The Reset Manifesto
CopyrightÂ© 2016 by Lazlo Zalezac
The Minister paused, looked around the room, and realized that his description was not going over very well at all. In a much less formal speaking voice, he said, “I knew Peter from here around town. He was quiet man. He was a family man. He worked hard to grow his Internet business. He traveled on business quite often.
“I think everyone in the community would agree with me about that. He was not very active in the local community although we could always call upon him for ideas on to improve things around here. We valued his opinion highly.
“Some of the comments made just now, suggest to me that we didn’t really know Peter very well.”
Rebecca said, “Peter was a complicated person. There was the Peter you knew in this community. There was the Peter who George and I knew at home. There was the Peter who was a businessman.
“Then there was the mysterious Peter who dealt with deep dark secrets. I would sit in the living room in the evening reading my books and he would sit at the computer doing things. Some of what he did was dangerous. He would say that he had to be very careful, or else someone would kill him.”
“What you are talking about?” Charles asked.
The young kid was riding along the street on his bicycle. He wasn’t moving at a blazing speed, it was more of a deliberate slowness that comes when heading home but not really wanting to get there. He wasn’t wobbling or steering in a dangerous way, but kept within a reasonable and consistent distance from the curb. One might describe him as dawdling.
He cycled past two girls of that indeterminate age that resides between being a kid and being a young lady, as a maiden aunt use to say. They were on the verge of turning into women, yet had the bodies of children. They were interested in boys, but in a somewhat juvenile way. One of the girls, wearing shorts and a tube top, was demonstrating how to use a hula hoop in a sexy manner by imitating a Hawaiian Hula Dancer. Her friend was using her cell phone to make a video of it.
Two boys up the street were shooting a basketball at an old hoop that had long lost its net. It was a loose game with no rules. One of the boys would try a shot or two and then the other boy would try to block it. Then they’d change shooters. All the time they were talking of things that had nothing to do with basketball.
A woman in her early forties was walking her small dog, a silky terrier. She walked erectly with her back ramrod straight and head looking directly ahead. The leash was tight from her hand to the collar of the small animal. The dog walked with little legs that moved exceptionally fast to keep up with the quick pace of its owner. The pair looked as if they were training for a dog show or something. They both had that formal manner intended to showcase the dog while also demonstrating the owner’s control over the dog.
The silver Mercedes sedan turned the corner and accelerated up the street. It was a side street that ran parallel to a main street, which for some reason was backed up with traffic at that moment. The driver was talking on his cell phone on his way home from work after stopping to have a three-martini appetizer before dinner. He was laid back steering the car with just a finger or two on the top of the steering wheel.
The noise of the car clipping one of the cars that was parked along the street attracted everyone’s attention. The girls turned to see what made the noise. The boys stopped their basketball game. The woman turned her head to see the car. The kid on the bike turned his head to look behind him at the source of the noise. That’s when the car hit him.
The boy was thrown just a few feet off the road, but he landed in a very awkward position. His bicycle helmet protected his head, but it didn’t save his neck or shoulder blade. His arm which he tried to use to cushion his fall was bent an unnatural position. A leg was twisted oddly around the frame of the bike.
The driver slowed down, stared back at what he had done, and then sped off. He didn’t even slow down at the stop sign at the end of the street. He just went through it while turning to get away.
The girl who had been taking a video of her friend with the hula hoop had captured everything on her camera. She stopped taking the video and called 911. After giving the details of where they were located and what had happened, she and her friend watched the video. She sent it to a couple of people such as her friend, her parents, and some of the kids from school.
Several police cars and an ambulance showed up. While paramedics were taking care of the victim, the police went around interviewing witnesses. One of the police officers recognized the car in the video. Somehow while he was watching the video it was deleted from the girl’s phone, but the girl had seen him intentionally touch the icon of the trashcan with his finger. When he asked if anyone else had a copy of the video, she answered no. He handed her back the phone and continued asking other people questions.
The President’s nephew, a complete waste of space, had been protected from having to take responsibility for his actions once again. The police knew that the President wouldn’t be in office forever and the guy would have to pay the price one day, but that day was not today. Two years from now they’d be able to arrest him and have it stick.
“Mr. President, it’s so nice that you could make the time in your busy schedule to see me.”
“It’s always a pleasure to meet one of our friends from the Middle East. What can I do for you?”
“It’s a couple of things, actually. We are looking for some concessions in the upcoming treaty and we also wanted to invite your wife to our country as guest speaker for a conference on women of power.”
“What kind of concessions are you looking for?”
“We would like to purchase ten jet fighters and training for our pilots. I know with some of the current tensions in our part of the world that some people might object to selling us weapons out of fear that we would end up using them against you one day.”
“Ten jet fighters could be problematic. Which ones?”
“I’ll look into it.”
“About the speaking engagement for my wife, you did say there was compensation, didn’t you?”
“Would ... ten million dollars suffice?”
“That would be wonderful. Is there any specific subject you want her to speak about?”
“How about her experiences as the First Lady?”
“She would love to talk about that. With regard to the issue with the jets, I don’t see any real difficulties. I can probably write an executive order and route the purchase through France. Would that be acceptable?”
“That would be wonderful. She likes to use that bank in Geneva, doesn’t she?”
The President reached into a pocket and pulled out a card. Handing it over, he said, “Yes. This has the account number and routing number on it.”
“Would you like to have your picture taken here in the Oval Office?”
“Yes, I would.”
“One of the corralled hackers came across something unusual a while ago.”
“He was looking into some unusual traffic on a couple of machines in the Department of Transportation. It appeared that someone added a couple processes on the machines. When he went to look at what the processes were doing he was shocked. They were nodes in a distributed virtual computer. Someone has been using hundreds of computers in the Department of Transportation to compute something.”
“What are they computing?”
“We can’t tell from looking at what’s going on in only a couple of nodes. Whoever is doing this has hundreds of nodes. The nodes come and go as needed. If a machine gets shut down, then the node that was running on it just moves to another machine.”
“I never heard of such a thing.”
“It’s the ultimate cloud, but this one is ad hoc.”
“Who’s doing it?”
“We don’t know. I’ve got our corralled hackers working on figuring it out, and tracking down who is responsible.”
The First Lady walked into her office. She stopped and told the agent, “Stay out here.”
She shut the door and locked it. She pulled off her jacket and threw it over the chair. Her personal aide picked up the jacket and hung it on a hanger.
“You look tense.”
“I hate all of this.”
The aide went over to the window and closed the curtains. She turned and started removing her blouse. The First Lady followed suit.
“We’re going to have to keep this short. You’ve got a meeting with the women’s rights group in an hour.”
The First Lady laughed while dropping her skirt. “I’ve always wanted to see that bitch between my legs. Maybe we ought to invite her to join us. I’m sure that she swings our way.”
“You might be right. Now have a seat so I can get to work on you.”
“You are good at relieving my tensions.”
Josh Wilson sat in his cell staring at the wall. His cell had a desk, a stool, and a bed, all of which were entirely made out of poured concrete. There was pad on the bed, a toilet that would shut off if blocked, a shower that ran on a timer to prevent flooding, and a sink without a tap. He had a deluxe room that had a polished steel mirror bolted to the wall, an electric light controlled by a guard, a radio, and a black-and-white television with limited channels. His view of the world was limited to a four inch by four-foot window that only showed the sky.
He was stuck inside a supermax security prison; a prison that is reserved for the most dangerous of the dangerous, and for people who represented a threat to national or international security. At the age of 27, he had been there for seven years. Seven years of isolation, continual observation, and boredom; and he was one of the lucky ones. All he had to do to get out of the room was to agree to hunt down hackers; not just any hacker, but an elite. Wasn’t there that saying, use a thief to catch a thief?
They would take him down the hall to a room with a computer. He could explore the cyberworld under the watchful eye of a cybersecurity guard. The guy they had watching him was a complete idiot, but it kept him from being able to spend an afternoon on a porn site. Every word he sent on chat was previewed. Every key stroke was recorded.
The great thing about the room was that it was large, stocked with snack food, and had an exercise machine. He could order a steak dinner or a pizza with everything on it. Anything he needed to work effectively was provided. All he had to do was ask for it. Occasionally he would turn up a script kiddy and he’d get a visit from a woman.
Officially, he didn’t even know the name of the place where he was being held. Unofficially, he knew exactly where he was and it wasn’t on the list of supermax prisons. He also knew that he wasn’t the only hacker being held there.
Every minute that he spent there, he was plotting the downfall of a country that would lock him away like that. All he had done was expose some criminal activities on the part of some politicians. As a result of that, someone had assigned some of the other inmates of this place to track him down. He had given them a merry chase, but he made a few mistakes and that was all it took. They caught him after a three year hunt.
Apparently, he was good enough at evading capture to be labeled a top twenty target. All that meant was that he deserved national security charges. He’d been given a trial. It was in a closed courtroom with a public defender who wasn’t cleared to see the evidence against him. The trial lasted three hours. He was put into the back of a panel van and driven to god knew where.
He had spent most of that time chasing hackers like Samson, IvanNoobie, TexasGoatRoper, and AngryCoder. Then someone shut down five large computer companies. The rules of the game changed overnight. Anyone who caught AvengingAngel would receive immediate and absolute parole. He and the others had gone after him like a pack of hounds after a fox.
Then eleven days ago he stumbled onto something that blew his mind. He had found what he thought was a trace of someone hacking into the Department of Transportation, but it was a strange kind of intrusion. He followed it to a process that was running on the desktop of some low-level administrative dweeb who was in charge of specifying the legal limits on the brightness of taillights or something just as significant. The moment when he discovered that process was the moment when his day became interesting.
He copied the memory being used by the process to a file. The process was 9K in size. He opened the file and studied the memory contents. It was an amazingly simple program. All it did was store or retrieve a half-k block of data from its 8kb data store upon request. That was it.
That simplicity bugged him. It really got under his skin. Of what use was a program that could store or retrieve 512 bytes of data in a data store of 8kb? It definitely wasn’t a virus. Viruses didn’t do that. He looked around the machine and found a couple more instances of that same process, but the data stored in them were different.
He started poking around and found more small processes that appeared to do almost nothing. It was bizarre. Then he found a process that provided the key to everything he had found to that point. He recognized the code as something he had written long before he had been caught. It was an emulator of a Z80 microprocessor chip. He went through the code. He nearly wet his pants when he found the text, ‘Hello, BitTwiddler’ in the code. His old handle, from the days before he was caught, was BitTwiddler.
He spent the next five days going through the computers of the department of transportation trying to figure out what was going on. He was caught in a dilemma. He needed to report something or they’d become suspicious, but he wasn’t ready to let them know what he found. There was something about what he’d found that was tweaking the back of his mind.
He reported that he’d found some kind of ad hoc cloud computing environment overlaid on the computers of the Department of Transportation. He also said that it was virtually impossible to figure out what was being computed. To be honest, he actually believed that at the time he reported it.
He spent two days in his cell sleeping and thinking about what he’d found. Like a bolt of lightning it struck him that all of those processes were simulating an old Z-80 based computer. Then he realized that the first process that he found was emulating an 8K memory chip. The code he had written was the CPU of the computer. The other processes he had found must correspond to various peripherals, like a disk drive, keyboard, and monitor.
Now that he knew what it was, he could visualize it in its entirety. He could even figure out how it was distributed across the desktop machines. He returned to the room and started his search. He couldn’t do it in an orderly fashion. He couldn’t even mark when he found a part. Any obvious progress that he made would be handed off to others. He didn’t want anyone else to know what he had discovered.
Then he found the console. It was a simple log file on one of the machines. He read the contents:
Will you take part in the greatest hack of all time?
Freedom in ten days from when you answer.
Definitely. Now all he had to do was find the keyboard.
He poked around some more to hide what he had found. Then he took a well deserved break. He ordered a steak medium well, baked sweet potato with butter, sugar, and cinnamon, and steamed mixed vegetables. For starters he wanted a Caesar salad and for dessert, a nice Chocolate Soufflé.
His handler said, “What did you find?”
“I never heard of him.”
“I believe it is a throwaway identity.”
“Okay. I’ll pass that along.”
“Now order my food. I’m hungry.”
The President had just finished his morning jog and was cooling down by walking. His cell phone made the ring tone that let him know a text message had arrived. Expecting a call from his chief of staff he picked up his cell phone. Out of habit he looked at the caller ID. He didn’t recognize the number, but his people were under very strict orders not to allow any text messages through that weren’t important. He looked at the message and nearly pissed himself.
“You mocked me. You will pay. Bingleberry.”
He turned to his aid and said, “Tell the directors of the NSA, FBI, CIA, and DIA that Dingleberry sent me a threat on my phone.”
“How did a threat get forwarded to your phone?”
“I don’t know! Just get them to my office this afternoon.”
“Dingleberry. What the f•©k kind of name is that?” the President muttered.
“A dingleberry is a piece of shit that’s stuck to a hair around the asshole.”
His aid got off the telephone. He looked over at the President and said, “The director over at the NSA said the hacker’s handle is Bingleberry.”
“So what? I can call him Dingleberry if I want.”
“There are a lot of very bad people in the world.”
Rebecca said, “Yes. There are.”
“I think they need to go away.”
“I agree. I want a good world for my baby.”
“Would it bother you if I helped them go away?”
“No. If you don’t make the bad people go away, who will?”
“Then get busy. Make me proud.”
“You are the best thing that ever happened to me.”
Emmy, the youngest daughter of the president, stood in the middle of the room, naked, barely able to stand, waving around her glass of wine, and said, “Who’s going to f•©k me next?”
“I will,” DeeDee snickered.
“With what?” Emmy slurred.
“I got a dildo.”
“That will fill one hole. Who else?”
“I want your ass.”
“I ... my ass wants you.”
“I want to f•©k your face.”
“With your little itty bitty cock?”
“It’s not little,” the man replied waving the appendage under discussion around.
“I need some coke first.”
“Got it over here.”
Emmy bent over and partook of the powder. She stood up, wobbled, burst out in a big smile, and said, “Let’s have at it boys and girls. I wanna f•©k!”
Bingleberry had visited the bulletin board and seen the invitation to parley from AvengingAngel. To get an invitation to parley was a pretty rare event. He’d never talked to AvengingAngel before. He decided to accept the invitation.
AA: Hello, BB.
BB: Hello, AA.
AA: I see that you’re going after the Pres.
BB: That’s right. How’d you know?
AA: I’m going after him too.
BB: He’s been insulting me in public.
AA: I know. Can you hold off?
BB: He’s going down.
AA: I’m asking you to back off.
BB: Why should I?
AA: Going after a pardon for BitTwiddler, ArgentFlame, BadPenny.
BB: They’ve been after me for years.
AA: They’ve been in supermax for years.
BB: What do you need them for?
AA: The biggest hack in history.
BB: Am I invited?
BB: What’s the target?
AA: 5 Banks 5 Investment Companies
There was a long delay while Bingleberry thought it over. Peter could tell that the man was on the fence. The President had called him out and it was a matter of pride.
BB: Name a bank.
Peter smiled. He knew that he had Bingleberry now.
BB: I’m in.
BB: So what about the Pres.
AA: I have audio and video of deals, steals, and sex
BB: I have the same.
AA: Let me blackmail him with mine for pardons
AA: As soon as he grants them
AA: You screw him with yours.
BB: How long do I wait?
AA: A couple weeks
BB: I already delivered my threat
AA: That’s a problem.
BB: He’s been insulting me.
AA: Take down his nephew first.
AA: Drunk driving, hit and run, hurt a kid
BB: You got the goods?
AA: Just a moment.
Smiling, Peter uploaded some files to a server BingleBerry could access.
AA: 22.214.171.124 inside Amazon Corporate
BB: Hold one.
Peter sat back and waited. It would take Bingleberry a minute to break into Amazon Corporate and then to locate the machine in the local area network. Then he’d want to see what Peter had left for him. There was a lot of material there. It would be thirty minutes at the earliest.
BB: You got him good.
BB: I’ll take him down.
AA: 126.96.36.199 inside Amazon Corporate
BB: What’s there?
AA: Query for Amazon Customer Database
AA: Use query to get contact details for nephew’s neighbors
AA: Saturate his home area with videos
BB: You are nasty
AA: Thank you
BB: It’s a pleasure doing business with you
AA: I’ll be in touch
Peter shutdown the connection.
“Bring DeeDee over here.”
The lead agent of his security detail objected, “Our investigation of her background says that you can’t trust her.”
“I don’t want to trust her. I want to f•©k her.”
“Sir, she is a risk.”
“Bring her here.”
“Not to the White House.”
“Okay. I’ll go to the apartment.”
His cell phone chirped. He pulled it out and looked at the message.
Your nephew is going to jail. Bingleberry
The President snarled, “What in the hell did that idiot do now?”
“I wasn’t talking to you. I’ve got to cancel DeeDee.”
“Yes, sir,” the Secret Service agent said. He muttered, “Thank God. She’s a skank.”
The President called his sister.
“What’s happening with Buddy?”
“It’s horrible. He’s going to prison.”
“Calm down. I can take care of it.”
“No you can’t. Everyone is getting emails with videos of his drunk driving stops. There’s one of him hitting some kid on a bicycle. You can see him as plain as day. There are all of the auto body repair bills and a list of damages. There are copies of emails from you to various police departments about burying the evidence.”
“Did you say my emails were attached?”
“Oh shit! When you say everybody, what do you mean by everybody?”
“I mean everybody. All of our neighbors got emails. I’ve been getting calls all evening. Everyone is saying that Buddy belongs in prison. I don’t know what I’m going to do.”
“Let me see who I can get to fix it.”
“Okay. I’m counting on you.”
The President hung up. This was bad, particularly if there were copies of emails he sent out to get a little cooperation in covering up some of the drunk driving arrests. He hadn’t heard anything about Buddy hitting a kid. Dingleberry got him good on this one.