Sentinel: Hackers Trail

Sentinel: Hackers Trail cover


Which One Will Doom Or Save Us All? Hacker or AI?

In the spotlight of advancing technology and its agnostic capabilities, we find ourselves at the mercy of two formidable forces: a hacker and an artificial intelligence. Both promise justice; both threaten devastation. Our world, digitally tethered and vulnerable, is the battleground for this silent war that rages in the circuits and through code.

We witness Elias Fitzpatrick, the brilliant hacker, whose actions are as inscrutable as they are impactful. His motivations are shrouded in mystery, ethics a complexity only he truly understands, we assume. His maneuvers not only draw the ire of powerful enemies but also place him in the public eye when his peers wish to avoid all attention.

Simultaneously, we tread cautiously around the development of Sentinel, an AI designed as humanity’s watchdog. In its trial phase, Sentinel shows promise as a defender against cyber threats, but its potential for overreach and misuse sows seeds of doubt. What if, in its quest to protect, Sentinel becomes the very threat we seek to avoid?

At the heart of this tangled web is Wren, Eli's sister, the enigmatic linchpin of our tale. Her life is intertwined deeply with both the hacker and the AI. Her mysterious nature and her pivotal position in this chess game captivate us, drawing us deeper into the intrigue. As we edge closer to the truth, the lines blur between ally and adversary, between the tools of salvation and the harbingers of doom. We are compelled to ask: who will ultimately wield these powerful forces? And at what cost? Who really is the hero in this story, and who will bring about annihilation?

This suspense, thick and unyielding, will hold us captive until the very end, leaving us to grapple with the profound implications of our reliance on, and understanding of technology.

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Prologue Sentinel Hackers Trail Book 1 by Christopher D Langton
4500 words - 19mins @ 250 words per minute

Spoiler - Full Text of Prologue

Bytes dance at midnight,
crackling truth's fragile shell—
hidden secrets shatter,
cyber ripples stir.

As the day ebbed into twilight, sending elongated shadows sprawling across the urban landscape, I stretched my fingers wide, the satisfying crack of knuckles breaking the silence of my small, cramped apartment.
Imagine, if you will, a world where names are not just an identity, but symbolic. In this realm, I am known not as Elias Fitzpatrick, but by various names that echo like a whispered revolution. To some, I'm a specter of reverence; to others, a thorn in the side of their meticulously constructed faux-realities. Yet, to me, these names are more than an alias. They are an embodiment of my resistance, a silent roar against a system dripping with flaws and hidden agendas.
This isn't just about technology or the thrill of the hack. It's a crusade for a world where the air isn't thick with the exhaust of greed, where the rivers flow with the clarity of truth, not muddied by the silt of manipulation. I stand, a lone figure, casting pebbles of disruption into the placid lake of complacency, watching the ripples disrupt the reflection of a world that needs to wake up.
Through the looking glass of my screens, I navigate bytes and codes. Here, each keystroke is a dance of digits against the backdrop of my ever-watchful, ever-controlling digital pantheon.
As you read this, ponder for a moment the world beyond your screen or city. A world where the value of a person isn't measured by the weight of their wallet, but by the strength of their character. Where success isn't minted in the factories of capitalism, but grown in the gardens of honesty and hard work. This is the world I fight for, one keystroke at a time.
My home is a humble nook, sandwiched between two weathered high-rises. The constant buzz of the city below weaves through my thoughts, a familiar and oddly soothing soundtrack to my nightly endeavors. The room's spartan setup belies its importance to me – here lies my sanctuary, dominated by a custom-built computer rig that's the heart of my digital escapades. Neon lights bathe my array of screens in a surreal glow, while my trusty coffee machine, ever ready on my desk, keeps me fuelled and focused for the long hours ahead.
Realization dawned on me that it was Tuesday – my designated day for routine checks – just as I was about to settle in. With a sigh, I grabbed my go-bag, always prepped for such planned or impromptu outings, and headed out once more into the evening.
As a solo hacktivist, the cloak of anonymity was my shield, keeping me a step ahead of the ever-prying eyes of the authorities. I had crafted a web of safe havens and redundancies within Sydney's sprawling landscape to secure my operation.
My first stop was one of several secure storage units. Each was a fortress in its own right, rented under aliases and paid for with untraceable methods. I punched in the entry code, the familiar beep granting me access. Inside, a myriad of equipment and tools lay in meticulously organized arrays, each item a testament to my preparedness. I ran a quick inventory, ensuring everything was where it should be.
I moved through the unit with practiced ease, checking the hidden compartments I had ingeniously integrated into its structure. A quick glance at the surveillance feed reassured me that all was as it should be – no unwanted intruders or prying eyes. The air was thick with the tension of secrecy, every secret access control and security measure a piece of the intricate puzzle that was my life.
With a final, satisfied nod, I re-secured the unit, ensuring it remained an unassuming part of the urban tapestry, invisible to all but the most discerning eye.
My next destination was one of my safe houses, a nondescript garage-turned-studio. These refuges, more makeshift than luxurious, were strategically dotted throughout the city, each serving as a temporary haven where I could vanish, gather my thoughts, and chart my next course of action. Ensuring these abodes left the faintest digital whisper was crucial; I relied on prepaid SIM cards for all communications and encrypted every byte of my online presence. Their locations, chosen with meticulous care, melded seamlessly with local relays, making them virtually untraceable.
As I entered the safe house, the familiar beep of the security system greeted me, a reminder of the invisible shield I had put in place. Advanced alarm systems, secure access controls, each component was a piece of my self-crafted armor against the outside world. My eyes swept over the room, taking in the hidden compartments I had built into the walls. They were perfect for concealing my equipment, ensuring that even if someone stumbled upon this place, they would find nothing out of the ordinary for an art studio.
I made it a point to never linger too long in one location, a nomad in the urban jungle. My knowledge of Sydney's streets and my ability to melt into the backdrop of different neighborhoods were skills honed from necessity. Each safe house was a temporary sanctuary, a chess piece in the grand game of evasion I played with those who might be on my trail. Tonight, like many nights before, I reviewed my setups, ensured all was in order, and mentally prepared for the inevitable shift to yet another hideaway in the intricate dance of shadows I performed.
My life was a study in minimalism, each possession carefully chosen for its utility and ease of transport. In my world, bulky belongings were a liability, so I embraced portable, lightweight gear that could move as swiftly and silently as I did between my numerous hideouts. I lived digitally, each byte and bit of my existence carefully curated to leave no physical trace, no paper trail that could betray me.
My days, or rather, late afternoons, often began with me peeling open my eyes, the remnants of the previous night's hacking marathons or the pulsing beats of underground parties still echoing in my mind. These gatherings were more than just social events; they were the meeting grounds for like-minded souls. We were a network, a collective of shadow-dwellers, united by our shared disillusionment with the societal status quo. In these circles, I found connectedness and a common purpose.
Our form of rebellion was hacktivism. With each line of code, with every breach into secure systems, we sought to pull back the veil on corporate excesses and government surveillance. Our tools were our computers, our battleground, the endless expanse of the internet. In this digital realm, we wielded our expertise like swords, cutting through layers of secrecy to expose truths hidden from the public eye. This was our way of challenging the world, of making our mark in the fight against injustices that thrived in the shadows we called home.
My days were a kaleidoscope of tasks, each more exhilarating than the last. One day, I might be diving deep into the shadowy depths of a high-profile corporation's database, unearthing and revealing their unethical skeletons. Another day, I'd be the digital puppeteer, orchestrating virtual protests, rallying my fellow hacktivists with a flurry of mass messages. In these acts, I found not just a thrill, but a sense of purpose, a belief that I was part of a necessary rebellion against a system too eager to control and manipulate.
Away from my screens, the underground parties were my refuge, a haven where hacktivists and counterculture enthusiasts converged. Amid the electronic beats and dizzying strobe lights, we exchanged stories, strategies, and dreams. These gatherings were more than just recreational escapades; they were my network, my community, where I could revel in the vibrant chaos that mirrored my life.
Yet, amidst this exhilarating existence, Wren's voice, my older sister, often echoed in my mind, a haunting reminder of our contrasting paths. She dabbled in hacking, yes, but her approach was entirely different – driven by financial gain, shying away from activism or anything that risked exposure. To Wren, attracting even the slightest attention was ‘reckless'. Her criticisms of my choices lingered like unwelcome shadows, challenging my every move.
But I saw myself differently. To me, ‘reckless' was too simplistic a label. I preferred ‘calculated'. In the world of hacktivism, I prided myself on my ability to manage risks. Each move was a carefully placed step in a high-stakes dance. I wasn't just throwing caution to the wind; I was weaving it into a tapestry of deliberate, purposeful actions. This was the rift between Wren and me – where she saw danger and recklessness, I saw strategy and opportunity. In this world of shadows and light, I was not just a participant; I was a choreographer, orchestrating a ballet of bits and bytes against a system that needed challenging.
Settling into the rhythm of my unconventional life, I found a strange comfort in the routine that I had carved out for myself. My digital escapades were a source of exhilaration, each day a new challenge in the vast expanse of cyberspace. My existence, much like the codes I deftly manipulated, was a whirlwind of chaos and unpredictability, yet it was here that I sought and often found truth and justice in a world overshadowed by deception.
Walking into the bustling café, my athletic frame was obscured by the worn familiarity of a hoodie and sweatpants, a stark contrast to the vibrancy around me. The rich aroma of freshly ground coffee beans greeted me, mingling with the enticing scent of baked goods from the kitchen. It was a welcome change from the sterility of my digital world.
Approaching the counter, I was met by the Barista, her nose pierced and arms adorned with vibrant tattoos, a reflection of her colorful life. I did my homework and she wasn't a threat – her warm smile was my beacon after a rough night.
"Hey, Eli, the usual today?" she asked, her hands moving with practiced ease over the espresso machine.
I nodded, a tired smile briefly lighting up my face. "Yeah, that's right."
Daily, I found myself here, ordering the same double shot flat white, no sugar – a small constant in my otherwise fluid life. The Barista, with her fluid, practiced movements, set about crafting my coffee. I watched, almost hypnotically, as she steamed the milk, my gaze drifting to the chalkboard menu adorned with the day's specials in vibrant chalk.
As I tapped an absent rhythm on the counter, lost in a labyrinth of thoughts, the Barista's artistry with the espresso and milk came to a finish. It was then that a new face, a young man with a tousled beard, approached me, a plate of scrambled eggs, crispy bacon, and buttered toast in hand.
"Here you go, mate. The usual, right?" he inquired, a note of curiosity in his voice. I hadn't seen him before, yet he seemed to know the regulars' orders.
"Actually no, I'll take the special today," I replied, deliberately catching him off-guard. It was a simple tactic, but effective in gauging someone's reactions.
Extending my hand, I introduced myself. "Hey mate, I'm Eli." A straightforward approach, yet another method to learn more about him.
The young guy, slightly taken aback, shook my hand. "Nathan," he said, before hurrying off to adjust my order.
As I sipped my coffee, waiting for the meal, my mind shifted gears. I discreetly searched online for any Nathan matching his profile in the nearby area. Filtering by age, recent school graduation, and appearance, I narrowed it down to a single hit – Nathan Woods. A kid from a disadvantaged background, likely working to support his family rather than pursuing further education. My assessment painted him as harmless, just another face trying to make it in the world.
The moment Nathan set the all-day ‘the-lot' breakfast before me, my eyes sparkled with an unmistakable gleam of anticipation. I acknowledged him by name with a grateful nod, making sure not to linger long enough for a reaction. I then made my way to a vacant seat by the window, settling into the café's vibrant atmosphere.
The café was alive with the hum of conversation, a symphony of everyday life that provided a soothing backdrop. I sat there, slowly enjoying my breakfast, the flavors mingling perfectly with each sip of my coffee. My ears, however, couldn't help but tune into the conversations around me.
At a nearby table, a middle-aged couple was deep in discussion. "I'm telling you, the RBA got it all wrong this time," the woman said, her voice tinged with frustration. Her partner nodded in agreement, adding, "Yeah, and it's us who'll bear the brunt of it, as always."
A group of young professionals sat at another table, their conversation lighter, filled with laughter. "Did you see that short of the vocal coach chick reacting to Spiritbox?" one of them exclaimed, eliciting chuckles from his friends.
Then there was the elderly man sitting alone, phone to his ear, a mixture of joy and sadness on his face. "Yes, dear, I miss you too. The kids are growing so fast, aren't they?" His voice wavered slightly, a tangible thread of longing weaving through his words.
These fragments of life, each a story in its own right, surrounded me, offering a glimpse into the tapestry of human emotion. I sat there, a silent observer, taking in the myriad expressions – joy, sorrow, frustration, and nostalgia. It was a rare moment where I found myself immersed not in the digital world, but in the raw, unfiltered essence of humanity.
As I methodically worked my way through the hearty breakfast, my mind, ever restless, instinctively veered towards the colossal hack I had set in motion – an automated beast silently running its reconnaissance in the background. This operation, like many before it, was a piece of the intricate puzzle in my crusade against what I saw as an impending dystopian future.
But amidst the clink of cutlery and the murmur of conversations, I caught myself. This was my respite, a rare sliver of time carved out from my life of shadows and secrets. I forced my thoughts away from the digital battleground, urging myself to embrace this brief escape into normalcy.
Looking around, I saw faces engrossed in the simplicity of their daily routines. In them, I found a reminder of why I fought, why I delved into the depths of cyberspace night after night. These people, unaware of the digital wars waged in the background, represented the very essence of what I was striving to protect.
I let out a slow breath, allowing myself to sink into the moment, savoring the taste of my coffee, the buzz of the café, the normalcy of it all. It was a poignant contrast to my usual existence, a life where every keystroke could be a rebellion, every hack a statement.
Finishing my meal, I left the empty plate and cup behind, dropping a few bills into the tip jar. My nod to the Barista was more than just a gesture of thanks; it was an acknowledgment of the unspoken bond we shared – a fleeting connection in my otherwise solitary world. For a fleeting moment, in this café, amidst the familiar staff and comforting ambiance, I found a semblance of peace, a gentle reminder of the world outside my perpetual battle.
Stepping out of the café, I shook off the last remnants of normalcy and geared up for a run – a perfect transition to clear my head. The streets of Sydney blurred past as I pounded the pavement, the rhythm of my footsteps syncing with the city's heartbeat.
Post-run, refreshed from a shower and a change of clothes, I found myself en route to a lunch and learn for cybersecurity professionals. The venue, brightly lit and buzzing with the hum of technology, was a stark contrast to the café's homely ambiance. Tech enthusiasts congregated, their faces aglow in the light of laptops and smartphones.
I weaved through the crowd, seeking out familiar faces or intriguing snippets of conversation. As I made my way through the throng of tech enthusiasts, a detail caught my eye – a woman, engaged in animated conversation with a group discussing blockchain. I couldn't help but think how great it was to see more women in these tech gatherings. But then, a flicker of suspicion crossed my mind. Could she be another recruiter, eyeing potential candidates for some big corporate tech giant?
Shrugging off my initial doubts, I decided to join the group. "Mind if I jump in?" I asked, sliding into the conversation. The woman turned towards me, her expression one of genuine interest.
"Of course, the more the merrier," she said, her voice hinting at intrigue.
A young programmer I often spoke to, with thick-rimmed glasses, glanced up. "Good to see you again mate! We're yakking about blockchain's role in supply chain management."
My interest piqued. "Oh, supply chain, hey? Bloody interesting stuff. The transparency blockchain brings could totally flip how we track and verify goods. It's like putting every step under a microscope, but in a good way."
"Blockchain's more than just a buzzword, isn't it? It's about shifting power dynamics, bringing transparency to the forefront," she said, her eyes lighting up with fervour.
I nodded in agreement, my earlier suspicions fading. "Absolutely. It's about rewriting the rules, creating a system where trust is built-in, not just tacked on."
As we delved into the intricacies of blockchain and its potential applications, I found myself impressed by her insights. She wasn't just knowledgeable; she was passionate about the subject, a trait I admired. Her perspective on decentralized systems and the future of digital transactions was not just informed, but visionary.
Another member of the group chimed in, eager to engage in the conversation. "Buzz words like blockchain don't mean much to me, when you say transparency you refer to smart contracts, ethereum, right?"
My response was the same I'd given a few times before, "Absolutely! And with smart contracts, we can automate and enforce agreements without the need for intermediaries. It has the potential to eliminate fraud and maybe speed up transactions."
My acknowledgment was met with nods of agreement and thoughtful expressions. So I continued, "Yeah, smart contracts could really shake things up, but we gotta keep an eye on the power usage and the ethical side of things. Can't just bulldoze through without thinking about the bigger picture, right?"
The conversation flowed effortlessly, it was a welcome change, discussing technology without the shroud of secrecy that usually accompanied my nightly endeavors. Here, amidst the professionals, I found a different kind of friendship – one rooted in shared knowledge and a passion for the future of cybersecurity.
The woman, her wearable tech almost as expressive as her keen eyes, leaned in, her curiosity palpable. "Spot on about ethics. But what's your take on privacy and data protection? With heaps of personal info floating around, how do we juggle pushing tech forward and protecting people's rights?"
I paused, weighing my words. "Privacy, that's non-negotiable. It's a right, not a privilege. As techies, we're in this race to break new ground, but we've got to keep our eyes wide open to the risks. It's on us to build solid security and stick to an ethical path. We've got to tread carefully, making sure we don't trample over individual rights in our haste to innovate."
The conversation took on a deeper tone, reflecting the serious responsibility that came with advancing technology. It was a delicate balancing act, one that required constant vigilance and an unwavering commitment to ethical principles.
As we delved deeper into the nuances of privacy regulations, the conversation took an intriguing turn. The woman, her insight as sharp as her wearables, threw a curveball. "What about GDPR and its cookie policies, Eli? It's a bit of a sticky wicket, isn't it? Feels like every website you visit throws a cookie consent form in your face."
I paused, her challenge stirring a whirl of thoughts. "Yeah, you've got a point there. It can be a bit of an overkill, drowning users in consents. Makes you wonder if it's truly effective or just ticking a compliance box."
Around the table, opinions were mixed. Some staunchly defended the EU's approach, praising their proactive stance. "But it's about user control, isn't it? They're giving power back to the people," one of the guys argued, his conviction strong.
I mulled over this, his perspective resonating with me. "True, but there's gotta be a balance, right? Too many pop-ups, and people just click ‘accept' without a second thought. Where's the real choice in that?"
Her words had planted a seed of doubt, making me rethink my stance. "I've always been a fan of the EU's approach, but now, I'm not so sure. There's a fine line between protection and overkill."
The conversation continued, a lively debate that highlighted the complexities of our field. Yet, as I engaged, part of me remained pondering the woman's challenge, appreciating the new perspective she had introduced. It was discussions like these, where ideas were tested and beliefs questioned, that fuelled the ever-evolving landscape of cybersecurity.
The discussion took another sharp turn when one of the groups brought up Australia's controversial AAA bill. "It's groundbreaking, really. We're way ahead of the curve," he said, a note of pride in his voice.
The woman, however, was quick to counter, her tone dripping with sarcasm. "Oh yeah, brilliant move. Let's just force interns to spy for the government, stealing customer data in secret. It's like a Black Mirror episode coming to life."
I couldn't help but smile, her candor and depth of understanding leaving me quietly impressed. My grin was so telling that everyone at the table could guess where my allegiances lay, even without a word from me.
Then, as if to escape the weight of our previous topic, someone steered the conversation towards generative AI. The group's energy reignited, with tales of AI-generated exploit code and other cyber victories. I soaked in their stories, my silence not indicative of disinterest but rather a deep appreciation for their craft.
Despite the invigorating discussions, my time was limited. As the official talks began, I usually stayed, eager to learn something new or join the after-hours pub visit for more tech banter. But today, something more pressing beckoned, pulling me away from this community that felt like a second home. With a nod and a wave, I excused myself, stepping out into the evening, my mind already shifting gears to the challenges that awaited.
Midnight found me back in my zone, the dim glow of my screens casting shadows across the room. I cracked my knuckles and dived into the digital world, connecting with my network – a constellation of minds hidden behind screen names.
WestHavok, a legend in our circles, was online. Their exploits were as notorious as their dedication to our cause. I shot them a message, my fingers flying over the keys. "Evening, WestHavok. What's cooking?"
Their reply was swift, laced with the thrill of imminent action. "Eli, mate, it's all happening. Targets lining up like dominoes, ready to topple. How's about we give them a nudge?"
I leaned back, a smile creeping across my face. "Love the sound of that. Let's stir the pot, eh? Any juicy details for an old mate?"
"Juicy might be an understatement," WestHavok typed back. "Got a lead on a big fish, swimming in murky waters. Think you can handle it?"
"Born ready," I replied, the excitement building in my chest. "Send the details my way. Let's see how deep this rabbit hole goes."
Our exchange was more than just words; it was the forging of a plan, the beginning of yet another adventure in our relentless pursuit of truth. There, in the solitude of my apartment, I felt the rush of being part of something bigger, a digital brotherhood united by a common goal.
In the quiet of my room, the early morning hours ticking away, I found myself reflecting on the day's conversations. My network, my digital family, was always there, a constant in the chaotic world I navigated.
As I wrapped up assisting WestHavok, I couldn't help but feel a sense of accomplishment. "Good stuff today, WestHavok. We're making waves," I typed, my eyes heavy with fatigue.
"You bet, It's people like us who'll turn the tide," came the response, a digital fist-bump across cyberspace.
I then turned to my own project, a deep dive into an ecological disaster unfolding in the Great Barrier Reef. The final pieces clicked into place, revealing a new target – a major player in the US telecom industry. "Well, well," I whispered to myself, "Looks like we've got a big fish on the line."
But exhaustion was setting in. I messaged a quick update to my network. "Guys, hit a jackpot. Big telecom linked to the Reef mess. More after some shut-eye."
The replies were a mix of excitement and encouragement. "Crack it open!" one said. "We're with you all the way," chimed another.
I drained my glass of water, the day's events replaying in my mind as I stripped down and crawled into bed. The weight of my discoveries and the conversations I had lingered, mingling with the darkness of the room.
Lying there, I knew the world was unaware of our struggles in the digital shadows, but change was on the horizon. With each line of code, each piece of uncovered truth, I was hacking a path to a future I believed in.
As sleep enveloped me, I couldn't shake the anticipation of what tomorrow would bring – another day in the relentless battle for truth and justice, where every keystroke held the power to shape the world. And little did I know, as I drifted into dreams, that the revelations of the night were only the beginning of a journey that would test my limits and redefine the very meaning of our resistance to impending dystopian society.


Wren Fitzpatrick
A11ur3, Isabel Hughes Age: 27 Appearance: Wren Fitzpatrick is an enigma, embodying an aura of mystery and constant change. Her looks are not fixed, allowing her to blend seamlessly into any environment. Origin: Wren’s journey began in the serene coastal town of Byron Bay, Australia. Over the years, she has
Elias Fitzpatrick
Aliases Eclipse, Elijah_T Age: 25 Residence: Sydney, Australia Origin: Leadership in SystemShift: As the leader of the hacktivist group “SystemShift,” Elias, known as Eclipse, championed social justice and transparency. Under his leadership, the group targeted corporations involved in unethical practices like environmental destruction and human rights violations. His strategic
Elizabeth (Beth) Lawson
Age: 50 Residence: Washington D.C. Origin: General Elizabeth Lawson, a seasoned Air Force veteran and former Chief Information Officer at the Pentagon, was widowed at the age of 41 due to a tragic fighter jet crash that claimed her husband’s life. Physical Appearance: Beth is a tall and sturdy
Daniel Anderson
Age: 36 Residence: Washington D.C. Physical Appearance: Daniel has tousled black hair, sharp blue eyes, and a rugged beard. Standing at six-foot-three, he has an imposing presence. He wears glasses due to being far-sighted. Personality Traits: Despite an appearance that commands respect, Daniel often grapples with impostor syndrome, feeling
Evelyn Jacobs
Age: 42 Residence: Washington D.C. Physical Appearance: Evelyn is distinguished by her fiery red hair, cut in a stylish bob. Her pale, almost white, hazel eyes are striking. Personality Traits: Evelyn has become jaded by bureaucracy and often exhibits cynicism about people’s intentions. Despite being underestimated, she consistently outperforms
Jason Hargrove
Aliases JJ0kes, Whisper Age: 26 Lifestyle: Leads a modest, austere nomadic lifestyle, living in a campervan. Appearance: * Average build and a style appearance that prioritises function and practicality over trends or fashion. * Dark brown eyes, slightly inset * European decent, curly brown hair Background: Grew up in Silicon Valley, amidst a
Timothy Granger
Age: 52 Timothy Granger is the Director of the FBI’s cybersecurity division, overseeing the team responsible for protecting the nation’s digital infrastructure. A seasoned veteran with decades of experience in law enforcement and national security, Granger is responsible for overseeing a team of highly skilled analysts, programmers, and forensic investigators.