Ethan Hunt held his breath and watched as a bead of perspiration dripped from his forehead. It twinkled in the light and plummeted to the floor of the warehouse 15 metres below him.
The message from head of the Impossible Missions Force had described a task that was by no means simple, before it had self-destructed. In fact, it should have been a 'mission impossible'. Apparently, Islamic State (IS) terrorists had developed the most aggressive form of ransomware yet identified by the National Security Agency and MI6. It was so undetectable it had been labelled “IS Stealthware.”
More devious still, the message said the terrorists were using a pharmaceutical wholesaler as cover for their operations.
Now on the warehouse floor, Mr Hunt crept past crate after crate of pure, refined diamorphine. “Heroin from the poppy fields of the Middle East,” he thought. Shelves of flunitrazepam and sildenafil were next. “Distributed for IS sex trafficking,” he guessed.
He reached the staff canteen and cautiously peered in. Strange – the people inside didn’t look like terrorists. They were all very ordinary looking, drinking tea and eating bacon butties. Mr Hunt stopped to listen for any valuable ‘intel’.
“I dunno Mike – the Exeter run gets worse every day,” said a rotund man in a dark blue polo shirt. “Yeah – and God help us if the chemist doesn’t get stock on time. People will suffer apparently…”
Ethan whispered into his headset. “Benji – you getting this? As well as the stealthware, it sounds as if a bomb maker, some ‘chemist’, is preparing something. And it’s going down soon, because if he doesn’t get his materials on time he’s going to hurt people.”
He heard his IT wizard Benji Dunn reply and his voice was reassuring, even though the earpiece made him sound strangely like Scotty from Star Trek. “Never mind Ethan – the stealthware is stored on their main server. That’s our target!”
“It’s bound to be intricately protected – how am I going to get past their defences?”
“Simple,” replied Benji. “You’ll go through the enormous air conditioning ducts that every building has – the ones that are always big enough for someone to crawl through undetected.”
Causing an air conditioning outage that took out the server was easy. “Almost too easy,” thought Ethan. Walking away, a smile played across Ethan’s face as he saw towers of empty green trays and drivers sat idly playing Tetris on their redundant personal digital assistants, until a call came through his headset.
“Ah, Ethan – I don’t know how to say this, but we’ve listened to the message again and we may have hit the wrong target. The part about the IS virus and cryptography distribution centre actually said we were supposed to knock out “all IS Stealthware”, not “Alliance Healthcare”...