Joining the conference bridge with the R-Group was like old home week. She had grown up with these people, as a member of the business. They nurtured her mind and then helped her cultivate her skills in her desired trade. Each family member had always been afforded every opportunity to pursue their desired life course. Julie had become so good at her craft that she had launched her own business and was training others in the same skill. So much so that Julie and Juan were selling CATS support back to the R-Group when extensive cyber-sleuthing was required. These days there was no shortage of cyber sleuthing requests, only a shortage of qualified, honorable people.
Julie, by desire, was not a voting member of the R-Group and so only had to attend calls on status and updates. As a full family member, she could attend any meetings or discussions and influence decisions. She had, however, always chosen to leave that element of the business to the others. Juan, at this point, had a limited understanding of the entire scope of the R-Group and what it was or wasn’t able to do. It had been agreed that those added to the family circle through marriage or desired selection would remain a bit removed until such time as it was critical or necessary. This was done to protect them, as well as the well-being of the family.
As an example, Otto, Julie’s father, was part of the old guard of the R-Group family. When he’d married Haddy, she had remained in the dark until she volunteered to take on a working role in the business. Even then, Haddy had chosen to exclude herself from some of the operations side and did not have a vote. Otto had actually suggested Petra, Julie’s older sister and renowned encryption guru, take over the voting side when Otto retired to his advisor role. Petra was a petite, light-blond, smart female and a bit shorter than Julie. She had challenges in her personal life as a result of a physical attack in one of her earlier assignments. She was the consummate doting aunt to Julie’s children.
This routine meeting was designed to keep the team informed of the various projects going on, any problems that seemed worth enlightening the team, and a quick way to catch up with everyone scattered all around the globe. R-Group had a standard base of customers they supported. The support included wealth management, information security, technology updates, and real-estate management to protect hundreds of individuals, businesses, and governments throughout the world. The information technology management and security side of the business had grown over recent times to keep up with the increased threats from hackers and crackers, better known as digital criminals.
When it came time for Julie to update the group, she announced, “I thought I would alert the group that we have been adding in new assignments almost faster than we can finish up those already in play. They are unrelated events but seem to be focused on digital disruption. Several seem to involve hackers. My team will keep monitoring them closely. At this point, I am categorizing them as being like having the Jesse James syndrome. Corporate extortion in the finest tradition of the James gang, only updated to the 21st century. If you hear any chatter about similar scenarios we aren’t engaged in, pass it along and we might consider a different focus.”
Quip was the lead technology innovator on the team as well as the designer of their phenomenal supercomputer, Immersive Collaborative Associative Binary Override Deterministic, commonly called ICABOD. He was a voting member of the R-Group, and his bloodlines continued from one of the original founding members. Typically, Quip or Otto ran the high definition video conferences from the Zurich Operations Center. Quip had a PhD in computer systems and had published several documents on technology early in his career. He had a sense of humor and was a bit of a joker at times, famous for making light of most things. He worked with ICABOD in a way that no one had worked with a supercomputer to date.
Quip thoughtfully looked at Julie and recognized her sincerity as he asked, “Jesse James syndrome? What are you talking about? You mean a bunch of ex-Confederate soldiers running around with flour sacks tied around their heads to mask their identity as they robbed banks and trains at gunpoint? How 19th century you are in describing your new cyber adversaries, Julie!
“Let me remind you how bandits rob in the 21st century,” he smirked. “People, like Charles Yukon, put together a bunch of like-minded corporate ra iders with lots of money, buy up enough stock to get noticed, and send an open but threatening letter to the company’s directors warning them that he needs a better rate of return. Then he asks what they’re going to do about it. It used to be called greenmail, but now the politically correct euphemism is Activism. The demands are the same: pay me and my consortium to go away and we’ll leave you alone. However unsavory the activity is, it is still within the confines of the law.”
Julie stilled her facial features, clucked her tongue in annoyance with Quip’s condescending tone and comments while on mute, but then responded, “Yes, we are all familiar with the corporate raider phrase here comes Yukon, now the company’s gone! That is not the situation I am tracking and considering as a possible pattern. Basically, the computer systems are hacked, ransom demands made. At this point, there are not overwhelming instances, but enough that I wanted it on the record.
“This is clearly not within the legal boundaries of a publicly traded corporation. So, yes, this is very much like what the Jesse James gang did in the late 1800’s.”
Click Follow to receive emails when this author adds content on Bublish