He had PG&E's Power in His Hands

April 30, 2010
By ZeroVa SILVER, Milpitas, California
ZeroVa SILVER, Milpitas, California
8 articles 0 photos 0 comments

His name was Tom. He was a packet, one of millions that lived on a mainframe in a PG&E building. He never left the hard drive his family lived in, as his parents were strict, and worried that he might get corrupted. However, Tom did not like living life in the 800 GB hard drive he and his family lived in. He wanted an adventure, something new. He wanted to see the world, travel through new networks. Maybe go to Korea through some high-quality cables and meet some Korean MD5 or SHA encrypted voice packets that came from the severs at all the online gaming companies. It was a dream. He wanted to leave the little hard drive and explore the internet. But, most of the time, he just went back and forth, sending and receiving instructions from the ALU (Arithmetic and Logic Unit) that worked for the AMD CPU in the mainframe. The ALU was the boss. He told everyone where to go. It was supposed to be a great honor to be a messenger for the ALU, but Tom wanted better things. He said to his mother, "Mom, look! Bob and Dylan are probably in China right now, transferring MPS music from hard drive to ram! There having the time of their lives, and I have to stay here and be a messenger! It is BORING!" His mother argued, however. "Tom, I used to be just like you. When I lived at a server at Cisco, I wanted to go somewhere new. I ended up at a Pc somewhere in Massachusetts. Little did I know that that PC had a virus that was reformatting its hard drive! I was nearly wiped out! I found this mainframe, here in PG&E, because it's safe. Yes, it may be somewhat cramped, with all the HTML packets and HTTP data, but this is safe. It's home sweet home. What else would you need?"

To his surprise, Tom's dream came true one day. The owners of the server, that controlled the cpu, decided to move the mainframe to another room. There, it would be used as a server for the new IP phones PG&E was using to allow the leaders and executive to communicate. The ALU decided that Tom had been a good servant. He noticed that Tom looked sad. The ALU asked, "What is the matter, Tom? You seem upset." Tom replied, "Well, I want to explore. I have lived in this server my whole life, for 10 whole minutes! I am one of the senior messengers, and I work hard. However, I want to explore the world. I want to go beyond this mainframe, go around the world!" "Well..." The ALU thought for a moment. "I can't promise that you'll go around the world, but I know how I can send you on a adventure!" "How?" Tom asked happily. "Well, now that this mainframe runs a telephony server program, I can reassign you to work there. You will go around most of western America, going from one PG&E office to another. WHo knows? Maybe you'll help the CEO carry out commands!" "Really?" You can do that for me?" Tom asked, about to self-destruct with happiness. "Yes, of course. I'll send a message to the Linux telephony server right now."

Tom said goodbye to his family, and departed. He was sent to the IP phone server program. His name was PGELinuxIPPhoneServer42. Most of the data packets called him Server 42. "Hello, Tom." Said 42. "The ALU tells me you are one of his best packets. I hear you want to explore. You don't want to stay on the system, carrying out internal operations." "Yes, that's right." "Well," started 42, "I can give you a position here. You would carry messages between me and other servers, and perhaps some client devices. Would you be interested in working here?" "YES!" Tom replied. Server 43 used its writing powers to modify Tom's trailer and header data, and modifies its MD5 checksum. This marked him as a packet that worked for the IP Phones, and one that had started at Server 42.

Tom took off. He left his home in Santa Cruz, California, and went, first, to a PG&E office in Fremont, CA. Everywhere Tom went, a server would fill him with data (obtained from clients) and send him off to his next destination. Tom thought his life was perfect. He was an adventurer! He felt invincible, like a level 7 encrypted password. The perfection of Tom's life was ruined, however, when he was sent on his most important mission. Tom was working for the CEO of PG&E. He was working for the people that could do anything to the electrical system of the Pacific. Tom was to be one of 6 voice packets that would go to a broadcast server, and deliver a message to all of the head executives of PG&E. The message was, "Do not turn the power off." He was on single mode fiber optic cable, the highest quality cable he had ever been on. He was nervous.

To Tom's bad luck, there was ha hacker on the loose. One who had the knowledge (acquired by interrogating people who once worked at PG&E) to hack into PG&E's network. The hacker sent out a Trojan virus that was to make a copy of all packets that passed it, and send a copy back to the hacker. Tom, being the righteous packet he was, thought this was wrong. He thought, "If I ever see this virus, I am going to single-handedly delete it!" He didn't know, however, that this virus was on the network that he would have to go through in order to send the message. Tom wan the first one to see the Trojan. The Trojan was strong. Hundreds of hours were used to make the millions of lines of code designed to bypass all of the security at PG&E. The Trojan laughed. “Here comes another packet. Come right through. I won’t hurt you. All I want is a copy of your data.” “No.” Tom said, flatly. Tom lunged at the massive Trojan. “Maybe I cannot delete you…” He said. “But I will expose you! You will not be allowed to hack into my network!” With those heroic words, Tom (forgetting his important mission), somehow modified his own data. He turned into the human equivalent of a ‘bomb’. Tom attached himself to the Trojan. “No!” the Trojan screeched. “Get off me!” However, it was too late. Tom exploded, losing his data. However, he was able to corrupt the virus, so it could not carry out its work.

The rest of Tom’s team wondered where Tom was. When they could not fins him, they moved on, not noticing the dead data that was once Tom. The other packets were broadcasted. This lead to more trouble. Why? Because Tom’s word was “Not”. So, the message those packets sent to all of the PG&E executives was “Do turn the power off”. And so, for 15 minutes, all PG&E households lost power. It was a HUGE blackout. The Trojan was blamed, but the hacker was never found. Thanks to Tom’s unnoticed efforts, PG&E was safe. If Tom had not sacrificed himself, the hacker would today control all electricity given to PG&E customers. So, next time you switch the lights on or off, remember how Tom saved the electricity you use every day!

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