Vladimir sat in his office just outside of Nuremberg. He had been born in Russia and done his fair share of black bag operations in the past. That lifestyle had him riding around in a wheelchair now. There was a bullet lodged in his spine from when an operation went bad. He had always been good with computers and now that skill was the only thing supporting him.
He didn’t really remember how he got involved with this operation. It all seemed to start with a friend from the Russian mafia providing an introduction to an Arab gentleman. They wanted the same kind of Trojan horse virus he had written for the Russians to collect much of the same information. He originally assumed it was yet another identity theft ring. What was once a necessity of the spy game was now big business. He was somewhat surprised when they told him he didn’t need to make the virus install itself or look for credit card information. They were more interested in gathering information on the machine itself: CPU serial number, Network card ID, the full IP routing where possible. A mental warning alarm should have gone off when he heard this, but it didn’t.
He told them the best method of getting what they wanted was a small simple ping script attached to an email that would ping a fixed IP address hard-coded into the script, which then communicated with a server. The server and virus could send several messages back and forth containing the email address, message header, machine hardware information and other data. He would be able to write both sides of the software and as long as the script didn’t try to open the address book of the email software it should remain undetected. He could also put code into it which would allow it to determine whether it was being read from within a Web page rather than an email program on a local machine. He could then have the browser return much of the information.
The Arab asked how many versions of the Trojan horse Vladimir could deliver. He was certain that eventually some virus checker would catch onto the signature and the tool would be useless. Vladimir felt he could come up with five versions with different signatures and tactics so most virus scanners wouldn’t block them for months. He said the real danger was in using a hard-coded IP address instead of a Web address looked up online. It is easy to get caught that way, but a hard-coded address that avoided DNS (Dynamic Name Service) lookup would stall off virus scanners longer. The Arab informed him they had no fear of getting caught. The IP address would be forwarded from inside of a secure facility.
In truth, that last statement should have been Vladimir’s second warning. He was definitely off his game. It wasn’t that Vladimir minded the killing game or killing itself. If this had been a simple seek and destroy and he had still been hale and whole, he would have gladly signed up to kill al-Qaeda members. Russians had died in the Twin Towers as well. A good many of his former coworkers actually had gone off to engage in that sort of game shortly after September 11.
What bothered Vladimir about this operation was learning what he shouldn’t have learned. Vladimir was the only non-Nazi Party member to know about the second camp. At least he believed he was, with the exception of the Arab he had met. Vladimir had absolutely no problem killing these people. He had spent many of his younger days putting two behind the ear of many different types of people. His objection was to the incinerator and the “showers” and a building site that could end up on the news. His office wasn’t far from the place where trials had been held, and photographs of things like that had sent some rather infamous people to their deaths.
Life in a wheelchair was still life after all, and the Russian mafia had been paying quite well for his services. He kept his old contacts active there in case he needed to make a speedy trip with a new identity. During his idle time, Vladimir pondered why he had taken this job. It always came down to the same two reasons:
The pay was more regular and just as good as his other work.
He really believed these people deserved to die.
Vladimir made himself a promise, though. The day people started going to the second camp in buses and trains instead of the back of a car, he was out of here. He told nobody of his promise, but he had his mafia contacts move his money to accounts in many different countries. There was simply no telling how far he would have to run when this was over. One thing he had not puzzled out was why there were so many refrigeration units built at the site. With all of the refrigeration units and loading docks out front, the place looked like a food distribution center.
His computer playing a WAV file and popping up a message pulled him out of his thoughts and back into the room he called his office. Much as some people have their email client playing a “You’ve got mail!” jingle when email came in, he had his ping server set up to play the Monty Python “Message for you sir” sound byte whenever it got a confirmed hit. He quickly clicked on the message box button to display the information and the IP address trace. Two hits had been received from the same address in Lutton, England.
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