The date is March 4th, 2004. Due to massive pay cuts at the firm they worked at, 2 Security experts, Gabriel Quinn and Ian Lockart, decided to leave their jobs and start up their own small business.
Working under the name Arunmor, they offered their services to companies building systems that were designed for complete remote access, while maintaining very high security standards. They did this for about 7 months, and were quite successful, when in October, they were approached by a large security firm. The firm wanted them to work on a new wide area network for corporate use, which could have points world wide, and yet be extremely secure. They signed the contract, and began work on this new network, which they named the AWAN.

In February 2005, initial testing of the network began, and word of the project got out. Other companies became very interested in the idea, and gave support to Arunmor. This lead to a huge increase in available funds for Arunmor, and they were able to hire some of the leading names in the industry to help on the AWAN. Work began moving very quickly, and more and more companies expressed an interest in the AWAN. Huge amounts of money were given to Arunmor by companies wishing to make use of the AWAN upon its completion, and Arunmor quickly became one of the largest companies in the world.
In October 2005, one year after work on the project had begun, the AWAN was complete and ready to be used. Dozens of companies joined the AWAN in the first week alone, and Arunmor's profits soared. Within a month, the AWAN had over 100 companies connected to it, craving the kind of security that only Arunmor could offer.

Arunmor Corporate Logo

By June 2006, Arunmor Corporation was the richest, most powerful company on the planet. The AWAN was a huge success, and not a single successful attack had occurred on it since it went up.
That was, until October 13th, 2006.
A group of 3 University graduates found a flaw in the AWAN, and hacked into the Internal Services System of a popular software company. Although they didn't do any damage, this got the attention of the company, who contacted them a few days later. Rather than turning the 3 in, the company offered them a substantial amount of money to use what they knew to damage a rival software company. They accepted the offer, and the first damaging hack on the AWAN took place.
Despite their best efforts, Arunmor was unable to locate the flaw that allowed these 3 hackers to access the AWAN so freely, so they covered up the news of the attack, and the public never found out.
Rumours of a group of hackers who would attack systems for money started to float around the now defunct Internet, and the AWAN, and people started to talk of a website with a hidden 'pi' symbol that would allow people to contact these hackers.
Almost everyone dismissed these rumours; after all, the AWAN was completely secure. However, more rumours started to arise of companies systems being attacked, causing companies to lose millions, while their rivals became more successful.

The 3 hackers made a lot of money from their work, and started their own public company called Introversion Software, under the guise of freelance software writers.
The true purpose of the company however, was to distribute the software they had written that would allow people to access the AWAN, and enter systems themselves. Introversion made quite a bit of money, and was continually improving on their software, while rumours of attacks on the AWAN increased.

Introversion Software's Logo

In April 2007, after months of talks, the major governments of the world merged into a single International Government. The leaders of the government consisted of 2 people from each country, and although political lobbying on the parts of a majoring of the government members hindered the progress of changes, a few positive major changes were made. The currencies of the world were merged into a single global currency, which was simply known as Credits, and because everything was run by a single government, organisations like the FBI were able to operate more easily on a global scale and as a result, International crime dropped to almost non-existent levels. The AWAN continued to grow, and the old Internet system from the beginning of the millennium was completely shut down. Rumours of attacks on the AWAN increased, but due to the large amount of influence Arunmor held, they never became more than just rumours.

In January 2008, the International Government connected their newly created systems to the AWAN, oblivious to the attacks going on. The 3 major systems run by the government were the International Academic Database, which would allow companies to check the educational background of would-be employees with ease, the International Social Security Database, which had records of every citizen of every country controlled by the government, and the Global Criminal Database, a system which stored criminal records of all known law breakers. New forms of security were created especially for these systems, and for a while, they were un-hacked as attackers tried to find ways of getting past this new security. Plans were also being drawn up for a Global Medical Database, which would hold medical data on all registered people, so that doctors could easily access a medical history of a patient.
In May, Introversion Software set up their own company on the AWAN - Uplink Corporation. The company was a front for the illegal activities that Introversion Software was involved with. They offered interested people the chance to work for Uplink Corporation as freelance hackers, known as Agents. They would allow people to download the software they had created, the Uplink Operating System, and would post work offered by companies on a BBS, which people could accept and do themselves, to receive a share of the pay. The number of attacks on the AWAN sky-rocketed, and Arunmor struggled to keep these attacks hidden from the Public. Arunmor was well aware of Uplink Corp and what they were involved in, but were unable to act without revealing the flaws in their system, which were still unknown to the public, so they continued to cover up attacks.

Uplink Corporation's Logo

Unfortunately for Arunmor, it couldn't go on forever. In December 2008, one of the most skilled Agents working for Uplink Corp, who went by the alias Abandon22, managed to find a way around the security systems on the International Government computers, and hacked in. The government quickly found out about the attack, and of Uplink Corporation/Introversion Software's illegal activities, and of the attacks that had been occurring on the AWAN for the last 2 years. Public confidence in Arunmor fell, as they were still unable to correct the flaw that allowed Uplink Agents to enter AWAN systems so freely.
As a result of this, plans for the Global Medical Database were cancelled due to the risk of it being hacked - if someone's medical records were altered, it could cost someone their life. By this point, however, a majority of the worlds companies, as well as the government itself, were too dependant on the AWAN to simply drop it. Due to disagreements within the government, it took several weeks to come up with a plan to counter this threat.

In the early days of 2009, in an attempt to improve public opinion, a number of high profile arrests were made, and a number of major hackers went to jail. This had the desired effect of improving public confidence in Arunmor Corporation and the AWAN.

About an hour after these arrests were made, Uplink Corporation destroyed all of the systems they had which contained info on the people who worked for them, and logs of their activities. The Corporation became completely anonymous, asking people who signed up to work for them only for an alias, and only storing their Uplink Profile on their system. All agents were now forced to connect through high-tech gateways, fitted with a number of security systems, including an auto-disconnect if a connection was being traced to the gateway, and small explosive charges that could be detonated remotely in case anyone got to close.
Introversion Software went underground and disappeared from the public view altogether, only revealing themselves to distribute the Uplink Operating System to new agents on a CD.