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Hacking?

PostPosted: Thu Dec 06, 2012 4:33 pm
by Thaddeus
By the way, Josh, how effective is hacking in the solar calender?

Re: Hacking?

PostPosted: Fri Dec 07, 2012 3:13 pm
by Joshua A.C. Newman
Computer hacking? If it's local, it has the limitations you'd expect. Interstellar communication is more like snail mail — it has to go through a transit gate, which, depending on the transit corporation, might get read and censored ir might have to be put in a queue to get sent. Remember that the entire gate apparatus, including all the engineers and their families only point the gate at one destination at a time.

Keep in mind: mobile frames are largely analog, though there are digital control systems on the more expensive systems that control the analog stuff. There are actual, physical tubes of fluid running through frames and their nervous systems are each subtly unique, grown to adapt to the pilot that usually pilots that frame.

Re: Hacking?

PostPosted: Fri Dec 07, 2012 4:19 pm
by Thaddeus
I see. Hacking plays a major role in my system, Thesis.

Re: Hacking?

PostPosted: Fri Dec 07, 2012 6:08 pm
by Joshua A.C. Newman
RIght on. Do you have it written up somewhere?

I might suggest that you avoid too broadly-spread a network; otherwise, no fighting robots.

Re: Hacking?

PostPosted: Fri Dec 07, 2012 8:20 pm
by Thaddeus
Joshua A.C. Newman wrote:RIght on. Do you have it written up somewhere?

Yeah, viewtopic.php?f=9&t=2308

Joshua A.C. Newman wrote:I might suggest that you avoid too broadly-spread a network; otherwise, no fighting robots.

No. Plus, by this time security programs will have been advanced considerably.
I'm thinking of having the SU security programs on Thesis be written by the Serpent Legion.

Re: Hacking?

PostPosted: Mon Dec 10, 2012 12:16 pm
by Foxfire
Even if you are not hacking a frame's core system directly, I am sure there are still plenty of things to hack.

Sensors, ECM, ECCM, communications, etc all have some form of external facing interface that may be hacked or spoofed. You don't have to directly take control of a frame to take shut a frame down. Forcing a shut down/lockout/reboot of his sensor systems would take him out of the fight for a bit. Imagine getting a blue screen of death on you main display in the middle of a fire fight, then having to wait for the system to reboot.

One of the bonuses to the low-tech repurposed labor frames is that they are much more resistant to these kind of attacks.

Re: Hacking?

PostPosted: Mon Dec 10, 2012 12:46 pm
by Thaddeus
Right. Labour frames are mechanical, billion dollar high tech works of art aren't and are therefore vulnerable.

Re: Hacking?

PostPosted: Wed Dec 12, 2012 5:53 pm
by Joshua A.C. Newman
Labor frames are cheap, cobbled-together, compact car budget pieces of equipment. There are, of course, big fancy ones with lots of computation and communication equipment. Those aren't the ones you use to get your crops to market, though. Those are the TTM frames that get gutted and have more reliable gear installed inside when they get captured because their IFF system told it to pull the trigger at the wrong moment.

You can hack a Yugo, but you gotta get under the hood. And sure, ECM makes a mess, but spoofing is a long way from an inside hack.

Re: Hacking?

PostPosted: Thu Dec 13, 2012 5:44 pm
by Foxfire
Joshua A.C. Newman wrote:Labor frames are cheap, cobbled-together, compact car budget pieces of equipment. There are, of course, big fancy ones with lots of computation and communication equipment. Those aren't the ones you use to get your crops to market, though. Those are the TTM frames that get gutted and have more reliable gear installed inside when they get captured because their IFF system told it to pull the trigger at the wrong moment.

You can hack a Yugo, but you gotta get under the hood. And sure, ECM makes a mess, but spoofing is a long way from an inside hack.


More or less. A lot of hacking requires you to know very specific details about your target. What CPU, OS, patch level, other programs, etc. is the target running? Depending on the exact details, you may or may not have a way inside. A properly crafted garbage data packet to the comm system that causes a stack overflow that results in code being injected into an executable memory space could result in the system opening up a command level backdoor. Depending on the level of system level integration, that could give you access to just the communication system, or it could be the keys to the kingdom. Barring that, knowing a good way to crash or spoof the system can be almost as good.

Technical details aside, one of the most powerful hacking techniques today is social engineering(IE how do I trick or convince a legitimate user to tell me the information I need to access the system). As encryption and systems get more complex, Social Engineering only becomes more essential.

Re: Hacking?

PostPosted: Fri Dec 14, 2012 11:17 am
by Joshua A.C. Newman
Many frames have no digital parts at all! We've got a couple of articles around and the text itself explains how they work.

Social engineering, though, that's where it's at!

Re: Hacking?

PostPosted: Fri Dec 14, 2012 12:05 pm
by Foxfire
Joshua A.C. Newman wrote:Many frames have no digital parts at all! We've got a couple of articles around and the text itself explains how they work.

Social engineering, though, that's where it's at!


I understand that frame drive and control system is analog, but what about other systems, all radios today are pretty much digital, are you saying that we went back to analog for communication systems(and sensors and HUDs, etc)?

Re: Hacking?

PostPosted: Fri Dec 14, 2012 1:09 pm
by Joshua A.C. Newman
No, but there's no reason to believe those things are all networked to the outside, either.

So, for instance, my radio might be digital, but if it's not connected to the control scheme or sensors of the frame, all you can do is misinform me or call me names. My HUD tells me heat signatures, shows me a map, and so forth, but it's my finger on the trigger (by giant-finger proxy), so again, you can fool the pilot (which might be useful!) but not take actual control of anything.

Spoofing sensors is pretty de rigueur anyway; that's what ECM is, but I'd hardly call it a hack in the "creative application of byproducts" way. And it's not like those sensors, again, are tied into another system.

I'll point out here that the way you defeat an M1A1 Abrams main battle tank is with a guy on a rooftop who has a cheap, disposable, cobbled-together launcher for a 30-year-old rocket-propelled grenade that you bought from a guy you know. You don't hack its sensors. You might obscure them, feed false data, or whatever, but that's a matter of smoke, rubble, and having civilians around.

That is, the interesting hacks here have to do with interacting with pilots. Frames are designed to be durable, modular, redundant, and simple. That's their whole point. The're the AK-47 of this world. Messing with pilots, though, that's interfering in the OODA loop, and that's very good.

Re: Hacking?

PostPosted: Fri Dec 14, 2012 4:07 pm
by Foxfire
Joshua A.C. Newman wrote:No, but there's no reason to believe those things are all networked to the outside, either.

So, for instance, my radio might be digital, but if it's not connected to the control scheme or sensors of the frame, all you can do is misinform me or call me names. My HUD tells me heat signatures, shows me a map, and so forth, but it's my finger on the trigger (by giant-finger proxy), so again, you can fool the pilot (which might be useful!) but not take actual control of anything.

That is what I meant by "level of integration" The really high end combat systems tends to be very heavily networked, and with that networking comes very heavy duty security protocols. The low end systems are very modular and stand alone, and the low end is much more common than the high end

Spoofing sensors is pretty de rigueur anyway; that's what ECM is, but I'd hardly call it a hack in the "creative application of byproducts" way. And it's not like those sensors, again, are tied into another system.

I'll point out here that the way you defeat an M1A1 Abrams main battle tank is with a guy on a rooftop who has a cheap, disposable, cobbled-together launcher for a 30-year-old rocket-propelled grenade that you bought from a guy you know. You don't hack its sensors. You might obscure them, feed false data, or whatever, but that's a matter of smoke, rubble, and having civilians around.

That is, the interesting hacks here have to do with interacting with pilots. Frames are designed to be durable, modular, redundant, and simple. That's their whole point. The're the AK-47 of this world. Messing with pilots, though, that's interfering in the OODA loop, and that's very good.


In the end, you have the very high end stuff that is extremely hard to hack, but IF you somehow managed it, then you would have a lot of control and the low end stuff that is pretty easy to hack, but it really doesn't get you anywhere. In either case, the kind of hacking necessary to get into the systems requires study and preparation which makes it very unlikely that you would be trying to hack something live on the battle field.

To take your Yugo analogy. My current car has everything integrated and accessible through a central computer that has bluetooth and satelite access to the outside world. In theory, you could get control of a lot of information without having the get under the hood, possible induce a phantom fault that causes the whole car to turn off and not start. It still isn't something where you walk up to the car tap a few buttons on your phone and it drives off after you.

Re: Hacking?

PostPosted: Sat Dec 15, 2012 1:53 am
by Soren
There's also no exploit quite as good as physically stealing the other guy's box. I've heard a couple variations on stories where sysadmin X dares Y to get past his security... and the best way turned out to be 'pretend to be maintenance and wheel the server out the front door during lunch, because if you have a badge and a jumpsuit nobody will stop you.' Then you can get into it at your leisure.

Re: Hacking?

PostPosted: Sun Dec 16, 2012 4:16 pm
by Joshua A.C. Newman
There's this subtle little moment in Bruce Sterling's novel, Distraction. In it, the state of Louisiana, having turned itself into a biotechnological world power, is seceding from the Union. The US Army is all heavily invested in cyborg gear, and the protagonist sees a handful of networked, cybernetically enhanced, heavily armed soldiers entering into the bayou, hunting for the enemy.

There's no apparent battle or anything. The soldiers are just never heard from again.

In general, the more complex a system, the more likely it is to fail. That's why the military is so conservative with its tactics and equipment.

But that doesn't mean they don't try! The TTM fave frame, the ST-10 Osprey, is chock full of experimental materials, computation that lets it anticipate the pilot, and networking that helps the company all stay together. That's fine when they can get repairs after every sortie! Somehow, the TTA thinks that this is the way to go.

Maybe in your environment, that's how it works, too! Maybe the special system is a network, and everyone without it gets only one white die.

Re: Hacking?

PostPosted: Sun Dec 16, 2012 6:20 pm
by Thaddeus
Joshua A.C. Newman wrote:Maybe in your environment, that's how it works, too! Maybe the special system is a network, and everyone without it gets only one white die.

That's an interesting idea. I like the ST-10 Osprey the best. Hacking is basically the dynamic I use on Thesis to make drones impractical.

Re: Hacking?

PostPosted: Mon Dec 17, 2012 5:14 am
by Dukayn
Joshua A.C. Newman wrote:In general, the more complex a system, the more likely it is to fail. That's why the military is so conservative with its tactics and equipment.

Also why the Russians weren't using fly-by-wire in their newer fighter jets while the Americans were all for it. If you're going to set off nukes, a fly-by-wire plane's going to fall out of the sky when the EMP wave hits. The mechanical one might lose it's HUD, but it'll stay airborne.

Re: Hacking?

PostPosted: Tue Dec 18, 2012 12:12 am
by Thaddeus
Right. You can't hack cogs and gears and muscle cylinders. But then again, High-Tech stuff is made for a reason.

Re: Hacking?

PostPosted: Wed Jan 02, 2013 6:27 pm
by Foxfire
Thaddeus wrote:
Joshua A.C. Newman wrote:Maybe in your environment, that's how it works, too! Maybe the special system is a network, and everyone without it gets only one white die.

That's an interesting idea. I like the ST-10 Osprey the best. Hacking is basically the dynamic I use on Thesis to make drones impractical.


Yeah we had a thread discussion the practically of drones a while back. Drones are doable, but the level of security, integration, ECM, and ECCM that you would need to make the drone able to survive on a battlefield would make them very expensive. It is generally cheaper an more practical to just put a pilot in the seat.

If you are running a group that places a high value on sentient life and is willing to spend money to avoid putting personnel in harms way, then drones become a viable option.

Re: Hacking?

PostPosted: Wed Jan 02, 2013 8:16 pm
by The Hydromancer
Dukayn wrote:
Joshua A.C. Newman wrote:In general, the more complex a system, the more likely it is to fail. That's why the military is so conservative with its tactics and equipment.

Also why the Russians weren't using fly-by-wire in their newer fighter jets while the Americans were all for it. If you're going to set off nukes, a fly-by-wire plane's going to fall out of the sky when the EMP wave hits. The mechanical one might lose it's HUD, but it'll stay airborne.


Yet another reason why the 'Hog is so awesome! Triple redundant systems for everything. When one was hit by a SAM during the early days of Iraq its pilot lost hydraulics, but she was able to use the backup system. She bacially strong armed the controls directly all the way back to base and landed it. I view most frames (the purpose built ones at least) would be built like the Warthog, built to last!*

*Titanium bathtub included