PACKET RAT

The furry one proves that he's smarter than a low-life inside hacker

The Rat's brain whirred like a 10,000-rpm disk.

He had just been handed evidence that his department head'or at least his department head's PC and log-in'had figured in the hacking of the agency's Web site. That same department head had reprimanded the cyberrodent for allowing the hack to happen.

The Rat's instincts said his feckless leader couldn't be responsible for the electronic backstabbing. After all, if the boss were craftily trying to sabotage the Rat's career as network czar, how could the man be stupid enough to leave a trail so obvious that a Senate subcommittee could follow it?

With a vengeance

But when the cyberrodent reviewed his audit trails and network logs, he recalled the first law of management: Never underestimate a superior's incompetence.

There were three options: Turn the evidence over to the inspector general and let the law take its course; confront the boss with the evidence and get him to confess; or exact vigilante justice.

Naturally, the Rat chose the third option. He seldom condones vigilante tactics, at least for others, but as many a B-movie trailer has advertised, 'This time, it's personal.'



In view of his fast-approaching fitness report and certain vague statements made about his permanent record at the last meeting, the furry warrior knew he had plenty at stake. Plus there was the little matter of how he had obtained the evidence in the first place'a hack by the ratlings into the boss's personal site.

If this pseudo-superior wanted to play Spy vs. Spy, the time had come to reveal the true master of the game. While reviewing the morning's
e-mail, the whiskered one formed the perfect scheme for a campaign of vengeance. It would confirm the misdeed while reeling in his victim slowly and painfully.

That night, the packetmaster and his acolytes gathered in his burrow for an interesting pay-per-view showing over a webcam the Rat had concealed in the department head's credenza. The crew had stocked up on popcorn, Think bars and mass quantities of Jolt cola for nourishment while they waited for the trap to be sprung.

They didn't have to wait long.

The victim strolled into his office carrying a freshly opened CD-ROM in his hand. He sat down at his workstation with a grin so broad it was visible at medium webcam resolution.

'Ah,' the Rat said. 'I see he got the DefCon CD I sent.'

The acolytes snickered as the Rat's plan began to unveil itself. The CD held the latest version of the Back Orifice hacking and administration tool from the Cult of the Dead Cow.

'Oh, look, there's the unauthorized software warning I installed on the management system. Will he click Ignore?' The Rat zoomed in with the webcam, catching the victim's face as he poised the mouse pointer over the fateful button. When it clicked, the Rat saved the image of the illicit act as a looping animated graphic and quickly pasted it to the agency's intranet home page.

'Oops!' one of the underlings shouted. 'I guess he didn't see the news that the Back Orifice disk comes infected with the Chernobyl virus!' Red lights rigged by the Rat all over the department head's office started blinking, and a siren the Rat had planted in the bottom of a file drawer went off. The panic-stricken victim jumped up and ran for the door'but it had been remotely locked by the whiskered one.

'The show,' the Rat muttered, 'has only just begun.'


The Packet Rat once managed networks but now spends his time ferreting out bad packets in cyberspace. E-mail him at rat@gcn.com.

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