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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.rnrnTogether, 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.rnrnUsing 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.rnrnIn 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.rn rnDirector\'s Notes (Kevin Anderson - Writer/Director)rnI initially became aware of the story of the Melbourne computer underground after reading Underground: Tales of Hacking, Madness and Obsession on the Electronic Frontier by Melbourne-based author and journalist Suelette Dreyfus. rnrnDuring my three-year involvement with the project, I had to immerse myself in the computer underground and acquaint myself with terms and concepts I was completely unfamiliar with. Suelette was to become my main conduit to various members of the underground, both past and present.rnrnThe story represented a number of "firsts"- the new crime called computer hacking, the first computer crime case to be prosecuted in Australia, the introduction of federal computer crime laws, the establishment of a computer crime unit within the Australian Federal Police, and the first time computer data had been recorded and used as evidence in Australia.rnrnForming the spine of the story was also the development of the Internet in Australia. Here was an opportunity to show the role that computer hackers played in this and ironically how they were responsible for the creation of the computer security industry, something that wasn\'t needed in the early open days of the Internet.rnrnAs the script developed it became more focused on the story of \'Electron\' and \'Phoenix\', two Melbourne hackers who formed part of a group of hackers known as The Realm.rnrnIn keeping with the secretive nature of the underground, over the next three years I was to have a series of very "cloak and dagger" meetings with the various players in the story. Meetings were held on street corners at night, or in cars, but primarily in cafes. Meetings were never held at anyone\'s home or office. For me it all helped to create the smoky ambience of the computer underground and those associated with it.rnrnThere were others with whom I only communicated via email. These ranged from university system administrators to hackers themselves. This virtual communication came closer than most in capturing the flavour of the underground as you would imagine these people in their homes or offices sending and receiving their messages and perhaps wondering about you and your motives. One of the hackers involved in the story abruptly terminated his emails to me when I asked him what significance the movie \'War Games\' had for the computer underground. I received a curt reply saying "I have just lost respect for you" and never heard from him again.rnrnAn important part of the story for me was the involvement of the AFP and their relationship with the US Secret Service and the FBI. Australian hackers primarily attacked US computer systems "because that\'s where the interesting computer systems were" and the US authorities put a lot of pressure on Australian authorities to do something about the Australian hackers. This led to the passing of the first computer crime legislation in June 1989 which gave the AFP the authority they needed to prosecute Australian hackers.rnrnInitially the Federal Police were not fully up to speed when it came to computers and computer crime. The culture within the force understood crime as something tangible; there was a body or there was some stolen money. With computer crime, the tangibles disappeared. What crime was actually committed? Show me the victim. This meant that the AFP members had to embark on a huge learning curve if they were going to prosecute hackers.rnrnTo prosecute The Realm hackers, the police had to develop surveillance technology that allowed them to capture and record the actual data from the hackers\' computers and print it out so it could be used in court. To be able to film this part of the story I talked to the two former AFP officers who developed this technology: Bill Apro and David Costello. They very patiently explained the process to me as I grappled to understand how they actually did it.rnrnBroadcast 29/5/2003 www.abc.net.au/tv/documentaries/