Active Defenses - The Counterpoint to Surveillance

These are actually trying to hurt you. They are:

These are a category all to themselves:

IFF transponders: Identification Friend or Foe radios that respond to one set radio signal with another set radio signal. They’re nice, but a good InfoSec Operative can find the code signals, or you can just steal them from the target’s personnel. New systems operate on an electronic version of the old Enigma code, and are much harder to crack.

• Passwords: the only way to defeat a password system is to have the passwords. Steal them, eavesdrop with electronics, bribe them out of someone. Special programs exist to generate thousands of random passwords per second and apply them to the system. Of course, a little legwork can go a long way towards narrowing down the selection. Once you have to correct passwords. it’s a breeze.

• Handprint/palmprint/retinal scans: the print scans can be duped with either detailed plastic surgery or fingerprintlhandprint gloves, super-thin plastic gloves molded with the ridges of someone who’s cleared for access. Duplicating retinal scans takes expert contact lenses or custom cybernetic eyes, made to match the pattern of someone with access.

• Voiceprint scans: cybervocals and digital recordings have made this a less-than-effective security measure, but you may still find them in some low-tech zones.

Except for tin can hovels on the edge of the system, widespread surveillance is a fact of life thanks to the nearly uncountable number of small data-gathering devices. Even anarchist and autonomist habitats have the same surveillance and security systems as the hypercorps, Consortium, and the Junta; the difference is in the philosophy and control schemes that govern them.

Spimes are useful because they provide data at nearly any level of granularity a person desires. Though the majority of individuals prefer to filter out data at the conscious level that isn’t directly relevant to their interests, most muse software includes automatic subroutines that access local spime data and status updates from Habitat Control to immediately inform the user if a threat presents itself. This is a much faster and more efficient method for getting residents out of harm’s way than a centralized alert system. It also gives individual morphs a greater chance of evading harm until the proper authorities respond to the threat, be it a criminal, an environmental hazard, or a structural issue. If carbon dioxide levels are getting dangerously high in a certain area, for example, the local mesh will provide the muse with a constant update of the conditions, allowing a muse to guide its user to safety. If someone is being chased in an alley, their muse can access the mesh to tell authorities which local spimes can view the threat, plot multiple courses to safe areas, and even put a public alert out to draw attention.

Like other habitat systems, many colonies rely on sentry bots and similar AI-piloted robotic guardians to handle routine security measures. Bots are favored over personnel because they follow orders without question and avoid putting an actual ego in danger. Microgravity habitats, especially tin cans, very often rely on drone security because the machines do not impose on their life support margins or create organic waste to be dealt with. Quite often these bots are overseen by infomorph security personnel, who can evaluate if an incident requires more discretion, tact, or overwhelming force than the security bot is applying. These operators can also teleoperate or jam the bot directly, putting themselves in control of the situation.

Aside from standard sentry bots, many habitats employ automech, dwarf, and similar utility robots to handle security threats because they can be used for other tasks when not responding to alerts. Hypercorp habitats are well-known for using this method to save costs in non-essential areas. These bots can also be equipped with standardized packages that vary with the assignment. A “pacification loadout” typically consists of a vortex ring gun or shock baton, a grenade launcher with concussion or overload rounds, and a freezer spray weapon or microwave agonizer. The “assault loadout” trends more towards seeker rifles, explosive mini-grenades, and submachine guns with zero bullets or laser-guidance. Bots can also use whatever tools or equipment they have on hand, though the results can vary. Just the presence of a dwarf bot with mining bores spinning might be enough to scare off a would-be attacker. It might also incite unruly protestors to cry, “Oppression!”

Morph guards are used in habitats where the authorities give the security forces more discretion, a private company provides the services, or drones are distrusted. Olympians and novacrabs are common biomorphs in security, as well as arachnoid and slitheroid synth-shells. These are sometimes equipped with heavier armaments, military armor, or exoskeletons in situations that call for force multipliers. Mil-spec reapers and similar combat morphs are kept on stand-by in case of serious disturbances, dangerous outbreaks, or military assaults. The Jovians are particularly reliant on biomorphs for physical security because they don’t trust computers to do all the work and they have a deep disdain for police baboons that “put good men out of work.” The average Jovian enforcer is likely to have a shock baton and a pistol with flex or zap bullets. Only higher-ranking officers, corporate security, and military police have the authority to use fully lethal firearms, though most of the Junta’s leadership looks the other way if a dissident is outright beaten to death.

Habitats that lack the compunctions of the bioconservatives have also been known to include smart animals in their security apparatus, from smart dogs upgraded with defensive bioware and cybernetics to the dangerous but effective police baboon. Smart rats and mice can also serve as an unobtrusive network of monitors.

Active Defenses - The Counterpoint to Surveillance

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