It's time once again to sit around the campfire... pull up a stump and chill for a while.
I was sitting at my computer last week, having a little fun cracking some password codes over at good ol’ A-Oh-Hell for kicks and giggles, when my e-mail program screamed at me... yeah, I said screamed... I changed the default sound for received mail... anyhoo, I get this e-mail, but the thing is that it was a direct e-mail as opposed to it being bounced through all of my phony e-mail accounts before coming to me like normal. Normally, I'd think it was just one of my hacker buddies trying to see if they can do it because I have an outstanding thousand dollar bet if they can... they'll never win because I am just that damn good.
Anyway, taking precautions, I run a trace program on the sender's address, back-tracing any forwarding that they might be doing, just to see if whoever sent this is trying my little trick or trying to give my system the old “how's your neighbor.” I trace it to an old friend of mine in The Company. He's gotten good since the last time we worked together, and I figured that he's just trying to show off. I open the e-mail after running virus software of my own design, and find this encoded message... in simple 8-bit encryption. Such little security on the e-mail, I thought he was just dropping me a friendly “howdy,” but what I read was not even close.
It was from my friend, but he wanted me to do a job for him... he needed me to hook into a college mainframe and get some information on a project that the Chemistry Department there was working on. I wondered why he was coming to me about this... a teenager with a calculator can hack a college database. He gave me the project name to get into... “Archimedes.” I decided to do it... I was having a boring day anyway, I figured a simple black bag hack will liven up my day, then I could go grab a burger at the local hangout and catch some baseball on the TV there.
It was easy enough to get into the database, and I found the project files and started the download... then I started to think. This was just too damn easy, and I am a firm believer in Murphy's Law. Well, good old Murphy decided to bend me over and try to give me the old “how's your neighbor,” because three seconds after I start the download, my warning programs pick up a tracer program running from their mainframe... so much for this being a “milk run.” I ran a mirror program, trying to throw the trace off and have it pick up some kid playing too much Everquest. The tracer blasted right through it like it wasn't even there. Then I realized... this wasn't just a tracer program, they're running a bloodhound... for you who don't know about bloodhounds, they are programs that trace by picking up the original point to point connection almost instantaneously, and mirror programs don't work for anything. This whole thing was going south faster than birds in winter, so I threw up my backup firewall program to try to block the bloodhound, but it wiped both firewalls out with no problem... I'd never seen anything like it, so I had to do the one thing that I could do in that situation... rip the DSL line out of the system, pulled off the cover on the computer, and brought out “The Termminator,” otherwise known as an eight ounce magnet. I slapped that puppy onto the computer and wiped the hard drives clean.
I hooked up my backup computer to a cable modem line and try to send an e-mail to my buddy, bouncing it like I normally do... but it came back with a fatal delivery error, saying no such address exists. Whoever did send me that e-mail was trying to bring me down, and probably deleted my buddy... but you know me, kiddies... I always rise from the ashes. This “Archimedes” has got to be something huge if they were running some heavy-duty bloodhound programs like the one I encountered. If you hear anything about this “Archimedes”... run the other way, because somebody's looking to delete you as well.
Once I get back on my feet again, I'll try again... I have to know what “Archimedes” is, because they pissed me off... They basically made me frag about 5 grand worth of equipment in the process of covering my backside, and since good equipment is hard to get a hold of these days, they're going to have to pay for that... one way or another.
We now return you to your regularly scheduled program, and other.