No Brainer

For eleven hours a day, six days a week, over the course of three years Gerris mastered the Scylla Console. He knew every strength and flaw of this elite piece of technology. He knew the optimal temperature of the processor was 72.3 degrees Fahrenheit. He knew that in most of the Scylla Console’s constructed, the third memory module would short out if there was an electrical feedback over 14 milliamps. Most importantly and the easiest thing to learn about the Console, megacorporations security feared it.

Hackers across the globe dreamed of running with the Scylla. The neural interface revolutionized how hackers broke into secure servers. Gerris slid the halo control band onto his head and booted the Scylla console. For his years of training and use of the Scylla, Gerris owed The Community five million creds and had to do any job they required. Indentured hackers kept The Community powerful and rich.

The halo control beamed a heads-up display directly on Gerris’s retina. He saw the command tree and navigated through it to bring up the core connection commands. He connected to the global network. The display reset to show his connection. Using a combination of his mind and hands, he activated icons which launched preloaded programs. After a few minutes the image of Tobias Synchline Enterprises glowed in the halo’s HUD.  Gerris virtually stood at the gateway to one of the most secure servers on the net. Tobias Synchline Enterprises would soon pay for what they did to him.

The Scylla Console scanned the open ports and detected security apps running on all of them. Active security posed little threat to hackers. Active security was like a large electrical fence. Dangerous but if the hacker knows how, circumvented easily enough with the right tools. A megacorp can’t be entirely locked down and still do business. It needs to communicate with the rest of the world. That is the way skilled hackers like Gerris slip in – hijacking normal transmissions.

The passive systems presented a different challenge. Without inside information, a hacker relied upon wits as the passive systems were tripped. The most common passive system would send a pulse back along the intrusion path, damaging the equipment the hacker was using.

Gerris pushed forward, tapping into a financial file transfer. The active security measures overlooked his signal but the extra bandwidth coming through the port triggered one of the passive traps.  Scylla’s display flashed red and Gerris activated his Scatter countermeasure, splitting his signal over and over until any pulse sent back at him would be diminished to just a bit of static. The display slowed for several seconds while this countermeasure protected Gerris.

The signal merged again and the connection sped up. Gerris scrolled through his command tree and activated a small utility program allowing him to jump the directory structure. He used it several times and ended up in one of the hidden archives – at the threshold of the Holy Grail – root access.  From there, he’d own the server and able to shut down the security protocols.

The ICE protecting the final access node was formidable. His thousands of hours of training came down to moments like this. He needed to react by instinct, not thought. Like a great athlete using muscle memory to run, spin, and jump, Gerris flicked through his programs, pushing the Scylla Console to its upper limits.

The barriers surrounding the root access fell, one after another. Bots on the server would probe his signal once in awhile but were easily misled. Signal disruptors attempted to disconnect Gerris, but Gerris just increased the connection strength and redoubled his efforts against the defensive shell around the root. No thought, no time to plan, this run was all reaction. All instinct. All his training coming to the forefront. His fingers moved rapidly over the manual controls and his eyes flicked back and forth responding to the halo’s display.

The display flashed purple. Several icons appeared in a toolbar. Sweat beaded on Gerris’s brow as he realized he was being hacked. The ultimate countermeasure, another hacker working for the megacorp traced the signal back to his console.

Gerris launched his own security measures. He had no time to activate any passive elements. His only hope was to stay alive long enough to disconnect.  The corporate hacker defeated his security rapidly. Gerris launched programs almost randomly – anything to stall his pursuer.

Every chance he could, he manually keyed the disconnection sequence on his manual controls. The megacorp reinforced the signal. Gerris needed a new strategy. Fleeing wasn’t working.

He activated the Scatter once more. Everything crawled to a halt. Gerris used his training to take a mental inventory of all the tools he could use against the assailant.  He settled on a simple plan. He didn’t know what else to do. When the signal merged and everything sped up again, Gerris launched a floating point calculation. The fans on the Scylla spun up, causing the entire console to vibrate.

Gerris slipped into his own OS core and turned the fans off. The internal sensors saw the temperature rise dramatically. He could feel the heat waves pour off the console. Programs started locking up. Memory errors flashed all over the HUD. The assailant was also slowed as the Scylla Console stopped responding to all commands.

The console overheated, the memory modules failed. Finally the OS crashed. Feedback blasted through the neural interface into the halo device. Gerris received a severe shock but nothing as bad as what could have happened.  The console was completely fried. He had no idea how he’d pay for it, but he lived to hack another day.