Hacking the System

Prologue

Sea Cliff 4 am

Maddox Morgan sat at his computer, rapidly typing code into it. He had a fine set up worthy of many small tech companies. He had all the bells and whistles, multiple machines, 3 D printer, scanner, and software. It was sometimes good to be the only child of a single parent tech company executive. He got all the new toys as soon as his dad's employees did. It was his father's way of showing love. Many of the parents in San Francisco's most exclusive neighborhood did that.

Maddox was a thin pale kid who had earned the nickname "the Vampire", from fellow senior students at Berkeley Prep. He hated his name, Maddox, almost as much as he hated daytime hours. His mother, now long since divorced, had given him that name in honor of some dead relative, but he found only one good thing about it, it made for an awesome hacker name, Mad Max.

Mad Max was angry, very angry. Yesterday he'd been tooling around in his dad's sweet 2015 BMW X6 convertible. He wasn't doing anything wrong, but he'd been stopped by a cop. He'd gotten a ticket. So what if he'd been doing donuts in the mall parking lot. Hadn't the cop ever been a kid? The whole point of doing donuts was to impress your peeps and throw fear into those who felt their cars were in danger. His father had taken the keys from him and grounded him for three weeks. Max loved his dad, but knew his dad had been stupid when punishing him by basically doing the best thing in Max's view; he was to stay at home, except when he went to school. Mad Max had a badge number, 7942. He wanted to teach Officer 7942 a lesson, one that wouldn't be forgotten soon. For all its vaunted protection, Mad Max breached the San Francisco Police Department computer easily, finding who Officer 7942 was, where he lived, all that so called secure personal information. The Officer would be screwed by the time Max had to go to school. So much for vaunted public safety firewalls. They couldn't stand up to Maddox Morgan.

"Whoa" Max breathed when he saw the address. The guy lived in Police Headquarters? He dug deeper, his eyes widening when he found out who Officer 7942 was. He decided not to do the usual hack of the Officer's bank and credit, but instead he'd teach the department a lesson, starting with Officer Mark Sanger and his boss, Robert T. Ironside. Max smiled. This would be fun. He downloaded several viruses into the entire SFPD system that he knew would keep their tech crew busy for a time then very carefully started on the computers of Robert Ironside.

8:00 am Ironside's Office

Eve Whitfield stared at her computer screen. She'd been doing it for a couple of hours, but it felt like days. Groaning at her failure to find the information she wanted, she bowed her head slightly, first rubbing tired eyes, then running her fingers through her short blonde hair, cradling her head by spreading her fingers at her temples.

"C'mon you stupid machine, find me that document." The computer was nonplussed.

Eve rose and walked into the small kitchen of her office. Stretching slightly, she poured a cup of coffee and drank it, staring at the laptop on the round oak table. She knew the Chief would be disappointed if she couldn't provide him with the document he wanted and he'd certainly let her know about that. She heard the door open, felt her stomach flip. Time to get it over with; she was expecting the worst from the Chief.

"Morning! You're here early," Ed Brown offered as a greeting as he walked into the room. "Chief up yet?" He joined her at the coffee maker accepting the mug she gave him. He took a sip waiting for Eve to fill in the blanks.

"I came in early to finish the report on the Maroni case. And it's the craziest thing Ed; it's the document that won't show itself, no matter what I do." She said.

"What one? The one you were working on yesterday, that one?"

"Yes. Every case note madeā€¦gone, the Chief wanted that report on his desk this morning. I'm going to have to start out all over again".

Brown went over to the computer, sat down and typed in commands. "Weird. Did you try the other laptops? We're networked, right?"

"Not yet and yes, we are." Eve said.

Ed got up and went over to a sideboard. Opening it, he took out two identical laptops. Handing one to Eve, they turned them on and began searching for the missing file.

"Nothing. It's like we never did anything in this office during the last six weeks," Ed said. "What do you have?"

"Ditto." Eve replied, pausing. "Ed, who would want to do something like this to us? What if the entire department got hacked?"

"I don't know Eve, but we better get someone from IT up here fast, because this not going to make for a good start to the day."

"What isn't Sergeant?" Ironside demanded, coming out of his bedroom.

The two stiffened.

"I asked you a question Sergeant. Do you want to tell me the answer?"

Quickly Ed explained what had happened, with Eve filling in details from her failed attempts to find the case notes earlier.

"It must be a virus of some sort Chief. I'll get IT up here as soon as possible." Eve said.

"Do it quickly, but just in case we're compromised, I want everything committed to paper. We need a backup."

Ironside rolled over to the coffeepot and poured himself a mug. Ed Brown had been right, he mused as he drank. It was a bad start to the day and unknowing to all, it was about to get a lot worse.