Espionage for real
You hid it well, I’ll give you that. You suckered me in. No fool like an old fool, Nana used to say on the very few occasions that I disappointed my grandmother. You were so young and so pretty I’m amazed I didn’t do something really stupid. Flirting with me online – then later when we met in the coffee shop. You gave in so easily, so… happily. I thought.
Your lips were so soft, your body so beautiful, your scent so moving it drove me – left me distracted. I am so lucky that my protocols kept everything safe.
In my business I keep the secrets of a dozen client companies at any given time. Secrets that allow them to compete, to overcome, to live the capitalist dream. There aren’t many guys who do what I do, and I know most of them. We are well-paid, well taken care of – my soul mate used to say I was the most spoiled adult she ever met. And we are required to take care of the information we are trusted with, for knowing what a company was designing was the same as knowing where they were about to go.
The next morning I awoke to find you checking your e-mail on one of my machines. You turned to look at me.
“Do you mind? I told a girlfriend I’d touch base with her.”
“Not at all”
I busied myself making coffee, then amused myself watching your supple fingers race over the keyboard. I smiled – I’m a faster typist than you are, but only because I’ve been doing it longer than you’ve been alive. Not to mention my training. You finished, turned, rose, and moved to me with the sexy grace of a jungle cat. You took my cup, set it down, and pushed me to the bed. Again. Can’t say I complained.
The next morning I awoke alone – to the sound of a warning whoop from the computers. The scanner I ran every morning at 8:30, an hour I’d never be on a machine, was protesting. Something had attached itself, something ugly. After a few minutes it was clear that whatever it was, it wasn’t anything I’d ever seen before. Luckily, it was the DMZ computer that I allow net access with. Nothing else was connected to it, and nothing major was on it either – simple standard app’s for browsing, email and a few other things. I pulled the hard drive, figuring that I’d look at it later. If I couldn’t find anything, I knew a few guys who’d be interested. They spent their lives looking for stuff like that.
I grabbed a spare drive and the install DVD and started the process. I didn’t think much about it – even now there are kids who think they’re hackers. Haven’t figured out that jail isn’t a fun place.
I should have realized that your presence the next night wasn’t an accident. I should have, but how could I – I wasn’t expecting to see you for a few weeks, if then. You’d been pretty vague. Another night in paradise – waking to see you again in the morning sitting at the desk. It was almost a replay.
Including the whoop the next morning. I was puzzled – you’d said that you couldn’t get access to the net – I hadn’t hooked the machine back up to the router, nor to anything else. I was going to up the level of protection, and turn on some low lever driver stuff, but I hadn’t gotten around to it. How had a virus gotten back on the machine? I started looking and whatever it was, it was back.
When you do this kind of stuff for a living, you worry that you got careless or stupid or lost track of what you were doing. I thought through everything I did yesterday to recover. The infected hard drive (the FIRST infected hard drive, I reminded myself) was sitting on the desk, cold. Unless you believed in magic it couldn’t have had any effect. There are ways to leave nasty code on some flash devices, if you’re very, very clever, but my custom install program had checked for exactly that (trust no one…). The machine had been the same as it had come from the factory. That didn’t leave much. It had to be you. But how. And why?
I looked back through your emails – they all came from the same place. I looked up your posts on the forums where we met. Same answer, same IP address. For those of us who’ve spent our lives building the net you take for granted it wasn’t very hard. I have a collection of hacker tools, nasty viruses and root kits that are probably illegal by now – but they’re very effective. I noticed that your favorite time to email me was a little after noon – lunch time at work maybe? I put all the toys together in a bulletproof machine, one using an obscure operating system that no one wrote hacker tools to attack. It had the advantage of being largely invisible to the rest of the world since only a few things were active. It was the ideal attack platform. I knew. I’d built it for a client.
It took a few minutes to find you. I wondered if you were out lining up another patsy. It was clear that your machine was in very bad company. The other folks on your subnet were all members of a company that had a bad reputation among techies – I recognized the net name immediately. I was surprised that they allowed you direct access to the outside world, then realized that you had to have it if you were doing bad stuff. I chuckled – sometimes bright crooks aren’t very smart.
So now I was faced with a dilemma. Did I attack you? Did I search through your laptop looking for evidence? Did I destroy your computer and not take your calls? Of course I could keep right on fucking you – you’d have to be here tomorrow if I was right. That was a thought to smile about. I had one (and only one) contact at the FBI – did I call him and let him work his way through the federal hierarchy ?
In the end, the urge to get even triumphed. Besides, I figured, you’d started the fight. I set a trap on your IP address – you had said that you often took your laptop home and I wanted to catch you there – where there wasn’t any IT department to help you out, no bright young boys or girls who would realize what was happening looking at their network monitors. I hoped I’d been stealthy enough. I slipped away, hoping to be confused with some script kiddy who was pinging addresses looking for a fool.
The whoop woke me up at 9 pm. You were on the prowl. I came up , found you at once, and began to slip into your laptop. Just fucking you another way, I thought to myself. I was surprised at the lack of protection – someone at your shop must have turned a lot of stuff off for some reason. Or maybe you had, just to make your life easier. I planted a few exploits – toys that gave me a view into what you were doing. Keystrokes were the first level.
I watched you log into an email account, writing down the password – the one you sent emails to me out of. I watched you send several to other guys (I assumed – for all I knew maybe you were AC/DC). The same flirty stuff you wrote me, in fact some of it using the same words. I kind of wanted to puke. Then a few to girlfriends – down and dirty stuff. You even praised my lovemaking to one – that was a surprise I wasn’t expecting. Well, hell. Too bad. You logged off.
Next you logged onto what was obviously a work account – vanilla account name, password strong enough to get by corporate standards - and started typing a report. It was eerie to watch our relationship appear in the terms of corporate espionage.
From: YYY ( That was the name she used)
Re; ZZZ (Hey – that was ME)
Subject has been co-opted through methods specified in the original assignment. Subject’s desktop has been compromised once, then recovered by him. It was compromised a second time but do not expect this to be successful. Please recommend an alternative method to acquire the desired information.
Her signature – guess she used her real name. Why, I wondered – I wouldn’t. I didn’t, actually. My current identity would play out 15 years ago. Hopefully that was enough.
So I considered my choices. I could turn you into the feds. A delightful choice, but unfortunately it had some major drawbacks. Like testifying. And having my real identity come up as soon as they checked my fingerprints . Major league oops here.
I could destroy your employer. I mean like destroy the building and everything in it. Including you. I had enough C-4 to take out the building and several blocks around it. On the other hand, as an American Indian explosives specialist friend once said, “I can make the charge small enough to take out a tooth” – I never wanted to verify that, to tell the truth. I figured that he’d just accept the rest of the skull as collateral damage.
I could really, I mean really fuck you up. I knew how to rig your apartment so that it would look like a gas leak. They’d probably never find very much of you. Or your laptop.
Or – I started to get hard thinking about this – I could disappear you. You could spend the rest of your life – which would be very short, but pleasant to me – getting fucked however I felt like it that day. MMMMM – bet you’d never expect to be cuffed when you were sure that I’d fallen for you hook line and sinker.
These were tough choices. I’d probably have to go somewhere else and find another way to make a buck, no matter what I chose. Not a problem. I’d been trained well – oh trust me, very, very well – to deal with the unexpected. Adapt, Improvise, and Overcome. Oh yeah. Not to mention P to the fifth.
I drove east to the beach, then headed north. It had been a while since I’d worked on aircraft engines, but I knew how. A newly printed license in my wallet said I did. I’d have to reestablish contact with my employers – they’d probably be a little pissed that I had blown off the high tech connection, but hell, they knew it was only a matter of time. The all news all the time station on the radio began bleating about the huge loss of life in your building. There were, it seems, no survivors. Pity, that. Had I been a bit more of a sympathetic man I’d have cried. Honestly. I missed you. Some. Actually, not that much. But some. And by a wild coincidence there had been a fire in an apartment complex. Mine. Everything had been destroyed, including a large amount of computing equipment. Totally destroyed. As in no one could possibly find anything on it. Well arranged thermite took care of that. Even better than C4. Well, I hated to lose all that equipment, but then – it was only money. And I had a lot of that. My previous employers had seen to that.
Not to mention my present ones.
Looked like it was shaping up to be a pretty sunset. Have to set up a place to go to ground for the evening.
OK, after reading everyone else's posts I kind of felt like the girl who didn't get the memo that we're all wearing plum skirts tomorrow morning and shows up in shrink-wrapped white slacks. I thought Ang woudl be pissed if I wrote something long, so I did a short poetry thing, but.. hell, I felt kinda stupid. So here it is - I'd been struggling with this for a while, trying to hone it to something that was... OK, I guess. I'd be happy with OK.
So its too damn long - sue me
IRL - well I worked in Silicon Valley for along time, and I have two friends who got popped for industrial espinoage. It really happens - I consider it a major accomplishment of my career that I never got popped, and I never had to testify before a congressional inquiry (though the last was, as they say, a close thing).
So this is MfM 36.5 - kind of half way sort of thing. Hope you enjoy reading it...