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NEWS:   (June 03, 2007)  more...

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Chapter 14 - April 4, 2003 PM - Episode 2

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“Who else knew about the backdoor?” asks Mark, gentle again.

“Larry knew. He told Rachel Roth. He shouldn’t have. Did she tell you that?  Did she tell you about the backdoor?” He is somewhat less mechanical now, almost eager, but not in control of his breathing.

“I haven’t interviewed her yet,” says Mark. “Who else knew? Who are you protecting? And how do you know the deceased told Ms. Roth?”

“I know because she tried to do the code and she did it wrong. I have the trace from her trying to do the code and getting it wrong and then she was on surveillance.”

“You forgot my other questions,” says Mark.

“He told her the code because he was screwing her,” says Dom with desperation. “He wanted her to be able to come to his office without anyone knowing.”

“I didn’t ask you that. I asked you who else knew. And who you’re protecting.” 

Dom now looks stricken. His head is down. But he says nothing.

Mark is still seated, looking up at Dom across the table. “Why did you tell the deceased about the backdoor?”

“He-would-have-expected-it. He would have known I would build it. We were partners then,” says Dom recovering slightly towards the end. “When we built the company, Larry and I and Donna worked together. They knew what I could do.”

“Did you tell Ms. Langhorne about the backdoor?” No answer from Dom. “Did the deceased tell Ms. Langhorne about the backdoor?”

Dom’s head is down and rolling slightly from side to side. “Did DONNA tell YOU about the backdoor?” The explosion is accompanied by spittle, some of which remains on his lower lip.

“Why have you been protecting Donna?” asks Mark intensely. “No one is protecting you.”

“I’m … I ... She…” Dom can’t find a sentence to go follow any of these words. “Did she… I… When…”

“Those are all good questions,” says Mark with a friendly smile. He gets up and walks around the table to Dom, pats him on the shoulder, then passes by him to lean on the window sill and look out across the sullen river running quickly uptown with the tide.

“Looks like they’re really starting to gentrify in DUMBO,” Mark comments, casually. “Wish I’d bought some property there a few years ago.” 

Dom joins him at the window, looking out but unfocused. The men’s shoulders are about a foot apart but they are leaning slightly towards each other.

“Was it you or Larry told Donna about the backdoor?” asks Mark very gently.



“We-were ... friends. We-work-together. Like I told you about Larry.”

“What were you three friends working on that needed a backdoor to come into your own offices?” Mark turns towards Dom when he doesn’t answer. Dom keeps staring out the window which is slightly misted by the dirty rain which has begun to fall.


“Why? Why in secret?”

No answer. 

“Who were you keeping secrets from? Who were you afraid of?”

The questions are slow but persistent, like the rain, which is intensifying.

Dom stubbornly looks out towards Brooklyn, his head bobbing as if he were trying to find a clear spot through the streaked glass and wet air. “What-did-Donna-tell-you?” he asks finally.

“I can’t tell you that.”

“I-know-this-game.  It’s-very-old. It’s-the-prisoner’s-dilemma. It-isn’t-fair.”

“It is what it is,” says Mark.


“Excuse me?”

Dom takes a deep breath and his voice, when he speaks again, is regrouping. “I think I know your character. I’ve met you in games ... haven’t I?”

“I ask the questions,” says Mark. “Why did you have to meet in secret?”

“You told me you don’t play much. Is that true?”

“The question, Dom...”

“We were being threatened. antihack was attempting a hostile. For a while, it looked like they might win. Our own Board of Directors was turning against us. Our banker had betrayed us. Our people were getting frightened. Larry, and Donna and I believed in the company; we believed in hackoff; we knew it could be saved. And so we met.”

“You’re not telling me why you had to meet in secret. You’re the management team; you’re supposed to meet.


“When you lie to me or tell me a half-truth, your voice changes. I take it the games you play online don’t have audio.”

“There can be audio but it’s the personae, the avatars, who speak, not the players.”

“What is the whole truth about why you had to use the backdoor and meet in secret?”


“We’ll come back to that,” says Mark. “Now an easy question; it’s about Voice over IP; I mean talking on the Internet…”

“I know what VoIP is,” says Dom.

“Good, I need your help. Can VoIP calls be traced?”

“In what way?” asks Dom. “Tracing in the traditional sense has more to do with POTS...


“POTS: Plain Old Telephone Service. When you do a POTS trace, you’re asking what phone number the call was made from. Because, if it’s a landline phone, that tells you the location of the caller. But, with a VoIP call, a trace that gives you the calling number doesn’t tell you anything about the location the call was made from because the number goes with the IP phone or VoIP adapter — like a cell phone number goes with the phone no matter where you call from.”

“Right,” says Mark. “Right. That’s my problem, see? I know what number a call was made from, but I don’t know WHERE it was made from. So, if it was a VoIP call, how would I know where the person was when the call was placed?”

”You need the IP address,” says Dom. “When the call is made, that IP phone is connected to the Internet somewhere so you need to know the IP address it was connected at. Then there’s lots of tools you can use to find out who the IP address belongs to — I mean what ISP. And the ISP probably can tell you where that IP address was assigned physically. Same way cops track down — try to track down — where a virus attack came from. You should know that stuff.”

“Yeah, well,” says Mark. “I’m not that kind of cop. My cases start with dead people, not computers with a sniffle. So I appreciate your telling me. How do I find out the IP address a particular VoIP call was made from, assuming I know the phone number?”

“Maybe you could ask the VoIP company,” says Dom helpfully. “I mean suppose the number belongs to Vonage — they’re the biggest — you can find out who the number belongs to. Then maybe you could get them to tell you what IP address the call you care about was made from. I’m not sure. Maybe they keep track of that; maybe they don’t.”

“Suppose people are using these IP phones to make calls from here at hackoff, could they hook them up here?”

“Yeah, sure. In fact, I fixed up the firewall so VoIP calls work fine here. A lot of our people have IP phones — they don’t like Verizon — and they want to get calls here when they’re here. Fine with us. They’re here long hours. So I fixed it up so they have no problem hooking up here and getting those calls through the firewall without endangering anything else.”

“So, can you tell what numbers might be getting calls or making calls from here at a specific time? Would other companies be able to do that?”

“We sort of could. Most other companies couldn’t. Either they don’t allow people to use their IP phones — firewall won’t let the call through — or they have no clue how to monitor. I can tell easily which IP phones or VoIP adapters are in use here, but it’s hard to know what the phone numbers are.”

“I don’t get it.”

“When it’s making a call, an IP phone doesn’t say to Vonage or whoever ‘Hey, I’m 212-555-6754.’ It says something like: ‘I’m MAC address 00-e0-f9-99-96-00.’ Already the Vonage server knows what IP address that MAC address is at because of the packet headers, and they know what phone number goes with that MAC address so they can set up the call and…”

“Whoa! This is good stuff, but I gotta understand. What’s this MAC address?”

”So,” says Dom, seeming very comfortable now, “since you can’t tell what device is gonna show up on what IP address, you’ve got to have some way to know which device is which on the network. So you make a network adapter for a computer or an IP phone, you build in a MAC address, you burn it into ROM — into memory.”

“So that should make it easy to catch hackers?” suggests Mark.

“It’s never easy to catch a good hacker. First of all, these MAC addresses usually stay in the local area network — VoIP is sort of an exception to that. And besides, who says you gotta tell the truth when someone asks what’s your MAC address?”

“Okay, I get that. Good thing I don’t have to catch hackers — too hard. But, like suppose I had an IP phone, how would I figure out what its MAC address is?”

“That one’s easy,” says Dom. “You turn it over. On the bottom, every one I’ve seen has a sticker with its MAC address.”

“So, are you saying you know the MAC addresses of any IP phones that are being used to make or get calls at hackoff? But you don’t know their phone numbers, right?”


“That’s cool,” says Mark. “Like if I was going to ask some company what VoIP phones were being used at a certain time, they could give me all the MAC addresses?”

“Like I said, most companies, no. But hackoff can, because we know what MAC addresses we have on our LAN and we know which are VoIP because only VoIP’s got a certain type of packet. I mean a computer might send some VoIP, too, if somebody’s using some kind of VoIP app like Skype but computers send all kinds of packets. We got some device that’s sending mainly VoIP, it’s got to be an IP phone.”

“Cool. Can I see that? Can you show me what IP phones are being used right now at hackoff?”

“Sure,” says Dom. He goes to his computer, clicks, types in a password, enters the last hour as the time he wants to search, clicks ‘Okay’, while Mark looks over his shoulder. Soon a list of four MAC addresses and associated IP addresses are on the screen.

“Great,” says Mark. “Now enter 10:00 PM on March 31 through 3:00 AM on April 1.”


“Do it!”

Dom slumps, but does as he’s told. Two MAC addresses show up this time.

“Who are they?” asks Mark.


“Who are they?”


“Who is the other?”

“I don’t know every MAC address in the world.” Dom is clearly miserable.

“You know that one. Who is it?”



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