“Buzz, you have really gotten into this body art thing, haven’t you?”
Buzz said, “I sure have. Patty has been making some interesting suggestions. I am sure she’d help you out, man. We need to get that ugly small tat on your arm covered up. Maybe a nice dragon sleeve would spark some interest? All the other coders and hackers I know have some nice body art. You need to expand your horizons, man.”
“Yeah ….uh, let me take that under advisement,” Jacob replied as he tried not to roll his eyes.
Body art was frowned on at his job, and he didn’t need anything to put him out of favor.
To change the subject, he asked Patty, “How’s the catering business?”
“It’s doing great, Jacob. Happy to cater a party for you whenever you want.” Patty winked as she flipped her shiny red hair behind her shoulders.
“Jacob buddy, we’ll text later this weekend. Have fun, I know I will.” Buzz focused on Patty.
Jacob found the door, grabbed a cab and went home. He tipped the cabbie a modest amount, receiving a sarcastic comment in reply, which he ignored. As he walked up the steps, he stopped and picked up all the mail out of the box, opened the door and released the alarm. Walking into his study he flipped on the lights and reached over for the power button on his PC. His movements were fluid and obviously practiced. Jacob was an organized man who liked to make certain he wasted no movements, as in a tightly choreographed dance. He entered his password and reached for his mail while his PC continued booting up completely.
The usual complement of advertisements he carefully eliminated for the recycle pile. The last item was a grey envelope with no return address, postmarked NYC. He couldn’t be sure it was an ad so he opened it. The weight and embossing of the enclosed paper struck Jacob as expensive. Unfolding the letter, he noticed the fine print of the font, bold and unassuming. Starting out as Dear Mr. Michaels, it went on with congratulating him on finding a significant hole in their bank program and provided him a pass to the upcoming DEFCON event in Las Vegas. It also included a reference that his t-shirt was coming under separate cover.
“Yes!” he shouted for no one but himself.
Jacob had been notified, and he was invited to attend DEFCON with a benefactor. This was a great sign. As many times as he had attended DEFCON with his Mom, this was somehow sweeter as he did not have to purchase the ticket himself. He was amazed, proud and even more excited than he thought possible. He searched the letter again, reading every word very carefully. No sign of who actually sent it by personal name or organization. No worries, he thought. In answer to Buzz’s earlier question, he had decided to attend DEFCON. Now all he needed was time off from PT. Heck, he would simply take the time off, approved or not.
He started doing a quick online search to see what the airfare was from New York City to Las Vegas and the Las Vegas hotel costs. He would wait to purchase that ticket and book the hotel until next week. He could more than fit into the advance purchase airfare timelines. Jacob could easily afford the airfare, but it was a game to get the lowest fare.
He still banked most of his money in his diversified investment portfolio. This, combined with the money left to him by his Mom, meant he really didn’t have to worry. However, not one to waste funds, he was ever prudent with his spending. The townhouse was his, so his bills were modest with utilities, cell phone and taxes.
With a new sense of determination, Jacob began trolling the chat rooms looking for comments on dubious code that he might sink his teeth into. He navigated through a couple of chat rooms and ended up stopping at one room where the conversation was about a problem at an unnamed New York City bank and questionable comments. He studied the conversation for a while, hoping it would help him understand where the vulnerability was located and when it had started. The best he could determine was that it was very recent, possibly even today. The extent was not yet defined, nor was the actual bank involved. Just chatter for the moment. He bookmarked it to check later and went to a few other favorite rooms.
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