HAKKER: dispatches

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Hakker, Dispatch 015:
March 2004


I've been recovering from a cold, so this one will be brief. (Once, years ago when I had a cold, my nose dripped on a computer I was taking apart... and the nose-drip short-circuited the damn thing.)

Recently a person in the computer-game business dropped me a note. This guy, who I shall call "Kill-Bill" just for the hell of it, works for a software house that makes one of those boring multiplayer online games. You know... games for people who don't get out much. Well, he asked me if I could track down and "lean on" a gang who were cheating his company's online game out of money. The gang did this by manufacturing and selling "game items".

I kid you not: There are people who sell imaginary objects on eBay. Weapons and equipment in online computer games. And there's money in it. A "hot" item, a rare one that is, could go for thousands of dollars. (A fool and his money are soon to be parted...) The whole point of buying something that doesn't exist, is that you won't have to play the damn game for days to "win" it.

In other words, game-item traders are paid to play online games for other people.

But this gang cheated the system by creating a "bot" player, a computer-controlled account which played and accumulated game-items for them. Neat! The computer plays the game for you, so you won't have to.

With all the inherent stupidity of this situation, Kill-Bill's offer didn't really interest me. But I had a cold right then, it was too cold to go out, and I was bored - so what the hell...

I sent him a message that I would look into it, no guarantees, and "fix" the problem without bloodshed. I went and bought the company's online multiplayer-game, installed it on a spare old PC, connected to the Internet... and played the "free 7-day trial." (I used another person's identity to register, but with only the free trial this wasn't a problem.)




As I had expected, the game was boring. Nice graphics, but all the Generic Fantasy crap gives me a headache. Walk into dungeon, kill trolls, find dragon, kill dragon, get stuff, repeat. And the intellectual level of the in-game chat is like this:

>orc add! evac!
>I ownz u!
>r u female in rl?
>lfg lev100 boss!
>where do u live?
>ao sux!

(At first I got a little jumpy when I read those chat messages... they reminded me of how EYE types messages.)

Anyway... I sent a few probing chat-messages, announcing my desire to buy "high-level items", and soon enough the cheaters sent me a private-channel message:

>Discreet sale of precious items! Save time and trouble! Go to the (bla, bla) at the old mill, and talk to (name). Do not mention this to anyone! The bloodsuckers who run this game will ban you if it gets out. Informers are everywhere!

My player-character ("char" in gamer-speak) went to the location, and talked to another "char" by the unlikely name of Ricandothoraominel. What kind of lame-brain comes up with these Tolkien-speak names?

I pretended to not only be interested in buying game-items, I also bragged that I was rich... and dropped hints that I was a woman in "real life."

Let me clarify one thing: I don't get off on dressing up as a woman. I have no desire to be a woman. It is merely another useful disguise at certain occasions. And the disguise wouldn't work if I wasn't short (why so many transvestites are really tall guys is a total mystery to me). On a chat line, it's almost too easy.

Two days later, Ricandothoraominel wanted to have a real-life date. This was on the private game-chat channel. He gave me the location of a meeting-place, sent a photo and first name. Clever guy! Didn't give away a home addresss. I agreed on a meeting, staying coy and not trying to "LOL LOL" at his ridiculous attempts at talk dirty. I could quote some of his come-ons, but no... you'd only think I made them up. He asked me for a photo, of course, and I sent him a doctored supermodel image. Thus he thought he was going to date a leggy, slim dark-haired young woman with pneumatic boobs.




Now for the tricky part: the meeting-place was in another European country. So far from my present location, that it wasn't worth the bother or even possible to get there with a cold.

How do you break kneecaps long-distance? You send an envelope of money to the local thugs. I won't tell you where I found them, but let's say a friend tipped me off, which may or may not be true. With the cash I included instructions on how and where the thugs would leave their "mission accomplished" message, plus a copy of the man's photo and first name which he'd so graciously shared with my game-character.

A few days passed... and I picked up the message. The thugs had staked out the meeting-place at the given date, found the man, and beaten him up in the street.

Should I have paid my hired muscle to find and destroy his database of game-items? No. They were not bright enough for that. There could be any number of backup computers for that stuff, and I didn't know how many accomplices he had (couldn't ASK him that in the game, could I?).

So another means of attack had to be devised. I had the man's e-mail address. I e-mailed him a new computer virus I'd found and modified a bit. The mail was disguised as a regular update to all players of the online game from the game company.

What the virus did was to infect the receiver's database and instantly delete all game-items. This was easy to code, since Kill-Bill had sent me a list of all the in-game items that were being illegally copied.




Mission accomplished. I deleted the game from the PC, and waited for Kill-Bill to respond. If the gang had stopped its business, he was going to notice.

And apparently, my little action must have scared "Ricandothoraominel" sufficiently. Yesterday I received a cash payment from Kill-Bill, and the offer of a free lifetime game account. I took the money but not the account. Life is short enough as it is.

Damn! Sneezed on the screen. Computer viruses I can handle. But the cold virus...

continued in Dispatch 016..



"HAKKER: DISPATCHES" is (c) A.R.Yngve 1989, 2003, 2004.

This is a work of fiction. The characters and actions described herein are fictitious. Any similarity to real persons and events is coincidental. This work of fiction is not intended to incite to the violent and/or criminal acts described herein.

H.Ellison no longer exists.