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Application security programs and practises

Episode 8

More wonders from the House of BOFH™

BOFH 2002: Episode 8

I'm working away in the Computer room (reprogramming The Boss's internet traffic monitor with a club hammer) when an important email comes in, trips an alert on my incoming mail scanner, and causes me to be messaged via cellphone.

This could be serious!

And it is. Scant moments after popping out to pick up lunch (Lager and a chicken kebab) for The PFY and myself, I'm back in Mission Control decrypting the contents of the message.

"Did you get the message from Junketwatch?" The PFY asks excitedly, spoiling the fun of it all.

"Just reading it now. Anything stand out?"

"Weeeellll.." The PFY drawls, looking holding up a training request form "I think it's going to be VITALLY important that I attend the 'Advanced Internetworking Security in Enterprise Situations' next week in Hawaii, given that I attended the 'Introduction to Internetworking Security in Enterprise Situations' last year, AND given our need to keep abreast of changes in the industry."

"Indeed," I respond. "Would that be the course with 1 day of tutorials for every 3 days of vendor-sponsored drinks and events?"

"Worst 2 weeks of my life!" The PFY concurs. "Getting up so early!"

"Before 11am?" I ask, suppressing my sarcasm.

"Yes."

"When the bar opened?"

"Uh huh."

"On the four days there actually WERE lectures?"

"Mmmmm."

"And you don't think that you're extracting the urine?"

"What?! It was hard work!"

"I can imagine - all that counting out how many bottles were left in the mini-bar every morning to put in the refill order."

"It wasn't all fun and games. Anyway, you can talk - you went on that Wireless LAN course!"

"Only to upskill myself to allow us to leverage that technology to achieve a competitive advantage and perhaps a synergy with other incentive orientated departments."

The Management Buzzword detector on the wall starts smoking after that sentence, so I feel it prudent to stop before the fire alarms trip.

"And how HAVE we used it?"

"Well we haven't, obviously, because at the course I learnt that there was no reliable standard to ensure the security of our transactions!"

"On the first day - and then?"

"And then I consulted both vendors and salespersons to determine the current market trends in this area and what we were to expect in the future."

"I.e. They fed and watered you in the Bar for the next four days?"

"No, that was far too noisy for the serious discussion that the topic warranted - so only part of my time was spent in the Hospitality area. The rest of the time I was taking copious notes on my laptop."

"Till it broke."

"Yes, it did get damaged on the second day, true..."

"Didn't you have to get the laptop repaired for water damage? And the strange thing was it was heavily Chlorinated water - almost like what you'd find in a pool."

"Yes, There was a small component of discussion near the pool, I recall."

"And a small component of discussion near the golf course as well perhaps?"

"Why do you ask?"

"The golf tee stuck in the power adaptor socket..."

"I did pop out to check the response of wireless in a non-built-up area, yes - and I must say it was good."

"So you played a game of golf."

"No, I used a personal disorganiser with a wireless card to record information at various geographic locations as a test of the throughput and error correction of the Wireless carrier."

"Say.... Scoring at the end of every hole?"

"Yes, I suppose so."

"So you played a game of golf?"

"Obviously, otherwise I'd have had nothing to test with and it would have just been a junket!"

"Indeed," The PFY comments drily.

Our point/counterpoints are interrupted by the arrival of The Boss, with a freshly printed sheet of paper with a course outline on it, which can only mean he's on the list at junketwatch too, worst luck.

"Looks like I'll be away later in the month for a conference on.."

"Enterprise Internet security," The PFY finishes.

"u.."

"In Hawaii?" I ask.

"Uh..."

"It seems there may be a conflict of interest here given our finite training budgets," I say, addressing the other two interested parties. "And there seems to be only one way of resolving this."

"A reasoned discussion?" The Boss states thoughtfully.

"Cattleprods at 5 paces?" The PFY asks.

"No, no - none of these methods will truly reflect the suitability of the candidate for the level of skill needed at the course. No, I suggest something far more indicative of suitability..."

2 minutes later.

"I WON!" The PFY cries, as The Boss and I look on with disgust. "And it was all so logical - proving I am the suitable candidate!"

"Yes, you seemed very confident, but how did you know?"

"A piece of cake!" The PFY boasts "YOU'RE a human deskblotter, so you're bound to go Scissors or Paper because they're things you're familiar with, so I just had to stick to Scissors till you eventually chose paper."

"But what's Rock got to do with Simon?"

"Simple. Scissors and Paper are definitely out because you can't bash a machine to death with them. Besides, he always chooses Rock."

It has to be admitted that The PFY has a point.

"So that's it then?" The Boss sneers as The PFY does a victory lap of the floor in full gloat mode. "You're just going to take it?"

"Of course I am" I reply magnanimously, "The PFY won fair and square, and that's all there is to it. He deserves to go - as would I if I'd won!"

"Well, I must say that's an unexpected change of heart on your part!" The Boss mumbles, "and if you're big enough to accept it, well so am I!"

The Boss departs, defeated, no doubt planning to ensure the airfare and hotel booking are able to be changed to a different name at the last minute just in case The PFY should suddenly become unavoidably detained in our Wales office with some terrible systems failure or the other. The sneaky bastard.

With that in mind I put the second chicken kebab in my drawer alongside the first, as it now looks like I'll be buying lunch for both The Boss and The PFY late next week... ®

BOFH is copyright © 1995-2002, Simon Travaglia. Don't mess with his rights.

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