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BOFH and the Luser Group

Someone has to do it

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Reducing the cost and complexity of web vulnerability management

Episode 20 BOFH 2002: Episode 20

So we're at a (l)user group meeting and are encountering the backlash that a computing professional can expect from the staff that they've selflessly served over the years. Those who aren't too afraid to turn up, anyway.

And as per usual, there's a mixed group of a: people who want to know why we don't immediately upgrade our software THE INSTANT Gates says it's been released and is the new cure for cancer, and b: technical stick-in-the-muds who thought that Windows for Workgroups may have raised the bar a little too high for their comfort.

"Why don't we have Windows XP on our machines?" a user whines as soon as we ask for questions - sure there's a conspiracy going on in the company to rival Roswell.

"Which facility of Windows XP desktop do you need to do your work?" I ask, always wanting to help out.

"I just need an up-to-date Operating System!" he answers evasively.

"For... >clickety< ..Producing the wage sheets?" The PFY asks, reading the user's purpose in life from his laptop screen.

"Not just wage sheets, I do other things as well. But we should keep up to date!"

"By other things, are you referring to the Internet romance that you're engaged in with... >clickety< MARSHA 23, Gym instructor from Hull, who is in fact.... >clickety< Bruce, 33 Lorry Driver from Kent?"

"What?!"

"It's all here in Black and White," The PFY responds, spinning his laptop around and revealing the damning evidence. "We had a quick shufty at the traffic because we were concerned about.... uh.. "

"..Corporate Espionage" I add.

"Yes! Corporate Espionage! ... and we noticed a chat session in progress which we thought might be..."

"Coded information." I suggest.

"CODED INFORMATION, yes!.. So we tracked down the user to their ISP and then, due to poor security on their desktop, found out who they really were."

"Coded Information?" the user gasps.

"Yes, our mistake. We thought 'Back Passage' referred to the rear entry to the building - where someone might sneak documents out. There were a few other terms that we..."

"I don't think we need to go into it," the user chips in hurriedly. "I probably don't need XP if you guys think everything's OK."

"BUT THAT'S JUST THE POINT," a greyhair from the records room interjects, picking now as a good time to pop briefly out of his coma. "We keep getting pressured to CHANGE! We just get used to something and someone wants to change it!!"

(I feel an "I still use Word Perfect Version 1 and it does what I want" speech in the making)

"When I started here..."

(told you so)

"...we just used the editor thingy, and mailed each other what we needed. Now we've got to use some new bloody Outlook thing that makes no sense at all! I liked the editor, it was simple and it did what you needed!!"

"It didn't have a spell checker," the first git argues.

"WE DIDN'T NEED SPELL CHECKER! We KNOW how to spell, people are just too lazy to use their DICTIONARIES!!"

I know both where this is heading and how long it's going to take to get there. I silently signal The PFY to ring me on my cellphone with an "urgent" problem. Seconds later, the phone rings and I make some appropriate affirmative noises to the pager message before making my excuses and slipping off with The PFY for a 'MAJOR FAULT'. I leave The Boss to it as he tries to match the requirements of the two main complainants.

THREE HOURS LATER...

"Well, I think I've come up with a workable solution that will please everyone!" The Boss burbles to us proudly.

"You can never please everyone," The PFY responds, speaking from experience.

"Well I think we can. This a list of what people want - XP at the latest level, some who want NT4, a handful of Windows 98, one OS2 thingy and a couple of people who want their MSDOS stuff back again. Which doesn't sound all that hard. Anyway, I've made an executive decision, so we have to do it! So when can sort all that out?"

Somewhere, in the back reaches of my mind, a single piece of straw turns a camel into a paraplegic...

"In no time at all," I respond, leading The Boss towards the Tape Safes. "In fact we keep all our media in a fireproof safe which rarely needs to be opened, thanks to a dinky built-in deposit slot."

"Really?"

"Yes," The PFY adds, turning the key and pulling the door release lever. "It's designed for Night Deposits at petrol stations and convenience stores, but we use it to make sure our software is quickly securable."

"Really? Well I suppose it's a good idea isn't it, you can't be too careful with softw...”

>Trip!<</p>

>Thud!<</p>

>SLAM!<</b>

"..and so for system stability and ease of maintenance, we'll be sticking with the corporate standard of everyone at the same Operating System level," The Boss says carefully.

"Excellent!" The PFY says encouragingly. "Now one more time - this time with feeling and directly into the microphone - and if you're lucky we'll 'deposit' enough air to tide you over till we've multicasted your latest 'Executive Decision'. And no more screaming about being locked in a safe or we'll deposit some more of that used water..."

It's a tough life enforcing corporate standards - but someone has to do it.... ®

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

Reducing the cost and complexity of web vulnerability management

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