Monday, January 8, 2018

Microstory 751: Boot

In the world of amateur information technology, there are many different kinds of people. Some wear white hats, and are most likely to become legally sound IT professionals. Others wear black hats, and use their skills to hurt people, oftentimes for their own gain. Yet others wear gray hats, because they commit crimes using computers, but do so for what they believe to be good reasons. These are the hacktivists, who see injustices in the world, and do not have enough faith in the system to take care of it without their intervention. Of course, within these categories, some are better than others. The best either everyone has heard of, or no one has. But most people who involve themselves in computer science outside of a professional setting are just normal people who make only a minor impact on the world. Out of these, some understand how computers work to such a low degree that they are not able to create exploits, or write the code to new programs, on their own. They are known as script kiddies, and almost every one of them is embarrassed to be referred to as such, or are at least hoping to outgrow this designation by learning more. One, however, has chosen to embrace this so deeply that he’s adopted it as part of his identity. Cormac Allegro was always pretty decent with computers. He found himself helping his grandparents open and close their web browsers a lot when he was younger. Fellow students, whose families could not afford machines of their own, often asked him for help troubleshooting simple problems. He was good at tackling these issues, because the programs were already there, waiting for him to use.
When he was a teenager, he stumbled upon the world of hackers, and realized that he wanted to be one of them. He started lurking on message boards and chat rooms, looking for someone to trust with teaching him the trade. He found a couple people who were willing to take him under their wing, and they started him off with fairly simple program modification hacks. These involved altering features of desktop applications in ways unintended by the software programmers, and had no effect on anybody else’s use of these programs. Pretty soon, he was using brute force executables to crack his friend’s passwords, sending prank messages to third parties under the guise of someone else. These were mostly considered to be nuisances, and he wasn’t so much as on the radar of any law enforcement agency. His mentors tried to teach him programming languages, but he struggled significantly with this. He just could not understand the coding syntax. Code that should have taken hours to write was taking him days, or even weeks. He just was not getting it, so the mentors forgot about him, and moved on. He would never truly be one of them. But he still wanted to use computers for his own personal gain. He continued as an oddly highly experienced script kiddie. He carved his own presence on the dark web with a gallery of useful online tools for other script kiddies to use for whatever they wanted, until they were educated enough to make their own. Once they did—because Kiddie’s website, Boot Force, was such a great early resource for them—they would send him their programs, so Boot Force’s gallery could grow even larger. Despite being so ill-equipped himself, Cormac ‘Kiddie’ Allegro became known as the best source of all things hacking, and this is when the Domestic Affairs Service started taking notice. After what should have been a far shorter investigation done by a joint task force between DAS and the Continental Datawork Agency, Kiddie was finally caught. And that is where his story begins.

No comments :

Post a Comment