Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Chapter 5


Hacking into the website of the Aryan Nations didn't pose much of a problem. They were running Windows NT, with IIS as a web server. They hadn't even applied the free security patches available from Microsoft.

"Ok, Meyer, the first order of business is to install a back door. That way, if we have to come back to the site, we won't have to go through this rigmarole again. Executing a simple Active Server Page Script will get us that far." Two minutes later, we were in.

"Next, we want to steal their address book, and poke around on the hard disk. We can FTP anything we find back here onto our hard disk."

"But, won't they notice us on their system?" Meyer looked worried.

"I doubt it. Most servers run unattended. Even the ones that have a human around aren't likely to be manned at this hour. Six A.M. here is four in the morning there. Bingo! Look here! We have their whole membership database! This is going to be fun!"

"But M. What if they notice?"

"Well, for on thing, we are on an anonymous IP address. It changes every time we connect. But, just so you'll feel better, imagine for a minute that there was someone watching their machine at four in the morning. There isn't anything on their screen to see. Even if there were, what would they do? About the only thing they can do is turn the damn thing off. They don't know who we are, or where we are."

After I downloaded their files, I uploaded a few of my own. These were scheduled to run over the next two weeks.

"We're going to leave them an Easter egg, something to ruin their day, and generally keep them busy. Next, we take on the Federal Reserve, and then the world."

"So much for you making me feel better."

"Don't worry Meyer. I could do this in my sleep."

The banks in use by the Aryan Nation and the Federal Reserve were just a shade more difficult than cracking a website, but, I didn't tell Meyer that. The Fed has the same problem as Government sites everywhere. They might be a bit more security conscious, because they deal in money. On the other hand, they hire data processing people for as little as they can pay them, and get exactly what they pay for. It took half an hour to hack into the bank without leaving a trail. The money transfers went faster than that. Ten minutes after I pressed the last key, the Aryan Nations were short one hundred and thirteen million dollars. I thought for a minute that Meyer was going to have a seizure. "Don't worry." I told him. "The money will be out of those accounts within twenty minutes. By tonight it will be five accounts away, there won't be a trace."

"M. Do you realize what you are doing? You can't subvert funds from the banking system like this! It's criminal."

"What do you mean can't? I just did. As for the moral issue, I’ve given it a lot of thought. I’ve spent my whole life being honest. I’ve never stolen a dime. That would be a crime. Civil disobedience is when you understand something to be illegal and you do it anyway. It’s when the outcome means more to you than the punishment. If what we are doing right now gets me ten to twenty years in a federal hotel, I’ll accept that, if it gets McGee home safely. Hell, once McGee is home I might just turn myself in. I could sort of use a vacation."

"But, we'll be caught. Don't you understand? They'll trace where the money went."

"Let's see. One hundred and thirteen million dollars times fifteen percent in fees. That gives us sixteen million nine hundred fifty thousand reasons they won't be able to trace the money. Besides, those boys are going to be a mite busy with the entertainment I've arranged for them."

"My god. What else have you done?"

"Well, let me set this thing on autopilot for a minute, and we'll talk about it. I just need to get it started cracking the other sites."

"I probably don't want to know about them do I?"

"You might, you might not. It turns out that there are just over eight hundred sites I've found with Internet searches that have Aryan or Neo-Nazi home pages. Add to that the two thousand or so web addresses we found in their address book and that gives us about three thousand addresses to play with. Our machine is hooking into them now, and uploading a few programs I wrote on the way down here."

"What do the programs do?"

"You might say we are starting a war here Meyer. At midnight, Zulu, six P.M. tonight our time, all of these machines are going to start working for us, which is to say against them. I planned a simple three-phase campaign. First, all of their machines will begin sending threatening email to federal, state, and local politicians and law enforcement agencies. It would have looked contrived if they all sent identical messages to each recipient, so I put together a random insult program, with a psychological word-weighting algorithm based on the recipient's last name. It is important to call Eugene McCarthy a Mick, instead of a Dego. It does everything from making threats on the president's life, to calling the local black FBI agents "Mud Babies," and demanding the immediate release of Betty Crocker. It includes as many racial slurs and epithets as I could come up with. All of the members in the database will get an email from the Aryan Brotherhood demanding that they send the title to their cars, along with ten thousand dollars to Jerry Fallwell. I am adding their telephone numbers to every telemarketing list I could find, from replacement auto glass to timeshare condominiums. And any credit cards found in their names at Discover, Visa, Master Card, and American Express will be reported stolen."

"M. Do you have any idea how many years in jail this might earn us?"

"Not to worry, Meyer. Besides, that is just Phase-One. Phase-Two starts at 0900, Zulu, when all of the machines begin a denial of service attack on each other. They spend all of their cycles either pinging each other, or trying to keep up answering the pings they receive. It is sort of like an autoimmune system disorder for computers. Aryan against Aryan, mano a mano, modem vs. modem."

"But, they'll just restart their systems."

"Nope. First off, we are hooked into their boot records. Restarting their computers will just start the process over again. On top of that, we'll be running as NT service applications or invisible 9X applications. They won't be able to see us, or get rid of us without wiping their hard disks clean. I think it will be a major improvement to the world of computing when they do."

"I'm afraid to ask what phase-three entails."

"Oh. I took the liberty of placing several classified ads. The next issue of most underground newspapers will be advertising a gay pride festival next week outside Hayden Lake, Idaho, at their stronghold. Mainline newspapers will be carrying an AP article that describes a new U.S. land grab policy in the area. Forty acres free to anyone who sets up a tent, and can protect it. There are also rumors starting to circulate about a new gold find in the area, and the fact that the Grateful Dead are giving a free concert in their pasture. That was about all I could get done last night."

"What happened to the simple life?"

"Well, you know what they say, Meyer. Anyone can make a mistake. But, to really foul things up requires a computer. Just think, I could have been having fun like this for the past thirty years, and never did."

We celebrated over lunch, with good California Chablis and a seafood salad as the machine hummed away. Any of the accounts not logged on would get an email with an attachment to catch their machines up to date. The emails were mostly from Publisher's Clearinghouse saying "This time you really won!" Tomorrow, I needed to get on the road. It was time to put together a team.

Sue came in then with a catbird look on her pretty face. “If you’re going to leave me here, then we need to spend some more time talking about what and who you are going to be up against.”

With Meyer tucked safely in for the night, she tried to educate me. The process took hours, and a great deal of effort. Once again, I found I was only human. When she was done, I felt knowledgeable about every square inch of what I was up against. Now I just needed to learn more about the opposition, and come up with a plan. But, that would have to wait until morning.