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Hacking in Sr4 [Feb. 6th, 2008|10:31 am]
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[eiredrake]
[mood |amusedamused]

When I first picked up the SR4 rules the first character I wanted to play was a hacker. Unfortunately I didn't really know anything about the rules effecting them in sr4. As a consequence my  Irish currently has two decks. The one he had when I first made him that I had implanted as a cybercomlink and a one he built later when I realized that no hacker worth his salt uses stock programs or decks.  So I had him icly start working on a commlink as his official. It also occurred to me when I wanted to upgrade his existing commlink that he had to have his head cut open to make any upgrades. So this new deck is implanted in his cyberarm ( A shark took his meat arm. Long story ).

Anyways, with the prevelance of commlinks I got to thinking. Everybody has one, right and they're all online almost 24/7. Some areas expect you to have them in full broadcast mode so they can see you. In other areas people expect you to be hidden. But any commlink, once somebody notices it is a potential hack waiting to happen even if you have the best firewall money can buy and then upgrade it.

So I was thinking, couldn't you use your 7337 hax0r skills to work up a virtual commlink program? Let that program do it's broadcasting along with a commcode that rotates automagically every once in a while, then leave your other commlinks in hush hush no broadcast mode set only to receive connections from 1 device each or something? That way if the Star or Knights scan you, you're broadcastin with the fake commlink, and if some fragger attempts a hack they'll see your virtual comlink program and crash that rather than your real commlink.

You could even make it a honeypot and give it a shit firewall but some high level ICE and trace shit.
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: friarjohn
2008-02-06 04:09 pm (UTC)

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hrmmm. An interesting idea. Wouldn't it be easyer/faster to just have to comlinks then?
[User Picture]From: eiredrake
2008-02-06 04:13 pm (UTC)

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I do have two commlinks.

At one point in the last adventure I had about 6 that I hacked and was planning to use as relays in this weird prison we were in.

But in the case of virtual commlinks, you could have as many as you liked, kill, reboot or modify any of them on the fly and change any aspect about them without requiring a hardware mod. Hell you could even put your Agent in charge of one.

I use virtual PC's and virtual servers all the time in testing IRL ( I'm a software engineer ) when I need to test an app on different OS's. I just thought the idea might be translatable here.
[User Picture]From: aaron_pike
2008-02-06 05:28 pm (UTC)

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I have great faith in Unwired. I'm hoping they'll have something like that in there when it hits the shelves.
[User Picture]From: low_delta
2008-02-06 10:45 pm (UTC)

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The hacker I played until recently had a cranial commlink. He carried around a stock comm which broadcasted his public (and mostly false) info. You'd still want to have one to carry around, because if you have one implanted, you're serious, and therefore a threat.
[User Picture]From: canray
2008-02-06 11:57 pm (UTC)

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Or mistaken for a Technomancer. Which gets you lynched in some areas.
[User Picture]From: eiredrake
2008-02-07 02:19 pm (UTC)

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*insert obligatory Monty Python reference here*

I always though the whole Otaku, technomancer thing was the dumbest idea Shadowrun devs tried to shoehorn in.

Don't get me wrong, I believe in evolution and shit and some times it leaps forward. I can only speculate would sort of shit would suddenly evolve with the return of magic to the world. But suddenly evolving the ability to sense and emit radio waves? I have a hard time suspending disbelief on that one.

Which if you think about it is amusing. We're playing a game where you can be a troll street samurai chopping fuckers up faster than the eye can perceive or an elf mage flinging fireballs down the street or a dwarven drone rigger slipping his consciousness into a robotic machine....and I have a hard time believing in technomancers. Oh well.

Edited at 2008-02-07 02:25 pm (UTC)
[User Picture]From: canray
2008-02-07 11:55 pm (UTC)

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I can believe it. There are people with an almost supernatural ability with machines, and this is an extention upon it.

I've been known to do it a time or two as well.

In addition, there are people alive today that emit a larger-than-usual bio-electric field that messes up low-end wireless devices (Cheap Cordless Phones are the best example.).
[User Picture]From: low_delta
2008-02-08 12:40 am (UTC)

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Good point. Yet another reason to carry around a second comm. But given how common implanted comms are (cranial or in-limb) anyone good enough to detect that your signal is coming from you, has to be aware of such things.
[User Picture]From: canray
2008-02-08 01:44 am (UTC)

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Not neccessarily. During the weird times (See "Emergence") you're likely to get lynched if you're doing anything online and don't have your CommLink VERY overtly obvious.

Racism isn't exactly well known for forethought or ability to consider all the variables in a situation.
[User Picture]From: eiredrake
2008-02-07 02:15 pm (UTC)

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Irish would be more of a threat if the dice gods didn't hate his player so much.
[User Picture]From: eiredrake
2008-02-07 02:22 pm (UTC)

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Of course my character is probably already considered a threat since he's got a very obvious brushed copper cyberarm ( hey, he's 19. He doesn't know any better).

I figure that Irish will prolly end up carrying 3. His cranial deck ( which I've already paid the essence for so there's no point in removing it ), the one in his cyberarm called the Mean Green and probably some POS tinker toy commlink he can use to confuse and beguile.

You also gotta figure you can stick copies of your agent in each one along with programs. So you can have an agent riding shotgun with you, with the FULL capabilities of the comlink and program rather than having to share the power of one commlink.
[User Picture]From: low_delta
2008-02-08 12:42 am (UTC)

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That's a good plan. Too bad that when you hack your way in, you're being attacked by IC before you can get the access code to your agent.
[User Picture]From: eiredrake
2008-02-08 01:52 pm (UTC)

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That's only if you trigger an alert. Irish's Hacking(4) + Exploit(4) give me 8 dice before I decide to add any Edge vs the Firewall of the node. Granted he's no world class hacker yet, and apparently he needs to upgrade some of his programs. But that's a solid 2-3 hits per interval right there depending if the dice gods hate you or not.

Now the opposing node gets to make a Analyze + Firewall test for each Hacking on the Fly attempt at a Threshold of your Stealth(5 in my case). So assuming a rating 5 node that's 10 dice to get 5 hits.

Really it could go either way. But if your Agent is locked into a separate commlink full full proggies and stuff and is basically tagging along using your com signal as a beacon I would think the two of you could hammer away at the node quicker. Hell, stream data between the two of you and call it a teamwork test.

I guess we gotta wait for Wireless to know for sure. I wish they'd hurry the hell up. =)
[User Picture]From: canray
2008-02-07 12:01 am (UTC)

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Probably a good idea for the Virtual CommLink dealie, but, honestly, how hard is it to Shoplift a MetaLink from your local Stuffer Shack and Pwn it, while leaving your high-end, custom CommLink nice and safe until it's time to go nuts?

Or, even better, pay for it legally and not have to deal with any kind of reprecussions?

But that's Crazy Talk, isn't it?
[User Picture]From: eiredrake
2008-02-07 02:18 pm (UTC)

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Not hard at all, unless of course you happen to be in the middle of an area without any places selling commlinks, don't have a faked SIN to buy one or decide that you really want to confuse people and create 10 virtual commlinks, link them all together in series so that anybody breaking in has to hack his way through the ice on each one before they get to your real commlink. Sorta like having more than one lock on your door.
[User Picture]From: canray
2008-02-07 11:55 pm (UTC)

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"...unless of course you happen to be in the middle of an area without any places selling commlinks, don't have a faked SIN to buy one..."

OK, and what are you doing in the deepest, darkest, most magical parts of the Outback?
[User Picture]From: eiredrake
2008-02-08 01:42 pm (UTC)

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Or the crappiest most gang infested parts of the barrens.
[User Picture]From: eiredrake
2008-02-08 01:54 pm (UTC)

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An you laugh but I've had runs where i've been in the 'deepest darkest' parts of places. Hell one run we ended up in the arctic circle.
[User Picture]From: thegelf
2008-02-07 02:51 am (UTC)

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I have to think that by default most everything is running in virtual machines in SR4. I'm just waiting for the rules to catch up. :)
[User Picture]From: mattcaron
2008-02-18 08:21 pm (UTC)

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You may be right, but I'm curious where you are going with this.. after all, VM's don't really give you any more security. If you compromise the guest, and know that it is virtual, you can conceivably compromise the host..

And don't just take my word for it.

Now, granted, with hardware resources dedicated to virtualization, this is somewhat mitigated...
[User Picture]From: thegelf
2008-02-20 07:06 am (UTC)

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I'm well aware VMs have issues, I vaguely remember something about a recent buffer overflow in VMWare which they tried to spin very hard, but boiled down to exploit code escaping the virtual machine's sandbox.

Mostly I see it as virtual machines being easier to kill if you get something malicious attacking you while you're running in it. If you're facing a decker who you just can't handle, you can cut your matrix connection then kill the VM you were hacking from, and in theory your data on the deck below hasn't been compromised, assuming you act fast enough. It's just an extra layer between anything you want to protect on your deck (which frankly shouldn't be accessible to the deck/commlink you're using to hack, but that's a different rant), and an attacker. Also, kill the VM and everything goes away (assuming nothing escaped), compared to pull the power plug on your deck and that piece of nasty ICE is waiting for you the next time you turn it on.

It's 1AM and I'm not being terribly articulate. I'll try again at lunch time tomorrow.
[User Picture]From: mattcaron
2008-02-20 01:48 pm (UTC)

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Hmm... Wiz idea, chummer.
[User Picture]From: eiredrake
2008-02-20 03:30 pm (UTC)

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This is also of course describing virtual machines by todays terms. They would have advanced quite a bit in the next 62 years. Given that SR featured an insane AI, semi-autonomous/intelligent Agent programs, effectively limitless storage capacity and an additional 62 years worth of people trying to perfect the virtual machine.

Not to mention that the best encryption on the planet can be defeated in a few minutes in Sr4.

So I think that having a couple of fake virtual machines tied together might act as a decent buffer between you and who's trying to smite you. Especially if your publicly broadcasting com code is a fake virtual machine. Load it up with porn, virus programs and adware. Cop hackers can hack it all they want, unless they figure out they're in a virtual machine they're likely just to move on.
[User Picture]From: thegelf
2008-02-20 08:06 pm (UTC)

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Just remember that as security practices evolve, so do the methods for circumventing them. I don't see any system ever being bullet-proof, but it could certainly buy you some time.
[User Picture]From: eiredrake
2008-02-20 08:35 pm (UTC)

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Naturally.

As they told us in hardware class if you want a completely secure system, you need to take your system, turn it off, remove any external connectors, seal it in a 10' x 10' x 10' block of concrete and put it inside a vault somewhere.

and then hope somebody doesn't know how to crack a vault and doesn't bring dynamite.

I'm not looking for bullet proof security. I'm looking for an extra combat round or two while Mr. ICE or Mr. BadHacker is trying to crash my virtual commlink for me to back off and disconnect his ass, hopefully dumpshocking him before he gets into my real system.
[User Picture]From: eiredrake
2008-02-20 08:36 pm (UTC)

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Should also be noted that in modern times VM's are slow ass resource hogs. While there would be improvements, I don't see why that'd change any in the future.

So, while you're running a VM you'd also be lagging your regular commlink. So, VM's should count towards your limit of programs you can run.
[User Picture]From: thegelf
2008-02-20 08:54 pm (UTC)

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I was actually thinking they'd eat two program slots, since they are such resource hogs. The roll to determine if you're attacking a VM vs a real commlink would be the VM's rating against the attacking hacker's Matrix Perception. Then for the hacker to break out of the VM it would be hacking vs the VM's rating. Meanwhile, that buys you at least two rounds during which you don't have to contribute to your defense, the VM is doing it all.
[User Picture]From: eiredrake
2008-02-20 09:04 pm (UTC)

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Sounds entirely reasonable to me.
[User Picture]From: thegelf
2008-02-20 09:22 pm (UTC)

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I'll run this past my GM, see what she thinks. I do wonder if we'll be seeing some official VM rules in future expansions, since they've become such useful tools for virus researchers in modern day.
[User Picture]From: mattcaron
2008-02-18 08:27 pm (UTC)

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I would have described it a little differently than a "virtual commlink program" (it's actually just a custom monitor daemon/driver for an "unlocked" commlink which lets you do that stuff, but I don't see any reason why that idea wouldn't work.
[User Picture]From: eiredrake
2008-02-20 09:06 pm (UTC)

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Potato, potato.