San Francisco, CA, September 13---Officials at Linden Lab, makers of the 3-D fantasy online world Second Life, said they were continuing their investigation of hackers into their data bases who compromised the personal data of some 600,000 subscribers, even as law-enforcers closed the case this morning.
"It's a game," Sgt. O'Hara of the Southern California branch office of the FBI told reporters. "We're supremely uninterested in games as we have real stuff to do," he said.
"I'm determined to find out who did this, even though we have met the enemy and realized he is us," said Linden CEO Philip Rosedale at a news conference this morning.
"It's them...it's W-HAT, and people here are in on it," a reliable source within the Lab who asked not to be identified told World Tech News, referencing a faction of the online game-griefing site known as "Something Awful".
Linden CTO Cory Ondrejka has reportedly told staff privately that he regrets giving away the store to a rogue resident group, LibSecondLife, who were quietly reverse-engineering the software. "They seemed like such fun guys in the IRC Channel," the metaverse mechanic lamented at a hastily-called staff breakfast yesterday morning. "They had these cool titles, 'Reverse Engineer,' it was awesome," he said. "I guess it went a bit too far."
Insiders said Gene Replacement, a new alt for the notorious griefer Plastic Duck, who crashed the grid in 2005 and was banned permanently from the online walled garden of cyber delights, was responsible for the dbase hack. "Power was lying on the ground; so I took it," Replacement said. "It's laughably easy to make new accounts, mess around, do stuff, and they don't even notice."
Replacement said he and several others in the group W-HAT, together with former resident-turned-Lindens, were just "testing some new ideas for enhancing Second Life for its residents," and accidently downloaded the entire data base of customer information, including passwords, real-life names, and avatar names. "We're going to put it all back just like we found it," the griefer smiled.
Linden reps said they were working closely with the griefers through a new distributive, collaborative software system that seeks to transform griefing objectives into the company's own "distillable achievables," execs told World Tech.
"We find that griefing occurs when aspiring young programmers don't have enough outlet for their creativity, and aren't compensated adequately for their work," said Rosedale. "We're offering Gene a job here at Linden Lab just as soon as he turns himself in -- one month's vacation in Cancun, and double time on Sundays," he added. "Oh, and of course dental and mental."
Reached by World Tech at an undisclosed sea location on his yacht, Replacment said he wouldn't be needing the mental--or the dental. "I wouldn't work for those people even if they paid me," the genius griefer snapped. "Oh, and they did," he added with a smirk, showing receipts run up on the credit cards of a half-dozen people who hadn't managed to get through the phone banks set up at LL to cope with the deluge of angry customers seeking to change passwords. "None of them speak English and they live overseas -- it will be awhile," he chuckled.
Inside Second Life, members and fans of W-HAT gathered on the group's mainland sim, Satyr, to celebrate their hack victory with the unveiling of an impressive, gigantic art work, a 3-storey, 3,247-prim bust of the head of the real-life typist of Prokofy Neva, known as SL's 'infamous antagonist," with pages of his blog spewing from its mouth.
"The Lindens can't do a thing about this; it's art," Satyr host Schwartz Guillame said when a reporter asked him if the prank fell under Linden interpretation of violations of their terms-of-service.
"We urge tolerance here," said Hermia Linden, who came to the scene to see if the griefers needed any help restarting their laggy sim with the huge influx of visitors.
W-HAT regulars grew increasingly uneasy, however, as they discovered the bust was alive. "I thought it was Kerian moving it on 'share with group'...but then I saw it wasn't even in group build," a nervous Balsamic Prunes, author of the chef d'oevre, told World Tech. "I'm getting a little scared."
Jennyfur Peregrine was first to teleport to Satyr to view the Prok effigy, which she heard about in the popular SL-related IRC channel. "It is alive, but I haven't gotten it to do what I want yet...," she pouted. "But then, I'm spoiled and have everything I want so it's hard for it to really do much for me," the fangirl said. "What I will say is that my visit to the scene and celebration of the hack and the humiliation of Prok illustrates what many suspected -- that the FIC, W-HAT, and some former residents who are now Lindens are all one, big, happy family," the community leader commented.
The bust began performing miracles and granting wishes to a steady stream of visitors on Sunday, W-Hat sympathizers said. "I finally got what I have long been seeking in SL," said Spin Martin, who told World Tech he had rushed to the scene upon hearing the news, and bowed down and worshipped the bust's left nostril. "I can't talk now," the busy metaverse consultant told a reporter, "but let's just say her/his name is Fluffy and W/we're very, very happy."
"It's alive, all right," Nimrod Yaffle told World Tech. "I asked it to reduce my tier bill to 0 this month, and it did; now I can land-swoop to my heart's content, and who's to know?"
Asked about a possible connection between some newer Linden employees mysteriously let go and the hack evidently engineered by W-HAT, Robin Harper, VP of LL, said, "No comment."
World Tech caught up with recently-dismissed Thrax Linden in Trenton, NJ. "I can't talk now; I have to do my math homework," he said.
"I don't know how he was able to get a job just like that at a major software company," Sarah Skronsky told reporters about her son's recent exploits. "I saw all these 415 area codes on my phone bill and found a fax in the garbage with his father's driver's license sent to this company," she added.
"Thrax is going to be on a VERY tight leash this semester," the 47-year-old Skronsky said. "He nearly got left back last year because he was playing all these online games; I want him to graduate from 10th grade this year," she added.
Asked if the recent hack was hurting membership rates in the online role-playing game, community manager Torley Linden said in fact subscription numbers were soaring. "Everybody made like 10 more alts while we weren't looking...WOOTZERS!!!!!" she said. "And with Prok granting people's wishes, I think we'll easily beat World of Warcraft's fan numbers by next month."
Reached at his home in the Sutherland Dam, where he was busy walling off some nearby Governor Linden land exploited by griefers, SL gadfly Prokofy Neva would not confirm or deny that his desecrated bust was performing miracles. "Sometimes you have to be careful what you wish for...you might get it," he told World Tech.