Bright Idea

It was one of those strange little bursts of insight better left unmentioned at the time but scanned carefully later. Cody and Don were at dinner at their favorite restaurant when she saw something in his eyes for a split second. When she mentioned how much she loved being with him, he gave her a quick, uncertain glance, and then looked away. In that instant, she suspected he was cheating on her. She could just sense it at that point. Don’s emotions were growing increasingly forced, and he was becoming too indifferent to her physical presence.

Over the next few days, Cody hired a private detective, who verified her assumption within a week. Don was having an affair with Cindy Jensen, their boss and the owner of an advertising company called Bright Idea. Cody was more angry than heartbroken. She could be patient and forgiving, but only to a point. She had been hurt and humiliated too many times in her life, and she had promised herself never again to be anyone’s doormat. When pushed too far, she became a dangerous adversary with an unrelenting grudge, a cunning woman with a mean streak shrouded in guile. She began plotting the most damaging form of retaliation she could think of, with an eye to never getting caught.

Ruining Bright Idea’s computer network seemed like the best way to hurt Cindy, and Cody was more interested in hurting Cindy than Don. Granted, Cody worked in Human Resources and had only a rudimentary understanding of the company’s intranet, but this wasn’t about to stop her. Over the next year, she spent endless hours learning code online in order to hack into the system and paralyze the business. The company only kept certain physical files for a few years. Everything else, the majority of information, was kept online, so she knew she could destroy most of the information the business needed to survive.

Once she had a good understanding of what to do, Cody logged into the company network with a stolen IT administrator account and built a backdoor into the system that allowed her access from a remote location. She collected everyone’s usernames and passwords with a key code capture. The IT staff had three backups, one of which was in a locked room and not connected to the company’s intranet. She implanted malware and planted electromagnetic pulse pens in strategic places.

On a quiet Saturday morning, she stopped into a Starbucks, ordered a Caffè Americano, and logged into her laptop. As she routed her connection through thirteen different anonymous servers, she thought about how she had broken up with Don shortly after her discovery, claiming that she was afraid of getting too deeply involved with anyone at that point in her life, which was essentially true regardless of Don’s treachery. Then she took down Bright Idea’s intranet mainframe and backups by uploading a data-destroying virus that had been incubating in the system for a full week before the attack. The virus infected all company computers, even the ones with remote logins. All company information was destroyed—anything hosted on the intranet and connected to the Internet, all accounting, payroll, banking, and tax record files, every SOP, administrative policy, and social media site relating to Bright Idea—all erased forever, never to be recovered.

Cody logged off, packed up her computer, and strolled outside. She was relieved but a little disappointed that her mission had ended. All the same, she realized that she had never been so spectacularly successful in anything else she had ever done, and she couldn’t help but feel proud of her accomplishment. She wasn’t even angry with Cindy and Don anymore. The scales had been balanced. It was time to take a long walk, enjoy the weather, and think about the inevitable chaos of Monday morning.