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Towards the end of the game, it's revealed that Ted Faro possesses a security clearance level ("Omega", which seems to elicit surprise from at least some team members) that exceeds those of other 'Alpha' team members and presumably even Elisabet's 'Alpha Prime' clearance. He exploits this to

seal the remaining 'Alpha' members in a room, block their system access, murder them by venting the atmosphere, and delete APOLLO.

My question is, how did he get this elevated clearance level? Elisabet appears to despise him and certainly seems far too intelligent to deliberately trust him with any such thing. She basically

blackmails him into funding Zero Dawn and handing her complete control over the project.

So where did his access level come from? Did Elisabet set it up for him? One of the other team members?

Is there a text or audio datapoint that explains how Ted Faro ended up with so much power within the Zero Dawn project?

4

Out of game answer

Per my question on HZD: Anniversary AMA, Ben McCaw confirms that Omega Clearance is the backdoor Ted mentions to GAIA and, rather than having GAIA create this, he would tasked his engineers to implement this without Sobeck's knowledge.

How did Ted Faro obtain Omega Clearance?

This is a question many players have thought about, and it is never explained in the story how Ted Faro obtained Omega Clearance. There is a datalog that mentions Ted wanting a back door into GAIA Prime, and fan theories believe Omega Clearance is that back door. but I am curious to how Omega Clearance truly came to be

Ben: Oh, that's a great question! Ted had had his engineers create the back door...GAIA wouldn't have done it for him!

....

Ben: Just to be clear, Ted would have had his engineers create the back door...GAIA wouldn't have done it for him!


(Partial) In game answer

As @Vemonus's answer clearly lays out, there is no in-game explanation of how Ted obtained Omega Clearance. The only solid evidence we have of Omega Clearance existing is the Emergency Record.

There is, however, another audio recording with Ted yelling at his engineers for not implementing a backdoor into the Faro Robots: Entangled Waveforms.

CODE EXPERT: The protocols use poly-phasic entangled waveforms. Quantum encryption, Black Quartz stuff, way beyond military-grade. That's what you demanded, so that's what we delivered.

TED FARO: You don't code something you can't crack. All we need is a back door. Upload the latest service pack update and the problem goes away.

CODE EXPERT: You specifically forbade us from leaving anything resembling a back door in code. "Every protocol to Black Quartz standard." Your words. Look. If you need me to fudge some projections, it's nothing we haven't done before.

TED FARO: I don't need fudged projections! I need a way to reassert control over the Hartz-Timor swarm!

CODE EXPERT: I don't know what to tell you, Ted. You're asking the impossible...

So naturally, Ted would have wanted a backdoor into an investment in the event he lost control. GAIA agrees to Ted's proposal for creating a back door, but Sobeck disagrees and we never heard anything else relating to this discussion.

Due to Sobeck's reluctant attitude towards this, Ted would have went around her and tasked his engineers to create Omega Clearance. Since GAIA initially agreed with Ted, I doubt she would have considered this a suspicious act

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Based on the rest of the team's surprise and according to the wikia, he did this without anyone's knowledge. How this happened is certainly a mystery.

Secretly acquiring a security clearance that was above even Sobeck's, he unilaterally deleted the entire archive.

The only relevant recording is one where Ted argues with Elisabet about the necessity of a backdoor in GAIA Prime. GAIA herself agrees, while Elisabet opposes it.

However, since the people who designed GAIA were unaware of the existence of Omega level clearance, it seems that it was unauthorized, or at the very least, kept secret from the rest of the team (and remained that way after Elisabet died).

  • However unlikely, we might get some of the holes filled in the upcoming DLC. – Kaizerwolf Jul 18 '17 at 14:01
  • In that argument I thought he was advocating more of a "kill switch" kind of thing than a security backdoor. It sounded like he wanted a kind of leverage that could be used to ensure GAIA did what they wanted (out of fear/self-preservation). Also kind of reminds me of another comment (possibly from the same argument?) about how GAIA needed to have "skin in the game" to be effective. Is it ever revealed what this actually is? – aroth Jul 18 '17 at 14:13
  • @aroth what I got from that argument was that he wanted a way to control things if the project ever went awry (before he went crazy). However, that audio may not have been relevant, it just seemed like it could have been. This seems like one of those "chalk it up to being a video game" moments. He shouldn't have been given that level of clearance and everyone who would've had to have given it to him seemed to be completely unaware (unless Elisabet herself had given it to him, which seems highly unlikely) – Vemonus Jul 18 '17 at 14:19
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    "Ted argues with Elisabet about the necessity of a backdoor in GAIA Prime. GAIA herself agrees, while Elisabet opposes it." Maybe GAIA herself installed the backdoor and gave Ted the clearance. It's been to long since I played the game, so I don't know if this possibility is ruled out somewhere. – raznagul Jul 18 '17 at 15:43
  • @raznagul it's a possibility, but, again, the exact method by which Ted obtained Omega-level clearance has not been explained, which is why there are other threads wondering this same thing. – Vemonus Jul 18 '17 at 15:55

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