TG Universes & Series:
Sunday 6th November 2016
"Did you see the school's fireworks display. Tammy?"
"I didn't know they were putting one on, not until it was too late."
"I would have thought your parents might have said something?"
"No, John, I rarely see them at the moment. Plus I was knackered yesterday."
"Yes, I have two separate casts and I've been using Wednesday evenings but, from this week, the pantomime cast need that night for rehearsal. So, I pulled both casts in yesterday: B in the morning and A in the afternoon. I can't say the A cast was happy about the change."
"What time did you get away?"
"Half four, I'd not been able to get any lunch so had my dinner alone when I got back here. I was up here, just hitting the shower, when the fireworks started."
"That's a shame, it was a good display."
"I suppose you watched from the cottage?"
"No, Tanya wanted to watch it with the students."
"So, where is she today?"
"Claims the walking left her tired today, she was still in bed when I left."
"It's gone two o'clock!"
"Look, Tammy, I'm trying not to antagonise her plus I have no idea what time she gets up on days that I'm working."
"If she gets up?"
"So does she contribute to the household jobs?"
"Occasionally, but she says she can't lift anything."
"I'd ask to see that in writing."
"I did, I slept in the spare room for the next few nights."
"John, you need to get away. She'll have to do things for herself if you're not there."
"I know Tammy, but she's not keen on me doing courses out of the area as that would mean I would have to stay overnight."
"I might have an idea, one that Tanya couldn't, probably, object to."
"I need to run it past a few people first. Now, shall we draft this letter?"
They'd just finished the first draft when John's phone rang.
"Sorry, Tammy, I've got to go. Can you finish it by yourself?"
"Sure, but what's up?"
"She's tipped a glass of water over the bed, it needs changing."
Tammy watched John pull out of the drive for the short journey back to the cottage in the school grounds. She was in a quandary as she'd introduced the pair to each-other but now regretted that move, moreover it had been clear several times that John could have fallen for Tammy under different circumstances.
Tanya was aware that John viewed Tammy as more than a friend, but he'd never made a move on her. Of course, John had known Tom Smart for nearly seven years and they'd shared a dorm for five of those years.
Tammy had no wish to hurt John, or Tanya, and was acutely aware that she would be blamed if the couple's relationship disintegrated. Her only option was to help shore up the marriage, whether or not Tanya liked it.
She finished drafting the letter and sent it to Mike Thompson at the school, adding the idea that she'd earlier formulated. She closed down her laptop, it was sat next to her script for Deathtrap.
The stress of the play was now getting to Tammy, the whole of Saturday would now be taken up with rehearsals until the opening night, 1st December. The costumes weren't yet ready and the set would be another week, or two.
Sarah really wanted Tammy to run the shop on Saturdays so she could make a two day visit to Emily at the weekend but Tammy wouldn't be free and, with Christmas only six or seven weeks away, closing on a Saturday was a non-starter. Even closer to Christmas, the shop would also be open on Sundays. Tammy wanted to help more, but couldn't.
She found her father in the study.
"Was there an open invitation to the school's fireworks display?"
"Yes, all current and former staff and students, but any not at the school had to apply for a ticket in advance."
"So was I entitled to go?"
"How was I supposed to know?"
"That there was going to be a display, that I could have gone and that I needed to apply for a ticket?"
"I thought you knew?"
"I'm a School Ambassador and former Head Girl but I don't get any invites even though both of my parents work there!"
"Oh, I'll have to check what contact details the school has for you?"
Tammy walked out of the study, not quite certain if she was entitled to have an argument with her father, but he was part of the school's management and he was accessible at that time. Richard had been clearly distracted and Tammy saw him working on the office computer, even whilst she spoke.
What was going on at the school?
Tammy pulled out her coursework and checked it was up to date. There was an ongoing project on youth criminality and she regularly scanned local newspapers and other media for reports of teenagers committing offences.
One such report caught her attention, there had been a break-in at the Wick campus of the University and a person was caught on CCTV leaving the administration block. The grainy photo didn't help much but a Police Scotland spokesperson put the age of the intruder between seventeen and twenty. What peaked her interest was that nothing had been stolen and minimal damage had been caused.
She added this information to her growing project file and wanted to dig deeper, much deeper. She scanned all the available news websites, including the Police Scotland site, and in each case the report was virtually the same; no journalist had investigated the crime. The UHI website gave a little more information, their report was dated several days after the break-in.
Students and staff may be aware of a break-in that happened at our Wick Campus on the night of Monday 1st November. It is suspected that the intruder accessed the UHI database but it's not yet clear what data, if any, was taken. Investigations continue and the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) in Edinburgh have been informed.
Tammy knew that the University was obliged to refer themselves to the ICO if there was a breach of their database, and thankfully the ICO was a pan-UK agency. When Tammy had worked at the National Crime Agency (NCA) she'd had access to the ICO systems and she wondered if that access was still valid a year later? She decided against using her official laptop, in case that was tracked and, instead, used a tablet - then stopped before she entered any login details.
Tammy was very aware that she had no legitimate right to access this information, hacking the ICO was not recommended given that they investigated corporate hacking cases and employed some very experienced technical staff.
Tammy's GCHQ training had covered several fields, one of which was how to hide your IP address. Fifteen minutes later she was secure, via a remote server and several VPN hops. She'd been advised not to use TOR as it wasn't as secure as once believed. Now she logged into the ICO site and was ready to search for the UHI case.
Unfortunately she had to use an NCA staff login and her search would be recorded against that login, however this was a shared login so she hoped the logs wouldn't point at herself after the hard work at masking her location. Tammy decided against making a specific search and instead looked for university breaches over the past month.
She found fifteen reports, including four from Scottish institutions.
In each case, at Stirling, Dundee, Aberdeen and, most recently, Wick, the targets were the staff and student databases. Most involved remote access using logins obtained from unsuspecting staff and there had been no physical access to the university computers. A random audit had been carried out by the University of Dundee, and this found the anomalous login from a member of staff who was on leave at the time.
All the other Scottish Universities had immediately audited their systems with Stirling and Dundee finding discrepancies. Wick, amongst others, had reported their systems clean and had added safeguards to mitigate against remote intruders.
"That's why he broke in, he couldn't do it remotely," Tammy said out loud to herself.
The question was why, why were these East Coast universities being raided? Whose data was being sought? It looked to Tammy like a fishing expedition, looking for someone who was in East or North-East Scotland.
There was no information in the ICO reports to suggest they had any clue about the source of the hacks, indeed it might not even be one person and the four reports might not be connected in any way. Tammy, however, had a hunch that one person was behind it.
A bell sounded from downstairs so she closed down her tablet, disconnecting her session.
Saturday 12th November 2016
Tammy had finished another exhausting rehearsal, and, for the first time, the set was on the stage. That meant everyone going back to their scripts for their stage directions. They only had two more weeks before the first performance and would need every available minute of rehearsal time.
Of the casts, the B cast was the better so Tammy decided they would take to the stage for the press night, revising her earlier plan.
There had been a few visitors in the theatre for this rehearsal, Tammy recognised most of them but the only one who spoke to her was Fleur Younger.
"It's looking good, Tammy."
"I'm not 100% convinced it'll work on the night?"
"Well, I enjoyed it. It's a challenging play?"
"Do you mean the underlying gay theme?"
Fleur laughed, "yes, it's not exactly a common topic in the Highlands?"
"I doubt if many will spot it, after all it played on Broadway for four years from 1978 to 1982, when society was not enlightened."
"A bit like the Highlands today?"
"That's a bit harsh, Fleur."
"If my mother's attitude is anything to go by?"
"I've met her, remember, but she's the exception not the rule. I didn't have a smooth ride either."
"No, but none of the miscreants are around here any more. As far as anyone is concerned, I'm all girl."
Fleur whispered, "you're post-op?"
"I'm so jealous, my shrink won't agree to surgery yet. I'm on my third shrink in a year, so there's no consistency either."
"You'll get there in the end, but you're doing great already."
"Except for those days when I lose faith in myself and I'm a hormonal mess!"
"Welcome to womanhood!"
"Yeah, no-one warned me about that! How's your course going?"
"Fine, there wasn't much work this week."
"Did you get that notice about the data breach?"
"Yes. Everyone did."
"The Uni says that our personal details 'may have been taken'. That's a bit worrying?"
"It depends on whether the intruder got any data, and what their intention is."
"Does this mean all of my details are going to appear on a website, so even my Luddite mother could find me?"
"Unlikely, but not impossible."
Fleur clearly didn't like Tammy's response and started to sob. "Why can't I be left alone?"
"Hey, this isn't just about you. Did you know that three other Scottish universities have been targeted in the past month?"
"Oh?" Fleur looked up, clearly surprised.
"Tammy, how do you know this, I haven't seen anything on the BBC about it?"
"I'm doing a criminology course, aren't I?"
"Ah, so you knew where to look?"
"In a way, yes. Look, I have to get going, do you need a lift?"
"Can you drop me in town?"
Sunday 13th November 2016
"Dad, I sent Mike Thompson an email last Sunday and I haven't had a reply, is everything okay?"
"He mentioned your email, but he's been busy."
"That's BS Dad, and you know it!"
Richard looked embarrassed.
"Well, Dad? What's the real reason?"
"I was told not to say anything."
Tammy paused, Richard hadn't been used by Jenny before, there's no way Suzie said have anything without Jenny's authority.
"So I've been squeezed out of the school?"
Richard nodded, "temporarily."
"To stop your investigations."
"And that includes excluding me from the fireworks? You don't think that I might have noticed that?"
"I did raise that."
"Dad, you're being used by Jenny to do her dirty work."
"I realised that. Mike thinks he's been used as well, by you?"
"Jenny authorised that. Dave Brown was here as well, remember? He did not come to the Highlands for a social visit."
"I guessed. I've been told not to pass any calls onto you, Pru has been told the same."
"That's not on and I'm very unhappy."
"I wasn't happy doing this, your Mum seems to think that you upset Mike but doesn't know why."
"So you have both ignored me for the past week and a bit? And you, Dad, lied to me."
"Yeah, I'm sorry."
"So, it stops, right?"
"I wish it could?"
"Dad, you're not employed by them and have no obligation. Do you realise that Jenny has played my sister against me? Against us? She's driving a wedge and you didn't see it?"
ICO - Information Commissioner's Office http://www.ico.org.uk
NCA - National Criminal Agency http://www.nationalcrimeagency.gov.uk
TOR - Anonymity Network https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tor_(anonymity_network)
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