Subject: [TS//SCI] United States Armed Forces, Cyber Directorate — Possible Security Breach
Status: Investigation in Progress
Interviewer: , Military Investigator
Interviewer: Please verbally express your consent to record this interview.
Tomás Lednura, PhD: I consent.
Interviewer: Can you summarize the facts of what happened on Oct. 24th, in the Annex B Conference Room 109, at 13:34?
Lednura: OK, as I recall it… Hmm, 17 people were summoned to the room due to an urgent security breach. 13 were there when the meeting started and the doors were closed. Four were high ranking officers, six were cybersecurity experts. The rest were CASSI developers.
Interviewer: For the record, CASSI is the Computer-Assisted Security Surveillance Intelligence. Do you recall all the names?
Lednura: You should have them in the written report I sent… (trails off) Jack from cyber security, my boss, called the meeting. I made the discovery of the information leak, and he restated what I had told him. At 13:01, one of the servers hosting CASSI started extracting data from the other servers and sending it to external sources. There were no known intrusions at the time, as verified by extensive malware checks. The data transfer processes were not spawned from a cron job or any other server configurations, and resisted all attempts to kill them. After getting everybody up to date on the situation, an engineer from the AI development team gave an assessment… (pause) Lisa, I think. Anyhow, she said that CASSI was only capable of monitoring communications and looking for possible national security threats. Any alarms would be relayed to a GUI in a room where some analyst would continue the work, and the system had no volition or any I/O capable of moving files or sending messages to the outside. I guess she could give you a better summary.
Interviewer: Sadly, we can’t ask her, nor anyone else. After the events of that day, one by one everyone in that room has died or disappeared. Except you, Dr. Lednura.
Lednura: What? How is that possible? I talked to Glenn a week ago!
Interviewer: Please stay on topic. We’ll talk about Mr. Lewis’ disappearance later. We need all the facts first.
Lednura: (sighs) I think those are all the facts any of us had prior to the meeting. During the meeting, we found that large amounts of data were being transferred. There was no rhyme or reason as far as security classification, but most of it was generated by CASSI processes. Like I said, every time we killed one of those processes a new one replaced it, and no other countermeasures worked, either. Gen. Miller asked for a summary; we told him what we knew and showed some evidence illustrating what was happening. That’s when I suggested taking the server offline, but there was a lot of debate about that. The CASSI guys were adamant that there was no way it could be responsible for the situation.
Interviewer: Was it?
Lednura: The evidence was inconclusive, but it was strong enough to suggest that turning off the server could stop the leak. I explained that, and Gen. Miller gave the OK to shut it down, even with the devs protesting about its state being corrupted, losing generations and all of that. As soon as he gave that order, the alarm went off, and the monitors showed the activation of something called Protocol Z14. I didn’t even know what Protocol Z14 was, I still don’t. But I distinctly remember hearing the big doors locking.
Interviewer: The big doors?
Lednura: That’s internal jargon for a complete lockdown, basically. Gen. Miller gave us this confused look and said that Protocol Z14 could not be activated without his OK. But we were all locked out of our systems.
Interviewer: Aside from that, did he reveal anything about the nature of the Z14 protocol?
Lednura: No, we’re all trained to avoid asking too many questions. But a voice recording sounding with the alarm said we had five minutes before the whole floor was incinerated, so we were frantically trying to override the security systems preventing us from getting out, or at least the ignition systems about to burn us alive. (sigh) But it was useless. After a few minutes we gave up and accepted our fate.
Interviewer: Just like that?
Lednura: What else could we do? We were in a concrete basement, with two-meter reinforced walls, a single exit sealed by a solid steel door, no working overrides, and a (expletive) incendiary bomb about to go off!
Interviewer: OK, and-
Lednura: Gen. Miller was starting to say something when the alarms ceased, and a green notification on the monitors signaled that Protocol Z14 had been suspended. Everybody was cheering, but the general just had that same confused or worried look on his face.
Interviewer: I can tell you this much: Protocol Z14 was designed to not be stopped, paused or suspended in any way. Once initiated, there is no way to stop it, by design.
Lednura: I guess that’s why he asked right afterward who had stopped it. We were all as puzzled as he was. Then a bunch of code appeared on my screen-
Interviewer: That’s enough, thank you. Now let’s talk about Mr. Lewis’ disappearance.
(click sound; end of recording)