Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Inspiration Hack

Last Sunday my Twitter account was hacked. It was little more than an annoying inconvenience, a string of tweets all sent within a minute of each other that I just ran down through and deleted. I trust my friends who follow me were clever enough to spot the spam and not click any links, but I imagine it was annoying for them too. For a minute on Sunday, their feed got clogged up with more than the usual level of junk that I tweet.

I caught it about an hour after it happened, so some friends might not even have seen it. Three of my friends were good enough to contact me about it, and at least one also contacted Claire, just in case.

Over the last few years, I've made my passwords stronger and stronger, but some sites that I've been a part of for a while don't get updated enough. It's worse now that I have my iPad, and everything is always logged in for me, so I don't even have to use my passwords. Rest assured, I have updated my Twitter password, as well as a few others that I neglected recently.

However, all this did serve as my muse for my latest short story, You've Been Hacked, published here. So, for that, thank you, malicious bastard hacker program. I have no idea how you learned of my alpha-numeric, non-dictionary password, but I'm actually kind of glad you did.

Just don't do it again. Thanks.

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You've Been Hacked

You've Been Hacked.

I never imagined it would take so little to strike fear right to my core. Just three words on a black background. I opened my eyes and blinked twice.

You've Been Hacked.

It was still displayed on my Message Center, on a red banner, scrolling across my eyes. It took a few seconds before I realised I was shivering, and a few more before I realised why. I stumbled out of the freezing shower, gasping for breath, and fell painfully onto the bathroom mat. You've Been Hacked floated above the back of my hands.

I shook my head, willing my Message Center to close, and had to approve the standard confirmation request in the event of an unread priority message. I looked around, grabbing the towel I kept on the back of the door and wrapping it around myself, without actually standing up yet. Once I felt I had regained enough control of my shaking legs, I tried supporting myself on the toilet and pushed to a standing posture.

My heart skipped half a beat when I opened the door. I could hear low voices from the living area. I didn't remember inviting a guest to stay, let alone enough to hold a conversation without my involvement. My apartment just wasn't big enough for that many people. I inched into the hall, trying to be quiet, but every splash of water from my clothing sounded like a waterfall in my head. I was soaked through. I must have been in the shower for a while.

A moment of brief relief passed over me when I saw that the wall monitor was set to a station, broadcasting a report with someone talking from a studio to a woman standing outside, the honeycomb dome barely visible in the night sky behind her. The sound was turned low, such that, even standing at the doorway, I couldn't make out what was being discussed.

I shuffled, shivering uncontrollably, into the bedroom. I was just pulling on a warm, dry pair of cargo pants when my Message Center flashed up again.

1 Priority Message. 4 Messages. 16 Missed Calls.

I willed my Message Center to display my messages. Two were marked Where are you? One CALL ME, in all caps, and one Have you seen the news feeds? I walked into the living area, expecting it before I saw it.

My face stared, dead-eyed, back at me from the wall monitor. Well, it was almost my face. No amount of rendered pores, blood vessels or muscles could hide the uncanny valley effect of a 3D generated model mask, despite the cost of the police software behind it. But it was definitely me, or my evil, plastic twin.

The woman reporter reappeared, mumbling something just below comfortable hearing level. Lights flashed behind her, reds and blues casting odd shadows across her perfectly retexture features, ruining the effect of a very expensive procedure. Below her, a ticker scrolled past.

16 Confirmed Dead In Terrorist Attack On El-Rail Car

Time to read that Priority Message.