In Oslo, at the headquarter of the UCP, the employees have started their day as usual. Jørgen is catching up with the requests from last night. People are accessing the system from all around the world non-stop. Most of the requests concern a government trying to get identities and credentials of other countries’ citizens. People try without thinking to get access to data they would love to possess hoping that one day an employee will make a mistake and grant access to it.
Today, Jørgen feels good; he slept well, after having spent the evening with his family. He is in a pretty good mood; he will not make a mistake today. Anyway, by habit, the collaborators deny the requests, knowing that if the request is really legitimate, the demanders will insist. This is of course a non-sense to have people spending their days denying requests but this is the world we live in.
As Jørgen hits the button to deny a request, a strange message appears : “Internal error, your request could not be processed”. Jørgen has been working here for the last fifteen years, and this is the first time he gets such an alert. He tries again, but the message pops up again.
Jørgen takes a look at his coworker seated next to him. He has got the same message. Suddenly the whole room is becoming noisy; everyone is talking to his neighbours, wondering what is happening.
At that moment, an alert is heard from the emergency speakers : “We are under attack, the system is compromised. The security team is responding to the threat. Please stay seated at your desks until more information comes”.
The United Nations Census Platform (UCP) collects the identity of every citizen on planet earth. It is a gigantic database created by the United Nations to provide statistics about the populations of the world. Interpol has access to the data for its criminal investigations. The profiles in the database are up to date; every government can add new criminal records for anyone after a legitimate trial. The cooperation between the police departments around the globe is much easier; they don’t need an agreement with each and everyone of them.
Regarding the statistics, the UCP is able to provide accurate and up to date data. Everyday, every report is recalculated with the new data that has been included. This platform offers a realistic view of the peoples of the world: their education, their wealth, their health, their interests, their criminality, and much more.
The advantages of this system are the capacity to calculate the risks of a population and to prevent them to happen. If a disease is spreading in a population, it is possible to anticipate the fact that it might reach the surrounding countries as well. This goes the same for famine or any societal tendencies such as a higher obesity rate, a decreasing education rate or a growing gap between rich and poor.
After long hours of speculation, conspiracy theories and thousands of pen spins among the employees of the UCP, the speakers are finally breaking their silence again: “Your attention please, the cyber-attack has finally been contained. The breach has been filled. The danger is over. However, the database has been altered”.
The database is compromised. It means the footprint of the database after the attack does not match the one before. There is unfortunately no way for the UCP to know what has been changed. Only luck and the perspicacity of a local police could find an anomaly in a report.
For the United Nations, it means potentially some criminal records have been deleted, some fake identities have been added, some criminal have now disappeared from the radars or they have a new identity.
It most likely is the work of a criminal organization. A government does not need to hack the system to change the data. It wants to access the data for political reasons. Only the police departments can access the data of a citizen of another country. This can be done only under the supervision of Interpol and for a real suspect. Then the profile is shared with the police department that are concerned.
Tonight, Julia is throwing a party in her neighbourhood, here in Antananarivo. She wants to celebrate with her friends her success in the congress of Tokyo. Undoubtedly, this tragic plane crash moved the participants, Julia was shocked. However, today is a new day, she won the debate against this guy who is opposed to artificial intelligence. Her presentation has been well received by the press. She has got the praises for an authentic commemoration of Bob White and her respect for his work in helping people with technology.
Since then, Julia’s business is growing, she has got the attention of many people during the congress. New Non Governmental Organizations are interested by her artificial intelligence. Moreover, her new feature to manage the production of electricity is in the spot of many providers. Finally, she did not anticipate it but the partnership with Matt and his blockchain technology has caught the eyes of the logistic department of some big corporations. They believe Julia’s artificial intelligence can help them solve their logistic problems.
Julia deserves this party, a good time to rejoice, celebrate and relax. Many of her friends from Madagascar will come. She rented a room, booked a DJ, bought a new dress and a pair of shoes. Everything is ready.
Matt will join the party as well, he is also in a mood to celebrate, he cannot believe the early success of their collaboration. In such a short period of time they have been able to catch the attention of big corporations that have had access to artificial intelligence and blockchain since years.
It seems that other artificial intelligences dedicated to logistic are focused on optimizing the deliveries and the supply chain. In the other hand, Julia’s system is more interested in the needs of a population after a disaster. Julia has a clear panorama of what people need, not only regarding the basics but also overall. After a disaster, an area needs to be rebuilt. In this process, what the population need or will need after the recovery is very important. Since they have to rebuild, why not take the chance to cover what was lacking or not really efficient.
This has convinced some of these companies to try this approach as a replacement or in parallel of what they use now.
Jenny is one of the guests and a dear friend to Julia. She is a brilliant IT specialist; they studied together in France. Jenny lives now in the United States and works for a big corporation. She has not yet arrived at the party. She decided to take a few days off and travel to Madagascar to visit Julia, celebrate the growth and relax at the beach.
Jenny does not answer the phone, and Julia is worried, she should be there already; she did not even post a selfie on the social media after landing in Madagascar. This is what she does all the time; it is a bit annoying but at least it is good to know people travelled safe.
The party has started, the music resounds in the big room, people are enjoying themselves. Food and drinks are served. Most of the guests have joined. Everything goes well, it is a success.
During the party, already a bit tipsy, Julia receives a phone call. Hoping to hear from Jenny, Julia answers very quickly. It is not Jenny but her mother. She never took her flight, she is missing, no one knows where she is. They called the police, the hospitals, the airport, her friends. Nobody is aware of anything.
Even more frightening, the police confirmed no one in the registry is called Jenny Durant living by this address. She has been wiped off the United Nations Census Platform.
The police immediately opened a case, as another anomaly has been discovered. This is the thirty-seventh abnormal situation since the attack. Everyone of them has disappeared and been reported missing by their families. All these people have another thing in common: they are highly qualified in information technologies. All of them are experts either in security or in artificial intelligence.
They come from all around the world, are rather young and no one has seen them since the attack on the UPC in Oslo.
For Jenny’s family and Julia, many questions are raising. Is she involved in it or is she a victim? Where is she now? Is she safe or in danger? Is she even alive?
For now this is only speculation but it seems that a criminal organization hacked the UCP, wiped off some highly qualified IT specialists and had a contact with all of them. Are they dead? Are they involved? Are they now working for this organization ?
Julia is upset, she just wants to drink. She cannot believe what happened. She lost Mina, her Iranian friend, a few months back and now Jenny is missing. What is wrong? What is going to happen next?