Suelette dreyfus julian assange



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then finally told Anthrax to keep his mouth shut and mind his own

business. But Anthrax told his mother. Tensions erupted and, for a

time, Anthrax's parents saw a marriage counsellor.

But his father did not give up writing the letters. He put a password

protection program on the word processor to keep his son out of his

business. It was a futile effort. His father had chosen the wrong

medium to record his indiscretions.

Anthrax showed his mother the new letters and continued to confront

his father. When the tension in the house grew, Anthrax would escape

with his friends. One night they were at a nightclub when someone

started taunting Anthrax, calling him `curry muncher' and worse.

That was it. The anger which had been simmering below the surface for

so long exploded as Anthrax violently attacked his taunter, hitting,

kicking and punching him, using the tai kwon do combinations he had

been learning. There was blood and it felt good. Vengeance tasted

sweet.

After that incident, Anthrax often lashed out violently. He was out of



control and it sometimes scared him. However, at times he went looking

for trouble. Once he tracked down a particularly seedy character who

had tried to rape one of his girlfriends. Anthrax pulled a knife on

the guy, but the incident had little to do with the girl. The thing

that made him angry was the disrespect. This guy knew the girl was

with Anthrax. The attempted rape was like spitting in his face.

Perhaps that's what appealed to Anthrax about Islam--the importance of

respect. At sixteen he found Islam and it changed his life. He

discovered the Qu'raan in the school library while researching an

assignment on religion. About the same time, he began listening to a

lot of rap music. More than half the American rappers in his music

collection were Muslim, and many sang about the Nation of Islam and

the sect's charismatic leader, Minister Louis Farrakhan. Their songs

described the injustices whites inflicted on blacks. They told blacks

to demand respect.

Anthrax found a magazine article about Farrakhan and began reading

books like the Autobiography of Malcolm X. Then he rang up the Nation

of Islam head office in Chicago and asked them to send some

information. The Final Call, the NOI newsletter, arrived one day,

followed by other literature which began appearing around Anthrax's

home. Under the TV guide. On the coffee table. Amid the pile of

newspapers. On top of his computer. Anthrax often took time to read

articles aloud to his mother while she did housework.

In the middle of 1990, when Anthrax was in year 11, his father

suggested the boy attend Catholic boarding school in Melbourne. The

school was inexpensive and the family could scrape and save to pay the

fees. Anthrax disliked the idea, but his father insisted.

Anthrax and his new school proved a bad match. The school thought he

asked too many questions, and Anthrax thought the school answered too

few of them. The hypocrisy of the Catholic church riled Anthrax and

pushed him further into the arms of NOI. How could he respect an

institution which had sanctioned slavery as a righteous and

progressive method of converting people? The school and Anthrax parted

on less than friendly terms after just one semester.

The Catholic school intensified a feeling of inferiority Anthrax had

felt for many years. He was an outsider. The wrong colour, the wrong

size, too intelligent for his school. Yet, NOI's Minister Farrakhan

told him that he wasn't inferior at all. `I know that you have been

discriminated against because of your colour,' Farrakhan told Anthrax

from the tape player. `Let me tell you why. Let me tell you about the

origins of the white race and how they were put on this earth to do

evil. They have shown themselves to be nothing but an enemy of the

East. Non-whites are the original people of the earth.'

Anthrax found some deep veins of truth in NOI's teachings. Interracial

marriages don't work. A white man marries a non-white woman because he

wants a slave, not because he loves and respects her. Islam respects

women in more meaningful ways than Western religions. Perhaps it wasn't

the type of respect that Western men were used to giving women, but he

had seen that kind of respect in his own home and he didn't think much

of it.


Anthrax read the words of the Honourable Elijah Muhammad, founder of

NOI: `The enemy does not have to be a real devil. He could be your

father, mother, brother, husband, wife or children. Many times they're

in your own household. Today is the great time of separation of the

righteous Muslim and the wicked white race.' Anthrax looked inside his

own household and saw what seemed to be a devil. A white devil.

NOI fed Anthrax's mind. He followed up the lists of literature

included in every issue of The Final Call. Books like Black Athena by

Martin Bernel and Deterring Democracy by Noam Chomsky had common

themes of conspiracy and oppression by the haves against the

have-nots. Anthrax read them all.

The transformation of Anthrax occurred over a period of six months. He

didn't talk about it much with his parents. It was a private matter.

But his mother later told him his adoption of the religion didn't

surprise her. His great-grandfather had been a Muslim scholar and

cleric in India. It was fate. His conversion presented a certain sense

of closure, of completing the circle.

His interest in Islam found secular outlets. A giant black and white

poster of Malcolm X appeared on Anthrax's bedroom wall. A huge photo

of Los Angeles Black Panther leader Elmer Pratt followed soon after.

The photo was captioned, `A coward dies a million deaths, a brave man

dies but one'. The last bit of wall was covered in posters of hip-hop

bands from ceiling to floor. A traditional Indian sword adorned the

top of one of the many bookcases. It complemented the growing

collection of books on martial arts. A well-loved copy of The Art of

War by Sun Tzu sat on the shelf next to Homer's Ulysses, The Lord of

The Rings, The Hobbit, a few old Dungeons and Dragons books, works of

mythology from India and Egypt. The shelves did not contain a single

work of science fiction. Anthrax shaved his head. His mother may not

have been surprised by the conversion to Islam, but the head shaving

went a bit over the top.

Anthrax pursued NOI with the same vigour with which he attacked

hacking. He memorised whole speeches of Farrakhan and began speaking

like him, commenting casually on `those caucasian, blue-eyed devils'.

He quoted people he had discovered through NOI. People who described

the US Federal Reserve Bank as being controlled by Jews. People who

spoke of those hooked-nose, bagel-eating, just-crawled-out-of-a-cave

Jews. Anthrax denied the existence of the Holocaust.

`You're shaping up to be quite a little Hitler,' his father told

Anthrax.


His father disliked the NOI literature showing up at the house. It

seemed to frighten him. Receiving blueprints in the mail for

overthowing governments didn't sit well with the neighbours in the

quiet suburban street of the provincial town.

`Watch out,' he warned his son. `Having these thing turn up in your

mailbox can be dangerous. It will probably earmark you for some sort

of investigation. They will follow you around.'
[ ]

The traffic raced. The ethernet cables attached to System X were a

regular speedway. People whizzed in and out of the mystery site like a

swarm of bees. In only twelve hours, the sniffer file topped 100 k.

Many of the connections went from System X to the major

telecommunications company. Anthrax headed in that direction.

He considered how to route the attack. He could go through a few

diverters and other leapfrog devices to cover his trail, thus hitting

the company's system from a completely separate source. The advantage

of this route was anonymity. If the admin managed to detect his entry,

Anthrax would only lose access to the phone company's system, not to

System X. Alternatively, if he went in to the company through the

gateway and System X, he risked alarms being raised at all three

sites. However, his sniffer showed so much traffic running on this

route, he might simply disappear in the flow. The established path was

obviously there for a reason. One more person logging into the gateway

through System X and then into the company's machine would not raise

suspicions. He chose to go through System X.

Anthrax logged into the company using a sniffed username and password.

Trying the load-module bug again, he got root on the system and

installed his own login patch. The company's system looked far more

normal than System X. A few hundred users. Lots of email, far too much

to read. He ran a few key word searches on all the email, trying to

piece together a better picture of the project being developed on

System X.

The company did plenty of defence work, mostly in telecommunications.

Different divisions of the company seemed to be working on different

segments of the project. Anthrax searched through people's home

directories, but nothing looked very interesting because he couldn't

get a handle on the whole project. People were all developing

different modules of the project and, without a centralised overview,

the pieces didn't mean much.

He did find a group of binary files--types of programs--but he had no

idea what they were for. The only real way to find out what they did

was to take them for a test drive. He ran a few binaries. They didn't

appear to do anything. He ran a few more. Again, nothing. He kept

running them, one after another. Still no results. All he received was

error messages.

The binaries seemed to need a monitor which could display graphics.

They used XII, a graphical display common on Unix systems. Anthrax's

inexpensive home computer didn't have that sort of graphical display

operating system. He could still run the binaries by telling System X

to run them on one of its local terminals, but he wouldn't be able to

see the output on his home computer. More importantly, it was a risky

course of action. What if someone happened to be sitting at the

terminal where he chose to run the binary? The game would be up.

He leaned away from his keyboard and stretched. Exhaustion was

beginning to set in. He hadn't slept in almost 48 hours. Occasionally,

he had left his computer terminal to eat, though he always brought the

food back to the screen. His mother popped her head in the doorway

once in a while and shook her head silently. When he noticed her

there, he tried to ease her concerns. `But I'm learning lots of

things,' he pleaded. She was not convinced.

He also broke his long hacking session to pray. It was important for a

devout Muslim to practice salat--to pray at least five times a day

depending on the branch of Islam followed by the devotee. Islam allows

followers to group some of their prayers, so Anthrax usually grouped

two in the morning, prayed once at midday as normal, and grouped two

more at night. An efficient way to meet religious obligations.

Sometimes the time just slipped away, hacking all night. When the

first hint of dawn snuck up on him, he was invariably in the middle of

some exciting journey. But duty was duty, and it had to be done. So he

pressed control S to freeze his screen, unfurled the prayer mat with

its built-in compass, faced Mecca, knelt down and did two sets of

prayers before sunrise. Ten minutes later he rolled the prayer mat up,

slid back into his chair, typed control Q to release the pause on his

computer and picked up where he left off.

This company's computer system seemed to confirm what he had begun to

suspect. System X was the first stage of a project, the rest of which

was under development. He found a number of tables and reports in

System X's files. The reports carried headers like `Traffic Analysis',

`calls in' and `calls out', `failure rate'. It all began to make sense

to Anthrax.

System X called up each of the military telephone exchanges in that

list. It logged in using the computer-generated name and password.

Once inside, a program in System X polled the exchange for important

statistics, such as the number of calls coming in and out of the base.

This information was then stored on System X. Whenever someone wanted

a report on something, for example, the military sites with the most

incoming calls over the past 24 hours, he or she would simply ask

System X to compile the information. All of this was done

automatically.

Anthrax had read some email suggesting that changes to an exchange,

such as adding new telephone lines on the base, had been handled

manually, but this job was soon to be done automatically by System X.

It made sense. The maintenance time spent by humans would be cut

dramatically.

A machine which gathers statistics and services phone exchanges

remotely doesn't sound very sexy on the face of it, until you begin to

consider what you could do with something like that. You could sell it

to a foreign power interested in the level of activity at a certain

base at a particular time. And that is just the beginning.

You could tap any unencrypted line going in or out of any of the 100

or so exchanges and listen in to sensitive military discussions. Just

a few commands makes you a fly on the wall of a general's conversation

to the head of a base in the Philippines. Anti-government rebels in

that country might pay a pretty penny for getting intelligence on the

US forces.

All of those options paled next to the most striking power wielded by

a hacker who had unlimited access to System X and the 100 or so

telephone exchanges. He could take down that US military voice

communications system almost overnight, and he could do it

automatically. The potential for havoc creation was breathtaking. It

would be a small matter for a skilled programmer to alter the

automated program used by System X. Instead of using its dozen or more

modems to dial all the exchanges overnight and poll them for

statistics, System X could be instructed to call them overnight and

reprogram the exchanges.

What if every time General Colin Powell picked up his phone, he was be

automatically patched through to some Russian general's office? He

wouldn't be able to dial any other number from his office phone. He'd

pick up his phone to dial and there would be the Russian at the other

end. And what if every time someone called into the general's number,

they ended up talking to the stationery department? What if none of the

phone numbers connected to their proper telephones? No-one would be

able to reach one another. An important part of the US military machine

would be in utter disarray. Now, what if all this happened in the first

few days of a war? People trying to contact each other with vital

information wouldn't be able to use the telephone exchanges reprogrammed

by System X.

THAT was power.

It wasn't like Anthrax screaming at his father until his voice turned

to a whisper, all for nothing. He could make people sit up and take

notice with this sort of power.

Hacking a system gave him a sense of control. Getting root on a system

always gave him an adrenalin rush for just that reason. It meant the

system was his, he could do whatever he wanted, he could run whatever

processes or programs he desired, he could remove other users he

didn't want using his system. He thought, I own the system. The word

`own' anchored the phrase which circled through his thoughts again and

again when he successfully hacked a system.

The sense of ownership was almost passionate, rippled with streaks of

obsession and jealousy. At any given moment, Anthrax had a list of

systems he owned and that had captured his interest for that moment.

Anthrax hated seeing a system administrator logging onto one of those

systems. It was an invasion. It was as though Anthrax had just got

this woman he had been after for some time alone in a room with the

door closed. Then, just as he was getting to know her, this other guy

had barged in, sat down on the couch and started talking to her.

It was never enough to look at a system from a distance and know he

could hack it if he wanted to. Anthrax had to actually hack the

system. He had to own it. He needed to see what was inside the system,

to know exactly what it was he owned.

The worst thing admins could do was to fiddle with system security.

That made Anthrax burn with anger. If Anthrax was on-line, silently

observing the admins' activities, he would feel a sudden urge to log

them off. He wanted to punish them. Wanted them to know he was into

their system. And yet, at the same time, he didn't want them to know.

Logging them off would draw attention to himself, but the two desires

pulled at him from opposite directions. What Anthrax really wanted was

for the admins to know he controlled their system, but for them not to

be able to do anything about it. He wanted them to be helpless.

Anthrax decided to keep undercover. But he contemplated the power of

having System X's list of telephone exchange dial-ups and their

username-password combinations. Normally, it would take days for a

single hacker with his lone modem to have much impact on the US

military's communications network. Sure, he could take down a few

exchanges before the military wised up and started protecting

themselves. It was like hacking a military computer. You could take

out a machine here, a system there. But the essence of the power of

System X was being able to use its own resources to orchestrate

widespread pandemonium quickly and quietly.

Anthrax defines power as the potential for real world impact. At that

moment of discovery and realisation, the real world impact of hacking

System X looked good. The telecommunications company computer seemed

like a good place to hang up a sniffer, so he plugged one into the

machine and decided to return in a little while. Then he logged out

and went to bed.

When he revisited the sniffer a day or so later, Anthrax received a

rude shock. Scrolling through the sniffer file, he did a double take

on one of the entries. Someone had logged into the company's system

using his special login patch password.

He tried to stay calm. He thought hard. When was the last time he had

logged into the system using that special password? Could his sniffer

have logged himself on an earlier hacking session? It did happen

occasionally. Hackers sometimes gave themselves quite a fright. In the

seamless days and nights of hacking dozens of systems, it was easy to

forget the last time you logged into a particular system using the

special password. The more he thought, the more he was absolutely

sure. He hadn't logged into the system again.

Which left the obvious question. Who had?
[ ]

Sometimes Anthrax pranked, sometimes he punished. Punishment could be

severe or mild. Generally it was severe. And unlike pranking, it was

not done randomly.

Different things set him off. The librarian, for example. In early

1993 Anthrax had enrolled in Asia-Pacific and Business Studies at a

university in a nearby regional city. Ever since he showed up on the

campus, he had been hassled by a student who worked part-time at the

university library. On more than one occasion, Anthrax had been

reading at a library table when a security guard came up and asked to

search his bags. And when Anthrax looked over his shoulder to the

check-out desk, that librarian was always there, the one with the bad

attitude smeared across his face.

The harassment became so noticeable, Anthrax's friends began

commenting on it. His bag would be hand-searched when he left the

library, while other students walked through the electronic security

boom gate unbothered. When he returned a book one day late, the

librarian--that librarian--insisted he pay all sorts of fines.

Anthrax's pleas of being a poor student fell on deaf ears. By the time

exam period rolled around at the end of term, Anthrax decided to

punish the librarian by taking down the library's entire computer

system.


Logging in to the library computer via modem from home, Anthrax

quickly gained root privileges. The system had security holes a mile

wide. Then, with one simple command, he deleted every file in the

computer. He knew the system would be backed up somewhere, but it

would take a day or two to get the system up and running again. In the

meantime, every loan or book search had to be conducted manually.

During Anthrax's first year at university, even small incidents

provoked punishment. Cutting him off while he was driving, or swearing

at him on the road, fit the bill. Anthrax would memorise the licence

plate of the offending driver, then social engineer the driver's

personal details. Usually he called the police to report what appeared

to be a stolen car and then provided the licence plate number. Shortly

after, Anthrax tuned into to his police scanner, where he picked up

the driver's name and address as it was read over the airways to the

investigating police car. Anthrax wrote it all down.

Then began the process of punishment. Posing as the driver, Anthrax rang

the driver's electricity company to arrange a power disconnection. The

next morning the driver might return home to find his electricity cut

off. The day after, his gas might be disconnected. Then his water. Then

his phone.

Some people warranted special punishment--people such as Bill. Anthrax

came across Bill on the Swedish Party Line, an English-speaking

telephone conference. For a time, Anthrax was a regular fixture on the

line, having attempted to call it by phreaking more than 2000 times

over just a few months. Of course, not all those attempts were

successful, but he managed to get through at least half the time. It

required quite an effort to keep a presence on the party line, since

it automatically cut people off after only ten minutes. Anthrax made

friends with the operators, who sometimes let him stay on-line a while


Directory: ~suelette -> underground

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