TLC & Editing: Piroton
Prologue: The Three Paths of Hacking
Although the swords GanJiang and MoYe were forged from ordinary iron, but they were lovingly forged, and imbued with the spirit of their makers, such that they became part of the ten treasure swords. A treasured sword is always a double-edged blade; both good and evil exist in one’s heart, and hackers were no exception!
(TLC note: for english readers, (干将)GanJiang and (莫邪)MoYe are swords with fame equalling that of Excalibur or Durandal, swords of such status they are legend. They’re not the *most* famous, but they are close.)
In this world, what is black? What is white?
The concept of black and white has actually existed in their hearts for a while, but their hearts occasionally contain hazy bewilderment as well. Hackers search for the freedom of the mind; however, there are no lack of those without freedom in the hackers’ world.
There are people who say they are pirates of the internets, and there are people who say they are dark heroes of this interconnected network. They are a group of computer maniacs residing underground; although they have excellent skills, they are unable to show their faces in public. No matter how many different faces they had on the outside, their souls were the same. Their story is heart-rending and from it, we can continuously infer their vivid lives…
The world of hackers also has its own society.
Computers were lined up in neat rows inside the research and development room of a certain network security company, and the humming produced by the CPU fans was almost intoxicating.
There were two staff members on duty in the R&D room. The younger among the two, a programmer who appeared to be a little dispirited, was currently invested in playing a programming game called “Core War” on his computer, calling out in excitement as he played. The other researcher shook his head and smiled helplessly. Compared to the young programmer’s zeal, this old researcher with grizzled hair and a face full of wrinkles appeared poised and calm. He was sitting in front of a computer recording something.
Suddenly, one of the computers let out a short and urgent alarm. The grey haired researcher rushed to the younger and said, “Mike, some reckless stinkbug charged into our honey pot again. Stop playing your game for now and get rid of that stinkbug!”
“Stinkbug” was the term network security experts used to refer to malicious network invaders, although some termed them “hackers” (or “crackers”).
Mike quit the game, cursing in a low voice. Those so-called hackers really have nothing better to do! Mike couldn’t recall how many times the company server had been attacked since the establishment of the antivirus security company “Kano”, but fortunately, no one ever truly succeeded in invading their server. To break through the internal firewall developed by a highly skilled researcher in the company was definitely not an easy matter. Furthermore, this was a triple-layered firewall! Those “stinkbugs” wanting to quietly invade the main server without being discovered was practically as difficult as ascending to the heavens!
Since that stinkbug triggered the firewall’s response system, they were likely to fall into their “honey pot system”. Since it was called a “honey pot”, it was naturally made of layer upon layer of false systems to lure the gluttonous blind hacker into taking the bait. The “honey pot” was like hunters laying out a trap and waiting for a gluttonous prey to fall inside, like “catching a turtle in a jar”. The principle behind the “honey pot” and hunter traps were the same: capture first, attack later!
Although Mike was rather dissatisfied inside, he still felt a little interest in the “stinkbug” that was able to charge into this honey pot. Mike smiled slightly, his fingers moving into position on the keyboard. Let us play a game of “Cat and Mouse”.
The unfamiliar intruder strut into the “honey pot system” while ostentatiously navigating the system. It was like they basically didn’t care about Mike’s pursuit; the intruder even started leisurely breaking into the disguised honey pot at ease.
Seeing such a rookie method, Mike couldn’t help laughing. This guy was amusing, was he not even a little worried that doing this would give them enough time to track down his IP address?
Mike followed the data source to start searching for the target IP: America’s California, the first proxy; Indonesia, the second proxy; Japan’s Yokohama, the third proxy… Oh, my god, Mike screamed, just how many proxies did this guy go through?! It was during Mike’s exclamation of this “stinkbug’s” unexpected caution that the intruder finished breaking through the first layer of the firewall installed in this honey pot system.
After the first firewall was penetrated, an alarm immediately rang out. The old researcher making records in front of the computer furrowed his brows, his face revealing a serious expression.
“Mike! What’s happening?!”
“Doug, sir, this guy is extremely careful. I can’t find his address! He passed so many false systems, and the number of proxies he used is incredible!” Even Mike lost his composure for a moment.
“No matter how many proxies they have, once we find one, immediately destroy it. We need to make him unable to cover his traces!” Doug sat at a computer, sending instructions to Mike.
Receiving Doug’s command, Mike set out to destroy the infected botnet computers that he had already discovered. The quality and security functions of these infected computers were varied. Some were personal computer systems, and some were company servers. However, these infected computers had clearly been reinforced; to breach these proxies in a short time really wasn’t easy!
The intruder seemed to have also discovered the intention of these two workers and suddenly retracted their previous lethargy. They started invading the second firewall layer at a quick and violent speed, causing the alarm ringing to become even more shrill! After they breached the second firewall, Mike’s computer screen suddenly turned dark!
Doug and Mike watched on dumbfounded, just what was this? “Kano” Antivirus Security Company actually got cut off!?
Doug recovered first, shouting out to Mike, “Quickly gather the company’s technicians! I’ll go delay him, we mustn’t let him enter the main server!”
“Kano’s” main server supplied the access point for the antivirus database’s upgrade procedures for the whole country and even clients throughout the world. If it was infiltrated by a hacker, it would cause an incalculable loss!
An excited expression suddenly appeared on Doug’s aged face. It seemed like it had been a long time since he felt like this. Back when he was younger, he had also been a wandering internet hacker, but reality forced him to find a stable job. Tormented by work day after day, the fervour from his former days gradually faded away. Tonight, the encounter with this intruder re-ignited his former passion.
Doug quickly entered commands on the computer with both hands, streams of data scrolling across the screen. Doug opened up the tracking program to trace the other party, while repairing and reinforcing the third firewall layer installed on the main server, only opening up a port to allow users on the internet to download the antivirus upgrade.
The tracking program continuously executed a tracking analysis, but Doug discovered that the tracking program seemed to be caught up in a baffling dead-end loop. The IP numbers from the analysis constantly changed, but the changing factor looked very familiar. This discovery made Doug feel very confused.
No matter how strong a firewall was, it had its flaws. The core algorithm for this three-section firewall was roughly the same, and since the other party successfully breached the preceding two firewalls, then successfully getting past this section of the main server’s firewall was only a matter of time. Doug only wanted to increase the amount of time it would take to breach the server as much as possible.
Doug attentively observed the hacker’s infiltration method, while immersed in analysing the data packets that flowed out. Suddenly, the packet sniffer intercepted a large amount of the data streaming in, and then “bang!”, Doug’s computer started emitting smoke!
Doug freaked out inside, how could this be? How did the hacker suddenly wreck his computer! He now knew it was no use pursuing this damn “stinkbug”, the opponent’s strength couldn’t be underestimated. Doug gave up on tracking the hacker, and tried to engage this valiant intruder with psychological methods and words.
Doug sat at another computer and connected to the internet, both hands on the keyboard. Using a type of chatting method commonly used when hacking, he typed a line of text: “Who are you? What are you trying to do?”
“I’ve come to find something. Relax, if you don’t close the server, it’ll be good for both you and me…” A line of text flashed on Doug’s screen; however, these words directly struck Doug’s weakness.
He naturally understood that his last resort was to cut off the main server’s connection to the internet users while the hacker had yet to break through, but Doug couldn’t imagine the uproar that the internet would be in the next day if he really offended the other party while doing this; the might of public opinion would be enough to let “Kano’s” competitors trample over them.
Doug sat in front of his computer in a daze, watching the opponent valiantly breaching the third layer of firewall and entering the main server.
“Just what do you want!?” Doug angrily typed on the keyboard.
The hacker ignored Doug’s question and started downloading the virus source code inside “Kano’s” virus database, as well as the virus diagnostics database!
In just a short time, the virus source code and virus diagnostics database was flowed through the internet at a tremendous rate and reached the other end.
The alarm was still ringing shrilly, and by the time “Kano’s” technicians hurried to the R&D room, Doug was simply gazing blankly at the screen without a word.
“Sir, what happened to that stinkbug?” Mike asked softly.
“Gone.” Doug’s voice seemed considerably worn out.
“Gone? What did they do!”
Doug pointed to the screen with a grimace, still not saying a word. Everyone crowded over before discovering a wriggling line of text that remained on the screen: Hackers have three paths: The path of unlimited loopholes; The path of inside information; and the path of endless pursuit!
The very quintessence of hacking, was encoded within these three paths with not a single wasted word!
As Doug looked at the wriggling words on the computer screen, he sighed in his heart: “In the Yangtze river, each wave pushes the next wave ahead; the new will replace the old. Looks like the online world will soon be engulfed in a storm of carnage.”