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Best Local Net God

WHEN DANE JASPER was a computer-science major at Santa Rosa Junior College in the mid-1990s, he and a friend discovered an entrepreneurial racket involving the sale of student Social Security numbers and birth dates to non-students who wanted access to the school's Internet service. "You couldn't buy or get access then, unless you were an academic or worked for a large company," says 26-year-old Jasper. "I realized that if people are willing to pay $25 and say they are someone else to get on the Internet, this has commercial viability." He penciled out an Internet service business plan on a yellow note pad, figuring he needed 120 customers to break even on $9,000 in start-up costs. Five years later, Sonic Internet service provider has 1,500 phone lines serving 12,000 customers, winning a reputation for great technical support. And Jasper has a reputation as the net sleuth who helped track down the two Cloverdale teens who hacked far and wide last year into military and university computers. Jasper doesn't quite fit the part of a computer geek, sporting a tie and blue button-down Oxford shirt, his red hair slicked back and goatee neatly trimmed. But his downtown Santa Rosa office does have a Ping-Pong table, and Sonic staff are allowed to bring their dogs to work as long as the pooches don't piddle on the carpet. Point man for the company while partner Scott Doty and 23 employees slave in obscurity, Jasper clearly enjoys the role of high-level cyber detective, working with the military, the FBI, U.S. Customs, even the Secret Service, to ferret out the bad guys, or kids in many cases. "I was really impressed with the skills and abilities of the Air Force and especially the FBI National Computer Crime Squad," he says. "They were really good about not trampling on anyone's rights." But what impresses Jasper even more than G-men in his conference room is the 2.2-megabit wireless interconnection in his new Santa Rosa house. "The Santa Rosa Junior College system has a T1, which is 1.5 megabit for the whole school," Jasper says. "I probably don't need that much, but when I want to get on the Internet, it's fast." --J.W.

From the March 25-31, 1999 issue of the Sonoma County Independent.

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