In a rare role reversal, this morning local witches announced that they are turning to federal intelligence agents to track down a crystal ball hacker.
“We’re used to them coming to us for help, dealing with the supernatural side of crime,” said Agnes Biggersbillsby, who has been a witch in this area for 35 years. “Obviously we’re pleased that they have the means to help us in this case.”
Glitches in the Program
The hacker was discovered through several glitches in what the witches were viewing remotely.
“I was watching this guy in the ball and he got in the shower and suddenly disappeared!” said Harveyette Flaubertdonlink, a local witch. “That was the first sign I had that something was wrong.”
She reached out to intelligence groups to see if they had surveillance footage of the man entering the shower. They did, and the videos revealed something shocking.
“There he was getting into the shower, but when we backed up the tape, the half hour before the shower was completely different from what my ball had shown.”
Harveyette had seen the man, who has been suspected of occult crimes for years, dancing around the room with a stuffed penguin and chanting, but surveillance tapes revealed that actually he was playing Minesweeper and eating poached eggs.
“I absolutely couldn’t believe it,” she said. “It looked totally real, and I’ve never heard of a crystal ball being wrong like that before. What the hell are we going to do.”
Other witches reported watching conversations that never happened (mostly arguments), extramarital affairs, and even a few car crashes–that never happened. The hackers seem to have had a taste for the dramatic, and may have intentionally activated the witches’ security network to learn more about it.
Investigators dubbed the program the Petkicker virus, after finding hundreds of incidents where fake data was uploaded to a crystal ball to make it appear as if the person being viewed kicked a dog or cat.
Investigators are looking into the possibility that service calls to the crystal ball manufacturing company were intercepted. “I guess like with everything, it really depends on who answers when you call. One guy gave me a configuration that was wrong, and of course everything I read based on that configuration was wrong.”
The hackers’ program appears to take advantage of a crystal ball’s “chained identification” feature to propagate itself across the network.
“Usually you can use the person you are viewing to find their friends and family,” said one of the forensic programmers assigned to the case. “But if the signal has been intercepted so that what you are watching isn’t really them, when you use them to identify another person, you don’t get that other person either– you get another fake, and so on, and so on.”
Translators and Nuts
The Petkicker program also dramatically exploits vulnerabilities introduced by third-party “translation”– when one witch reports what she sees in her crystal ball to other witches. (Witches often appoint one member of a project team as translator so that the others can focus on other things. The role of translator is somewhat of an honor, usually given to the witch best at reading a crystal ball.)
But comparison with surveillance tapes has revealed an enormous amount of fake data in such translations.
“We were ready to roast this one guy alive when we realized he had no memory of committing any of the crimes he was accused of,” said witch Altera Youahnuneck. “The translation said he kept looking right into the ‘camera’ as it were and insulting us. Why would someone do that? It was infuriating, but it was all fake.
“We were lucky we noticed. I bet it happens all the time.”
Translators are a high-impact target for a program like this. With access to just the translator’s crystal ball, a hacker can mislead an entire squad of witches, or sometimes several squads. Even worse, hackers often pose as translators or team members and just make stuff up.
“I mean everyone knew this was possible,” said Altera. “But no one thought anyone would have the balls to do it. I mean the nuts, you know? Those kind of balls. Not the crystal kind.”
But these guys have plenty of nuts.
“And when you have nuts like that, you can do just about anything, no matter how weird. And witches will watch it if it looks real enough.”
In fact it was because of their nuts that witches were able to identify the hackers. They appear to have no problem discussing the details of crystal ball operation with just about anyone, as long as that person isn’t a witch.
“This guy came up to me at the grocery store and was talking about witchcraft? He was kindof growling and hissing a lot? He said he must train me?” said local resident Daisy Encyclenmilk. “I could only understand a little of what he was saying?”
The man went on to tell Daisy that he would cast a spell on her so that when she got home everyone she talked to would repeat themselves twice.
The spell appeared to work. “My husband was like ‘What’s for dinner what’s for dinner what’s for dinner?’ It was maddening.”
Daisy reported the incident to local authorities, thinking maybe she had been hypnotized. The man from the grocery store, voice actor Ross Yellowsystems, was found and arrested, but quickly escaped custody.
Witches believe hackers interact with regular people like Daisy to practice their stories and disguises before uploading them to the crystal balls.
“I’m still like, is any of this stuff real?” said Daisy. When asked if there was anything else she paused for about five seconds and said, “Is there any way to fix my husband?”
More Real Than Reality
But the real cleverness of the hackers is that the fakes are often more predictable than the reality, not less. People have known for years that some witches use easy-to-detect markers like occupation, income, and degree of educational attainment to calibrate their crystal balls. The hackers seem to have known this as well.
“The authors of Petkicker found a guy who makes $250,000 a year but buys his groceries at the dollar store, you know, the store where everything costs $1?” said intelligence professional Robert Sawyermom. “They found a few folks like that actually. They immediately had about 50 witches tune in to watch this guy, and almost all of them thought the guy couldn’t be real. So Petkicker actually tricked the witches into miscalibrating their own equipment.”
Similar games were played with a self-declared vegan who regularly ate meat when alone. “She displayed no guilt,” said one witch who was misled by the vegan. “I had heard her say she was vegan like a dozen times and talk about how she’d never had the chance to go to college. Then she goes home and pulls out a bucket of chicken and a book by American astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson? I was like, oh no you didn’t, this crap is fake! So I pulled some switches, trying to get the image cleaned up. So that it made sense!”
The changes did not help, however, and it was the witch’s crystal ball that ended up fried. Surveillance videos showed the “vegan” was indeed consuming tasty chicken like a black hole.
“I wish I could go back and do things differently,” said the witch. “It’s not our job to make people act the way we expect them to. Why should I care what this woman does?
“Anyway the book looked like a pretty good read. I feel like I missed out.”
Several witches said that if crystal ball hacking were more prevalent, it actually wouldn’t be so dangerous. “The larger problem is that most people don’t expect their own crystal ball, or their translator’s, to ever be wrong,” said Agnes. “They trust it too much.”
Crystal ball manufacturers suggest running calibration protocols over your network.
“It’s simple, just call your friends and say something like, ‘I’m wearing a boa constrictor right now.’ When they say ‘Really?’ say ‘No,'” said one spokesman. “Whether you want to actually be wearing a boa constrictor is up to you. Repeat until they’re sorted out.”
Obviously it takes balls to do this, but it works.
Signs of Systemic Change?
Watchers recall other successful collaborations between intelligence groups and occult organizations like the Temple of Set.
Witches have declined invitations to help intelligence groups lobby for more liberal surveillance policies, however (The so-called “They Can Already See You, So Why Do You Care If We Also Can?” Act).
As an alternative, policy officials are designing ways for non-witch citizens to opt-in to surveillance programs if they suspect they are victims of spiritual identity theft.