Shortly after my success with the teacher's details on the school, I upped my game. Hacking, whilst not completely legal, was completely cool in my eyes. No fix of teenage cider on the street corner or sniffing of the finest Bostik would be as good as the rush of finding something that I shouldn't on a computer somewhere out in the ether.
In school we'd been given a project to write a program of our choice. My mates Terry and Woody would cover my back by making out we were writing Blockbusters (the game, not the video store) whilst I wrote a simple 'dialer,' a program designed to dial numbers sequentially after you choose the range, and it would log and remember each and every carrier detected and at specific speeds. I'd like to say this was my idea, but boyed on from the success of Wargames only a couple of years earlier, this was a simple and effective way of finding computer linked modems. With newly complied application stored on 720k 3.5" floppy, I now took my pride and joy away with me. That weekend I was going to spend in my father's office. A large office belonging to Logica, with loads of partitions, hidden corners and hidey holes, and loads and loads of PCs, XTs, ATs and other clones all with juicy modems built in. All they needed was a floppy drive, a spotty fat teenager, and a dialer.
Being a Saturday morning, like most of the offices around Great Portland Street, this office was deserted. My father was at his desk, hidden behind a partition, beavering away manically. BLS was doing some work for him, sat at a typewriter, and also beavering manically. Jane, my father's girlfriend was also doing something productive. So, all in all, a very busy office. None more so then my father's boss's office, with a door that shut. Inside was a simple shopping list, a 16 bit Compaq 286 12Mhz, with colour CGA screen, floppy drive, 2400 bps modem and dedicated line, and rebellious adolescent nerd with self written dialer. What could possibly go wrong?
In goes the disk, and the modem kicks into life with whistles and squeals. A quick modification, "AT M0 L0," in the command line, and it falls quiet again. I start locally with modems around that area of London. Running diskcopy with a floppy I found in one of the drawers, I use a second disk on a second PC (presumably my father's boss's secretary) and start dialing on that. After a spot of lunch (Pizza Hut opposite the Palladium) we return. A quick scan down the list and out of the half a dozen or so numbers I notice a nice 2400 (so full speed) carrier detected. I try it, and I am welcomed to the world of Badlad.
"Aitch" I type.
"no match found."
I try again, this time with "Aitch, Aled" and get no match.
I can't remember what else happened, but for some reason I tried my neighbour, and my mate Nick's Dad. He'd been about a bit, and had had many fingers in pies.
"Pee, David" I try.
"1 match found. Enter record to show 1)"
Rather taken aback by the success, I try it. There listed is a nice simple record, showing handling stolen vehicles, breaking into vehicles, and several other felonies that aren't legal in any civilised country in the world. Also listed is his address, date of birth, any distinguishing features (apart from looking like Hank Marvin) and other essential information required by the filth upon apprehending someone.
Yes, I'd cracked open the Police National Computer. Apparently it was a link to Hendon, and the Met's training centre. Being a Saturday afternoon, most of the staff were either off, or getting ready for a night of kicking in poor people and blacks around the streets of Soho. This meant that it had gone undetected far too long. When we left, about 4pm, they'd still not cottoned onto the unauthorised entry. The following Monday morning however, and the log of calls in showed that Logica, and more importantly, Philip Hughes, one of the UK's most respected computer consultants, had hacked into their system.
My father had full deniability, and once again, they could prove nothing.
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