Dystoparx — Part 18

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piratepartyca: Two more arrested for spoofing MusicBox data:

jjdavis: RT @doctorow How long will the Canadian gov’t hold people without trial?

m0rty: This is my jam:

acklas: @doctorow at least a year, remember?

wilkiz: @lucy2 They may charge them with computer crime, but that can’t hold

acklas: @wilkiz @lucy2 Crazier prosecutions have done.

Our protagonist is at his company office. So are officers of the RCMP. They’re interested in his work on the so-called “MusicBox antivirus”. Nicnus is not affiliated with that project in any way, but you may recall that he wrote the code which originally made the blocker possible.

They’d rather he come with them. Does he have to come? Is he being charged with something? No. He’d rather stay here. Is that a problem? They confer. It doesn’t have to be. Good.

They want to know if he’s aware of the recent rash of activity. What activity? People spoofing MusicBox data, targeting the RCMP data collection. Oh, that. Of course he knows about it. Everyone does.

Is he also aware that his software may be used to perform this exploit? What exploit? The one where people spoof data! That’s not an exploit. Is sending a letter with a false return address an “exploit”? Yes, he is aware that his software makes it possible to create such a letter and send it to the RCMP.

Why would he create such software? Well, he wasn’t the first to do so, if they only care about the spoofing. They are not aware of the prior art. He can show them the code and the posts. It is not a secret. They would like that.

16:00 <nicnus> cops are here

Does he know why the earlier code was written? To demonstrate the unreliability of the data. Unreliability? Surely they understand that they cannot trust anything they get from a data stream that can be spoofed.

They take anonymous tips by phone. This is at least as good as that.

16:02 <acklas> Woah! Are you ok?

16:05 <nicnus> calm down. If I’m helpful, they’re happy 😉

They’ve never needed to track down pranksters leaving fake anonymous tips, because it’s hard to do en-masse. It can be done en-masse with VoIP? Well, no one has at the least. What would they do if that changed? They probably can’t apply computer crime laws to telephone calls. Probably. It’s still impeding the work of the police. Might even be fraud. There are laws in place.

16:20 <nicnus> They’re gone.

* Your connection has been secured

16:21 <acklas> Oops. Should have turned that on sooner.

16:21 <nicnus> meh. Those anonymous kiddies following your lead are in trouble, though

16:22 <acklas> Oh?

16:22 <nicnus> Yeah. At the very least, it’s some form of fraud

* acklas shrugs

16:23 <acklas> Their fault for not being more careful

Nicnus is waiting for a bus. He only went in to the office to meet with the officers. They came to his workplace and expected him to be there. So old-school.

There’s a chilly breeze blowing. Nicnus slips his hands up inside the sleeves of his hoodie. When his phone vibrates, he waits a few minutes before checking.

m0rty: Cops were just here. Something about my computer sending them messages?

Oh, man.

@m0rty your computer is probably infected with a botnet virus.

The bus is here. He gets on, but there are no seats available. There is barely a place for him to stand. And some people think no one takes the bus around here! He keeps one hand on a bar for stability, the other on his phone.

m0rty: @nicnus A virus? I have Norton and AVG both.

Nicnus stares at the screen for a moment. The bus lurches, throwing him against some blonde in her twenties. He plants his feet and switches to holding one of the provided handgrips on the bus.

@m0rty having two probably not helping. You can get it anyway. Then your system does what it is told.

People are moving. He slides his phone closed and looks around. Someone is trying to get off the bus. They should have made their way to the door long before now. The door is sitting open, and they are pressing through the crowd. There, they’ve made it. People flow towards the back as someone boards. Now he is wedged against some hefty guy who has a seat. Good thing he didn’t bring his backpack today. He manages to slide open his phone again.

jjdavis: @m0rty @nicnus is right. Running two antivirus not a good idea.

acklas: @m0rty You should probably just always assume your Microsoft systems are infected.

m0rty: @nicnus What should I do to get rid of it?

Nicnus cannot write a reply. No way to manipulate the phone properly just now.

jjdavis: @m0rty Only sure way is to wipe and restore from backup

acklas @m0rty might not be worth it. You’ll just get infected again

jjdavis: @acklas that’s really optimistic of you

The bus lurches again. He is face-to-face with the same blonde. Suddenly aware of his surroundings instead of his phone, our protagonist realises that this is probably awkward. He turns his head. No longer face-to-face, but now he’s staring at her shoulder. That’s probably not better. He looks over her shoulder and out the window. It’ll have to do.

m0rty: @jjdavis @nicnus I don’t really keep backups. Don’t want to lose my family videos! :S

16:31 <acklas> Who is this m0rty guy anyway? Where is he?

16:31 <jjdavis> Some guy nicnus knows. I don’t this he’s near any of us, though.

Now everyone is exiting the bus. Everyone? Oh, no, just most everyone. It’s a major stop, and this is where most of the people were going. Nicnus has two more stops to go, so he finally gets a seat.

16:33 <nicnus> friend from highschool. He lives out west.

@m0rty I wouldn’t worry to much about it. Let me know if you have more trouble

His stop is next. He pulls the signal cord and makes his way to the door. Phone goes into his pocket. Bus is stopped. Door is not opening. Oh, red light. Driver is waiting to pull ahead. Whatever. Open now. Getting off.

Our protagonist trudges towards his home. His mind is on the motion of his feet. Should he take longer strides? Maybe he should try to avoid the cracks in the sidewalk. Careful, there’s something on the ground. Probably don’t want to know what it is. Now he notices the people walking ahead of him. Two abreast and blocking the sidewalk completely. Not walking very quickly. He plods behind them for a few seconds before pulling over onto the grass and walking past.

Home. His phone is still in his pocket, but he doesn’t really need it. His desktop is already on, since he hadn’t expected to be gone long.

* Your connection has been secured

16:45 <nicnus> acklas: have the cops been to see that lady on your street again?

16:45 <acklas> nicnus: yeah. different ones. They were nicer this time. Figured out pretty quick she was not the actual source of the traffic.

16:46 <jjdavis> So someone is being more careful. It’s not all kiddies

16:46 <nicnus> It’s just kiddies getting caught

16:50 <acklas> the kiddies always get caught

16:51 <nicnus> the cops I talked to likened the MusicBox data to anonymous tips. So they don’t expect it to be admissible in court, I guess

16:53 <jjdavis> I guess that answers your brother’s concerns about evidence fabrication

16:55 <nicnus> yeah, maybe

Hungry. Food. First, music. What music? Something energetic. He opens an encrypted tunnel to a computer in the United States so that he can access a music service that only works for “people in the US”. He asks it to play energetic music, based on his past preferences, and it queues up what looks like a stream of evenly-mixed Dubstep and Power Metal.


His fridge is empty. Typical. Bread. He has bread. Good. Toast. What to put on the toast? Does he need to put anything on the toast? How hungry is he? Toast first, then re-evaluate.

What is he working on today? Oh, right, the discovery process for the encryption box. Some customers have reported that sometimes the boxes cannot find each other, even if they are plugged directly in to the same hardware. That doesn’t make much sense, but he is going to try to reproduce it.

One hour passes. Then two. Nicnus remembers he put toast in the toaster. It’s cold now. Whatever, eat it anyway. He isn’t really closer to finding the problem. Well, he’s a little closer: he’s pretty sure there *is* a problem. He just is not just quite what it is, or how to make the problem happen. It happened once, but then worked when he tried again.

00:10 <jjdavis> Taking the g/f out. Will not be very responsive for a bit

* jjdavis is away: out with the g/f

Nicnus is pulled from what he is working on. 00:10 UTC? What is that in local time? He looks out his window. Early evening, looks like. Where did his day go? He looks at the code that he has been working on. It might be the cause of the problem, but it is hard for him to check since he can’t surface the problem reliably. How will he know if changing this has fixed it?

03:52 <jjdavis> That went pretty well. Maybe I’m getting the hang of this

03:55 <acklas> or maybe she’s just being nice 😉

What time is it? Probably should think about dinner. What has he eaten today? Orange juice for breakfast, and toast for a late lunch. Now that he’s thinking about it, he is very hungry. Why wasn’t he hungry a minute ago? What was he working on? He can reproduce the problem now, but it is not what he thought it was. He has no idea how to fix it, but at least he can test it. Food. He should eat food. Does he have any food? He has some frozen yogourt in his freezer, and some peanuts. Dinner!

Someone sends him a link to a funny video. He watches it twice while he eats. It’s pretty good. The end of the video contains an obscure reference to some product from Suzuki. Now he’s reading Wikipedia articles about the Dutch East India Company.

06:01 <acklas> bed time

* acklas is offline

The issue with the encryption box might be in the hardware, and not in the software at all. How would he test that? Oh! They have an all-software emulator for it, which they built so they could test the software back before the hardware existed. It’s a bit out of date, since they don’t use it anymore. After some testing, he finds that it has the same problem. The problem is definitely in the software.

His music stopped at some point. When did it stop? Seems that his encrypted tunnel to the US has stopped working. He starts up another one.

09:00 <nicnus> Woo! I think I’ve got this bug nailed. Time for some sleep

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