Today is an exciting day for me. We get possession of our house today. Yay! We’re bringing in a cleaning crew to deep clean the house before we move in–the previous owners had cats and I’m allergic to cats. Deep cleaning is a must. Movers will be dropping off our household goods on Tuesday. We’ll be gradually moving our stuff from my mother-in-laws to the new house over the weekend.
But enough about my boring stuff, you came here to catch a glimpse at another intriguing character, and boy do we have a fiery one in store for you. I’m pleased to welcome Harry Wegley, who is introducing us to the heroine of his latest novel, Hide and Seek. Be sure to enter the giveaway at the end!
Please note: this interview shows fiery-tempered Jennifer at the starting point of the story. Besides being a romantic thriller, Hide and Seek is Jennifer’s redemption story, but I’m not sure we want to say that because it is a bit of a spoiler.
Q: Our guest today is Jennifer Akihara, a rising star in the field of Internet forensics. Jennifer, would you please tell us a little about your background? Your name sounds Japanese.
A: It is. I was raised on Oahu. Mom is Hawaiian, and my dad was Japanese. Dad died two years ago. … And … excuse me … uh, I moved to the Mainland to attend the University of Washington where I recently finished my MS in Computing Security.
A: Look, buster, my appearance is off limits. If that’s where you’re headed, this discussion is over. I’m out of here!
Q: Sorry, Jennifer. I didn’t mean—
A: And … I’m sorry too. I’ve got a bit of a temper and a certain subject—I’ll just say it. I’ve been stalked several times. Looking like you’re 16 when you’re actually 24 seems to attract the wrong kind of people. The last stalker was dangerous, so I carry a .38.
Q: I’m sorry to hear that. I hope he’s not still stalking you.
A: Not after I shot him.
Q: You … actually—
A: Yes. Oh, he’s still alive, because I usually hit what I aim at. The guy’s in prison and walks with a permanent limp.
Q: Uh … moving right along … your current work is in Internet forensics. How did you get into that field?
A: I wrote a paper on Internet topology in high school. The ACM published it, and someone at NSA saw it. They called, and I agreed to do some work for them, so they ran the appropriate clearances. Now, NSA, the FBI, DHS, Narus and other organizations are sending me job offers. So far I haven’t accepted any of them. Since finishing my masters at UW last year, I’ve been doing contract research for the government and plan to continue doing that until I begin my PhD program this coming fall.
Q: Jennifer, I’ve heard that your IQ is somewhere near 200. What is it like to—
A: It’s awful. If people would just treat me like a normal person, they would see I’m not some geeky freak. I hate being continually singled out for … certain reasons.
Q: Would you explain for us how your research is used?
A: I develop algorithms that use our knowledge of Internet topology and routing to subclass important, intractable problems, such as NP-Hard, into computable—sorry … I can see that’s more information than you wanted. In a nutshell, my algorithms enable intelligence organizations to recognize patterns of communication on the Internet using raw network traffic. We can tune the algorithms to find the bad guys, such as organized criminals and terrorists who collaborate over the Internet, without having to use highly targeted programs like NarusInsight.
Q: Other than the fact that you’re so very gifted, why did you choose to specialize in Internet forensics and computing security?
A: In my work, I’m privy to a lot of intelligence. When I consider what’s going on behind the scenes, and then extrapolate into the future, I fear for the future of the USA. I love this country, and I want to help preserve our way of life.
Q: So what do you see when you look into the future?
A: Uncle Sam’s funeral … if we don’t wake up and face the evil that’s out there and the worldviews that promote it. We need to call those ideas what they are and confront them as sources of evil, using every means at our disposal to stop their progress.
Q: We certainly need to pray for our country. We have a lot of problems and, as you said, enemies.
A: You can pray if you want to, but I’m more into doing things myself.
Q: But I thought you believed in God. When we talked about doing this interview, you indicated—
A: Look. I’m not saying there’s no God. But until somebody can show me that God is good and can be trusted, I’m going to rely on myself, not Him.
Q: Well, we’re about out of time, Jennifer. What’s next for you, your PhD program?
A: Probably, but my immediate concern is the computer-security breach at National Aerospace. Please excuse me. Someone is coming over in a few minutes to brief me on the security breach.
H. L. Wegley served in the USAF as an Intelligence Analyst and a Weather Officer. He is a Meteorologist who worked as a Research Scientist in Atmospheric Physics at Pacific Northwest Laboratories. After earning an MS in Computer Science, he worked more than two decades as a Systems Programmer at Boeing before retiring in the Seattle area, where he and his wife of 46 years enjoy small-group ministry, their seven grandchildren, and where he pursues his love of writing.
I love me a good Internet thriller! I’m so on board for reading this one. You can be, too! Mr. Wegley is giving away an EBOOK copy of Hide and Seek. Leave a comment below with your email address. This time next week, I’ll announce the winner. Isn’t that exciting? Our own little thriller. Who’s going to win? Muahahaha… (Did I mention I haven’t been sleeping well?)