0's and 1's: Book 1 CBDT (Cyber-Bullying Defense Team)
(Ben Jie Long, Code Name: Wells)
Hunter is extremely intelligent and surprising; I would have never thought about the issue of downtime maintenance and data compilation hiding records of downloads. It makes perfect sense, because none of the staff seemed either capable or culpable independently or collectively for the crime that we are investigating. An IT breach was a possibility I had investigated early on, but the IT team seemed reasonably capable of dealing with data breaches.
After "Verne", Hunter's alias, gave us the new possible lead and direction, he said he would go over public records for technology consultants and cross-referenced against the names on the list of Ryan's attackers. Shelley, Kevin's alias, said he would take care of building a new program to identify a concurrent download during downtime. They both finished their work by Wednesday; Verne had the name Christian Grayson, a senior consultant for Technology Partners Associates. Shelley was able to verify that during downtime, the entire database was copied electronically onto another device. Based on their work alone, we have drawn a tenuous link between data theft and the Medical Health Partners Associates, but there is no direct link to Christian Grayson.
My job, as Wells, was to figure out a way to identify the transgressor, physically. We knew who he was and his specialty was database information systems. Hunter had theoretically drawn a link between this man and a hack attack on Ryan's school records, which also used these guys to help modernize our school system's records. This man added information into Ryan's file suggesting he had anti-social attitude and had made threats against students in the past from a former teacher, who had died years ago, so there was no way to rebut these false statements, when the school originally looked into Ryan's records after the bomb threat. It is an impressive frame up against an honor roll 15 year old high school senior. I am furious at these guys, but I also look at this issue critically; we can't defeat them without understanding how they function.
The best way to go after this man is to use a new line of security, but I can't install a new security program into the hospital's database. I have to get their IT team to actually make the correct choice themselves. The best way to add new security measures is to create a false security breach, then nudge the IT team into adding a new line of credentialing. I need a pretense, but it is hard to generate one without suspicion.
As I headed into the Thursday tutoring session, a patch of red scurried over to me with slight anticipation. He was around 5 feet 4 inches, skinny and pale, freckled all over, and curly red hair cropping up. When he saw I was alone he quickly sat back down in a sour mood. I knew this boy as Jesse Heron, a 12 year old with advanced lymphoma. His parents came every week for a short 30 minute visit, then left. I can relate to his alienation and his family's less than warm reception; I guess they just don't know how to handle their son's mortality.
He had been one of Ryan's favorite kids and Hunter used to sneak cheeseburgers in for him, when he tutored here. Sometimes, I wondered if Ryan had adopted a kid with Hunter, if he probably would have been just like Jesse. I knew he took Ryan's suicide pretty bad as well; Hunter had tried to tutor after Ryan died, but he couldn't go on with it. Jesse could feel their absence probably more profoundly than I could ever express.
I went over to Jesse, "Hey Jesse, what's up?"
He didn't even look at me, "Nothing, Mr. Long"
Most people knew to call me Benji, some mistakenly call me Ben, but that was cold, "Are you alright? I know Hunter couldn't be here, but..."
Jesse turned to me with an angry expression, "He is sad, because someone hurt Ryan so badly he killed himself. Is that what you are trying so nicely to not say to me?"
Based on the tenor of his voice, I knew I should take him aside. I asked the other tutor to begin the lesson plan without me. The regular nurse on call shook her head as she had seen the whole thing and led us into a small empty exam room.
To be honest, I felt exactly the way he did. Ryan was my best friend along with Hunter too. I was alone and aloof before I met them and Kevin; I knew I was gay, but had no real gay friends. They changed me and made me part of their circle without hesitation or doubt. Losing Ryan was like losing a family member. We weren't always agreeing on every topic or exactly saw eye to eye in terms of rules for technology uses. I prefer to let others find the right solution by giving them the right path to choose, Ryan wanted to fix it for them. That was just his overly kind nature. He was too nice for this world, which needs to feel pain before it can find joy.
I sat down and tried to begin, "Jesse, Ryan was my best friend, too. I can guess you know he and Hunter were boyfriends by the way you reacted."
Jesse glared, holding onto his glint of anger. "No, they were partners, real fucking partners, a couple. They were the best thing to happen in my life, since I got this damn cancer. They made me realize you can still live with cancer and still have dreams. When I saw them together just laughing, playing around, and being themselves, I thought maybe if I can beat this cancer, I might be like them, one day."
Wow, I didn't expect him to come out, I should just clear the air, "Jesse, I'm gay too. There are other people just like Hunter and Ryan. Some of your doctors and nurses have partners, too, or they might have wives and husbands."
For the first time, Jesse actually looked at me, "Do you have a partner?"
Damn, I don't want to give him the wrong idea, "Well no, but I have friends, who are supportive and help to make it less lonely."
Jesse nodded understandingly, "So you're like other gay guys, sleep around and hope one of them sticks and becomes a relationship."
For a 12 year old, he's very well versed, "I guess, but it's not by choice. It's better than being alone."
Jesse frowned slightly, but there was no anger in him, "I know what you mean. When I found out I liked boys at 10, I went online and tried to read up on it. There were loads of stories about amazing gay couples, who fought against evil religious fanatics, monsters and plagues, and even went back in time to fix history. I thought that was what being gay was; I could just come out and find a boyfriend with no problems. Reality struck, I was alone and there was no other gay kid to back me up, only a bunch of loose friends, who traded hand jobs. Then, I got cancer and none of them ever came to visit. My parents never dealt with my sexuality well, so I was completely alone. I wanted to die until I met them."
I know his reality very well; people never write about the loneliness of coming out without friends or family in these wild fictional stories. They create amazing fantasies that gay readers can escape into, maybe to protect themselves from further harm or to deny themselves the bitterness of despair. I was one of those kids, who did not know about how empty life can be as a gay teen. With the rise of web based story sites, we have a million chances to connect to other worlds, but we lose ourselves in reality. There aren't as many gay kids in life as there are in fictional stories, there are far fewer supportive parents, and there are many more bigots and murderers out for our blood for no other reason than what we are. People like Hunter and Ryan are the rare gems that make it worthwhile to keep living and fighting, because a stream of endless sexual partners and encounters will never fill that void of companionship. When we lose that dream, what is there left to fight for?
I think I have learned something new about our foe; something we should have considered long before. Beyond targeting parameters of influential gay teens, they're also attacking our dreams, our ideal gay relationships. Why did they not go after me or Kevin? It's because we are divided and in many ways isolated, despite our friendship or sexual engagement. The next wave of gay leaders will be the first to have gay marriage fully legalized in the United States. They will be the proving ground for how well we can maintain our attachments over a long period of time. That's what they're after beyond power and influence, it's also to dismantle the very essence of our dreams for the future. Without those dreams, death is really a much simpler choice.
I placed my hand on his shoulder, "Jesse, we're not beaten yet. You got to keep fighting; no matter how bleak the world might look, or how hopeless the cause might be. Our dreams may not become realities or they might become nightmares, but we can rise from it."
Jesse stood up and shook off my hand, "The only dream I have left Benji is to payback whoever destroyed Ryan's life!"
He stormed out the room. I think my assumption of surrogate parents was probably accurate for Jesse's relationship with Hunter and Ryan. I'll tell Verne about this mess after I've finished my rounds as a tutor; he needs to be involved, because this is his son after all.
The nurse on call came over to me, "What was that about?"
Not wanting to "out" Jesse, I kept it short with a small observation "He is having a hard time dealing with Ryan's death and his health isn't exactly improving, I bet."
The Nurse nodded and handed me a piece of paper, "You got that right Ben, I tried explaining his chart today and he went ballistic. The doctors think a new colony has gotten into his lungs."
I read the report, but an idea came to mind, "Ms. Fein, can I get a copy to share with Jesse?"
She looked over at Jesse slamming an eraser against a piece of paper, "Well, he needs to hear it from someone. You got the brains of a doctor anyway, so I guess you can try."
I, of course, tried to speak with Jesse again at least for show, but he wasn't really interested with me after our mutual coming out in the exam room. He did look at me at least, but his stare was vacant of emotion.
After tutoring, I went down to the basement of the Hospital and saw Myrlin, the 24 year old IT tech, who I befriended. He was cute in a sort of techy type of way and I could see a few strands of his chest hair cropping out of his dress shirt, which is very sexy. While Kevin is fun to mess around with, he's a twink type in body form. I prefer guys who are slightly older and bearish. I began to converse with him about technology and new hardware that's coming out, including the new chipset Hunter is mass producing with a licensing deal with AMD and Intel separately. He was shocked I had worked with Hunter and Ryan in the design phases of the project, we kept talking and arguing as well.
Myrlin is gay, but he's not your regular gay guy. He's got a more conservative record than Mike Huckabee and a funny sarcastic way of playing with your words. I can give as much as I take from him; I've always liked critical analysis and analyzing his opinions are fun; we both laugh and can keep up our banter for hours. Today, I need to get him on a different path; I need him to develop something.
So I continued with my description of Hunter's new technologies, "Processor for tablets can be made for a lot cheaper and hold better conductivity for battery charges, using this new approach. We were hoping newer generations of tablets would cost a fraction of what they do, now."
"Yeah, it's cheaper to make, but what is up with this promotional bullshit. We both know the mark up is going to be at least 40%, which will make it $30-40 cheaper than regular top line. Hunter is also offering free tablets to a few places, including this hospital. Every doctor is requesting a new tablet, some are asking for 10. It sounds like a lot of stupid free loading your friend has opened up with his hard work."
"Come on Myrlin, it will make workloads much easier for everyone and keep you on a paperless system" I took out Jesse's chart, "Like patient charts don't need to be printed out every time and they can be secured with a tablet's biometric fingerprint scan."
Myrlin took the bait as I guessed he would, "What the fuck are you doing with a patient's chart? You might be smart and Asian, but you aren't a doctor or a nurse."
I shrugged innocently, "Well, I was discussing this chart with a patient, whose one of my tutoring students. The nurse in charge knew."
"Ah Fuck, they should know better, the new goddamn HIPAA requirements said you can't hand off patient information to a third party. You're also not meant to print out extra copies unless the patient or someone with legal privilege asks."
I saw a CINTAS shredder bin nearby and tossed chart in, "Thanks, but why don't you secure your database by adding some credentialing, like have a nurse acknowledge authorization before releasing patient information."
Myrlin looked at me with a wicked smile, almost scary and arousing at the same time, "I should have thought of that. I can't let you help me design the authentication process, but I could use you to bounce off ideas."
Myrlin is a good programmer; maybe not as good as me or the other guys, but he does have really good instincts. All it took was a small possible breach for him to get into designing a whole new subcategory of authentication protocols for the database. They should have implemented this earlier during the Health Information Technology, or HIT, Audit, but like most of HIPAA's implementation, the process was overlooked as a data security problem. While manual processes usually will maintain confidentiality and I doubt the nurse would have gotten away with giving me Jesse's charts, but an electronic credentialing field will keep records for who authorized any type of data extraction. When Christian Grayson comes in, he will not know this was put in place by my hairy friend.
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