"Give a man a match he will be warm for a minute, light a man on fire he will be warm for the rest of his life" -- The Osiris Child
A new alternatieve to GitHub etc, licensed under the AGPL 😀: https://drewdevault.com/2018/11/15/sr.ht-general-availability.html
How do I get high resolution displays and desktop environments to work together without having everything so tiny?
Activist 🤗👇👇👇 Show more
I am done writing for today. I am close to being caught up for my writing goal! I have written 3,028 words today, which makes 21,052 total.
I hope to catch up tomorrow, and if that does not work, at least before the halfway mark.
Now that I think of it, I am surprised that I am already almost halfway. My book is nowhere near that part yet (I still feel like I am in the beginning). I will surely be writing after NaNoWriMo ends!
A chapter of my book. 10,000 words. Qoto supports insane lengths of toots. Show more
# 05 Bringing in Eric
It runs IAAAM-12. The program was ready to continue to the next phase now. The display flashed words that read, "Ready to proceed. Press the button to continue to the next phase". Red, blue, red blue. The display flashed. The display kept going back and forth. It pressed the button.
"Preparing to proceed with data organization. Please wait..." the display flashed for a few seconds, then started displaying a number that rapidly kept growing and growing.
It continues to run IAAAM-12.
Eric snored on the couch. Since it was a Sunday morning he was not awake yet. He got to sleep in. In reality, he slept in every day, since he was a "freelance penetration tester", as he called himself. This morning was different, he would not have the chance to sleep in much longer.
The cell phone that was currently next to the computer keyboard started to scream. He had set it to the most invasive ringtone as he could. Loud screaming was the best he found. He actually got it from the security microphones in this room. It was from when his girlfriend came downstairs. She really didn't like this place. He cut out the scream from the tape, made it repeat itself a couple times, and downloaded it onto his cell phone.
"Charis?" he groaned. Then he remembered that he had set his ringtone to her scream. Thankfully she had not actually come down there again. He actually remembered now. It probably was not the room itself that caused the scream, even though it would have otherwise. It probably was the bucket he had in the corner that he used for his waste. He did not have money to put a bathroom down there, and the people that owned the house did not enjoy his presence upstairs.
Eric reached over to the phone, but he fell onto the floor with a thud because the distance was a little to far to reach. He groaned in pain. Then he crawled over to the table and pulled down the phone, and answered it while laying on the floor. It would be too much work to even get himself back onto the couch.
"Hello," he said very faintly. No answer. He cleared his throat, and repeated the greeting.
"Hello Mr. Scotts," the voice was male, and very deep.
"Who are you and what do you want?" he asked the man.
"I may not disclose the former. I am simply someone that has viewed your blog post," he told Eric, "and I need you to take it down immediately."
"Why can you say that? It is my personal blog. I can post what I want to. You can't boss me around," he replied, "and why on earth do I need to do this at all?"
"It is a matter of security. You must comply"
"You can't just say that. I refuse to do anything like that until you explain who you are and why I should even listen to you," he yelled at the caller.
"Listen. I will tell you that I represent a business that could be badly hurt by any further posts on the subject, and that you need to take even that one down, and cease further investigation," the man said softly.
"You are an employee or manager at Intel aren't you? You just don't want people to be poking around at your processors which are made to allow you to remotely control any device. I can't listen to you, because it would infringe on my morals. Goodbye. I do not want to talk to some corporate puppet that only cares about its bottom line," Eric snapped the cell phone shut. He did not want to talk to whoever that man was.
What bugged him was that his phone number was found by this person. It was not public information, unlike his email address or other information.
Eric went to go eat breakfast. He stood up and hobbled over to the refrigerator. This time he decided to eat some yogurt. He also dug around the cupboard, and near the back he found an old apple. It did not look very good anymore, but since it was in there he assumed that he bought it at some point, and he decided that he should eat it anyway since he did not want that money to go to waste.
He wobbled back to the couch, and sat down. He opened up his laptop to play some music. He went to a PeerTube instance and played some death metal music by his favorite band. He opened the yogurt container and stuck his finger into the yogurt and shoved some in his mouth. He smiled. Strawberry was his favorite flavor of yogurt.
Eric used his computer to check what the status on his blog post was. To see if others have viewed it and commented their opinions. He saw that there was five comments there. That was fairly good, he thought. Until he read them. They read:
Interesting. I did some tests with Wireshark and couldn't find anything like that on my wifi network. :/
Well, I did see some Intel thing accessing the internet a little bit ago, but i didnt think too much of it until reading your blog post. I will see if the issue is similar to yours.
Knock it off!!! ur just making up stuff to get people mad
This is a representative of Intel. I would like to inform you that we have nothing to do with this issue and we want to inform you that we need you to remove all referenced to Intel, and remove this comment when you have done so.
That one was just plain odd. Eric did not believe it for a moment. It was simply someone trying to attract attention to himself. The phone call was possibly legitimate, but this comment was not by any stretch. He deleted that comment, and then he saw the next one.
This is a very odd situation. I have been noticing very similar things happening on my network, but I thought that I was alone. Thank you so much for posting this. Here is what I have come up with so far:
Intel has their advanced management stuff right? Who do you think can obtain access to it? Maybe government organizations have forced Intel to let them have access. Why else would they be in every Intel processor since 2007. It allows for remote access to so many devices, a great surveillance scheme. The NSA has never had a good reputation when it comes to these things either. They have broken laws to collect data. They use their "national security" excuses, but mostly they just want to collect as much information as they can "just in case".
I believe that this is simply another government surveillance program. Intel is in on it, and very likely AMD, Apple, Microsoft, etc. Microsoft has been found purposefully putting backdoors in their operating system for the NSA to get into them. Apple has a fairly good record about defending user data, but even if the NSA can't get information from Apple directly, they can sure hack it. They got a whole lot of resources under their belts. And if it is true what people have said about being able to break 256-bit encryption (which I doubt because we probably would have seen other signs sooner), we are entirely sunk and there is very little we can do about it.
Everyone should encrypt their hard drives with a very secure password nowadays, especially with this new thing that the NSA is probably doing. Always assume your attacker can guess at least one trillion guesses per second. That is the rule of thumb for encryption passwords.
Eric was very impressed by that comment, and that guy was probably dead right. All the other facts lined up. The stuff about the Intel AMT, and the NSA's history with these things. That had to be it. It was the best explanation anyone had at the moment, and he was sticking with it until he came up with a better idea.
He felt like he needed to write more. Write something else that explained the extent of the problem. If the NSA was spying on them through basic computing hardware which they could not modify, there was nothing they could do about it, and people had to be warned further about it.
The NSA had a terrible history with spying on people, as the unnamed reader mentioned in his comment. They have used backdoors in Windows for a long time. Microsoft was a tyrant when it came to spying on users, and that was one of the reasons he kept away from them. But this was even worse. It is hard to stay away from certain processor manufacturers. Especially since most of them were in on this to begin with. He new for certain that at least Intel and AMD were involved in this, and likely others as well. If they had ARM processors exploited as well, which they probably did, there was no safety since most cell phones and tablet devices used them.
Hopelessness surrounded him like a cloud. He wanted to fight for freedom, but when these business with a lot of money were the people with whom he was fighting, he had a big disadvantage; and it was even worse when your own government is trying to spy on you without your consent. Even breaking the law to do so.
He devoted the foreseeable future to figure out as much as he could about this, and furthermore to figure out how to modify the software, and even disable the ability for these low level pieces of hardware to contact "Big Brother".
Eric set to work on studying the machines even further, but first he had to get off the couch.
He stood up from the couch and walked a few steps over to another old desktop tower he had. His plan was to take it apart and tweak the processor. The Intel Management Engine was the thing the public knew most about, so he would start there. Even then, the public knew very little about the Intel ME anyway, so he might be fighting an uphill battle in this, but at least he would fight it.
He took a couple minutes to clear off the table which he used for everything. Then he put the tower on the table. He left to go find some tools. They probably were somewhere in the pile left to the table.
He dug through the pile until he found an old toolbox that he had gotten from his father. He dragged it up on the table next to the tower, and opened it. He needed a screwdriver to take the plastic cover off the tower.
The tower was disassembled by him piece by piece. First the outside cover, then the different pieces inside. He kept pulling out pieces and putting them next to the tower on the table. Finally he got all the pieces that he wanted laying out before him on the table.
Okay, he thought to himself. He would hook up all of the pieces by themselves at the bare minimum. He might even run the CPU itself to see what would happen. Yeah, he thought, that is what he was going to do first. He was going to run the Intel CPU by itself and see what happens. The Intel Management Engine has its own networking card, so in theory it does not even need to be connected to the Internet for it to be doing odd requests. He was going to try it both ways, and compare the results.
First, he decided, he should see what the network was like now. He had not done that since the day before.
Eric grabbed his laptop computer and opened it. He typed in the password for his user account, and opened the Wireshark program. He looked specifically for things that looked like last time. Yes, they were still there. Not much had changed. Except...
He quickly made a snapshot of his traffic, and then pulled up the network snapshot from yesterday. He was right. They were different. There was much more traffic now. Maybe fifty to one hundred percent more. This was not a passive surveillance program, something even greater was going on. It could be possible that he was one of the few that the government was trying to spy on.
Possibly it could have to do with the time he hacked the White House's website to replace the picture of the White House with a picture of the president. Not just the president, but the president with a fake mustache put in with photo editing software. He had done it all himself. Simply put, he did not like that.
It seemed unlikely that he was the only one being subjected to this. It was likely that many people were, but very unlikely that most people were. The NSA was probably testing the technology to see what they could use the program for, and would later use it on a wider scale.
Something he did not understand was the aggressiveness of it. They certainly were not being subtle, and if he was busy playing hardcore online video games he probably would notice a big difference. Why would they even use the normal WiFi system at all? Why not simply use their own cellular connection and have all the devices communicate over that. It would be a lot harder to trace, especially if people did not know about it to begin with. If they did it right, people like Eric would have never seen anything amiss in the beginning.
That was a whole side note. It was possible that they were lazy or something. Or maybe they wanted people to see it and guess. Eric had no idea so he simply threw things out there.
He kept the laptop running the packet sniffing software in the background, recording everything to get a wider range of what was happening on his network.
Davidson was at the base in Building 12, working at the Professor's computer. She had her share of trying to get into the Professor's and the other user's home folders, but to no avail. Foster could not find any backups anywhere, and she could not find any on the computer. The Professor must have backups somewhere, she thought, and at least the security would demand it right? The whole thing was confusing, but she had to deal with it.
"Any luck?" Foster approached her from behind and asked.
"Not really," she replied, "I was able to figure out that there probably are no backups on the machine itself. It is bad practice, so I did not really count on it."
He seemed disappointed. "Do you have any other ideas of what you can do?" he asked.
"Very few at this point," she told Foster. "Maybe someone can come here that has more knowledge of hacking computer systems. This really seems like a hacker's job at this point."
Foster was speechless. Davidson could tell that he really did not want to have someone else come and work on the computer. It was getting more obvious that he was trying to keep the whole thing under wraps. "Is there anything else you can do yourself?"
"There are a couple things. Including cutting the power, and running another program that will make the kernel panic," she answered. Those were only last resort ideas. "They would certainly work to shut down whatever is happening, but because of the chance this really is supposed to be running, and because it could cause damage to the computer."
He seemed unsure of what to do. He probably was debating what he wanted to do next. "So will someone else have to come for us to proceed with other options."
"Maybe. The ability for someone else to think of other ideas is reason enough. I am completely out of other ideas, and someone else might have other ideas, or can simply do things that I cannot."
"I will consider it. Meanwhile, I need you to do a bit more work to see what you can do. I will return later." Foster walked across the room, and through the hall, where she lost sight of him.
*Okay. How can I proceed?* Davidson thought to herself. She looked at the computer display, and had very little ideas of what to do. She decided to view the system monitor again. When she opened it, she was very surprised. "Mr. Foster!" she yelled back down the hall, "You need to see this!" She ran down the hall after him.
Eric was continuing to work on the Intel CPU he had. It was fascinating. This was sending many signals through his WiFi network. There was no way he could find to control it, but he had come up with an ingenious idea. He was working hastily on his computer working on hacking the packets being sent, to intercept and resend it. In theory he could figure out where it was headed. He was excited for this. It was the best chance he had at fighting this surveillance scheme.
He finished up the modifications, and resent it. A smile spread across his face. There was some hope. Now he was going to proceed to see about having the ME chip communicate when he disabled the external WiFi card. He set aside his laptop and closed it. He cracked his knuckles and disconnected the WiFi card from the rest of the system he set up. He wondered what it would do next. He set up a system where he could intercept signals without it going through his router. He also watched the connections to the router on his laptop.
He was actually enjoying himself while doing this. He had not had something like this to do since he modified some publicly posted voting reports on some popular new sites and official government sources to show that some obscure candidate won the presidency. That was fun, everybody ran wild for a while wondering how he could of won. Eventually it was all sorted through, and it was fun while it lasted. This was like that. He was fighting the government with something, but this was far more important, and was not just a joke like the previous time.
Eric stood up and stretched his legs. They were sore after sitting for such a long time. He walked over to the refrigerator to eat something for lunch. He opened the refrigerator and saw very little. A slice of pie, an orange, half a ball of lettuce, and an old peanut butter and jelly sandwich. He really needed to go out and buy some more food, but he did not have very much money, so there was little he could buy elsewhere either. He settled for the sandwich. He grabbed it from the shelf and took a bite out of it. The sandwich was probably at least a couple weeks old, but it did not taste so bad.
With the sandwich in hand, Eric walked back over to the computer to see how his program was going. His laptop had a message on the screen. He set down the sandwich and sat down and pulled the laptop onto his lap. It had come up with a destination! He knew where the requests were ending up. It was at some base in a nearby city. That was really interesting. He also had an IP Address and other useful information about the place.
The next step was to try and hack that computer there and see what it was up to. This was really fun for him. He set to work getting into the network over there.
Candice Davidson sat at the chair at the input station, with Foster looking over her shoulder. "Look at this," she told him, pointing at the screen, "The resource usage has increased exponentially. What do you make of it?"
"I see," he replied slowly with a nod. "And it appears to be the same program, so there is no telling what else it is doing. For all we know it is some slow version of a program to use up all the system resources and overload it. Albeit very unlikely."
"Indeed. However, the resource spike means something must be going on, and why now?" she said.
"Yes, I agree, but there is not much we can do. You found something, but how useful is this to the work you are doing?" Foster asked.
"I do not see that this would help very much, but this should raise even more concern on our part," she answered.
"Yes. The whole reason that I was even concerned with this was because an unknown program was using a whole lot of system resources, and now it appears that the issue has gotten worse," he replied to her.
"What should I do now? Do you have any ideas?" he asked.
Foster thought that over for a moment, and then answered, "I do not have very many ideas. I think you should try the things we have tried previously, including trying to get into the home folders, and then call it a day if those do not work."
She was disappointed by his answer, but she did not really expect anything more. She could not come up with any other good ideas, so there was no reason for her to think that he had some brilliant plan. He was the one who brought her in anyway.
"Okay. I will do that," she said.
"I want to thank you for all the work that you have done on this. It is much appreciated," he told her with a smile. He started walking off, and she turned the chair back over to the computer. She decided to pull up the user list again, because she forgot what the odd user was named. What she saw surprised her.
"Foster? I think we have another issue," she called back. He raced back over.
"What are you talking about?" Foster inquired. He seemed slightly annoyed. He might have wanted to go somewhere.
"Look at the user list," she instructed.
"Yes. I see. There are a couple users there. Security, jxl-x," he noted. "Wait, what is the last one?"
"That is what I am referring to. It is another unidentified user on the system. Why is it here?" Davidson said.
"Now this is very concerning. Now this is most certainly a hacker of some sort. I do not see how anyone else can be on the system. I thought this was a closed system anyway, not connected in any way to the outside world except in specific occasions to update software and such. Simply put, there should not be any other user here," he ranted. Then he asked, "Where is the IP address located?"
Davidson did some simple lookups and tests and concluded that he was in a nearby town. She was able to track it down to an approximate street. She told him the results.
"Well, that is interesting. Do what you can to see what the user is doing, and try to prevent further access," he instructed, "Right now I have to get going." He rushed through the hall out the door in a hurry. She heard the door close in the distance. What was she going to do about this new person on the computer? She had no idea how she was supposed to stop hackers from gaining access to computer systems.
Suddenly the input station's display went dark, and then turned back on. She was curious now. The IRC chat client had a new message by someone named "gotchya". It read, "Greetings and salutations! Yep, I just got in to your system. :P"
Fear shook Davidson's body. The idea of someone else breaking into the system sent chills down her spine. She eventually was able to calm down enough to respond. "Who are you?" she typed and sent.
It took a few moments, but "gotchya" replied, "I am just someone looking to defend public freedom and you are trying to infringe upon it. I will not stand for it, and I am going to bring the system down."
So this guy was some self righteous, crazy activist or something? It did not add up. "What are you talking about?" she responded.
After a few seconds the reply was, "You know. You evil surveillance advocate. Just wait, there is little you can do to stop me from just shutting down the whole system. Who knows, it might even cause permanent damage. :)"
This person was insane. What was he or she thinking? How did he or she get into this system?
"I have no idea what you are talking about. I need you to stop with your threats and consider this reasonably. Is that okay with you? I am not trying to advocate surveillance, I am trying to fix this stupid computer system!" her emotion took her too far. She said too much to this complete stranger, but she could not have that hacker undoing all that she had done over the last day, however little it may have been.
"I am sorry, but I am not inclined to believe someone who makes rules that violate our freedom and then lie and say that it is 'necessary for national security' without giving any further information. I know you are just stalling to try and get me to keep talking so you have a better change of finding me or stopping me or both, so I am just going to get on with it." She was at a loss. The hacker would not listen. He or she was just going crazy over this. In fact, the hacker probably had more power over this computer system than she did.
"Wait a minute," she sent, "I have another solution." She hoped beyond hope that the hacker would actually listen and not just proceed with his or her plans. After a few minutes, there was a response:
"Make it quick. I don't want to give you too much time. For obvious reasons," gotchya replied.
"Since you know enough to get into this system in the first place," Davidson started to type. She was doing a very risky thing here, and she thought through the possibility that this was also the other person, but in the end, this was her only option. "Maybe you could help with the technical difficulties we are having here."
She held her breath. She had no idea what the response would be. Nothing happened. The clock ticked behind her. One minute passed, then another. Still no response from the mysterious hacker. Still nothing happened. Maybe he or she was back there laughing about her naivety. After all, why would she offer some random stranger that even hacked the computer system the ability to help her work on it?
Eventually the hacker did respond, but only after four minutes, "How do I know that this is not a hoax? Maybe it is simply another stall tactic. Maybe you are outright lying to me. If it is not either of those, and you are not simply trying to lure me in and get me to be silent, or even kill me, I will accept your offer."
This person was crazy, but it was her best shot. Davidson still second guessed herself on the matter. Actually, it was a bit more than simply second guessing.
"Meet me tomorrow morning at the J&E Coffee House in your city. I will be there at nine," the hacker said.
Tomorrow? That was Monday. She could not meet in the morning on Monday, she was busy, and so were most law-abiding citizens who had a job and didn't need to break into other people's computers to make a living.
She responded to his message: "No. Monday morning does not work. Either later today or Monday evening."
gotchya's response was quick "Oh, so you NSA agents work a strict time and can't make exceptions to petty hackers like me? Okay, that's fine. I would never want to mess with your schedule (please note the sarcasm). Meet me in two hours at the same place. Do not argue. I will not meet any time else. Be there." The hacker suddenly went offline, and she checked the connected users, and he or she was no longer connected. At least she got rid of him for now. To keep him from causing more problems she would have to meet this criminal in person.
Davidson thought it through. There really was nothing else she could do. She was going to meet him in two hours at J&E Coffee House.
This was a very odd situation, Eric thought. He was offered to meet anyone he hacked in person. Even though he put on a face of being able to very easily and simply take their computer system down, he really could not do it that easily. He was bluffing, and whoever was on the other end bit. Right now he was setting up a system for him to remotely access their system through his computer, from his cell phone.
He had a lot of fun talking to that NSA agent. He was able to get him or her to be upset and anxious. He loved having that power over others like that. Now he was going to meet the agent in person. The thought made him anxious. What if no one even showed up? What if it was a way to trap and arrest him? That was why he made a way to access their network from his cell phone. He could cripple them while he was thrown in jail for no reason, well, not really no reason, but it would still be unjustly.
He started to pack up some things to bring to the coffee shop. His laptop, his cell phone, and the loose change he could find in the couch cushions were what he ended up with. He grabbed his laptop and put it in his laptop bag, and stuffed the cell phone and change in his left and right pockets accordingly.
Eric opened up the closet door and divided the clothing with his free hand. He walked through and climbed the ladder in the back of the closet to a tiny building. Inside was a couple of tools, but most importantly was the ladder that lead down to his living space. The owner of the house removed the main staircase to the basement from the house after he lived there for a little while and moved the main entrance to the back yard. They really did not like to see him that often. On the plus side, it offered him some privacy.
He unlocked the dead bolt from the inside, and opened the door. It was bright outside. The last time he was up here was a couple weeks ago. His legs felt wobbly when he walked across the back lawn and to the gate to the side yard.
Eric unlatched the gate, opened it, and walked through. He pulled it closed, and it automatically latched. He walked through the side hard until he got to the front. His laptop bag was starting to feel heavy in his left arm, so he switched to his right arm.
He hurried down the sidewalk for a half a mile to the nearest bus station. He was exhausted at the end. He realized for the hundredth time that he was seriously out of shape. He stood by the bus stop sign. He really wished that they would put a bench there. Every time he walked there he became very tired, and there was no place for him to sit at the end. He had to wait for the bus to come to be able to sit down, and that could be up t 15 minutes. He had previously sat on the grass while waiting, but that gave his nice jeans grass stains.
After five minutes a bus came that was headed in the direction he needed to go. He was relieved that he did not have to wait any longer, but he still did not enjoy standing for that long after his long walk.
Eric climbed into the long bus with a joint in the middle and slipped a few quarters, a couple dimes, and a nickle into the payment machine. He walked to the back of the bus and sat down. He was relieved to have a place to sit for the next thirty minutes. This bus went to the nearby city where the base was located. He began to second guess his decision to meet in a place convenient for them rather than him. After all, the NSA had a lot more resources for this kind of thing than he did.
Someone else came to the back as well, and sat down in the row next to him. He was about 18 or 19, and had dirty blonde colored hair. The guy was a social type, because the first thing he did was introduce himself to Eric, "Hey there," he said, "I am Jerry. What is your name."
One thing that Eric did not like was people. He really avoided socializing when he could, but this time he chose not to outright ignore him. "Hey Jerry," he greeted with a cheesy smile, which probably looked creepy on his face, "My name is Guy. How are you doing this fine afternoon?" Eric sounded way too hyper and happy for his own good.
Jerry seemed put off by Eric's attitude. "Okay.. so where are you headed Guy?" he asked.
He was about to respond with something like, "None of your business," but then thought better of it. He wanted to play some games with this young lad. "I am headed to Chicago," he told Jerry.
"Woah. I am just headed to the next city to go to my mother's house, she is not feeling very well. What are you going to do in Chicago?" Jerry said.
Jerry was a very nosy person. He was not someone Eric would like to hang out with. His friends consisted of those who would not get into any of his business, and only say what he wanted them to say. Which happened to be only computers. "I, uh, got a new job offer there, and I am checking it out," Eric replied. If Jerry could see with his two eyes and had a brain bigger than a peanut he would know that the red t-shirt and ripped jeans were not something to be brought to a job interview. Especially one as far as Chicago. Not to mention the lack of baggage he brought.
"Oh. Sounds fun. What is the position you are looking at?" Jerry asked. This guy was dense. Why on earth was he so talkative?
"Senior management at this big slime manufacturer," Eric answered. Jerry would certainly see through that one, and hopefully stop talking.
"Ah, if you don't want to talk you don't have to," Jerry returned. He finally got what Eric was trying to get to him.
"Thank you very much," Eric replied, his face returning to his normal frown. He pulled out his laptop from his bag and placed it on his lap. He opened it and typed in his password, which, conveniently enough, was "password".
He pulled out his cell phone and enabled the hotspot which he could use on his computer to connect to the Internet. This bus did not offer a free hotspot, which had previously upset him and he was kicked off the bus, so he had to use his phone's connection.
Eric looked at the time. He had another hour and a half to get over to the coffee shop. He was fine on time for now. He pulled up a program on his laptop that enabled him to get into other people's computers from a distance. He was able to get into the coffee shop's network previously, and was able to do a lot. He hoped he was able to do the same remotely.
He opened the saved file for the J&E Coffee House and used it to gain access. They had not changed any passwords or other authentication codes since he last did this a few months ago. That was good for him and saved him a lot of time and trouble, but for their own sake wouldn't they know to change their passwords every once in a while?
There were a lot of options available to use, but at the moment he was only interested in one, the security cameras. It was amazingly great for him that they set up their security cameras to connect to the Internet. It was way more helpful for him than it probably was for them. Only dumb people that didn't know about anything security related would connect a security camera to the outside world, much less a whole security system. But since it helped him, Eric did not complain.
Eric opened the live feed from a few different cameras, and had them positioned separately on his laptop's screen. He could see all that was happening inside the coffee shop from right here on the bus. It was amazing. He was using this to see if the NSA would do anything before he arrived. He hoped that he would see something suspicious if they were up to something. He hoped that they were not, but when it comes to the NSA, it was entirely unlikely.
He really didn't know who he was going to talk to, or even if he was going to meet the person he talked to on the computer, and there was still the possibility that no one was going to show up at all.
Davidson was in her apartment. She had driven back shortly after the hacker had told her to meet her at the coffee shop. She did not know what she should brought.
Two hours from the time she received the message would be five o' clock. Right now it was four, and she had one hour to get anything ready. The person that hacked the computer system hopefully was going to show up there. Unless this was simply a ploy to distract her from stopping the hacker's attacks. Or maybe it was just some practical joke. She really had no idea.
She did not know what she should bring there. The stranger could be dangerous, or possibly he or she was harmless, and more "bark than bite". If so, the hacker sure had a lot of bark. She felt nervous as she grabbed her laptop bag and walked out the door to her car. She opened the driver's side door and climbed in.
When she started her car the radio blared loudly, which made her jump. She reached for the knob and turned it down. Her phone was in her pocket. She pulled it out and placed it on the dash. The smartphone lit up and displayed the notifications. She grabbed it and unlocked it with her passcode. She opened the maps application and put in "J&E Coffee House", as she had not been there before. Her phone told her that she was fifteen minutes away. The current time was four fifteen. There was plenty of time available for her to get there early. She wanted time to prepare for him to arrive.
She drove out of the driveway of the apartment building and drove down the road.
Eric sat in the bus, still watching the security system at the coffee shop on his computer. The business there was slow. Which may be good for him, since there would be less distractions when people saw him being taken away by the police. Or it could be bad for him, because there were less witnesses to his arrest. *Stop thinking like that Eric* he told himself, *You really should think positively and not assume the worst sometime*.
He had been to that coffee shop a few times. He went more often when he actually had money. He liked that place. It was quiet. He could hack other servers from a public location so people were less likely to track him there. It was also fun to view other people's browsing history from his computer. It used to be years ago that he could also hack their accounts they logged into, but now most sites were secured so he could not do that anymore. He could still watch their browsing history though.
Eric decided that he would try to hack the coffee shop's network from here. He spent the rest of the trip fiddling with it. He was able to see a lot of what people were doing on that end. Except for that user using the VPN. Why do people have to care about privacy these days? Don't they care about nosy hackers that want to see what others are doing without too much trouble?
After a while of hacking the coffee shop's network, he arrived at the bus station in the city. It was another third of a mile to the coffee shop. That was better than the half mile from his living space to the bus station, but a third of a mile was still far for him to walk. He stood up from his seat, and grabbed his things. His legs were stiff from sitting down for so long.
"Goodbye. Good luck with whatever you are really going to do," that was Jerry. He waved as he said goodbye. Eric sneered back, and begun to walk forward to the exit. There were quite a few other people that were also getting out at this stop. He had to wait at least a couple minutes to get out of the bus. Someone really needed to improve on the crowding inside buses. People should be able to always get out of the bus within 20 seconds no matter what. People had places to be, and every second counted.
Eric pulled his left wrist on front of him and looked at the current time. It was four thirty now. The NSA agent probably was there already. They were probably there minutes after he sent them the message to meet him there. The NSA were like that, but he did not see anyone suspicious when he hacked the security system there. He shrugged, whatever was going to happen was going to happen. There was little he could do about any of it. If he had a chance to talk with the NSA about their surveillance operations, and try to convince them that they needed to rethink them, he was all for that opportunity. Most likely they would not listen to what he wanted to say, and simply were trying to stop him from hacking their system. He had an easy way to disable the system as much as he could with a click of a button on his cell phone.
He walked out of the bus and through the street. There were many different shops in this part of town. He passed an ice cream parlor, and pass the bicycle shop. After about ten minutes he arrived at J&E Coffee House. The walk from the bus stop wore on him. For the 101th time he remembered how out of shape he was.
J&E Coffee House was a small shop. It stood right in between Joe's Barber Shop and Baker Tom's. Apparently people around here were not very creative with their names. The coffee shop had clear glass for its doors and windows. The front was probably 15 feet across. Inside people drinking coffee while working at their computers or reading their books. Much like he saw on the video cameras. This was a casual place where people did work and met. That was why he chose this place to meet the NSA agent. Hopefully they would play it smart and not make a scene on front of all the people. They really had no grounds to arrest him. Besides obtaining unauthorized access to their computer system that is. A NSA computer system for that matter. That was a big deal.
They were probably scrambling trying to figure out how he got in, and what he did on the system. He actually did not do much on their computer system. He mostly was looking around for what was on the machine. There were two users active on the system, and there were a few more users total. He really had no idea what kind of computer system he actually got into. It could be anything from a maintenance machine for their housekeeping for all he knew. Whatever it was, they had that computer system for a reason, and he had power over it remotely.
He opened the clear glass door with his right hand. He squeezed himself through when he had it open far enough. Inside it smelled like some kind of scented candle. The smell irritated his nose.
Some people may have seen the inside of the coffee shop as being beautiful or spectacular, but Eric simply saw it as a place to do some work and buy coffee. The inside was intriguing. It had a golden chandelier on the ceiling. The whole shop had a dark yellowish candle-like glow to it.
Eric walked up the half-dozen steps inside the doors and walked over to one of the chairs. He set his stuff on one of the small round black tables, and looked around for anyone that might be the NSA agent. There was no one that looked like they were in any kind of uniform or other official attire. They all seemed to be dressed casually, and were busy doing something. He checked his watch again. It was four fifty. The agent should have been there by now. He casually walked to the other end of the coffee shop and then back to his chair and sat down.
This was very odd. Maybe they did decide to simply play the ignore game. They really had no incentive to come here except to stop some petty hacker. They were probably using this opportunity to get him to stop while they patched the way he got into their system. They were not going to find it any time soon, since they had not found it previously. It was a loss cause, and if no one showed up they would certainly pay for it.
Davidson had been sitting at the table working at her computer for a while. She was waiting for the hacker to show up. She was getting pretty anxious about it. She looked up every time someone new opened the door. Her patience was running out. It was four fifty five. The stranger that she was looking for technically was not late yet, but she had expected him or her to show up pretty early. About five minutes ago some guy came in with long, filthy hair, and torn jeans. He carried a large and beaten up laptop bag. He walked around a little and sat back down where he had put his things. She watched him for a while. He didn't really do much, except look around a few times, and then go back on his computer.
What if he was who she was supposed to meet? That sounded like an odd thing, but it was possible. Even if that was so, what would be the best way to approach him? Going up to him and saying, "Are you the guy that hacked my computer," was probably not the best way to go about it. She needed to be discreet, so that in the likely case that he was not the person she was supposed to meet, she would not seem like a fool to him.
While she was waiting for the person that she was going to meet, she had decided that she was going to work on her paper, but she kept finding herself distracted by anxiety. She still did not know if the hacker was dangerous or not. If it really was that guy near the corner, she probably did not need to worry much about it, he really didn't seem that harmful except for his likely smell.
She decided, after the time she was supposed to meet the hacker had passed -- 4:01 -- that she would walk over to that man. She still had not come up with something good to say. Somehow she would have to come up with it "on the spot". She put her computer into her bag, slung it over her shoulder, and started to walk over.
Davidson felt nervous approaching the hairy guy, but she had to act professionally. As she walked over he man looked up and saw her. He closed his laptop, and watched as she came up and asked, "I am supposed to meet someone here at four. Have you seen anyone?"
The man shot a curious look her way. He seemed unsure of what to say. Maybe it was not a good idea after all to ask him.
After a few minutes, he told her to sit down, motioning to the chair on the other side of the small round table. She sat on the chair and placed her bag under it.
"You the agent?" he asked her softly. Davidson did not know what he was talking about. Maybe he was going to meet someone else. Then it hit her, he would have thought that the person he was going to meet would be an NSA agent, because he hacked an NSA computer.
"I am the one with whom you are meeting," she answered.
"Good. Are you the same person that was talking with me on the computer? Or are you someone else?" he said. His low and quiet voice was a bit eerie.
She paused for a moment, and then replied, "Yes, I am."
He waited a few seconds. Eventually he said with his hands clasped together on the table, "Okay. Now why did you want to meet with me?"
She was taken off guard. She had forgotten that she was the one who initiated this meeting, and would have to be the one to drill sense into him. "I want to discuss issues we are having on our computer system," she finally said, "You are experienced in such matters I assume, and would likely be of help to us."
"Why on earth would you have me do it? I hacked your computer, now you want me to fix it?" he had a valid point there.
"We are having difficulties with the computer that we have had trouble solving. You will not face prosecution for your actions if you cooperate," she returned with a slight harshness in her voice. Which betrayed what she felt inside.
"Really? I am in danger of prosecution if I don't do what you want me to do? I have remote access to disable your network right now," the man said. He pulled a cell phone out of his pocket and continued, "I have a shortcut set up that will disable that computer you have with a simple tap of a button" The man smiled. It looked very creepy on his face.
She was surprised by what he said he could do. If what he said was true, he probably would be very helpful with solving the problems with the computer at Building 12. She just had to convince him to do so.
"That is impressive," she started, "So what do you say about helping us?"
"What on earth is in it for me. The whole reason I hacked you in the first place is to disable your system. Now you are trying to get me to fix something I didn't even break," he said with a loud whisper.
"I already said what is in it for you. You will not face prosecution for your actions in breaking into our computers," she replied.
"Like I said in the chatroom. I do not care about prosecution, I care about what is right for the people, and I will not help fix some surveillance operation," the man shot back. He was getting a bit louder now.
"Surveillance operation? What are you talking about?" she said a bit too loudly.
The man sighed, and then said, "You NSA people. You do not have to hide anything from me. I know what you guys have been up to. I found the connections made from your computer to my CPUs. You saw my post online. You do not have to play dumb."
Davidson did not know what the man was talking about. At least she now knew the reason that he hacked the computer in the first place, but she still was confused about what he said. She did now know what the man was referring to when he spoke of the "surveillance operations". "No, seriously," she replied, "I do not know what you are talking about. Are you saying that our computer is communicating with CPUs?"
Now he seemed to be as confused as she was. "You mean that you do not know what I am talking about? Who are you?"
"I do not know what you were talking about, and I am Candice Davidson. I am a student at the university, and I was brought to the base to work on their computer because it was doing odd things," she blurted out. She probably should not have told him all of that, but at least he now knew who she was.
"Oh, so we really got off on the wrong foot," the man said, obviously embarrassed, "I am Eric Scotts. It is nice to meet you Candice."
She ignored him using her first name for now, and she would be fine as long as he did not use it again. She was curious about what he knew. "So what were you talking about?"
"Well, I noticed odd things happening on my personal network. The CPUs on all my computers were sending odd messages over the Internet. I tracked them to the computer at the base, and I hacked into it to stop the surveillance operation," he explained, "So is this really a surveillance operation?"
This baffled her. The computer that she was working on was communicating with his computers? That was what the program was? That did not make much sense. The most likely scenario was that Scotts was behind it all. His explanation did not make much sense to her. Nothing really made sense though, but if he was really behind this, it would make more sense.
"Really? That is indeed very odd. And no, I do not believe that it is a surveillance operation," she said, but then she returned to the original reason for the meeting, "What do you say? Will you help me at the base with the computer? You seem to know a lot about it, and now you know that I am not with the NSA."
"Maybe. I will look at the computer for you. That is all I can promise for now. Can you take me to it?" he said. Scotts was pretty bold to simply up and say that, but she did offer first.
"You may be able to look at the computer sometime. Maybe tomorrow evening. I am going to go to the base at that time to work on the computer, and you can come to help, and I can see how useful you are," she told him plainly.
"How about now? I need to look at it as soon as possible," he told her. This guy had no basis for saying anything like that. He was simply a hacker that broke into the system. He could not demand whatever he wanted, and for it to be done immediately.
"No. Meet me tomorrow at the front of the base entrance. The time will be six o' clock. Be there if you want to do anything there," she started to stand up from her chair, but Eric replied:
"I am not able to go there. I don't have any money and I do not have a car. So I actually can't go over to the base at all," he said surprisingly softly. She did not know what to do. She did want to see what Scotts had to offer, but he was reportedly unable to even go to the base at all. This was a dilemma for her. "Another thing that is a big problem," he started, "is that I live in another city. It takes a long bus ride to get over here."
She had no idea of what she was supposed to do now. Scotts probably lived in his parents' basement and was at rock bottom financially. He probably earned whatever money he had by breaking into payment services or something similar. She was thinking about how to get him there. The options that she thought of all seemed to not be satisfactory. She shouldn't give this stranger money, nor did she have the ability to drive all the way over to where he lived and then back. The bus stop closest to the basd was too far away from the base for him to walk likely. She came up with an idea.
"Do you have money for bus fare?" she asked him.
He sighed, "No I do not. I really do not have anything."
She thought about it. He probably had enough money to get to that bus stop, and she would reimburse him afterward. She would pick him up from the bus stop and drive him back to the base.
She told him about his plan, and he replied, "Sure, that will work for now. I have a question about this though"
Davidson motioned for him to continue, so he said, "Will I get paid for helping you?"
Scotts was still caught up with what was in it for him, even after she had repeatedly said that she would work to keep charges off of him. She decided to tell him that, and keep his hopes up by telling him that he would need to bring that up with the management at the base. He was appeased for a little bit.
Davidson stood up again, and grabbed her bag from beneath the chair. "It was nice meeting you Mr. Scotts," she told him with a slight nod and a straight face.
He responded by saying with a smile, "You too Candy." That enraged her. She had not been called that in a long time, and she despised the name. But she decided to hold all of that anger in, and she walked calmly out of the door. Her car was parked a couple minutes walk away.
Eric Scotts sat at the chair. He watched as Candice walked across the front of the store and down the sidewalk. He loved calling people names which they did not like. It gave him power over people, and this time he hit the nail on the proverbial head by calling her Candy. She winced a little when he called her by her first name, but she really was ticked off when he called her candy. He laughed inside. Candice was a pretty young woman. Probably in her mid twenties. She had dark brown hair, and was about five six or so.
He probably should leave now, he thought. He needed to do more work at his home. A smile crossed his face. Candice was going to be very surprised. He did some work and was able to remotely access her personal laptop. From his computer he had modified packets using HTTP as they were going to her computer, and used them as well as he could to get information about the computer. Including her IP address. That aside he also was able to hack her computer from his, and set it up so that he could access it when she returned home. He smiled with ingeniousness. He liked to think of himself as smart and intelligent. Others might not, but they could not come up with some of the same amazing ideas that he did.
Eric organized all his things and stood up. He stretched his legs a little and picked up his laptop bag. He walked down the few steps to the glass door, and left the coffee shop. He was going to have to face the walk back to the bus stop again. He sighed. He just did that a few minutes ago didn't he? Life was unfair. He checked his watch. It was six o' clock now. He only had an hour to rest before having to go and walk back again. He grunted. This was not his favorite activity. It was not like he could easily hack networks while walking. All he could do was watch all the other pitiful people walk past him -- both ways since he was so slow.
Eventually he got to the bus station, and immediately he sat down on the empty bench. He was tired after the long walk there. He checked the bus schedule and saw that he had to wait another fifteen minutes for the bus that went in the direction he wanted to go in to arrive. He pulled out his laptop, and spent a couple minutes getting into a local Wi-Fi network so he could have Internet access. He never had a problem getting connected to the Internet. There always was an easily hackable network available somewhere.
He connected to Candice's computer. Yes, she was home, and he could access her computer from here. She did not live that far after all. He would have more time to see what she had on her computer later. Right now the bus had arrived, and he needed to get on it.
The Sol system was an experiment by aliens to determine if life would evolve under hyper hostile physics. Unfortunately, it was forgotten about. Years later, humans are leaving the solar system, only to discover that upon passing an invisible barrier, they essentially gain superpowers.
I believe that ActivityPub is really the future. Diaspora* is neat, but the diaspora* protocol is not nearly as widespread as ActivityPub. Friendica might be a great medium.
Simple. Web companies don't exist to give you content; they exist to send you ads. Any other idea is merely a delusion.
Sometime we were fooled with the idea of FREE CONTENT, and flew to it like flies to honey. Instead, they caught us in a trap of adverts and cookies and trackers. Before we knew it, power shifted from service providers to advertisers.
WE put them in power. WE sold our souls to them, WE clicked on "agree". It was us who ruined the web.
Openbook is an interesting idea, but they do not see the value of decentralization I guess.
I just set up account migration. Now my old account at mastodon.social redirects here!