In the late 1980s, Melbourne was the hub of the computer underground in Australia, if not the world. The hackers who formed the underground were not disgruntled computer professionals or gangs of organised criminals. They were disaffected teenagers who used their basic home computers to explore the embryonic Internet from inside their locked, suburban bedrooms. From this shadowy world emerged two elite hackers known as Electron and Phoenix, who formed part of an alliance called The Realm.
Together, Electron and Phoenix stole a restricted computer security list and used it to break into some of the world’s most classified and supposedly secure computer systems. So fast and widespread was the attack, people assumed it was an automated program, until Phoenix called The New York Times to brag. Soon the US Secret Service and the FBI were on their trail and, within months, the Australian Federal Police had raided their homes.
Using a combination of interviews and dramatic reconstructions, In the Realm of the Hackers charts Electron’s journey from his initial innocent explorations to his ultimate obsession. It vividly recreates the climate of the 1980s, before there was public access to the Internet.
In the Realm of the Hackers takes us headlong into the clandestine, risky but intoxicating world of the computer underground to uncover not only how the hackers did it but why.