"We see you"

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"This was back before Google. Web pages were, for the most part, still very basic HTML with Javascript. Hardly anyone used CSS. Only discussion boards and some banking sites had anything approaching mature front-end/back-end combinations. Etc. Early 'Net. Real 'deep web' story, not just one about illicit activities online.

I was browsing random blogs, Geocities sites, and just going from link to link. Eventually I came upon an odd page - it appeared to be random thoughts from different people, but for the time, it was very well-designed. The messages seemed to be cryptic in nature, like several people trying to pass secret notes. I started through the source, and hidden in the comments of a javascript were various IP addresses.

I gathered all of the IPs in a text file and began enumerating. Some were routers with banner messages I could telnet to - almost all at universities ('Warning! This is a secure system at University of Bla Bla....'). The default Cisco credentials from back in the day worked on most of them, but I didn't poke around. A few of the IP's were web servers with little to nothing on them, mostly Apache on Linux or some BSD, at least one IIS server I can recall.

I finally came upon a web server with a huge directory of HTML files and TIFF images, with a few smaller subdirectories containing the same. nslookup returned no reverse records for the IP. A VisualRoute traced it as far as Colorado. The HTML files appeared to be records a psychologist or similar mental health professional would keep. The images were of faxes, apparently of both military and medical nature.

As I browsed from a subdirectory back to the parent, at the top was a new HTML file named something like '1-.HELLO-THERE.html.' The time stamp was from right that minute. I opened it, and in plain text was the message 'we see you.' No quotes, all lowercase. About 15 seconds later the server dropped."

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