Toaru Majutsu no Index:SSVolume2 Chapter14
 Chapter 14: The Dance between Gatekeeper and Intruder. The Third Friday of September.
To be clear, Uiharu Kazari was not superhuman.
It was afterschool and she was in the Judgement’s 177th Branch munching on a cookie. She looked as if she had realized something and then looked towards the notebook computer sitting atop a steel desk.
(Mgh!? Someone troublesome is here!!)
It was an intruder.
However, this was not someone breaking into Uiharu’s computer or to Judgement’s 177th Branch. Currently, electronic attack after electronic attack was being carried out on the Bank that managed all of Academy City’s data and Uiharu was carrying out counter measures. One link in the Bank’s defenses was to send all data being sent to the Bank through Judgement’s large server first.
Some data was ignoring that detour and heading directly for the Bank.
That flow of data was impossible through normal operations.
Someone was hacking.
And it was no normal hacking. This access wasn’t being made through a security hole that Uiharu hadn’t thought of before. And she had already filled all the boring holes anyway.
Misaka Mikoto, a young lady from the prestigious psychic power development school Tokiwadai Middle School, was sitting on a station bench. The portable terminal she was operating in her hand was connected to the network via a wireless LAN.
She was one of the only seven Level 5’s in Academy City.
She was Railgun.
She was ranked 3rd out of the entire city and she had the highest class electricity control power.
Mikoto was controlling various things by directly touching the screen with her index finger, but the screen was displaying a lot more going on than what her finger could be doing. Symbols and strings of characters were scrolling by too quickly to easily read and Mikoto wasn’t paying attention to each and every one. She had started picturing the machine in her head and the computer was taking care of everything on its own almost as an after effect.
Mikoto was attempting to access Academy City’s Bank.
She had made it this far in a few times before, but this time no one was stopping her. She was sure people on the other side were probably concerned that someone might have hacked in, but she hadn’t done enough to give them a reason to disconnect from the network and isolate the Bank.
(…Well, it must be a difficult decision. Cutting off access to the Bank would bring about a greater time loss than stopping the trains for an emergency.)
While staring at the windows appearing and disappearing, Mikoto exhaled softly.
She wanted to use her full power and just get it over with, but she didn’t want to destroy her own machine either.
Uiharu used her eyes to follow the data attempting to directly access the Bank and returned her half-eaten cookie to its plate.
(This has happened before. This time seems to be at a higher level though.)
She looked at the screen and exhaled.
She was seeing something that would be impossible to do by operating a computer in the normal way.
In other words, she was up against an esper hacker.
Academy City was a city of espers. That of course meant that there were tons of espers who could use their power to hack. Some read a user’s mind to get their password, some used electricity to seize control of the computer, and some could even control the “information” directly.
It was difficult to drive back people like that while using a computer normally. The difference between a normal user and a hacker was how well one could use the visible system and how much of what was going on underneath one could read, but esper hackers had something even further underneath at their disposal.
This was a city swarming with espers.
(If I hesitate here, how am I supposed to protect the peace of this city!?)
Uiharu renewed her resolve and rechecked the flow of data. The data was not going through the “shortest route” that Uiharu had previously set, so the hacker wasn’t reading Uiharu’s thoughts. Also, the data wasn’t being removed while completely ignoring the defensive walls, so the hacker wasn’t someone who could directly contact the information.
Most likely, she was up against an esper who could control electricity. However, electricity powers were popular, so it was near impossible to determine who the hacker was from just that.
Uiharu frowned and used her eyes to follow the pattern with which the data was moving.
That little bit of interaction with the data brought the “flower” that the system was to her mind.
Currently, she was looking at the end of a root. She imagined the stalk and the leaves from there and then the flow of water and nutrients. It all created a large image of the whole flower in her head. This way of calculating within a kind of organization by imaging it from various angles was what Uiharu did when she hacked.
If Uiharu Kazari actually had a special ability, she might have been able to construct a tremendous Personal Reality and display enormous power.
Uiharu bit her lip.
Her image that began from the tip of the roots suddenly burst when she had reached the stalk. Her opponent must have been using extremely high-level calculations, because she couldn’t read the path taken by the event she was seeing happen in front of her eyes or the Personal Reality causing it.
And if she didn’t understand what her opponent was doing, she wouldn’t be able to come up with a way to stop it.
(What do I do…?)
Uiharu’s fingers wandered around above the keyboard.
It was a similar action to when someone couldn’t decide what item to choose and it was a symbol of her distress.
“Okay, okay. Looks like it’s around here,” muttered Mikoto as she stared at the quickly changing screen.
Currently, she was performing a standard password cracking.
Just because she had the power to control electricity didn’t mean that she could break through every kind of security with it. In fact, Academy City was full of espers so special defenses against that kind of irregular attack had been developed.
However, no matter how one thought about it, someone with a psychic power had the advantage over someone who didn’t.
Of course, she didn’t break through everything just by using her power.
After all, there was no reason to get fixated on doing so.
She would use her power to overcome security that was difficult to break with a normal computer and she would use the computer for the special anti-esper security. Mikoto was hacking into various targets using the most effective method at each point.
And then her work was complete.
Mikoto tapped a few keys and was through the final piece of security.
(Now then, where is that data…oh?)
Mikoto stopped moving.
As she stared at the screen, only her eyebrows twitched.
The screen was displaying the mass of data in the Bank as it was being encrypted at overwhelming speed.
From the characteristics of the random strings of characters the symbols and numbers were turning into, it was most likely Omega Secret. Omega Secret was a random number encryption that had won an absolute encryption contest held on Academy City’s internet.
(No, no, you’ve gotta be kidding me!)
That absolute encryption contest wasn’t something with any actual benefit like letting a computer play chess with a human. In fact, it was famous for having unpleasant effects. The Omega Secret created in that contest was famous for being unbreakable, but the data was randomly encrypted making it impossible for even the program itself to decrypt it. It was said that something encrypted by that monster would take even an Academy City supercomputer 200 years to decrypt.
(What idiot decided to use that!?)
The most troublesome part about Omega Secret was that every file from the smallest to the largest would take the same 200 years to decrypt. The differences between each file was made up for with random numbers so there was no pattern to decrypting that could be used on all files once it was discovered. After decrypting one file, the next one would need another 200 years.
The entirety of the Bank was being encrypted, so she couldn’t even tell where the data she wanted was within the gigantic archive. The only way to ensure she had the data she wanted had changed from choosing what she wanted and stealing it to preparing a gigantic databank the size of that storage server and transferring every piece of that ridiculous amount of data.
There was nothing she could do.
The mere act of preparing a large server like that would allow her to be tracked. And even if she had the server, who knows how many hours it would take to transfer all that data. The people watching the network would never miss a data transfer that huge.
(…They’re crazy. The Bank server’s control and maintenance files are being encrypted, too!! That gigantic server is going to be completely useless after this!!)
Even a long-time high-class girl like her paled at the thought of how much the machines used for the Bank must cost. All of that had been unhesitatingly thrown away. Opening up the server’s case and pouring water in seemed like it would cause less damage than this.
(If they’re willing to fight back like this, they must have the data on the Bank backed up somewhere else. If I attack there, I might be able to get that data…)
Mikoto looked back at the disaster occurring on her screen.
She had the feeling that her opponent would stop at nothing to stop her. Even if she managed to reach that back up data, she couldn’t help but feel that her opponent wouldn’t hold back.
(A hacker does best when she isn’t found.)
Mikoto couldn’t decide what to do for a bit, but she finally ruffled her hair with one hand as if she had given up.
(If I stick to that theory, I should withdraw for now. I’d rather not go so far as to be taken out along with whoever that moron is.)
“Well, I guess that’s it for today,” said Uiharu Kazari as she stared at the screen.
If the intruder had stuck around a little longer, she might have been able to trace him, but she had still been fairly successful. Instead of chasing the intruder too far, she should analyze his attack pattern and put up some defenses against it.
It might seem doubtful that kind of normal method would work on a hacker that directly controlled electricity, but it would. The intruder was doing nothing more than using his power to enter a hidden part of the system. He only looked like he could do anything because he could freely move through those areas of exception.
As long as the intruder was only sending and receiving electronic information, Uiharu just had to find those exceptions and fill the holes there. That kind of normal method was more than enough to prevent an esper from hacking in.
(This has been quite educational. That intruder was quite skilled, but in the end it added to my skill.)
As she was thinking, Uiharu reached her hand for the cookie sitting on its plate.
She turned around at that whispered voice and saw her fellow Judgement member, Shirai Kuroko, standing in the entrance to the room. Shirai was hanging her head down and Uiharu tilted her head to the side in puzzlement. Her pigtailed colleague pointed towards the door with her thumb and continued to whisper.
“You went too far, so it’s time for your lecture, you idiot.”
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