What readers say about Underground

`Most brilliant book I have ever read'

I used to be into basic hacking and heard about your book so I decided to go and buy it the next day. It is the most brilliant book I have ever read. All of these things were happening right under my nose and I didn't have the faintest idea they were happening.

- pheonix@eisa.net.au

`I have never before read a book this good, literally!'

Dear Suelette,

I am currently reading the last chapter of your book.. this book is absolutely sensational!! I have never before read a book this good, literally.

Its amazing how you managed to extend so much technical information without making errors like many other authers do.

The only question on my mind is.... WHEN ARE YOU GOING TO WRITE ANOTHER ONE?

Thank you for writting it :-)

- benwebb@hotmail.com

`I was blown away'

I was blown away.. a book about hackers that was actually about hackers and not the law. If you were there.. you will LOVE the book, If you were'nt .. then you will enjoy the ride and understand why the addiction can grip so hard Just a quick hello and thanks to all for a great read.. I think I remember one or 2 of the people mentioned in the book.. THANKS .. WHAT A GREAT RIDE, ahhhhh The Memories! The Unix :)

- lucasb@sub.net.au

`Several cites to it in my own book'

Just saw your post on LACC [Legal Aspects of Computer Crime], so wanted to take the opportunity to tell you how much I liked your book Underground. I have several cites to it in my own book Information Warfare and Security.

- Prof. Dorothy Denning


I purchased the book at HIP, and have managed to safely arrive at page 445 - likely the remainder won't last through the night. Excellent. Compared against Bruce Sterling's text (the most obvious comparison), it makes for much better reading. 500 pages seemed not like 500 pages. Commendable.

- harshman@paradigm.uor.edu

`Fiercely independent thinking'

First, let me say that I think your book Underground (which I have read twice) is one of the rare, few books on hacking that deserves to be mandatory reading for any reporter or politician or FBI agent who claims to have an interest/dedication to the subject. I could go on and on about the fiercely independent thinking that can be found on every page, but I know you've heard that many times. Just let me add another word of congratulations.

- lzkoch@wwa.com


A Friend of mine decided to lend me a copy of this book, I find myself always shying away from book's on HACKERS in general they tend to deal more with the legal issues of Hacking and Phreaking, they often make for a VERY boring read on what should be an interesting subject. A few pages into this bookI found it to be different to any other book i have ever read on the subject. Mrs. Dreyfus treats the people she writes about AS PEOPLE not just "computer junkies" or "cyber geeks". best of all I found the book to give the right amount of Detail one would need to understand the Why's , What's and How's. Look how can I put it.. IF YOU ARE INTERESTED IN KNOWING WHY SOMEONE WOULD WRITE A VIRUS, WANT ACCESS TO NASA, WHAT IS/WAS ALTOS and WHY WAS IT THE HANGOUT. Or maybe like me you ran a BBS in Melbourne Australia during the early 90's.. then THIS BOOK IS FOR YOU!

- lucasb@sub.net.au

`Amazing book'

I grew up with Parmaster [one of the principle characters] in Iowa and had contact with him before and after he went on the run. Seeing life on the run through his eyes was exhilarating and horrifying. This a very real story that should open the eyes of some young hackers. It's not all fun and games in the world of the web.

- boz (name withheld by request)

`Thoroughly enjoyed'

I thoroughly enjoyed your book.

- Suzanne Pratley, Frugal Films


A friend gave me this book, and for me it brought back a lot of memories. I was never a hacker, but drove my parents mad with huge phone bills back in the late 80's, dialling up BBSs like Real Connection, Melbourne PIE, Pacific Island, Outer Limits, Electric Dreams etc..

It was amazing to read about all the names that I remembered (I met Real Article a couple of times, and know her daughter through a friend of a friend still) and find out about places in the BBSs that I would never have had access to.

After I read the book, I tried to see if there were any BBSs that I could telnet to (that are still part of Fido net) but many aren't around any more. You tend to forget the community nature of attack dialling those 1 or 2 line BBSs and actually participating in some interesting discussions.

And my handle back then? The lead character in my favourite movie of the time - Ferris Bueller!

Thanks for a great book - fascinating and a good memory reviver.

- info@ActiveEnzymes.com.au

`Brillant read'

Superb reading that really enmeshes you in the characters, the technology and the whole culture of the hacker........Really interesting to see everyrthing from the opposite side of the coin........Bumped into this book in a sci-fi section - but was enmeshed that bit more - just because it was real........There were people at uni who I could equate to the characters - driving the sysop's mad with their continual evasive work.....Brillant read - will rest safely next the rest of my Gibson, Sterling and Brunner.......

- Neil.Garbutt@affa.gov.au

`Good book, and quite accurate'

Good book, and quite accurate.

I'll be blunt; Can I have a copy of "The International Subversive" print that you used? ;)

- d_d@start.com.au

`WOW! What an incredible read!'

WOW! What an incredible read!

Your book captures exactly what it was like for me hacking the x25 networks in the late 80's. I began hacking the North American PSPDNs (datapac, tymnet, telenet) in 1985 with a friend. We hacked pretty much in isolation for the next three years - mapping the PSPDNs and grokking such mouldy pre-internet operating systems such as VMS, DG AX, HP MPE, VM/CMS, MCP/CANDE, Primos and GCOS. We were anti-authoritarian/American, and in our only overtly malicious act, we took down a VAX cluster belonging to one of the big US defense companies.

In early 1987 my buddy found an un-passworded PAD that allowed calls to NUAs anywhere in the world and also contained a history of the destinations called. In that history were the addresses for the ALTOS and QSD (France) x25 conference lines. After our long stretch of solitary hacking, visiting ALTOS and QSD was like walking into a smoky, crowded pub after 3 years of solitary confinement. People spoke our language and we got drunk exchanging NUAs, out-calling PADs, default accounts, tips ........ There were all sorts of characters - unskilled hackers scrounging accounts by trading bogus info, female impersonators, Americans full of braggadocio carrying out internecine squabbles and the quietly talented Brits and Germans. (Strangely enough, I don't think I ever ran into a French hacker, not even on QSD)

Pad and Gandalf were way better than me and gave me some useful VMS tips like getting out of captive accounts. I don't remember what I gave them in return, but the SG WARBURG VAX mentioned on p. 248 rings a bell.

I started college in 1989 and gave up the obsession and paranoia of hacking to focus on my studies. During Christmas break I popped up for a bit and hacked around on MILNET, but the hacker crackdowns were in progress so I dumped all my hacking kipple and quit for good. After graduating from college I got a job as a sysadmin and looked forward to playing the game from the other side - but either our security was too good, or the hackers were super-smooth.

Times change and I'm now working for one of the big US defense companies developing an air traffic control system. At least the project is benign and not a missile bomb spook-sat thing. And I don't have to look over my shoulder.

Yours in confidence,

Anonymous in Vancouver

- anonymous (name withheld by request)

`Wonderful Book'

A quick thanks for a wonderful book, I was around during the time of electron, power-spike, nom, the realm etc. It was a sad day in my life when all came to an end, i turned 18 and figured hey, jail for me if I get caught.... Once again, thanks, I know have a constant reminder of some of the more intersting times I had growing up.

- SteveV@pigpond.net.au

`Couldn't put it down!'

I loved the book - couldnt put it down!

- texasdeluxe@hotmail.com

`AMAZING and informative'

My name is "V". I'm in my mid twenties and I was around at the time all this happened. I certainly wasn't up to their level, but I dabbled. I knew some of them (on a VERY basic level) through the Melb BBS's. When I saw the court cases on TV I didn't feel the best. Any way, I just wanted to thank you for such an AMAZING and informative book. I'm not too upset now about my parents' house being robbed and losing my IIe back then. Maybe it was for the best. You may never read this, but if you do THANKS again for telling this story.



PS are there any more books to come?

- jasonvas@hotmail.com

`Excellent reading!'

Hello Suelette,

Just letting you know I hold your book responsible for destroying my social life for the last two days...I bought it Friday afternoon, and then finished it at lunchtime today! (Sunday) *grin*

Excellent reading!

- bam@iinet.net.au

`We loved it'

Matt Piening told me about it and showed me the article in "The Age".. consequently.. we bought it, we read it, we loved it. :)

- camson@swin.edu.au


I thoroughly enjoyed Dreyfus's work. It was informative, entertaining, and powerful. The reader is readily drawn forward into the eddies of the underground by the thrust and parry of the hackers and their pursuers. Addiction, dysfunction, obsession and their outcome are all portrayed in a fascinating manner. Dreyfus is one smart cookie with depth of character and rapid pacing. The book builds a sympathetic portrait of hackers who are benign and interested in the conquest of another's computer system. However, this is also a cautionary tale of hacking (or computer) addiction a mental illness that we will undoubtedly hear more of. Dive into the UNDERGROUND and be swept into a thrilling elite realm.

- evburns@gte.net

`A great read'

Let me say how much I enjoyed Underground. I really thought it was fascinating and a great read.

- philip_sim@idg.com (Editor, Network World)

`I am amazed'

Just finished reading your book, most insightful! I just want to congratulate you for dealing with the issue. I am amazed that you got to speak with the PLAYERS, and the fact that they opened up you. Well done!!!!!!!

- mical@bigpond.com

`Very nice piece of work'

Just thought that I would say great job on your book very nice piece of work and very informative!

- anonymous (name withheld by request)

`Reads like Ludlum'

I love the book!

The style of writing is the clincher I think. It can be read both as a historical/documentary piece or as a novel. The fact that it is true but still reads like a Ludlum book is at first a little disorienting. I almost didnt believe that the drama unfolded the way described by the Author - but after reading some other related material on the characters in the book it becomes obvious that she is probably close enough to how it might have really happened. As I said, the style of the delivery is excellent, making the already interesting subject matter even more appealing..

- jmj@speednet.com.au

`Well done'

We all had tension after what we had done in the past on Various Systems. But This Book Surely Relieves All that Knowing Most Of us have Survived. And Learned, The True accounts in the Book That Take You back in a flash And then shaking Your head realising were you really are now. Well done And thanks For Showing others the insight That We Have.

- Skinny@usaf.org

`Enjoyed the book!'

Enjoyed the book!

- Jake Barnes, The Face (UK)

`Will Suprise'

A few people will have heard me mention this book already, but I think there are bits and pieces of this book which will surprise quite a few people. Most of us are used to reading stories about hacking by the people who did the catching of the hackers..a pretty good read (one from which I'm sure hackers will learn just as much from as the rest of us).

- avalon@cheops.anu.edu.au (Darren Reed, author, ipfirewall)

Read the full review.

`Totally recomended'

Underground is a tale of computer cracking. It takes you into that forbidden world, showing you their side of the story, and at times making you feel part of that world. That it is based solely on fact, is a testament to the writing talent of Dreyfus. Not forgetting the simple, yet information rich, technical descriptions, providing insights into the fooling of both man and machine. Totally recommended.

- mrg@eterna.com.au (NetBSD Security Officer, author IRC II)

`Very good, very accurate'

..the book is very good, very accurate, and very much on the hackers' side.. it follows the hackers' lives, making for an interesting contrast with books like Cuckoo's Egg, and Takedown.. It brings up some interesting issues, for example Anthrax's allegations that the Australian Federal Police threatened to prosecute his mother if he did not admit to what he had done, the AFP's inability to trace certain phone calls, and something which interests me particularly, what is that '-u' process?

- btherl@nullnet.net (Codex Surveillance List)


I thought underground was brilliant, can you please tell me if [the author] has written anything else?

- gerardc@one.net.au

`Great real life thriller'

It also surprises me that it had the effect it did on me.. In short, the book is a great real life thriller, contains enough technical information to impress anyone who can appreciate it, and reiterates some important questions about our legal system and how we educate our children.

- jmidgley@cyberjunkie.com

Read the full review.

`Obsessive compulsive qualities'

The principal character in "Underground" uses his obsessive compulsive qualities to succeed in a world of his own making. Unable to cope in the "normal" world because of an undiagnosed mental illness, he creates a cyber-delusion to provide a sense of security sustaining survival. He is the center of a universe contained within his computer. He is in control. He has power.

Somewhere in the mind of the most insane individual, excluding those with damaged neurological structures, lies the knowledge that what they hold to be true is, in reality, false. The need to believe this fiction necessitates increasingly frequent reaffirmation. In the situation of the hacker in question, this leads to criminal acts which eventually come to light. The punishment for his crimes is to be denied access to his only method of his psyche's survival. Overwhelmed by life, he escapes into the madness of drugs and eventually loses contact with the core of his stability, the intellectual aspect of his self. His journey from pseudo success to self destruction is an apt allegory to the self deluded lives which most people live.

- whamer@midwest.net (SCHIZOPH List)

`Excellent insight'

After reading the extract of Underground in The Age I couldn't wait to read it. Finally it came out in the shops and I finished it all within a few days. I wasn't disappointed for a second. I'm sure I will read it many more times. Underground is an excellent insight into the minds of Australia's hacking community.

- dcw@alphalink.com.au

`Amazing insight'

..I just finished the book.. and thouroughly enjoyed it. Dreyfus showed an amazing insight into the world of electronic exploration. I am sure it was in no small part due to [the researcher's] excellent technical assistance. Good Job!!

- jimgeuin@cyberservices.com

`Loved it'

..thank you for writing the book, I loved it, it was good to be able to read a little about the situation here. I've recommended it to a few others and they seem to have had the same reaction I did.

- kaos@ctrl.com.au

`Nice work'

It's some nice work.

- aleph1@underground.org

If you would like to give some feedback on Underground, please mail the author, suzieq, using this address: suburbia.com.au, or the researcher, julian, by mailing Feedback at the domain name underground-book.net. This is an anti-spam format.

See what the critics and the on-line readers (2001) have to say about Underground