The Secret Life of a Criminal Hacker

If your father was the head of an infamous hacking group in the past would you want to find out more? Follow Caitlyn as she learns that all secrets come with a price...


1. Prologue: Setting the Scene

Caitlyn was always known as outgoing by everyone she met. Her father, who died when she was 12 called her Crystal-Tongued Caitlyn. Caitlyn learned everything she knew from her father and he was always very good with computers. Her mother never spoke about her father's profession when she was younger and he was often away for months saying to Caitlyn he was away on business trips.

For most of her younger life she assumed, like many of her friends that he was an office worker for an International company which required frequent trading deals abroad. When she was 10, he stopped going away and settled down into a firm that specialised in anti-virus software as Chief Software Engineer. The company became world famous for its "Troji-Flux Software" defeating even the most lethal of viruses. After her father died, the company never created another software but Troji-Flux, even to this day was unhackable.

  In her teenage years, Caitlyn (living alone with her mother and younger brother: Henry (7)) had taught herself computer code and could spend hours programming games for her younger brother (who barely remembered his Dad) to play.

When Caitlyn was 15, The money left in Caitlyn's father's will after he died in a hit-and-run accident, was almost at an end and the money earned by Emily (their mother) was not enough to keep the family afloat in their large house. She fianlly decided that they had to move to a three-bedroom ex-council house.

When helping her mother clear the attic of the house before the move, Caitlyn stumbled across old computer and her father's old Troji-Flux work. Emily, who fell into a state of depression when her husband died, had never got round to clearing his stuff and had stuffed it in the attic while she was grieving). Caitlyn booted up the computer to find a complex coding system which would erase the hard drive after five wrong attempts. Her Dad had, however, provided a clue "Puritas Henricus discat amare". Caitlyn knew this was Latin and regretted not taking it at school.

On that Monday morning she vowed to go to see Ms. Carpenter the Latin teacher and ask her what this meant. Ms. Carpenter, an old woman with grey hair who always wore a scarf reguardless of the weather, told her it meant "purity must learn to love Henry". Caitlyn recognised Henry as the name of her little brother but could not understand how this was a clue to the password on her Dad's computer. When she got home she typed the translation into the computer but it rejected it. A sign flashed up "4 attempts left". She decided to leave it until she had another idea of the password.

Weeks passed and she eventually forgot about the computer. On her 17th birthday her brother bought her a Beyoncé CD. Although she wasn't into that sort of music. Her mother took her outside and she was presented with a 06 reg Fiat Punto in black. She questioed how her mother could pay for the car but she said that she had savings that had payed for it and that Cheryl, a woman she worked with had a son who was a driving instructor and he would give 10 lessons for a discounted rate.

About a week after, her mother had gone out to celebrate a colleagues birthday and she was babysitting Henry, she heard the letterbox rattle. A brown envelope was lying on the doormat. "To Caitlyn". It had no stamp so obviously hand delivered. She bounded up to the window to catch a glimpse of the sender but the street was empty. She went upstairs and opened it carefully. Inside were pictures of her Dad. Each one dated on the bottom , left hand corner. He was dressed in an all black suit topped off with sunglasses. He looked likd he was in the Mafia. Beside him were two bulky men also in black suits but this time without the sunglasses. Why would somebody send me these? She turned one over and written in black pen was "Mexico '04". The next: "Cuba '06" and "Mozambique '09". She picked up thd envolope and tipped it upside down. A peice of paper floated out onto her bed typed out with a typewriter

Caitlyn. I think you are now old enough to begin to learn the profession of your father between 1992-2010. What I'm about to tell you is not common knowkedge and I believe you would prefer it to remain private. Your father ran an International gang called "The Smilers". The smilers was world renowned hackers who were responsible for many data crimes between the years above. Your father's alias was "Peter Reydon" and when the gang came underthreat in 2010 he ran away from us like a coward. Its ok though, he got what he deserved. But I thought you'd like to know. Search the internet if you must. The gang was imfamous and under my hand, will be again. Phantom.

She quickly turned on her computer and typed in "The Smilers" to her relief, Google could only find an Estonian rock band bearing that name.

The first day of July was moving day. Emily insisted to her daughter that the computer is not worth taking with them but Caitlyn argued. Not wanting to cause the delivery driver any more grief, she allowed the computer a space in the new house.

In her new bedroom she placed the computer next to her own on pride of place. Between unpacking boxes she switched it on and once again the screen flashes "4 attempts left". What was inside this computer that was so valuable? She had dismissed the letter from Phantom as a hoax. She left it switched on and continued unpacking stuff from boxes. School books, Jewelley boxes, DVDs, Photo Albums. She took out one and went through each page replaying the memories in her mind.

As she turned the page a locket fell out into her lap. She ran her finger over the front and remembered the holiday to the Isle of Man and staying at the Chesterhouse hotel. The locket was a present from her dad and inside was a picture of her family

"you must learn to love your brother Caitlyn" he had said "one day he will be gone and you'll regret it".

Henry had had a heart condition and without modern day technology doctors were certain that he would not have survived beyond five.

Caitlyn stared at the pictures in the album. The sweet little country bedroom her and Henry had shared. On the bedside cabinet they had each been bought a name coaster. She still had hers and often used it when spending hours designing a new game for Henry. Suddenly she felt the desire to read it again and scrambled through her cardboard boxes until she found it.

"Caitlyn" it read, "Derives from the latin being 'Pure' will never let you down".

Almost instantly she jumped to the mouse and violently shook it until the screen woke up. "caitlynmustlearntolovehenry" she typed. The computer flashed "three attempts left". "isleofman": "two attempts left". "locket": "one attempt left". She racked her brain. If she didn't get it right... "chesterhouse" she paused for a moment and crossed her fingers, her index finger hovering over the enter button. This was it she thought, I'll be able to access the computer or everything will be wiped.

She pressed down on the key and the computer whirred into life. On the desktop was a picture of an upside-down frowning face. "The smilers" she dived into a folder marked junk and pulled out the brown envelope. "God knows why I kept this" she skim-read the letter again, this time believing what was written inside. It was alot to take in that the father she knew and loved was actually the leader of a gang of hacking criminals.

She began to search through computer files. There were newspaper cuttings of incidences where data was stolen. Accounts that showed her Dad had millions stuffed away in off-sea accounts. How come we lost the house? Though Caitlyn. Is it possible Mum didn't know of the money? Is this money still around? She continued diving through files. Some were encrypted but many were free to access, thats not like a cybercriminal, though Caitlyn.

She found a document called "Map". It was a map of the world with dates and locations of data hackes, data-selling details and locations pin pointed and residence of hackers involved in the smilers. If we could find the money, we could be comfortable forever. She suddenly got a sinking feeling in her stomach... the police had always considered the hit-and-run and accident. Andrew had simply been in the wrong place at the wrong time... but what if he was targeted? She was determined to find out.

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