Chapter 14 Page 5 of 6

Tony returned and we changed the subject back to the EFT forgeries. We all agreed that the money mill was probably being run by an individual or a small group of people. Unlike the delay scam, the money mill did not appear to be a case of institutional fraud. MAC’s are not like digital signatures; they do not provide strong non-repudiation with a third-party. Both the sender and the recipient of an authenticated message know the authentication key. The recipient cannot prove to a third party (e.g. a judge or arbitrator) that the message originated from the sender because the recipient can attach valid MAC’s to messages just as easily as the sender can (since both know the key). Therefore, an insider at First Chicago, the recieving bank, would understand that creating messages that purportedly came from Bendix would not absolve First Chicago from suspicion. And certainly an insider with access to the key at Bendix would not be so foolish as to think that he or she would be overlooked in an investigation. The FBI was targeting each and every employee that might conceivably know EFT keys at either bank.

During the course of this conversation I learned that the FBI was using a very broad definition for “employee that might conceivably know”. Apparently the FBI was investigating each and every employee at both banks, although the focus of the investigation was in the information security and EFT departments. Shortly after saying this Jonny excused himself to call his wife and say goodnight to his children. Tony took his tie all the way off and tossed it on the desk. He was wearing only a black pair of socks on his feet, having taken off his shoes at some point. His shoes were sitting under the desk, beside the waste basket.

“It’s been rough,” he groaned. He slumped down in his chair and let his arms drop straight down to either side of his slight frame. Tony wasn’t bulky enough to fill out his suit even under the best of circumstances. Now, having missed dinner and working late into the night, his suit was wrinkled and disheveled. He stretched his legs out and rested one foot on the waste basket. Leaning back in his chair he stared at the ceiling.

“They gave me a hard time too,” I said. “Of course in my case they had good reason to, seeing as how I was a prime suspect at the time. I don’t feel justified in getting indignant about it.”

“Well, the same goes for me too,” he conceded. “I was warned when I was hired that if anything went wrong the entire security department would be put under the microscope. Its crazy. Nobody in the security department would be foolish enough to run the mill. I never thought there would be an incident on the scale of this one.” He grimaced, seemingly in pain. All of us were exhausted.

“I’ll admit we have occasional minor incidents,” Tony said with a shrug. “Happens all the time actually. But do you realize how big this one could be?” he asked. He shuddered visibly as he said this. He slumped down further in the chair (I would not have thought it possible) and put his hands over his face for a moment. His long wavy black hair was unkempt. Fatigue had set in for both of us. I massaged my eyes; I would have preferred to splash some cold water over my face. What I needed was a sink. Or a bed.

“I’m scared Carl. Really scared. The forgeries we are seeing are perfect forgeries. Somebody has cracked DES or has broken into a key center — take your pick. Either way we got trouble.

“The worst part about it is that it does not look like this case is going to be solved. The FBI is in over their heads. Jonny doesn’t know what to try next and he is the best they’ve got. Even worse, why is it that —”

Tony stopped abruptly and a moment later I saw why. Jonny stepped up behind me. “Max gave me one of his 7-Up’s,” he said. “Either of you want some? He didn’t have anything with caffeine,” he sighed. Then, seeing the uncomprehending look on our faces, he added, “Max is the guard down the hall. Nice guy.”

“Thanks,” I said as I held out a hand for the low-octane soda. I took a swig and passed the can to Tony. “I don’t think we’re going to get any further tonight. We’d better call it a night and head home,” I suggested.

“You mean call it another day,” Tony said. “It’s 4:30 already. In fact we’d better get out of here before people show up for work. We don’t meet the dress code anymore. Wrinkles aren’t considered a valid substitute for pin-stripes,” he smirked. Not the best of jokes, but it was 4:30 and we were all way behind on sleep so I let it go and returned the smirk with one of my own.

The three of us made a feeble attempt to neaten up the papers strewn about the room, and tossed out the styrofoam cups. It took Tony a bit longer, mainly because it was his office and most of the papers were his, but also because he seemed to have “made himself at home” more than Jonny and me. Jonny and I were waiting in the hallway when Tony finally left the room and shut off the light behind him. He had his neck-tie in one hand and his suit-coat in the other.

The emergency lighting illuminated the hallway with an eery glow as the three of us walked down the hall. Twenty hours and little progress to show for it, I thought. We were all feeling dejected. Tomorrow — no, today — Jonny and I would be heading back to Chicago. Lisa wouldn’t be pleased; she had pinned high hopes on this trip. She wasn’t the only one.