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Animals In The Wild - Charlie

This interview took place on March 12th, 2007. In the interests regarding the parties involved, it is science fiction. I (Rob) am meeting with a man named Charlie. That is not his real name, nor is it connected in anyway to a referable handle. If you were sitting at this coffee shop in New Orleans with us, you would understand the choice of the name, and perhaps see the irony of that choice, as I do. But, as the rules have been laid down prior to our meeting, the pseudonym is one of the few bits of information I am allowed to extol to the curious reader. I can say that Charlie smokes long cigarettes like it is his purpose in life, and drinks large black coffees as if drinking some form of nectar. His teeth are astonishingly white. I notice this because he smiles a genuine smile quite frequently as he gesticulates the incredible story I shall impart to you. I cannot speak more of Charlie, but let me assure you, he is a wonderful anachronism.

Rob: Thank you for meeting me. {Redacted} explained the “rules” that you requested, and I will abide by those rules.

Charlie: {Redacted} and I go back. You knew him from {Redacted}, he tells me. Let me say, what I’m going to talk about is dark territory for people like you, and I mean no insult, just the opposite. What I mean is great care must be taken. I am agreeing to tell the story for reasons. I’m not going to explain the whys, we will just leave it that I am here, talking. Ok?

Rob: Understood.

Charlie: Ok.Then….I’ll start with the botnets, or dropcatch.

Rob: Charlie, before you begin, if possible could you try and limit the technical explanations, for the sake of my understanding? I..if….

{Charlie laughs}

Charlie: No worry....I’m not going to go into esoteric. I will explain it the simplest I can, but no simpler.

Rob: Einstein said that.

Charlie: {Redacted} said you had science. Anyway. The story. I run “botnets”- the fringe definition. Fact being, the bots are extraordinarily advanced pieces of software. I imagine them like animals. I could call all animals animals, but fact being there are animals that fly, swim , and run. So to call the bots all “botnets” is kind of like calling birds and lions close kin. Yes they are both animals, but they are quite different. But for sake, I will refer to the whole as “botnets”, for sake of clarity.

Charlie: Originally, about seven year ago, I began herding for the purpose that I could. Why climb a mountain…Herding is term used when talking of herding together automatons into a command able network, very simple definition. Basically, I wrote Trojans that would drop,catch, and exploit on networks. I started by hitting universities around the States. At one point I had about 500K nodes of high quality, large fiber connects. I could charge a spammer a fixed price for the use of my zombies. 500k is a medium net at that point in time. Some current nets are massive, millions of compromised boxes. Things have changed dramatically in the last few year.

Rob: So the, uh, game changed for you?

Charlie: I consider myself a rogue. I work for myself. There are players that are aligned with governments, that are aligned with business, and even mobsters for the purpose of strategic economic war. They are shadows, but in the circle, Russia is known to be dominate. In the early days, the nets were comparatively small, and unaligned. But now there is constant shifting, fighting amongst the “botnets” for control over boxes around the world. The idea of running large “botnets” became for me, pointless. I decided to create what I call a focus net. {almost inaudible}

Rob: A Focus net?

Charlie: Yes, a focus net. In short, I drop nets around specific entities, such as Fortune 500 US businesses. These focus nets use a wide variety of tools to compromise boxes, but not any box, only boxes that fit a specific pattern or have specific users.

Rob: Did you say specific users?

Charlie: Yes. In any conglomerate there are people or nodes that attract many incoming links. Google uses an algorithm similar in its search. There is even a game…um….Six ways of Bacon? Something like that…

Rob: Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon, yes. Its part of Graph Theory.

Charlie: Yes that it. Well, my autonomous programs exploit security flaws in home and business computers, and attach a host program. The advent of rootkit style has made my compact programs very difficult to detect, but the players are always one step ahead in terms of tech. So my autos compromise a box, then seek out the most active nodes in a specific business, usually a couple individuals email accounts then smart propagate throughout the entire network at optimal rates.

Rob: So your effectively taking over business networks? What do you do with them once you have them?

Charlie: I am not a malicious. What I do next is basically gaming. There are several ways to accomplish my goal. I am going to mention one, because people are being tipped off on it already. There are other ways to game the financial markets, but those stay in dark territory.

Rob: I am all ears….

Charlie: Good, because it’s a beautiful concept. And simple. At a specific point, a strategic point, I send a false email from a powerful respected node in a network to all the other nodes. This email includes some sort of vital information regarding a product or earnings, something like that. All the nodes believe the email to be true. The news leak. The stock price of the business goes up or down for a brief period, all social engineering.

Rob: I’m speechless…uh….and this type of thing happens a lot?

Charlie: In one form or another. I may not use a social trick, there are many ways to game. Like I said. But it goes on…

{Charlie is animated and excited}

Charlie: Using automated level II trading systems, INET, signals, indicators, screeners, all that, I can create automated buying and selling systems to maximize profits on a short term game. And its all code.

Rob: So you might take, say, Cisco. You create a stock trading function to buy at a certain level, and sell when certain conditions are met…such as…uh…hitting an upper Bollinger for example…then you game Cisco, making it seem like an internal memo has leaked info about their new product being early, and then you take in profits…

Charlie: That is basically how it works.

Rob: So…how much did you make last year…? Being in dark territory and all…

Charlie: I won’t give you exact figures, but I average 6 to seven figures per month through all of my various operation. Like….well. Lets just leave it there.

Rob: Don’t you fear being caught?

Charlie: It is a fear. If I ever get caught, the charges will be hidden, I believe. I said earlier that major Governments are aligning with this type of economic and structural warfare. I view my knowledge of these systems to be an asset.

Rob: Well. I knew the zombie boxes were gaining footholds, but this is amazing. I’m very surprised, and thankful that you shared your story with me. Do you mind if I ask you some questions of the record?

{tape ends}

There you go. The audio was a little hard to understand, being a windy day in NOLA. I did my best to transcribe it. The tape is not of this world anymore. You heard it here first. Science fiction.

I was about to say....

ripped from the headlines of the near-future, but your comment beat me to it.

Definitely worrisome as well as being a great... story? =)

kelson.philo's picture

This is really quite fun.

This is really quite fun. It spurs visions of an Ocean's Googolplex Underground...

Reason I posted this story now...