In the world of government cybersecurity, ghosts and goblins often take a different form. An innocent looking email, a nondescript USB drive, or even a seemingly helpful bot. Each can serve as a harbinger of doom, delivering destructive malware that leaves your network in disarray. So as the ghosts and goblins of government IT begin their annual feast, we turn the tables on one poor soul who created such a cyberthreat. And with a little inspiration from America’s greatest horror writer, Edgar Allan Poe, we invite you to enjoy a spine-tingling story of cybersecurity tech-terror from our very own “Tales from the Crypt-omines” . . .

The_Raven_Edgar_Allan_PoeTales from the Crypt-omines

All Hallow’s Eve. And deep within the caverns of a massive data center he sits. Entrapped within the veins of something more valuable than gold: data.

He is (or more correctly, was) a hacker specializing in cryptomining and other unreputable adventures who is now suffering at the hands of his own invention; a deceptively simple piece of code meant to bring him easy riches through the suffering of others. Yet, as in so many sordid tales, his trap has now entrapped him.

Caged within his creation, he finds it hard to breathe or to speak. All around him sounds are masked by the constant hum of data. The darkness is overwhelming at times. If he had known his story would end in such a place, perhaps he’d have chosen the simplicity of reformatting when he had the chance. Instead, here he sits. Now data himself. Corrupting.

As his mind deletes it slowly circles the encrypted memories of his archives. A time before the cryptomines. Before the spirits of hidden data were awakened by his carelessness. There, the rhythms of a master’s well-worn poem ignite his thoughts one last time. But its haunting cadence now weaves a quite different story; one of his descent into quantumness this All Hallow’s Eve . . .

The Reaper

Lost upon their data gleaning, while I gathered, crossed and scheming,

Over many a feint and corrupted drive of private data stored—

While I prodded, quickly mapping, suddenly there came a zapping,

As of someone gently tapping—and sapping data from my data core.

“’A fellow hacker,” I muttered, “sapping data from MY data core —

Yet only a slight breach and nothing more.”


Ah, distinctly I remember it was in that bleak October;

As soon my router stopped and rendered not its host; lost due to THOR?

Through backdoors I had wished to borrow; but erred and stopped stack flow

As a rook consumed with sorrow—for I had triggered something more—

And my domain and adient network, will it erase the very cores?

Yet just malware and nothing more.”


A stricken disc; plus sectored wiping of magnetic platters

Stilled me—filled me with unending “errors” never seen before;

So that now, to still the beating of my heart, I sat restarting.

“’Tis vengeful hacker,” I muttered, “encrypting files within my data core—

Some latent code entrapping more and more within my data core —

This be ransomware and nothing more.”


Distraught my soul grew hollow; foiled was my cryptojacking,

“Sir,” said I, “or Madam, exploit my code no more;

But the fact is I was cryptomining, then you spread insidious code,

And so greedily you now are sapping, sapping at my data core —

That I sadly failed to detect you”— rather opened wide my door —

Your virus came in and nothing more.


Deep within the breach, long I sat there confused, fearing,

Grasping ether, for your malware variant no mortal dared dream before;

As your attack cascaded, I could no longer send out packets,

Yet from within your code was whispered words “backdoor”

This I redirected, to mirror back your words through your own backdoor—

Twas a trojan horse and nothing more.


Open here I flung my password, with intent to ransom pay,

Then in slinked data packets— but filled with worms of yore;

Not the least obeisance made they; not a minute stopped or stayed;

But, in seeking secrets, did slither deep into my data core—

And replicated through my devices; well beyond my data core—

There they crawled and hatched; worms, and nothing more.


Then appeared an unknown flock, beguiling my despair,

Halting exploits, repairing damage as it integrated with my data core,

“Though my network is in great anguish, thou,” I said, “art sure no danger,

Simply built, a servant Bot, spreading from the damaged core—

Tell me what thy name is as you renew my fragile data core!”

Quoth the botnet— “Nevermore.”


But the botnet, spreading quickly in the placid night, spoke only

That one word, as if triggered and in that one word did launch.

Nothing other did it utter—not a file more did it restore—

Till I quickly came to realize “Your kind I’ve known before—

Seeding hope then reaping death. You I’ll reap since you I sowed.”

As the botnet said “Nevermore.”


Reaper!” said I, “thing of evil!—Reaper born from my own thoughts!—

Not nation-state, nor lonely hacker, but my own creation returns to my shore,

You desolate yet stand undaunted, in the very womb from which you tore—

And my cryptojacking halted—tell me truly, I implore—

Can I—can I reap more bitcoins cryptojacking?—tell me—tell me, I implore!”

Quoth the botnet “Nevermore.”


And the botnet, forever reaping, still is seeding, still is sowing

Throughout my network, locked within my data core;

And my webcam has the seeming of a demon that is dreaming,

And by WiFi o’er it streaming infecting data here and fro;

And my soul from ‘neath that shadow now justly reaps what I have sown.

Quoth the hacker “I’m Cryptojacking—nevermore!”


Cybersecurity Webinar:

Learn how to stay safe this All Hallow’s Eve, and beyond

Join Jamie Sanbower, Cisco Cybersecurity Principal Architect as he talks through how the Cisco Zero Trust cybersecurity architecture helps you prevent unauthorized access, contain breaches, and reduce the risk of an attacker’s lateral movement through your network.

We will host three cybersecurity webinars from 1:00 pm – 1:30 pm ET:

November 7th – Cisco Zero Trust Overview
November 14th – Zero Trust for Workloads
November 21st – Zero Trust for the Workforce and Workplace

Register Now