Nov 5th fiction: Cybercrime, treason & plot at the White House

Four black-clad men in masks and goggles wielding machine guns surged into the small DC basement apartment. Their eyes swept the computer equipment and neatly labelled box files until they rested on Guy, a large man with reddish hair, sitting on the sofa eating a peperoni pizza. They surrounded him, forced him to his feet, pushed him back towards the window and handcuffed him.

A group of armed, but suited gentleman, flew in next. They threw cushions, shoved chairs, charged through the bathroom, two tiny bedrooms and kitchenette, before yelling the all clear.

“Game over,” smirked Bob, somewhat redundantly, from the doorway.

Small, hunchbacked and high-pitched, Bob strode across the room to stand in front of Guy – who even bowed, handcuffed, and with a piece of peperoni stuck to his face – towered high above him.

Yet the game was indeed over. This raid meant hundreds of state secrets would never reach the ears of the general public. The babies that had died terrible deaths in hospitals would remain unnamed. The weapons that had been shipped to dictatorships in the name of democracy would stay classified. And all the things ordinary Americans wouldn’t want to hear anyway, would be left unsaid.

“Does this ring any bells?” asked Bob holding up his iPhone with an email clearly on display. Guy’s face remained blank.

It had all begun 18 months earlier in California. It was here, that the group of anarchists had met at a boot camp. There was Tom who approached Guy in first place. John who was the expert on computer viruses – he collected them. The other Tom – the militant anarchist one – who had planned to bring down the White House before. And Rob ­– who was the leader of the gang.

“We’re going to blow up Obama,” screamed Rob at the first boo-yah meeting. “This will be bigger than Snowdon, more important than the assassination of Kennedy… and the highest profile hack the world has ever seen.”

Guy was the cyber expert and he had come up with the methodology. It had sounded simple enough on paper, but like most plans, it had been a long hard slog to put it into practice. It all started with the covert rental of the DC apartment. And it was from there that they had orchestrated their campaign.

The first point of access was the most demoralising part. It took a month to infiltrate the non-profit on Massachusetts Avenue. This was 4.7 miles away from the White House in physical distance but very closely tied in other ways. Yet once the chain-of-trust attack was in motion, it felt like the back of the problem was broken… even if it was really just the beginning.

Target 2987 was the first White House infiltration. His capture entailed detailed cyberstalking then hitting him with the perfect spear phishing email. It worked. And then, it was just a steady crawl up the food chain until the group reached the gatekeeper to the door mark “classified”.

After that, it all ramped up a notch. There was still a lot of intelligence gathering: getting to grips with the actual systems and working through the chains of access. But it also started to get physical. And when John trailed target 135 around the city for three days and finally swapped a memory stick in a co-ordinated bag spill incident in Starbucks they knew they had hit a tipping point.

To date, it had all gone to plan. And now just before midnight on 4th November – eight hours before they agreed to push the button – they had been scuppered. Guy had been caught alone and red handed with the sort of information that would cause shock waves through America and the rest of the world if it ever got out. Only now it never would.

“You’ve been betrayed,” said hunchback Bob his smirk broadening.

Surrounded by heavies, his face coated in pizza, Guy maintained a blank gaze as he stared at the email Bob held up in Bob’s outstretched hand:

“The White House classified systems have been hacked,” it read. “The information gathered is due to be published on the internet at 8am EST on Thursday November 5th 2015…”

It was so matter-of-fact. Yet it meant the whole plan had failed. And Guy would be made an example of. Perhaps, now every November 5th – even as far ahead as 2045 – children across America would ritualistically burn “Guy’s pepperoni pizza”, sing the Star Spangled Banner and then nip out for slap up vegetarian feast? Who knows, after all, the most unlikely things really do happen.



This story is based on a mixture of Guy Fawkes’ story and expert opinion on what it might take to hack the White House. Check out:

Nov 5th analysis: What would it take to hack the White House?

We consulted five experts including the CTO WatchGuard and a former FBI Cyber Special Agent to discover how possible this really is… and what it would take.  


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