Computers

Discuss the Traveller RPG and its many settings
10harold66
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Computers

Postby 10harold66 » Mon Mar 31, 2008 9:12 pm

Obviously for game purposes, it would be next to impossible to account for what kinds of communications technology the Imperium, Alsan, Droyne, Hivers, etc. might have invented -- I've never read anything that tries to explore this.

If a character has Computer skill, is it assumed that he should also have an appropriate Language skill to enable him to hack/program/operate a different society's/race's computers?

I keep thinking about that awful, stupid scene from Independence Day where Will Smith and Jeff Goldblum "hack" into the invading spaceship's computer to install a virus, bringing it down.

I thought I read somewhere about Zhodani hackers "thinking" themselves into an Imperial database somewhere.

Is anyone on-board with the idea that in the far future, hacking would be next to impossible given thousands of years of improvement?

Being an Empire, I would think the Imperium would lean toward trying to control everything possible -- I could see that communications would be completely controlled by those in power, and so much more easily so at higher and higher tech levels. With that would come complete control/governance/management of all communications technologies/protocols/standards, etc. such that hacking into a TL 15 Imperial database would be next to impossible from the outside (unless performed by a former Imperial researcher with plenty of experience with the system). I would almost say as a referee that for a character to attempt to break into such a system would require specific experience with that system -- not just "Computers" in general.

I guess that leads to another question... does the Computer skill always mean familiarity with Imperial systems?

Lots to cover here -- maybe too large in scope.
-Daniel-
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Postby -Daniel- » Mon Mar 31, 2008 9:32 pm

I believe that it would be a mistake to assume hacking will ever go away. For every "protection" there will be some kind of hack. Now how much does it cost and how hard will it be could all be questioned, but every system has it's weakness.

The other question, various races and systems etc. I do agree the various races and systems could present a challange for a hacker. Look at modern day issues. Would an average hacker from the US be able to hack a Chinese system? What would they need to do so?

I agree 100% that the ID movie was so bad. He hacked in moments a system he had never seen nor knew much about. This flys in the face of real hacking.

I could see limiting hacking at skill to the same race and then giving a negative mod to hacking other races etc. This would make sense.

Just my .02

Daniel
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Postby Zowy » Mon Mar 31, 2008 11:12 pm

The Virus did not have much trouble spreading, by useing IFF transponder and normal com systems.
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Postby Emperor Herdan » Mon Mar 31, 2008 11:44 pm

Ahh but the Virus was a plot device... and thus had a "free" ride on the system.

I would think that it (hacking) would be more along cultural lines rather than species. A IRL example would be trying to hack a PC that uses a Microsoft product, vs lets say either a russian or a chinese PC that doesn't. As Dafrca mentioned what would one need to even begin to start... Especially if its a "home" grown system and not based on a program the hacker is familiar with.

I would think that Culture would make a bigger difference as well. Solomani vs I3 shouldn't have that much difference. Vs. Villani hacking should be harder, Vs Zho harder yet. Against a different species (Hiver anyone...) much much harder.

Just my 2 cr.

Take care

E. Herdan
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Golan2072
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Re: Computers

Postby Golan2072 » Tue Apr 01, 2008 7:17 am

10harold66 wrote:If a character has Computer skill, is it assumed that he should also have an appropriate Language skill to enable him to hack/program/operate a different society's/race's computers?
Given the fact that Humanity had contact with the other major races for at least a millennium, I'd bet that a well-educated computer professional would know a thing or two about other races' computers; maybe use the Computer skill at one level lower (vs Solomani or Aslan systems) or two levels lower (vs Hiver, Droyne, K'kree or Vargr). Furthermore, there probably would be software available on the black market for interfacing with alien computers.
10harold66 wrote:I keep thinking about that awful, stupid scene from Independence Day where Will Smith and Jeff Goldblum "hack" into the invading spaceship's computer to install a virus, bringing it down.
It was foolish because they had so little time to study a completely alien system, translate an alien language, understand an alien system architecture and OS and learn how to hack it; in real life this would take YEARS for the very least. But the Traveller Humaniti had centuries to learn other races' computers - and, unlike ID, they also trade with these aliens on a regular basis. In the case of the Hivers, humans even buy robotic equipment from them...
10harold66 wrote:Is anyone on-board with the idea that in the far future, hacking would be next to impossible given thousands of years of improvement?
Keep in mind that hackers, too, would have thousands of years to improve - not just the defense systems...
10harold66 wrote:Being an Empire, I would think the Imperium would lean toward trying to control everything possible -- I could see that communications would be completely controlled by those in power, and so much more easily so at higher and higher tech levels. With that would come complete control/governance/management of all communications technologies/protocols/standards, etc. such that hacking into a TL 15 Imperial database would be next to impossible from the outside (unless performed by a former Imperial researcher with plenty of experience with the system). I would almost say as a referee that for a character to attempt to break into such a system would require specific experience with that system -- not just "Computers" in general.
On the other hand, remember that there is a communication lag of at least one week per 6 parsecs (at Jump-6), meaning that up-to-date centralized intelligence gathering would be tricky to say the least. And then you have an information overload of trying to eavesdrop on 11,000 worlds. So the Imperium might have back-doors installed on most licensed computers, but these would mean that a hacker who knows about them and has the correct passwords would have a very easy life. Also, sure, and Imperial database would be very well protected, but every system has a weakness - even the Pentagon, with computer defenses I assume cost millions of dollars for the very least, was hacked a few years ago by a young Israeli hacker (the "Analyzer").

And, another hacking method is "social engineering", that is conning someone with legal access to give the password or stealing the password from various places it could be written in (you'd be surprised how many people don't take data security too seriously).
10harold66 wrote:I guess that leads to another question... does the Computer skill always mean familiarity with Imperial systems?
I'd say that Computer skill always means familiarity with the PCs' polity's systems. So if they're Solomani, for example, they'll be familiar with Solomani systems rather than Imperial ones.
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Postby Ssendam » Tue Apr 01, 2008 9:01 am

There are possibly 2 issues here, Technology and Language.

Assuming that you are aware of and understand the technology, (or perhaps the logic underlying any computer system is not that different), then you may need a fair knowledge of the alien language to program thier computers.

Perhaps before a hacking attempt is made you need a minimum Alien Tech skill AND Alien Language skill?
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Postby -Daniel- » Tue Apr 01, 2008 4:26 pm

Ssendam wrote: Perhaps before a hacking attempt is made you need a minimum Alien Tech skill AND Alien Language skill?
Or bought the right programs. The truth is, many Hackers are only as god as the tools they use. The correct programs etc would have a great impact on how well someone could hack another races computers in my opinion.

Daniel
10harold66
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Postby 10harold66 » Tue Apr 01, 2008 6:32 pm

I guess where I was going with the Imperial control idea is that in my view, the Imperium wouldn't allow a Microsoft to create a system without direct government control of its development (this is not to say that a highly bureaucratic government wouldn't create the same mess for which Microsoft is well-known) -- sort of like if DARPA had never released the use of TCP/IP, but kept it ONLY for government use on government-controlled computer systems. In my view, if you were a developer working on an Imperial version release of the Gunnery 2.0 program, you'd show up for work with a blank mind, then get "jacked-in" and have your daily "knowledge" programmed into you, then you'd work all day, then when you left, you are "unplugged" and you leave without taking any of the information with you -- sort of like your mind is wiped, but you know you have to report back to work the next day, you know, a slave a' la the Matrix. Of course, whoever controls this process is always open to bribes, human error, corruption, revenge, resentment, etc., but you've narrowed it down to just a few people, easily tracked and neutralized if needed.

I guess it really depends on how "Big-Brother" the Imperium really is and to what lengths they'd go to to ensure security. I have to imagine that an Empire with TL 15 resources could do just about anything it wanted with impunity.

In my view, it wouldn't allow user community-supported OS development such as Linux. It would create an Imperial OS (or IOS -- sorry, Cisco!) for use by the combined Imperial Armed Forces (for lack of a better term), the Scout Service, Imperial Research Stations, and any "official" Imperial Agency. When you go to a Scout station to check on the status of an expected inbound X-Boat, you'd see the same basic interface as you do when you engage the Imperial Credit Union ATM.

My general feeling is that Empire = control and that philosophy is going to permeate everything in its sphere of influence.

Here's a big question... would the Imperium also be closely-tied to industry like the current military-industrial complex we have here in the U.S.? I can't see how it couldn't, though. Unless, of course, the Imperium takes over, by force, those industries and just folds them into their structure.

Sorry, folks, I'm all over the place here...
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Postby Golan2072 » Tue Apr 01, 2008 7:36 pm

10harold66 wrote:I guess it really depends on how "Big-Brother" the Imperium really is and to what lengths they'd go to to ensure security. I have to imagine that an Empire with TL 15 resources could do just about anything it wanted with impunity.
The comm lag is the major barrier for a totalitarian police state; it makes centralized control impossible, as you have to rely on the man on the field to make his own decisions (and instructions take weeks, if not months, to get from Capital to the periphery). So the Imperium, instead of having tight standards for everything, has some kind of a range of tolerance - a local noble is free to follow his own judgment as long as he serves the Imperium in the bottom line. A certain level of variation, even of corruption, is tolerated simply because rooting it out would be extremely expensive; only those who go too far are made an example of.
10harold66 wrote:Here's a big question... would the Imperium also be closely-tied to industry like the current military-industrial complex we have here in the U.S.? I can't see how it couldn't, though. Unless, of course, the Imperium takes over, by force, those industries and just folds them into their structure.
Remember that the high nobles of the OTU Imperium are also the big megacorp shareholders - so, in essence, the Imperium = the Megacorps. It's a government of the big shareholders, by the big shareholders, for the big shareholders with the outer trappings of feudalism - an interstellar "Feudal Technocracy".
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Postby FallingPhoenix » Thu Apr 03, 2008 5:57 am

10harold66 wrote:I guess it really depends on how "Big-Brother" the Imperium really is and to what lengths they'd go to to ensure security. I have to imagine that an Empire with TL 15 resources could do just about anything it wanted with impunity.
Again, it seems like hackers and their ilk would be right up there with or just behind the Imperium in technology. Just look at our world. Every time you come up with a new defense, its not long before someone comes up with a way around it. With the x-boat as the fastest way of getting information around, you could easily get ahead of the technology curve in a relatively out-of-the-way system.

As far as any other nefarious deeds, all you'd need is a couple of bribes on a single world in the right places and you could keep a pretty major operation quiet for probably years if you were careful.

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