Hackers cause all kinds of grief for cell phone users.
Hadley Wilkins was an electronic engineer who had helped develop cell phone technology. He hated hackers, so he decided to go after Henry “the Hulk” Histoid, the meanest, most intrusive hacker in the business.
But he decided to do his work not as mild mannered Hadley Wilkins, but as Cyberman, defender of the cell phone innocent and the digitally clueless.
Using his own genius software, Hadley lurked on the Hulk’s cell phone circuit. He watched and listened for a week as the Hulk did his dirty work on other people’s cell phones—listening to, and sometimes interrupting, their conversations. He also messed with their private cell phone files.
Hadley hacked into the Hulk’s file of personal phone numbers. There were lots of them. Hadley collected the Hulk’s personal data and credit card information. He already knew a lot about the Hulk’s buying patterns and e-the mail addresses of the companies he bought from. Hadley knew he could order all kinds of merchandise from online companies and catalog stores. He could even mimick the Hulk’s voice if the companies recorded the sales calls for verification.
When everything was ready, Hadley punched in the cell phone number that only the Hulk’s friends and close associates knew. The Hulk’s cell phone screen said the call was coming from “Amber.”
“Amber. Baby! Long time no talk,” said the Hulk.
Amber’s voice came on the line, and Amber’s face appeared on the Hulk’s cell phone screen, but the message was Hadley’s.
“I just called to say I never want to hear from you again, you jerk.” Click.
The Hulk dialed Amber’s number. He got a “caller blocked” message.
Panicked, the Hulk dialed his best friend Torgel.
“Torgel” answered the call with a happy voice: “Hulk, thanks for the hundred smackers, man.”
“What hundred smackers?” asked the Hulk.
“From your bank, Dude! They called me yesterday and said you’d gifted me a hundred dollars for my birthday. My birthday isn’t until next month. You’re the Dude, dude!” Then “Torgel” hung up. Torgel’s number rang unanswered when the Hulk tried to call back.
The same pattern was repeated for every friend and associate that the Hulk tried to contact: anger and denunciation for supposed insults, or warm appreciation for the Hulk’s generosity.
The Hulk called his bank and demanded that it replace the funds withdrawn. The cashier explained that the bank had the Hulk’s voice on a recording asking for the payments and declined to replace the funds. The cashier bumped the Hulk’s call up to the assistant manager who gave the Hulk the same message and bumped the call up to the bank manager who gave the Hulk the same response using the exact words the cashier had used. Then the incoming calls began.
“Mr. Henry. This is Art Larsen, World Wide Travel calling to confirm your trip day after tomorrow to Estonia. We expedited the visa process by paying the large surcharge that you authorized. Just give the airline your name and show your passport when you check in.”
“Mr. Henry. This is Ollie Olsen, from Peterburg Outdoor Outfitters. You can pick up your new all-terrain vehicle and your camping equipment anytime at our Southside facility.”
Panicked and distraught, Henry Histoid ran to his car, put his cell phone on the cement in front of a tire and ran over it. Then he went back inside and sat down with his head in his hands. A phone rang. It was the Hulk’s land line. He never used that line. In fact he had forgotten he had a land line. The phone kept ringing. Hulk finally picked up. “Hello?”
“Have you learned your lesson about the pain hacking causes?” asked the voice on the phone.
A crestfallen Hulk responded “Yes. Yes I have.”
“Good,” said the voice. “You are lucky this time. All those calls were as fake as the hack calls you’ve been making. The next time you hack a phone that stuff will happen for real.”
“Who is this?”
An announcer’s voice from a bygone era intoned:
“It’s a bird. It’s a plane. It’s CYBERMAN!” Click.
Dr. Larry Day is a retired KU J-School professor, humor columnist & author of Day Dreaming: Tales From the Fourth Dementia, a collection of short stories that have NOTHING to do with old age available on Solstice Publishing.