Anthrax — The

Anthrax — The Outsider.

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They had a gun at my head and a knife at my back; Don't wind me up too tight. — from `Powderworks' (also called The Blue Album). Anthrax didn't like working as part of a team. He always considered other people to be the weakest link in the chain. Although people were never to be trusted completely, he socialised with many hackers and phreakers and worked with a few of them now and again on particular projects. But he never formed intimate partnerships with any of them. Even if a fellow hacker dobbed him in to the police, the informant couldn't know the full extent of his activities. The nature of his relationships was also determined, in part, by his isolation. Anthrax lived in a town in rural Victoria. Despite the fact that he never joined a hacking partnership like The Realm, Anthrax liked people, liked to talk to them for hours at a time on the telephone. Sometimes he received up to ten international calls a day from his phreaker friends overseas. He would be over at a friend's house, and the friend's mother would knock on the door of the bedroom where the boys were hanging out, listening to new music, talking. The mother would poke her head in the door, raise an eyebrow and point at Anthrax. `Phone call for you. Someone from Denmark.' Or sometimes it was Sweden. Finland. The US. Wherever. Though they didn't say anything, his friends' parents thought it all a bit strange. Not many kids in country towns got international calls trailing them around from house to house. But then not many kids were master phreakers. Anthrax loved the phone system and he understood its power. Many phreakers thought it was enough to be able to call their friends around the globe for free. Or make hacking attack phone calls without being traced. However, real power for Anthrax lay in controlling voice communications systems—things that moved conversations around the world. He cruised through people's voice mailbox messages to piece together a picture of what they were doing. He wanted to be able to listen into telephone conversations. And he wanted to be able to reprogram the telephone system, even take it down. That was real power, the kind that lots of people would notice.
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Suelette Dreyfus

Tech researcher, journalist, lecturer at University of Melbourne, specializes in tech's impact on whistleblowing.

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