PACKET RAT: Sith, that and other mischievous things while on line

The Rat

Michael J. Bechetti

'So, Sith Lord, are you sure you didn't have anything to do with this Cisco thing?'

The Rat was grilling his eldest ratling as they stood'or perhaps more accurately, camped'in line at Baltimore's Senator Theatre, waiting for tickets to the final installment of the Star Wars saga.

Like many 14-year-olds, the wirebiter's eldest has been known to get into mischief. Of course, the type of mischief the son of the Rat gets into is a bit more technically complex than his peers' usual teen-angst-driven stupidity.

Which was why the Rat was again asking if he had been involved in a certain code theft that had set the networking giant on its ear last year'and which reportedly was just a fraction of the havoc wreaked by a Swedish 16-year-old on an international electronic-crime spree. The wunderkind was allegedly behind a series of attacks on U.S. research laboratories and military networks as well; the Cisco job was just a trifle.

Not that the whiskered one doesn't believe the FBI is on the right track. And it isn't that he doesn't trust his son to stay out of such trouble. It's just that, well, after the whole episode of crashing his school district's data center just to make sure he didn't have to bring a progress report home, the Rat has followed the spirit of the Open Skies Treaty where his son is concerned. 'Trust, but verify,' as Ronald Reagan said.

'Aw, Dad, you know I don't have time for that stuff,' his son replied. 'I'm too busy running my chatboard. I've made enough off GoogleAds to pay my Xbox Live subscription for the next year, so why would I want router source code? Code theft is so yesterday, anyway.'

Not knowing whether to be relieved or chilled by his son's reply, the Rat scanned the line for his underlings. As expected, the cyberrodent's staff was suffering from Star Wars sickness, and only a few hearty stalwarts had made it into the command bunker that day. The Rat had chosen the Senator for his personal case of Sith sickness not just because of its giant screen and retro-classical d'cor, but because it was a good 20 miles from anywhere his colleagues (or department head) might show up.

When he had called in earlier to announce his sudden illness, his boss observed how odd the sudden wave of illness was. 'We haven't had this many people call in sick since last flu season,' he remarked. 'In fact, most of the people out today also called in sick on the same day last fall.'
'Was that last November?' the Rat snuffed as sickly as possible.

'Yes, Nov. 9 was the worst.'

The Rat remembered it well. The dreaded Halo 2 flu. 'I remember that epidemic. It was awful. But don't worry. I'm sure with a little vitamin C, I'll be back in tomorrow.'

The Packet Rat once managed networks but now spends his time ferreting out bad packets in cyberspace. E-mail him at [email protected]

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