Posted by: Qi, Vector <Info Msg Rep>
The Eye is Firewall’s communication infrastructure, social network, and data repository. How the hell does a clandestine conspiracy get away with its own social network? That’s a damn good question.
All of the piping behind the Eye is considered the tippiest top of top secrets. Presumably there’s a server or six dedicated to the Eye’s core system operations and admin duties, but they aren’t talked about. I suspect the argonauts are providing the core hardware here, though I could be wrong. The servers are probably hosted rimward with mirrors sunward.
All network traffic on the Eye is, of course, encrypted—it’s effectively a world-class VPN. Trafﬁc is also run through a sophisticated onion-router system, meaning that the source mesh ID is always masked.
The Eye uses a modiﬁed BLP (Bell–LaPadula) security policy model for handling access control and classifying information. Anyone submitting data to the Eye (whether that’s a user proﬁle, forum post, private message, chat log, or wiki entry) can categorize data at whatever conﬁdentiality level they want, but they can only read at or below their personal clearance level. Wiki functionality, server oversight, and active moderation help ensure that data is classiﬁed at the appropriate level. Classiﬁcation and clearance levels are a combination of sensitivity (based on how damaging the info could be to Firewall and/or if released to the public), the agent’s role (proxies have a higher clearance than sentinels, and routers and vectors tend to have higher clearance than other proxies) and i-rep, and the relevant theater of operation. That ﬁle you want, for example, may only be accessible to experienced routers with high-level clearance and a respectable rep score, and even then only if it’s relevant to their location and ongoing missions. Likewise, if you’re uploading a report on a new threat, you can decide to make it accessible to just one person, the entire server, the top clearance people within Firewall, or slice it up any way in between.
Security clearances are one of the few other situations where hierarchy thrives within Firewall. Potential abuses are mitigated by rep hits and collective accountability. Proxies all have a basic clearance higher than sentinels, and the way they get upgraded is by having any ﬁve proxies with that higher clearance grant it to them. If a proxy rotates into a new server, for example, once that new server is satisﬁed they’re a good ﬁt and trustworthy, they’ll vote to upgrade that new proxy’s clearance so that they can pull their weight on their server’s speciﬁc projects. This same security policy model also allows agents to share limited data with others who do not yet have the proper clearance by labeling them as trusted. This is the usual state of affairs for sentinels, who are trusted to receive the data they need to know to get an op done but lack the clearance for anything more.
Every new agent is given a private key when they are inducted into Firewall. This private key is how they access their account on the Eye and is intrinsically linked to their i-rep and clearance level. No other ID is tied to the account, though many agents set up additional authentication factors (such as a brainscan).
The Eye’s social network functions like most others. Though proﬁles are anonymized by default, many proxies use their primary cover ID or other pseudonyms. Users can ping and ding each other’s rep scores, send messages, post comments, and so on. This is also the medium used for seeking assistance outside of your server. If your server is tapped on credit, favors, intel, or resources, put out an open call for help on the assistance channels. If your mission takes you outside of your normal operational range, and you suddenly ﬁnd yourself scrambling for a new morph or to borrow a shuttle, the Eye can be a lifesaver—assuming you have the i-rep to back your requests up.
The network provides access to a number of public and private newsfeeds, including channels maintained by servers that post news of relevance to Firewall. The Eye also features a vibrant social forum, where sentinels and proxies discuss everything from weapon specs and politics to gatecrashing rumors and new exsurgent threats. Keeping in line with Firewall’s mission, the forums, chat rooms, and EyeWiki provide a place for proxies to share data with other servers. This includes channels for collaborating on cross-server projects and recruiting sentinels from other servers.
The EyeWiki is a great resource for documents and research of all kinds, from referendum-vetted Firewall policies and SOP manuals for handling different types of threats to the latest open reports posted by various scanners and crows.
# Start Æther Jabber #
# Active Members: 3 #
< Vector 1: I just don’t get it. Someone needs to explain to me how this network stays secure. All it takes is one sentinel to get nabbed and mind-raped, then their headware and account are compromised. Bam, intruders in our network. Sure, they’d be limited in what they could access by that person’s clearance, but if they’re careful, they could leverage that entry point to higher privileges within the system. This has to have happened dozens of times already.
> Vector 2: It has. We’ve had veriﬁed incidents of compromised accounts. To our knowledge, none have lasted long.
< Vector 1: How can you know? What about the incidents that we don’t know about yet? I think you’re projecting too much conﬁdence in the Eye’s infosec vectors.
> Vector 2: Look, you’re relatively new here. You haven’t seen them in action yet. When you do, you’ll be suitably impressed.
V Vector 3: Let me put it this way. Last year, out of the blue, everyone in my server was informed that our register’s account had been compromised. Turns out he’d gotten a bit too cozy with a few Titanian Fleet Intel players, and they’d arranged a forknapping without his knowledge. They grilled the fork, got info on his account and habits, and used that to piggyback on his Eye access and make some queries when he was distracted. Somehow, through some impressively intuitive monitoring magic, Eye security picked up on discrepancies in his trafﬁc and activity. They took a closer look, engaged some network analysis and traces, and ﬁgured everything out. They shut out the intruders, reset his credentials, and there were some rumors about an unfortunate accident at a Titanian server farm later that week. His account was compromised for less than 24 hours.
> Vector 2: Some intrusions are inevitable. That’s why we compartmentalize, work to limit the damage, and design everything to fail closed.
< Vector 1: Will that ever be enough? All it takes is one media outﬁt gaining access to the Eye to blow us wide open. We are in an age of transparency, it’s open season on secrets.
> Vector 2: That’s why we have ﬁlters ready with plans in place to run damage control and spin operations. Not everything can be kept secret, but it can be mutated to something beyond recognition.
< Vector 1: I’m glad you have so much faith in our team, but I don’t think you’re really keeping all of the possibilities in mind here. There are many, many ways we could be compromised—and probably already are, without even knowing it. Our opposition can throw some impressive weight our way. Let’s say they become aware of some of our operatives, a small server or sentinel cell. They could throw enough assets at the problem to monitor all of their trafﬁc, map out and identify our nodes, and crack the encryption on our channels, couldn’t they?
> Vector 2: The entire Eye network is handled via onion routers, many of which are meshed with other public onion nets. Trafﬁc analysis will get them nowhere. They’d have to poison a signiﬁcant amount of the network routers to get anything useful, and that’s next to impossible because we switch new routers in and out all the time.
V Vector 3: Also, have you looked at the encryption we use? I have. I know a thing or two about crypto, and we use some of the best stuff I’ve ever seen—easily several steps beyond what I’ve seen used by even Oversight or the Jovians. I’m not sure who we have on our team, but they’re cryptography geniuses. We’re a hardened target, even against quantum codebreakers.
< Vector 1: Look, maybe they’re good. Really good. But no one is perfect. Every system has weaknesses. You can’t predict or protect against 0-day exploits. Our vectors may be kickass, they may be the best in the system, but they’re not gods.
> Vector 2: Some of them might be.
< Vector 1: What are you saying?
> Vector 2: Look, a long time ago, I came to the same conclusions as you. I thought we were doomed. Over the past few years, however, I’ve seen the Eye protect itself in ways I wouldn’t have believed possible. Our network intrusion countermeasures are predictive, fast, and more solid than any defense has a right to be. So, yes, whatever is behind the scenes, overseeing our network, really is that good.
< Vector 1: I ﬁnd that extremely troublesome.
> Vector 2: So did I, but I’m a pragmatist. I’ll trust that whoever set it up knew what they were doing and what risks they were taking. So far, it’s worked in our favor. Extremely effectively in our favor, in fact. I doubt we’d still be here if we didn’t have it.
< Vector 1: But … that means …
> Vector 2: Yeah, it probably does. My policy? Don’t ask, don't tell.
Rumors and Possibilities
There’s one area I recommend keeping an eye on: a section called Rumors and Possibilities (R&P). Look at it and post in it. This is where a sentinel who notices something odd but not necessarily dangerous reports it. If a group of people are behaving oddly, you might have found evidence of a new criminal gang or the latest cult, or you might be seeing the ﬁrst signs of a new strain of exsurgent virus starting to take them over. Sure, the ﬁrst two options are far more likely than the third, but the chance to detect a threat before ravening contagious monsters come to eat your brain makes investigating even low-priority issues worthwhile. Just keep in mind that R&P is ﬁlled with reports that are incorrect, misleading, or outright false, and avoid the temptation to ﬁnd patterns or monsters where none exist. A report of a group of people acting oddly insular and speaking in an unknown language in the same habitat you’re tracking down a new hive of the stormist cult may be a solid lead … or it may be a red herring. That said, remember that we’re not just about stopping exsurgents; transhumanity is perfectly capable of pursuing creepy and dangerous things on its own, and the worst of these can become our problem. The spread of a new cult or even a new fad can provide valuable clues to trends going on in the solar system. All sorts of proxies and sentinels post here, and a number of scanners sift through the posts looking for correlations. Even a short post can be useful for our data miners and might give someone a heads up about a problem that won’t become an x-risk for a year or two.
The Safe Zone
The Safe Zone is the place for anything-goes, off-topic material. Some operatives view this whole channel as a security risk and avoid it like the plague, but I recommend giving it a shot. Sure, there are sentinels bragging about their exploits in an XP game or how many intoxicants they managed to indulge in recently, but there’s more than that going on. Other Firewall agents can be a valuable resource even for our abnormal lives. You might hear about a job opportunity or get useful advice about a relationship problem. It’s a great place to blow off steam in the presence of others who understand all too well some of what you’ve been through. There’s a wealth of bad advice along with the good, of course, but just being able to chat with people who grok your experiences is often enough.
There’s also a far more practical and immediate reason to cultivate at least some social presence on the Eye. Some of you prefer to work alone, but most of us are part of small teams, and ﬁnding a good team is essential. Proxies like myself aren’t here to hold your hand and ﬁnd you colleagues with whom you can work—that’s up to you, and this is the place to do it. You might be looking for a new team or you might be part of a team that needs more members; either way, the Safe Zone is where you can talk about this and also where other sentinels can at least get some hint of who you are and if they could work with you.
It’s worth noting that individual servers also have their own rep scores. This is one of the way servers keep tabs on each other. Proxies that use and abuse their sentinels or hoard useful intel tend to ﬁnd that other servers won’t play as nicely with them. Server rep scores are an invaluable resource for sentinels and proxies working with new servers, seeking to get a lay of the land.