Ring0 Condition in Manifold Sky | World Anvil


First known dieseltech computer virus, name is pun for "ring 0" access to machine processes, damages machinery by causing out-of-bounds armature movements. Slang term for dieseltech computer viruses in general, "ringo" becomes actual term for computer viruses in the manifold.
'Ring0' (also pronounced as the given name 'Ringo') is a jargon term used by dieseltech engineers and programmers to describe any intentionally malicious code or command capable of damaging dieseltech computers and adjacent equipment merely by its expression. Systems intrusion specialists (individuals adept at autonet systems intrusion, also colloquially known as 'gear-grinders') sometimes use ringo attacks as a means of defeating security systems and siezing control of the effected machines for nefarious purposes.

Transmission & Vectors

In the early days, ringo attacks were necessarily executed through direct interaction with the target machine. Early 'ringo runs' were strips of programming gasket custom-tailored to cause mechanical faults within the target system upon being read. Ringo runs were usually further treated (i.e. via adhesives or entangling materials) to make removal of the offending gasket difficult. Over time, as attackers learned more about the architectures of the machines they were targetting, it became possible to execute ringo attacks through malicious commands at the machine or via a remote location (i.e. the inputs of an autonet).   As of yet, no ringo has been discovered which can spread beyond the targeted machine or network. The limited storage capacity and bandwidth of dieseltech computer information as of the year 10,000 AR makes writing self-propagating malicious code difficult. Still, as increasing numbers of dieseltech computers and autonets are equipped to accept commands through the RadNet, dieseltech engineers fear that it is only a matter of time before someone creates a ringo that is actually capable of self-propagation.


When a dieseltech computer is 'fed a ringo,' the instructions entered into the machine (via operator actions or a pre-printed program gasket) force the machinery within the computer to enter into damaging or error-causing states.


The term 'ring0' is a pun based on the fact that such attacks can, among other things, grant attackers 'ring zero' access to functions of a dieseltech computer or autonet normally locked behind mechanical safeguards. This can turn normally safe equipment (such as stage automatons) into deadly hazards for their operators.   More often, though, a ringo attack merely causes the targeted machine to give erroneous outputs or, in extreme cases, become damaged or destroyed as the malicious code forces the machinery into unsustainable configurations. For example, the original ringo relied on forcing the target machine to write to regions of the dataspace not normally accessible within that machine's infrastrucutre. As a result, the write head (a needle cartridge designed to open or close pores on a program gasket) slammed past the end of its track and thereby jammed the machine up entirely.


Depending on the media used to deliver the ringo attack and the failsafes built into the target system, fixing the targeted machine can be as simple as resetting the machine or as complex as prying a damaged machine apart and reassembling it with undamaged components.


Dieseltech computers which rely on particularly long strips of program gaskets are vulnerable to time-delayed ringo attacks. An unwary operator might not notice that a malicious set of instructions has been spliced into a set of normal code, causing the ringo to go undetected for an extended amount of time. This practice is gaining popularity in the gear-grinder community, as it allows one to make an escape before the ringo triggers and, thereby, establish a degree of plausible deniability with regards to the attack.

Affected Groups

Any system or network primarily operated by mechanical or electromechanical computers (i.e. autonet) is potentially vulnerable to ringo Attacks. With regards to the experimental MAGI under development by Auburn Aerotechnical's Dr. Calvin Slaus-Braun, ringos have the risk of causing injury or death to experimental subjects in addition to damaging their linked stage automaton rigs.


Due to the serious risk that ringo attacks represent to dieseltech computer infrastructure - especially as factions like the Commonwealth of C already rely heavily on computer processing power for economic and governmental benefit - computer manufacturers are increasingly adding redundancies, failsafes, interlocks, and other error handling features into their products. This creates an arms race between gear-grinders and dieseltech engineers, as exploits are constantly discovered and, in turn, engineers rush to patch these exploits out of the next version.


The earliest known ringo attacks were purely accidental - the result of dieseltech technicians or programmers failing to consider the edge cases which might lead to mechanical damage. However, there are those who quibble about this as a matter of definitions, arguing that a ringo must be differentiated by an intention to cause harm, otherwise being defined as a glitch or accident. In this case the first real ringo was a sabotage attempt carried out by Voxelian bards-recursant against a Data Engines Limited autonet in 9910 AR.

Cultural Reception

In counter-intelligence propaganda on all sides of the War of Reunification, ring0s are sometimes personified as stealthy saboteurs that the viewers of the propaganda should remain vigilant against. Popular variations of personified ring0s in media include Ringo the Rat in Commonwealth radio skits, Sly Ringo in the Manifold Conservation Society (created after a 125 Hands attack which caused massive infrastructure damage in Bunker Primus), and Scruffy Ringo/Ringo the Raccoon in Voxelia.
Nanite / Mechanical
Chronic, Acquired
Affected Species

Cover image: by BCGR_Wurth


Author's Notes

Because ring0 attacks seldom have the ability to propagate beyond the targeted computer or system, residents of the Manifold Sky setting never developed the metaphor of a damaging computer program as a 'virus' or 'worm.'

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