Monday, 14 April 2014

Hackers and Haunted Coke Machines: Night's Black Agents

There's a couple of articles I'm going to urge you to read, and one of them can be found at the New York Times. It discusses hacking and infiltration techniques, and leads off with an intriguing story about a Chinese takeaway menu.

Hackers discovered that their chosen target was a little too secure for comfort. Rather than bash their heads against a firewall, they decided on a watering hole trap: their malware infested the online takeaway menu of a nearby Chinese restaurant, popular with the target's staff. End result: the staff went online from their work machines, browsed the menu, and got an extra helping of virus with their sweet 'n sour. That gave the hackers a foothold into the system, and since one system is often connected to all the others, they soon were able to infect the entire network.

I'm going to go out on a limb - though not very far - and suggest that, as a plan of attack, Western military targets are probably very vulnerable to this kind of exploit. A security system is only as secure as its stupidest user, and you meet some real prize winners in the military. I can just picture a base's security network penetrated thanks to the squaddies' love of chips, curry and pizza. But that's by the way.

The article goes on to note that, in most cases, a watering hole tactic like this probably isn't necessary. Many companies sabotage their own security efforts, by bringing in Coke machines and other outside vendor equipment. Remember when I said earlier that one system is often connected to all the others? That's also the case with every single outside vendor's device. Gone are the days when a Coke machine was just a coin-operated snack dispenser; now they boast all kinds of sophisticated systems to let the supplier know when the machine's empty, broken, or otherwise needs maintenance. Except not too sophisticated, since they often run on older OS like Windows XP, or even have their security protocols switched off by default on installation. Yet the Coke machine - or more likely, projector, HVAC equipment and so on - is probably hooked up to the company's internal systems, even in instances where there's no good reason for the connection. Exploit the Coke machine, and you exploit the company.

Which, incidentally, leads straight back to a very old story, for here's an example of a Trojan that, actually and for true, relies on a Trojan Horse. But that's a joke for the classicists. 

This article sparked an unusual train of thought over at Gizmodo, where an editorial pounces on the use of the word 'adversary' by one of the Times' security experts and, by linking 'adversary' with Satan, suggests that this use of one particular word means that cybersecurity experts are obsessed with cursed objects. The discussion "takes on an air of almost Catholic exorcism," according to the editorial. I'm not going to delve too far into the Gizmodo piece, except to say that I think the writer makes far too much of a meal out of 'adversary,' taking it out of context to prove a rather oddball point.

But when taken in conjunction with the core concept of Night's Black Agents, we can really have some fun with the idea. Why not have haunted hackers? Why not have possessed vending machines, projectors serving the whims of Satan, and other mechanical invaders happily passing on data to their masters?

With that in mind, here are some stats for a possessing spirit:


Abilities: Digital Intrusion 8, Health 1
Special: Possession (mechanical), Hive Mind
Blocks: in a supernatural setting, holy symbols may act as a Block for the Creeper0741
Compulsion: Spread infection.
Notes: The Creeper0741 is a standard infiltration tool used by some Conspiracy-backed hackers. It can Possess anything that uses microchip technology; it cannot exist outside of a microchip. Often the hacker will carry around a small portable device with the Creeper installed, place the device against the object the hacker wishes to infect, wait a few moments and then leave, taking the device. The Creeper will have made the leap from the hacker's infecting item to the other device and, since it has the Hive Mind ability, so long as the hacker retains the original infecting item the hacker will be able to 'see' whatever the Creeper sees. The Creeper can infect as many devices as it has Digital Intrusion points. An individual Creeper is extremely weak and has no defenses, but of course as a spirit entity it cannot be damaged by bullets or knives. However an electrical overload will clean it out. Some hackers claim that 'free' Creepers exist out on the net which have grown exponentially, increasing its Digital Intrusion by leaps and bounds. Theoretically if a free Creeper were to be captured, any device it has infected will be brought under the captor's control. 

No comments:

Post a Comment