyfus is one smart cookie' The Age

-- Ed Burns, IBIC

`Riveting' – Australian

`El libro tiene como fuentes a Bookseller and Publisher

varios grupos de hackers

australianos y todas las `Riviting read'-- The

sentencias de los casos de Adelaide Advertiser

asaltos informaticos de esa

epoca' -- Cripto, Spain `Several cites to it in my

own book on information

`Enjoyed the book!' -- Jake warfare' -- Prof. Dorothy

Barnes, The Face (UK) Denning
`Entirely original' -- Rolling `Skall du la:sa Underground'

Stone -- Mikael Pawlo, Internet

World, Sweden

`Especialmente interesante' --

Cripto, Spain `THIS BOOK IS FOR YOU!' --

`Excellent insight' -- `Thank you for such an

AMAZING and informative book'

`Excellent reporting' -- --

Editor, IBIC

`The reader is readily drawn

`Excellent.. Compared against forward into the eddies of

Bruce Sterling's text (the the underground by the thrust

most obvious comparison), it and parry of the hackers and

makes for much better their pursuers' -- Ed Burns,

reading.. Commendable' -- IBIC

`The true stories of

`Extraordinary' -- Rolling Underground are simply

Stone compelling' -- David Nichols,

The Big Issue

`Fascinating piece of

investigative journalism' -- `There is much to admire in

Jim Reavis, Network World the doggedness with which

Dreyfus follows her subjects'

`Fascinating' -- Ed Burns, -- Gideo Haigh, Australian

IBIC Literary Suppliment

`Fiercely independent thinking `Thoroughly enjoyed' --

found on every page' -- Lew Suzanne Pratley, Frugal Films


`Thoroughly researched' --

`For those sick of bullish Jim Reavis, Network World

cyberpiffle, Underground

contains any amount of `Those inclined to seek the

counterintelligence.." -- unvarnished truth will find

Gideon Haigh, Australian Underground an excellent

Literary Suppliment read' -- George Smith, Crypt


`Genuine perception' -- George

Smith, Crypt News `Totally recommended' --

Matthew Green, NetBSD

`Genuinely fascinating' -- Security Officer, author IRC

David Nichols, The Big Issue II

`Great real life thriller' -- `Very good, very accurate.. makes for an interesting

contrast with books like

`Gripping Account'-- The Cuckoo's Egg, and Takedown'

Adelaide Advertiser -- (Codex

Surveillance List)

`Gripping, eminently readable'

-- Rolling Stone `WOW! What an incredible

read! Your book captures

`Highly intense and enjoyable exactly what it was like for

read' -- Rolling Stone me...' -- Anonymous Canadian


`Highly original investigative

journalism' -- Gideo Haigh, `Well done and thanks' --

Australian Literary Suppliment
`Highly recommended' -- Jim `What is most impressive,

Lippard however, is the personal

detail she has managed to

`Will Surprise' -- Darren garner about her subjects:

Reed, author, ipfirewall more than anything else, it

is this is which gives

`Wonderful Book' -- Underground its appeal' -- Danny Yee, Danny Yee's review

of books




Why would an author give away an unlimited number of copies of her book

for free?

That's a good question. When `Underground''s researcher, Julian

Assange, first suggested releasing an electronic version of the book on

the Net for free, I had to stop and think about just that question.
I'd spent nearly three years researching, writing and editing the nearly

500 pages of `Underground'. Julian had worked thousands of

hours doing painstaking research; discovering and cultivating sources,

digging with great resourcefulness into obscure databases and legal

papers, not to mention providing valuable editorial advice.
So why would I give away this carefully ripened fruit for free?
Because part of the joy of creating a piece of art is in knowing that

many people can - and are - enjoying it. Particularly people who can't

otherwise afford to pay $11 USD for a book. People such as cash strapped

hackers. This book is about them, their lives and obsessions. It rubs

clear a small circle in the frosted glass so the reader can peer into

that hazy world. `Underground' belongs on the Net, in their ephemeral

The critics have been good to `Underground', for which I am very

grateful. But the best praise came from two of the hackers detailed in

the book. Surprising praise, because while the text is free of the

narrative moralising that plague other works, the selection of material

is often very personal and evokes mixed sympathies. One of the hackers,

Anthrax dropped by my office to say `Hi'. Out of the blue, he said with

a note of amazement, `When I read those chapters, it was so real, as if

you had been right there inside my head'. Not long after Par, half a

world away, and with a real tone of bewildered incredulity in his voice

made exactly the same observation. For a writer, it just doesn't get any

better than that.
By releasing this book for free on the Net, I'm hoping more people

will not only enjoy the story of how the international computer

underground rose to power, but also make the journey into the minds

of hackers involved. When I first began sketching out the book's

structure, I decided to go with depth. I wanted the reader to

think, 'NOW I understand, because I too was there.' I hope those

words will enter your thoughts as you read this electronic book.
Michael Hall, a supersmart lawyer on the book's legal team, told me

in July last year he saw a young man in Sydney reading a copy of

`Underground' beside him on the #380 bus to North Bondi. Michael

said he wanted to lean over and proclaim proudly, `I legalled that

book!'. Instead, he chose to watch the young man's reactions.
The young man was completely absorbed, reading hungrily through his

well-worn copy, which he had completely personalised. The pages were

covered in highlighter, scrawled margin writing and post-it notes. He

had underlined sections and dog-eared pages. If the bus had detoured to

Brisbane, he probably wouldn't have noticed.
I like that. Call me subversive, but I'm chuffed `Underground' is

engaging enough to make people miss bus stops. It makes me happy, and

happy people usually want to share.
There are other reasons for releasing `Underground' in this format. The

electronic version is being donated to the visionary Project Gutenburg,

a collection of free electronic books run with missionary zeal by

Michael Hart.

Project Gutenburg promises to keep old out-of-print books in free

``electronic'' print forever, to bring literature to those who can't

afford books, and to brighten the world of the visually

impaired. `Underground' isn't out of print -- and long may it remain

that way -- but those are laudable goals. I wrote in the `Introduction'

to the printed edition about my great aunt, a diver and artist who

pioneered underwater painting in the 1940s. She provided me with a kind

of inspiration for this book. What I didn't mention is that as a result

of macular degeneration in both eyes, she is now blind. She can no

longer paint or dive. But she does read - avidly - through `talking

books'. She is another reason I decided to release `Underground' in this

So, now you can download and read the electronic version of

`Underground' for free. You can also send the work to your friends for

free. Or your enemies. At around a megabyte of plain text each, a few

dozen copies of `Underground' make an extremely effective mail bomb.
That's a joke, folks, not a suggestion. ;-)
Like many of the people in this book, I'm not big on rules. Fortunately,

there aren't many that come with this electronic version. Don't print

the work on paper, CD or any other format, except for your own personal

reading pleasure. This includes using the work as teaching material in

institutions. You must not alter or truncate the work in any way. You

must not redistribute the work for any sort of payment, including

selling it on its own or as part of a package. Random House is a

friendly place, but as one of the world's largest publishers it has a

collection of equally large lawyers. Messing with them will leave you

with scars in places that could be hard to explain to any future

If you want to do any of these things, please contact me or my literary

agents Curtis Brown & Co first. I retain the copyright on the

work. Julian Assange designed the elegant layout of this electronic

edition, and he retains ownership of this design and layout.

If you like the electronic version of the book, do buy the paper

version. Why? For starters, it's not only much easier to read on the

bus, its much easier to read full stop. It's also easier to thumb

through, highlight, scribble on, dribble on, and show off. It never

needs batteries. It can run on solar power and candles. It looks sexy on

your bookshelf, by your bed and in your bed. If you are a male geek, the

book comes with a girl-magnet guarantee. The paper version is much

easier to lend to a prospective girlfriend. When she's finished reading

the book, ask her which hacker thrilled her to pieces. Then nod

knowingly, and say coyly `Well, I've never admitted this to anyone

except the author and the Feds, but ..'

And the most important reason to purchase a paper copy? Because buying

the printed edition of the book lets the author continue to write more

fine books like this one.

Suelette Dreyfus
January 2001


Literary Freeware: Not for Commercial Use.
Copyright (c) 1997, 2001 Suelette Dreyfus & Julian Assange
This HTML and text electronic version was arranged by Julian Assange

and is based on the printed paper edition.

Permission is granted to make and distribute verbatim copies of this

publication provided the copyright notice and this permission notice are

preserved on all copies and distribution is without fee.


"Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask,

and he will tell you the truth" -- Oscar Wilde

"What is essential is invisible to the eye" -- Antoine De Saint-Exupery
"But, how do you *know* it happened like that?" -- Reader
Due of the seamless nature of `Underground' this is a reasonable

question to ask, although hints can be found at the back of the book in

the Bibliography and Endnotes. The simple answer to this question is

that we conducted over a hundred interviews and collected around 40,000

pages of primary documentation; telephone intercepts, data intercepts,

log-files, witness statements, confessions, judgements. Telephone dialog

and on-line discussions are drawn directly from the latter. Every

significant hacking incident mentioned in this book has reams of

primary documentation behind it. System X included.
The non-simple answer goes more like this:
In chapter 4, Par, one of the principle subjects of this book, is being

watched by the Secret Service. He's on the run. He's a wanted

fugitive. He's hiding out with another hacker, Nibbler in a motel

chalet, Black Mountain, North Carolina. The Secret Service move in.

The incident is vital in explaining Par's life on the run and the

nature of his interaction with the Secret Service. Yet, just before the

final edits of this book were to go the publisher, all the pages

relating to the Block Mountain incident were about to be pulled. Why?

Suelette had flown to Tuscon Az where she spent three days

interviewing Par. I had spent dozens of hours interviewing Par on

the phone and on-line. Par gave both of us extraordinary access to

his life. While Par displayed a high degree of paranoia about why

events had unfolded in the manner they had, he was consistent,

detailed and believable as to the events themselves. He showed

very little blurring of these two realities, but we needed to show

none at all.

During Par's time on the run, the international computer underground

was a small and strongly connected place. We had already

co-incidentally interviewed half a dozen hackers he had communicated

with at various times during his zig-zag flight across America. Suelette

also spoke at length to his lead lawyer Richard Rosen, who, after

getting the all-clear from Par, was kind enough to send us a copy of

the legal brief. We had logs of messages Par had written on

underground BBS's. We had data intercepts of other hackers in

conversation with Par. We had obtained various Secret Service documents

and propriety security reports relating to Par's activities. I had

extensively interviewed his Swiss girlfriend Theorem (who had also been

involved with Electron and Pengo), and yes, she did have a melting

French accent.
Altogether we had an enormous amount of material on Par's activities,

all of which was consistent with what Par had said during his

interviews, but none of it, including Rosen's file, contained any

reference to Black Mountain, NC. Rosen, Theorem and others had heard

about a SS raid on the run, yet when the story was traced back, it

always led to one source. To Par.

Was Par having us on? Par had said that he had made a telephone call to

Theorem in Switzerland from a phone booth outside the motel a day or

two before the Secret Service raid. During a storm. Not just any

storm. Hurricane Hugo. But archival news reports on Hugo discussed it

hitting South Carolina, not North Carolina. And not Black

Mountain. Theorem remembered Par calling once during a storm. But not

Hugo. And she didn't remember it in relation to the Black Mountain

Par had destroyed most of his legal documents, in circumstances that

become clear in the book, but of the hundreds of pages of documentary

material we had obtained from other sources there was wasn't a single

mention of Black Mountain. The Black Mountain Motel didn't seem to

exist. Par said Nibbler had moved and couldn't be located. Dozens of

calls by Suelette to the Secret Service told us what we didn't want to

hear. The agents we thought most likely to have been involved in the

the hypothetical Black Mountain incident had either left the Secret

Service or were otherwise unreachable. The Secret Service had no idea

who would have been involved, because while Par was still listed in the

Secret Service central database, his profile, contained three

significant annotations:
1) Another agency had ``borrowed'' parts Par's file

2) There were medical ``issues'' surrounding Par

3) SS documents covering the time of Black Mountain

incident had been destroyed for various reasons

that become clear the book.

4) The remaining SS documents had been moved into

``deep-storage'' and would take two weeks to retrieve.

With only one week before our publisher's ``use it or lose it''

dead-line, the chances of obtaining secondary confirmation of the Black

Mountain events did not look promising.

While we waited for leads on the long trail of ex, transfered and

seconded SS agents who might have been involved in the Black Mountain

raid, I turned to resolving the two inconsistencies in Par's story;

Hurricane Hugo and the strange invisibility of the Black Mountain

Hurricane Hugo had wreathed a path of destruction, but like most most

Directory: ~suelette -> underground

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