The scene: a room in near darkness. A figure, seated, visible only by the glare of computer screens. He sits forward, intensely observing the dark web’s data streams. He already knows from the patterns of activity that something big is about to go down.
He is waiting but primed for action, watching for a Name. His traps are pre-prepared: small programs ready to record all the keystrokes on any computer they can infiltrate. These short pieces of code are also lurkers in the darkness. Just like him, they are thieves. Stealers of usernames, passwords, website activity. His prey are usually blind to these lurking bots which compromise their machines.
The word from the criminal network is that it’s about to be Open Season. Big Game Season. If the low down from his contacts is right, he will not need the dark room for a while, he can emerge, spend a few days in the light. Indulge his online shopping addiction, buying directly from the bank accounts of his prey, ever protected by the cover of a mailing address in countries where the laws of the internet are not enforced. Then, once he has extracted what he needs to satisfy the addiction, he will sell the stolen identities on to his ready and hungry buyers, at a premium. Medical records are his biggest earner on the digital data Black Markets.
He sees it now. The Name is out on the Dark Web.
He jumps up, the chair falls backwards. He can’t believe it. It’s big. Really big. For him, it’s pure, black gold. They’re broadcasting the List itself on the dark network.
His cold calculating mind is already processing the numbers. His lottery win is the published List on the dark web, but the List itself is irrelevant to him. He’s a thief himself, not one of his buyers. The numbers are astronomical. He runs through them again. He reckons up a few million people are about to unwittingly install his program on their computers.
He sets his traps in the massive email lists he’s stolen over a criminal lifetime and camouflages them with quickly rendered but professional looking websites. He baits the traps with a sign. The sign reads “we’ve got the list and we’ve made it searchable – find out if anyone you know is on it – click here”. That click, the link, is how the crime is done. With each click thru, a lurker program goes back up the link, on to the prey’s computer, ready to steal everything which is typed. He checks his numbers again. Yes, he’s sure. His success rate will be in the millions. Not just those on the List, but anyone with a need or desire to look. The silence of the room is briefly broken as he mutters “…Journalists… Lawyers…”.
He sets about his work.
It’s later now.
His work is now done, all the traps set, so he sits back again, returns to just watching the screens. Waiting for the first traps to close.
He watches the public newsfeeds now too, monitoring the internet for the first mentions of the Name. He doesn’t have to wait long to see it everywhere.
..“Ashley Madison”… “Ashley Madison”…
In the dark room, the figure is sitting, waiting, watching. It’s too dark to see the cold smile on his face.