Wednesday, April 18, 2012

CM3.00 - Her Own Devices


Madeleine Vallejo is pretty much left to her own devices. Mason Rey hasn't given her much to go on. She didn't even know he had a child. She doesn't know much about him at all.

Which is what comes, I suppose, of being just as professional as possible. You never find out what really matters to people if you never get to know them.

Take me, for instance. To know me is to love me, wouldn't you say?

I'll bet you think that's funny.

Heh.

Or you would if you could. I know you, in spite of everything.

She starts with mainstream media sources, but those are suspiciously empty. There's absolutely no mention of Mason Rey ever having a child. Or a wife. That's the suspicious part. She's pretty sure she remembers some gossip about Rey once being married.

The public databases don't have anything. Neither do the private databases to which she's subscribed. She invades a few to which she is not subscribed and does creative things with lesser arcana, like cross-indexing Mason Rey's known locations over the past twenty years with hospital birth records. Nothing.

Or at least, nothing useful. One of the problems here is that she gets plenty of hits, and she has to go through all of them herself. Her agents aren't filtering anything useful for her. It's like they're dead.

Hours later, she's turning to esoterica, which wastes even more time. These finally give her two results that do nothing more than keep her from giving up. One's a search in an underground runners' list. Her past pays off. When she looks up the old codename for Roar-Sol, "rorsk" (shorthand used by the hacker community to evade basic text string searches), she turns up (among other things long forgotten) a gleeful, gruesome suggestion that since the CEO had just had lost his family so carelessly, he might not be minding the store very well.

Family? Hmmm.

The other is an item in a Singapore university student newspaper, which politely but accusingly notes the fact that the administration has yet to fill a post left vacant by the death of Dr. Carolyn Rey, apparently a geneticist at the institution.

Ah. A name.

But that's as far as she gets. The name leads nowhere. You'd think that a Dr. Carolyn Rey would have to have published something in order to be a university professor.

Vallejo still has a trump up her sleeve. She has three, in fact, before she gets really desperate. But you have to understand a little bit about the corporate culture at Roar-Sol Codifiers, Inc. See, they're a big hive of gentrified hackers, right? The good ones, anyway. So no matter what you do to build a team mentality, they're really very competitive. So they always try to outdo each other by building their own backdoors into the systems that are in place or under development. This way they can embarrass each other when necessary, or gain access to company resources faster than their colleagues and so on. So RSC is honeycombed with dozens of fascinating security compromises.

RSC management takes the situation as read. They counter it by offering bounties for any security loophole discovered and by various levels of discipline that typically do not include dismissal (it's considered a "teachable moment," if you will). The bounties are usually paid for by docking an equal amount from the offender's pay, if the offender can be found, or that of the manager of the compromised system, if the offender cannot be found.

(By the way, this last explains a portion of Habeas Punter's enlarged reputation at Roar-Sol. If the offender can't be found, any given sysadmin will lay the blame on Punter. Sometimes it works.)

Vallejo has three backdoors implemented. She's pretty sure they've gone undetected after all this time. The problem is that once she's in, the breach is likely to be noticed. She'll can only count on getting one good use out of each hack, so it has to be for a good reason. Truth to tell, she never actually planned on using any of them. She just did it to see if she could get away with it, and if she'd gone back and tried to correct the matter, it would have just gotten her grief.

We all have our excuses.

Even now, she's on the Leash, and Mason Rey will know exactly what she does and how she does it.

A real Lady-or-the-Tiger setup. Except that with Mason Rey, it's always the-Tiger-or-the-Tiger. There's never a Lady behind the other door.

Or almost never.

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