Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Hacker Concepts 2

Part 2 of this series explores the upper reaches of the netrunner community. There seem to be a lot of commandos, cyber-soldiers and people who sit in bunkers murdering people from a distance for profit or power in this list. On the other hand, it also has some of the roles criminal hackers aspire to.

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31. Legacy Hacker

The information age is decades old and built on the wreckage of obsolete and lost systems. As much a techie as a netrunner, the legacy hacker knows how to identify ancient systems, how to rescue the information they contain and how to break their forgotten and arcane security protocols.

32. Info Broker

The world runs on information, and Info Brokers make their living hoarding it. They compile the secrets of the world, assess their worth, and sell them on. That requires skill - or the money to buy skill - but then, once you've acquired it, money is no object. You just need to be ready to defend yourself from those who'd prefer some things remain hidden.

33. Commando

When the state sends in special forces, hackers accompany them into the combat zone. The army may not attract the best netrunners but with their optimised training and top of the line equipment, the commando units are something to be feared.

34. Cybersoldier

Drawn from elite "signals" regiments and dedicated electronic warfare outfits, the states and corporations of the world maintain units of hackers to enforce their will on foreign powers. These soldiers have blurred the line between peace and war with their probing raids and some fear that these might be the fools who finally trigger the next world war.

35. DRM Breaker

It's one thing to steal files. Its another to do so without being caught by the increasingly ferocious DRM systems. Activist groups and criminals alike pay for the services of dedicated, high paid programmers who find ways to free the files. It's an extremely dangerous job and one likely to end with a long spell in prison, but a necessary one.

36. Shoemaker

It isn't enough to simply fake a SIN to get a new identity. One has to create an entire electronic identity and insert it seamlessly into the world. This is what the Shoemaker does, at enormous cost.

37. Drone Rigger

Elite drone riggers are similar to security spiders in many ways, but considerably more dedicated to the netrunning aspect of their role. While military teleoperators sit in bunkers with dedicated cybersoldiers to defend them, many mercenary riggers will operate close to the action. An unmarked van in a sidestreet might be the C&C centre for entire fleets of surveillance and attack drones during a corporate war or revolutionary uprising, and the rigger coordinates it all.

38. Cryptographer

Secrecy is obsolete, or so many claim. The Cypherpunk sets out to disprove this. Quantum computing, reactive DRM and hidden networks are all part of her arsenal. Whether she works for a data haven or corporation her services will be valued, if only for their increasing scarcity. 

39. Industrial Agent

Industrial espionage is more about sleight of hand and careful information gathering than flashy stunts, like any espionage. The agent combines social savoir-faire with a focused skill set in order to cultivate contacts, locate and recruit targets for extraction, and steal information for the zaibatsus who trained him.

40. 4th Generation Insurgent

Modern "technological super-empowerment" has brought a huge range of new options to the insurgent warrior. Systems - power, transport, communications - can all be disrupted at great cost to opposition economies. Modern 3d printers can equip armies with powerful weapons derived from open source or stolen plans. Intelligence gathering systems can match those of the enemy. Lightweight drones and automortars have vastly increased the effective firepower of the neighbourhood armies. Tactics can be derived from dozens of different groups in dozens of different conflicts and shared and tested across the world. 

And if the Urban-Reconnaissance teams find you, then death - whether delivered by signal-guided RPG or an air strike - will likely be instant. If they don't take you alive. Pray they don't take you alive...


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41. Corporate Security Elite

While the corporate spiders can handle day to day defence, the corporation also maintains squads of elite hackers trained specifically for bringing down elite 'runners. Often recruited straight out of the military cyber-warfare brigades, these men are well motivated, extremely well paid, and equipped with the newest and most dangerous black programmes the corporation can provide.

42. Security Programmer

The security arms race has continued unabated for decades. Keeping up with the hackers requires a massive infrastructure. Security programmers build the firewalls, design the ICE and keep the military and corporate armies supplied with cutting-edge equipment. Some of them are even competent hackers in their own right.

Some security programmers are former netrunners themselves, and carry out stress test runs. Or else they hire real 'runners to do it for them, and take great joy in leading them into lethal traps...

43. Amoral Mercenary

A former cybersoldier or corporate programmer, the mercenary works for anyone who hires him. His equipment might not be the best and his rep might be dubious at best, but he won't ask questions and his experience isn't in doubt. Search the bars of Lagos and Jakarta and you'll find them, for a price.

44. Haven Sentinel

The data havens are spread across the world. Some hold corporate secrets, some hold illegal information, others maintain the open source databases on which the anti-corporate counter-economy is built. 


Defending these databases is a brutal occupation, and the Havens often react pro-actively against attacks. 'Runners planning to strike at a data haven can find themselves under attack from strange angles by dangerous and idealistic enemies. Their skills tend to be derived from severe training and experience rather than the natural talent of the best cowboys, since most sentinels are motivated by ideology or necessity. Their equipment tends not to be the best, unless they have corporate support. Still, the Libertarian and the criminal data havens alike have allies of their own, and their netrunners are nothing if not wildly unpredictable.

45. Rat Burglar

Rat burglars live in the cracks of the city, finding ways to bypass the electronic security systems of gated communities and corporate living centres. This security and surveillance is pervasive and powerful: it takes a lot to pass unnoticed and unseen through the city. But a thief willing to do her research and acquire some skills will rapidly find that complacent security officers have left huge gaps in their defences, and the wealth of the town is there for the taking.

46. Paramilitary Drone Rigger 

Paramilitary riggers control the drone forces of insurgent groups, irregular armies and corporate military units. Without the military-industrial complex backing them up, their forces are often improvised and jerry rigged, creating challenges that their military counterparts never face. 
Paramilitary riggers are often also responsible for maintaining or even designing their own equipment, whether sniper drones, automortars, surveillance bots or robot tanks. Finally, your average military operator works out of a bunker on a different continent to the war zone. The paramilitary rigger sitting in his covert van half a mile from the area of operations has no such luck.

47. Krishna Cop

Rogue AIs. Sub-Sentient viral predators or emergent super-powered intelligences. The singularity threatens the world and it has to be stopped. Armed with high tech equipment the Turing cops will stop at nothing to save the world and humanity from the electronic menace by any means necessary. (name taken from the novel River of Gods...)

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48. Black Market Spider

Criminal money flows through the electronic networks of the world like a blood stream, facilitated by underground banks and amoral factors. These operations exist without the great support networks provided by state or corporation. Defending them requires a special breed of determined spider, veteran security experts tempered by experience, idealistic dedication and the knowledge that life imprisonment awaits them if they fail.

49. Master Thief

"The casino has the finest security on the planet. Rigging that game will take engineering genius and electronic security mastery. They say you can provide that."

50. Corporate Security Consultant

A veteran whose skills are primarily intellectual. He might not be the best hacker - he's good, certainly! - but his systems knowledge and tactical skills are second to none. He designed the defensive systems of the most fortified corporate facilities, and he knows secrets about them that many would kill for.

51. Elite Commando

The army can't afford soldiers of this calibre, who combine hacking ability with a suite of military skills that allow them to turn any environment into a killing field. The PMCs and corporations with money to burn employ the corporate ninjas, the assassins and the spies, some of the most dangerous enemies an 'runner can meet.

52. Cyberpunk

At the bleeding edge of technology, the cyberpunks thrive. Some call them revolutionaries, or criminals or even the transhuman vanguard. The archetypal 'runner.

53. Nihilistic Techno-Fetishist 

"Chaos, Mr. Who," Lupus Yonderboy said. "That is our mode and modus. That is our central kick.” - Neuromancer, describing the Panther Moderns.

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54. Renowned Edgerunner

She's survived corporate extractions, heists, gun battles, car chases and drone assaults. She's broken into fortified research facilities, faced down ninjas, and used the highest tech equipment in the world. A whole shadow world fears and emulates her.

55. Serial Killer

One man, a sadist. Striking at targets on the other side of the world, one after another. Unknowable, untraceable, unstoppable?

56. Super-Empowered Drone Warlord

He's a psychopath. He has 20 minifabricators, a network of unwitting material suppliers, a technical mind and an army of robots at his command. He is the super-empowered Genghiz Khan of the technological world, the ultimate individualist, the city burner, the mad scientist writ large, the spotty geek with a grudge against the world and a whole wing of robot dive bombers to to carry out his revenge...

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57. Expropriator 

The great corporate junta across the world is sustained by information inequality; a framework of secrets and patents and lies and distortions. The expropriator breaks through all of that. The great open source databases of the mini-fac counter-economy were built on liberated information taken from fallen regimes and stolen archives. Assembling those databases required ferocious warfare, lethal commando raids, and the destruction of entire governments and corporations. These battles created a cadre of elite hackers, the best in the world. There is no-one the corporate world fears more, and simply surviving one day at a time as an expropriator is a constant adventure. The means of production are there for the taking. 

58. White Hat

There are villains out there in the net. Terrorists and killers and extortionists. It takes heroes to take them on on their own turf and win. Not just a vigilante, a postmodern superhero. 

59. Casino Spider

If this sounds mundane compared to some of those who came before, think again. The Casino spider came up through the criminal ranks, the counter-culture, the mafia. He's taken on the best thieves and the best cowboys. He's a target for every opportunist and technical genius out there.

And he's beaten them all. So far.

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60. Cowboy Elite

The best of the best. The people who redefine the net, and unleash strange new gods on the world.