Lots of hackers like to put dumb snark in their code. “IM IN UR BASE, KILLIN UR DOODZ”, or similar, added as comments to the programming language. Cybersecurity people love this, because it’s like a signature. If the same types of comments show up in multiple pieces of code, the hacker who wrote them is that much easier to track. Investigators can glean a lot about the hacker’s age, cultural background, even past employment, just from the kind of internet slang they use.

Jae knew of an infamous and brilliant hacker known as “ETJ’ who was mostly very good at covering his tracks. He’d written a series of bots that had at one time spread to roughly one third of the personal computers in the US. Later versions of his bots were actually able to adapt to updates in antivirus software in order to avoid detection. But he’d been caught because he couldn’t resist putting references to classic Popeye cartoons in his code. The investigating team had found him via an online forum devoted to Fleischer Studios, which originally brought Popeye to the screen in the 1930s. He used one of the same quotes in his forum sig as he had used in the code for one of his early bots. The email he used to create the forum account was traced to his real name, and that was the end of ETJ’s hacking career.

The Nobody Worm was different.

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