Sionsla, or rather 510|\|5L4, had been one of the most notorious phreakers around. Their distinctive 1kb signature had been found in the boot sectors of computers from the Pentagon to Saddam Hussein’s private server, always placed in just the right place to cause mayhem after a period of time. It had also been attached to the infamous Three Mile Island polymorphic worm, and bombarded the servers of Yippee, Gaggle, and RoweWare with the most serious denial-of-service attacks those giants had ever witnessed.

Just as suddenly as they had appeared, though, Sionsla vanished. Their last known activity was in early 2001: a backdoor keystroke logger that bore the 1kb signature but was otherwise far below the elegant and devious standard of previous attacks. The source code to the various bits of malware the phreaker had inflicted on the world were never found; experts could only speculate that they had been developed on an isolated terminal using a custom-built operating system and programming language.

But if the junker HPAQ Probonio that Sanderson had brought by really did have Sionsla’s signature on it, well, that could be a major break. The Probonio hadn’t launched until late 2002, after all, long after custom machine code had been inserted into most units to lock Sionsla out.