Jonathan Littman has a reputation as a friend of the hackers, one of the few journalists covering the computer underground whom its denizens can trust. Two years ago, for instance, when the capture of America's best-known computer criminal, Kevin Mitnick, was front-page news, it was Littman who got the uber-hacker's inside, as-told-to story and wrote a book, The Fugitive Game, that was sympathetic to Mitnick. Since then, the telephone at the Littman home has rung at all hours of the night with digital oddfellas calling--often collect, from prison--just to chat. "I've even got calls on pay phones from fugitives wanted by...

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