Hacking for dollars

Monday, 15 December 2003, 1:27 PM EST

In the high-tech battlefield of cyberspace, the thirtysomething Russian with the jet black goatee and the new denim coat considers himself a freedom fighter—a descendant of those legendary computer geeks whose cyberstunts drove the establishment wild and helped define a unique Internet culture. Like his hacker predecessors, he has his own subversive code, this one tinged with the slogans of anti-globalization.

He talks of "freedom," "the unhindered flow of ideas" and the need to break the stranglehold of "monster corporations like Microsoft." (He won't hack into Russian companies.) "I live in the shadows. That is where I want to be," says the hacker—we'll call him Dmitry—over a late-night meal in a Moscow restaurant. "I don't need to prove anything to anyone."

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