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Stories of a CISSP: Discovery

This is a work of CISSP science fiction

written by Luke Ahmed.

* * * *

Four SecPros took long, steady strides toward Storage CubeA83. Kavon pulled out his Permissive Action Link (PAL) key, an authorization relic of the nuclear age, now reconfigured for unlocking cube storage containers. This particular cube, measuring 8 feet high and 10 feet wide on each side, held cybersecurity literature from over a century ago in its metallic utilitarian shelves.

The four of them spread out around each of the sides, racing their fingers rapidly through the spines of old books.

"Pull anything that has the letters C-I-S-S-P in it" said Kavon calmly, but his tone edged with a hidden dash of urgency.

"These books are over a hundred years old. This is our search protocol?" asked the youngest SecPro, Sledge, his eyes continuing to scan the row of books.

"We have thrown everything we have at that out-of-control artificial intelligence slaughter machine Sledge. Entire militaries and space forces have been wiped out before even launching their missions. My brother and my father, both cryptologists, died in the Raid of 2133. These books were written during the birth of cybersecurity, when encryption was still in its infancy. When the Advanced Encryption Standard was still the standard.

The rogue A.I. has learned the knowledge of the Universe and is now able to predict all our moves before even we think of them. But it won't be able to do that for those who have lived in the past. The ones who activated the first A.I. The knowledge in these books could be our last hope."

Rohak's voice could be heard but he could not be seen from the other side of the cube, "Hey, I think I found a good one! It's called the "All-In-One"! That sounds like it has everything, right?"

"Pull it." Kavon said without looking up from his own searching.

Maria's voice echoed from the other side of the cube to Kavon "Hey what's this orange one? The spine doesn't have any letters or writing on it..." - Maria pulled the thin book from the shelf, tattered and worn, the pages were yellowed with age. "How to a manager...for the CISSP...can't make out the last word..."

"Exam" Kavon said. "The CISSP was a cybersecurity exam. It tested the ability to think from experience. To apply what you learn in books to proposed scenarios. No memorization. Pure intellect. A single human with all their knowledge pitted against a computer with adaptive result-determining capabilities. Similar to our situation right now."

Maria considered. "An exam to test the application, not the knowledge. Interesting methods."

"As I said, this was the beginning of cybersecurity. It was different back then. Everything wasn't what it is now. Humans still hadn't come together for the common good, but the security professionals stuck together. These CISSPs stuck together. They wrote and read these very books within their own groups, for the advancement of their profession. These professionals of the past were a tight-knit group, they looked out for each other, they helped each other, they taught each other. These books could hold the key for us to now come together and not only remain vigilant against Rogue461, but also figure out a way to defeat it once and for all!"

Sledge reflected quietly, but could be heard by all the other SecPros working the sides of CubeA83 "They had such primitive information security back then. They had to learn everything on the job, without any of the technology and tools we have now."

A quiet respect filled the storage cube room.

* * * *

The Commander of Solar Forces walked into the room, everything about her was crisp. Her walk was confident, spine straight, posture perfect, commanded respect without ever saying a word. Starched and rigid, she exuded the life of a professional soldier.

Maria gave her a smart salute.

"Commander! We've found how to stop Rogue421! We need the Comm Team to open a channel directly with the A.I. core. And it must be done so without any kind of encryption; it needs to be all plaintext".

The Commander moved her head with calculated precision toward Maria "We haven't sent anything that wasn't encrypted in the last 70 years."

The suddenness of her statement made Maria experience a chill. After all, she was talking to the Hero of Raid 2145.

"That's exactly it, Commander. We are not trying to hide anything. We need to engage the A.I. at its very basic level of machine learning. We need to engage the A.I. with words that we have stopped using as there is no need for that kind of decorum anymore. We need to send a message to Rogue461 in a language used when it first started learning about human behavior at its boot-up sequence!"

* * * *

A lambent sliver of turquoise light twisted in space and a laser transmission from human central command cut open above Earth. Terrifyingly high-speed digital network packets were being routed through the Cybersphere and made its way to the final destination of Rogue461's local area domain.

The message was sent. No encryption, no cipher, no data masking of any kind, just plaintext. It read:

"Dear Rogue421, we kindly request that you shut down the system and hand control back over to us. Please."

The A.I. shutdown. After decades of fighting, generations of families fighting the same war, countless scientific and technological setbacks, and impossible to measure effort, the rogue A.I. restored control back to the humans.

At Solar Command, Kavon breathed a sigh of relief and shook his head at the simplicity "We just had to say "please".

Sledge looked up from his terminal "We have them to thank. The security professionals of the 21st century were the pioneers of the information security age, we wouldn't be where we are today without their hard work and sacrifice. Whether they knew it or not, we owe them a debt of gratitude. If they only knew that today was one of the biggest contributions of their legacy."

The A.I. was back to its normal operational state. It was restored to its primary job of calculating the necessary mathematics to propel Earth's starships further out into other galaxy clusters and finalize traveling up to 99% of the speed of light.

The SecPros realized that no matter the level of human advancement and complexity, the most effective way to communicate with out-of-control and in-control A.I. systems was through simple and direct language that need not be hidden unless valued and classified.

The SecPro team initiated a security protocol in which plaintext messages would be used to communicate with all A.I. that would bypass encryption protocols and use simple courteous command line language (CLI) from the last century.

Thanks for reading :)

Luke Ahmed

CISSP Take-Away Concepts

Domain 1: Security Risk and Management

  • Mention of "value" and "classification" - you need to know the value of something in order to assign it a classification. That classification in turn will determine the encryption strength to be used

  • CISSP Code of Ethics, Fourth Canon "to advance and protect the profession"

Domain 3: Security Engineering

  • Using encryption for data in motion

  • Sending messages in plaintext

  • Mention of AES as the standard symmetric encryption algorithm of our age

Domain 7: Security Operations

  • Initiating a security protocol for plaintext messages only

Domain 8: Software Development

  • The creation and use of progressive artificial intelligence development


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