The Masse Kernels were highly advanced weaponised algorithms developed by Canadian criminal hacker and mathematical genius Philip Masse during the Georgian Information Crisis in 2004. The algorithms were dubbed the "superweapon of the 21st Century," and were at least a decade ahead of their time - leaving almost any computer network connected to the internet open to attack.
The Kernels play a pivotal role in the plot of both the first and third games in the Splinter Cell series.
In 2004, the Kernels were used to launch a devastating cyber-attack against the government and military infrastructure of the United States, with many civilian networks also affected. The attack caused chaos within the country, placing federal authorities under enormous strain and leaving the US subject to an "information blackout" - thereby extremely vulnerable to physical attack. military and government from quickly responding to impending besiege. The use of the Kernels was intended to incapacitate America as part of Georgia's war against the United States.
Splinter Cell operative Sam Fisher was able to prevent further damage through the use of the Kernels by removing Georgian President Kombayn Nikoladze from office and frustrating his military efforts against the United States. Fisher was subsequently tasked by Third Echelon to assassinate both Nikoladze and Masse.
The crisis averted, all information regarding the Kernels - and copies of the highly dangerous algorithms themselves - were taken into the possession of the United Nations, which established a secretive team of experts led by computer scientists Bruce Morgenholt and Abrahim Zherkezhi to study and decipher the code.
The Kernels would again be deployed by hostile actors after the kidnapping, torture and murder of Morgenholt in 2007 by Peruvian revolutionary terrorists bankrolled by the private military firm Displace International. The corporation, which had also manipulated Zherkezi into revealing information about the codes, used the algorithms to seize control of North Korean ballistic missile systems, cripple electronic countermeasures systems onboard US warships in the Yellow Sea and launch devastating cyber-attacks which created electrical blackouts in Japan and on the eastern seabord of the United States. Framing North Korea, at this stage heavily backed by China, as the aggressor in these incidents, Displace pushed the world to the brink of a third world war. Ultimately, Sam Fisher was able to foil the plot and all known records of the Kernels were finally seized destroyed in order to bring an end to the threat forever.