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Application security programs and practises

Episode 28 BOFH 2004

"What's he reading?" I ask the PFY, noticing the Boss standing outside his office pointing excitedly at a magazine while one of our nastier buildings maintenance people looks on.

"Ah. An article about saving power. The boss was in earlier with the buildings bloke, wanting to know if we shutdown or 'put our servers to sleep' at night."

"And you told them that servers were like old people - you put them to sleep at night and there's a few dead ones in the morning?"

"Yeah; then he asked why we didn't spin down the disk drives at night like the powersave options on most computers allow you to."

"And you told him that if he asked really nicely we'd cancel backups to let that happen?"

"Uh-huh."

"Management!" I sigh.

"What about management?" the Boss asks, entering the room with the buildings bloke in tow.

"I was talking about Power Management," I say. "It's not my problem - it's everyone's problem!"

"Exactly what I was saying!!" the Boss gasps happily "So you won't mind getting rid of your bar heater then?"

"What?! Didn't you just hear me when I said it wasn't my problem?"

"You said it was everyone's problem!"

"Yes, but I'm someone, not everyone."

"So you're saying you're a special case?"

"Of course. While the normal run-of-the-mill worker in this building occupies their workplace during the hours of 9-5, my assistant and I are called upon to attend problems at any time of the day or night. You can't expect us to come to a freezing cold office!!!"

"I.. Well what about lighting - surely you don't need all this lighting on all the time - even when you're not here?"

"You know that's just what I said, till a security guy known for his nosiness tripped in the dark in an incident that has all the hallmarks of someone stringing a piece of 100lb breaking strain fishing line across the doorway. Very nasty. After that H&S got in on the act and the place is lit up like a Christmas tree, 24x7!"

"I see. What about your desktop machines?"

"What about them?"

"You could switch them off at night.."

"Four machines won't make a hell of a lot of difference.."

"Well what about if everyone in the building's desktop machine was switched off?"

"Good luck getting that to happen! Getting people to remember to switch their desktops off is about as likely as getting them to change their passwords every 90 days."

"Surely we can control it... ..remotely?" he asks carefully, giving the proverbial sleeping tiger of user annoyance a tentative prod.

"It'd take a lot of jiggering about and testing," the PFY warns.

"We can justify it, in power savings alone!" he says, as the buildings maintenance guy nods happily.

. . .15 company-wide reboots and two hours later. . . "Ok, I need you to stop testing the shutdown thing," the Boss gasps.

"Really?" the PFY asks. "I think we've almost cracked it!"

"How close are you?"

"Well we got the company-wide shutdown going ages ago, but getting the little machine icons to change from blue to red giving us a little trouble.."

"You've rebooted the whole company repeatedly just to get an icon to change!!!?" the Boss blurts, horrified.

"Yeah?"

"Did you refresh your screen?" I ask.

"Actually no!" the PFY gasps "Maybe that was it!!!"

"!" the boss says wordlessly.

"It's the little things that always trip you up.." I say, nodding sagely to the Boss.

"I see," the Boss seethes. "So it's working now?"

"Yep," I say. "All you need to do is click on this button here >click< and everything shuts down."

>whirr< >click<

...Five minutes later...

"DON'T TOUCH THAT BUTTON AGAIN!" the Boss says testily.

"Wouldn't dream of it, complete accident last time - didn't realise it was actually hooked up. Anyway, we'll schedule the shutdown from now on - to take place automatically at... what time?"

"6:15pm."

"6:15pm it is then!" I say, entering the time.

>whirr< >click<

"What just happened?"

"My mistake!" I say "I set the clock time on this machine to 6:15 instead of the shutdown time. And the preset value of the shutdown time was 5:30pm, which is after the clock time, which means that all...."

The Boss has just realised that he's going to be as big a joke in the department as unbreakable Oracle - although less well received - and will be needing someone to blame if he doesn't want a new job in unemployment statistics...

"I can't believe that you'd cause so many problems for the company!" he says to me, hoping I'll fall on my sword.

"We did tell you it would require a lot of testing," I respond, passing the fiery mantle back to him.

"Well surely your assistant should have known the disruption this would cause to the workplace?!!"

"You and the buildings guy did okay the testing...."

"Yes!" the boss gasps, dashing from the room to spread the word around the building. "It was the buildings guy!"

"Say," the PFY says. "Does the buildings guy still eavesdrop on conversations through the old heating vents?"

>CLACK!<

"What happened to the lights?!" the PFY gasps.

"Allow me," I reply, thinking quickly. "OF.. COURSE.. HE.. DOESN'T LISTEN IN. HE'S TOO BUSY... WORKING."

>CLACK!<

"And there was light!" the PFY says quietly.

"You think he can still hear us?" the PFY whispers. >CLACK!< >CLACK!<

"It would seem that way.." I respond "Which can mean only one thing."

"It was the Bosses fault after all?"

>CLACK!< >CLACK!<

"And.." I ask.

"I should.... update the boss's online calendar to reflect the amount of time he'll be stuck in the lift due to... engineering problems?"

>CLACK!< >CLACK!<

It's always good when professionals from different spheres can reach an understanding... ®

Eight steps to building an HP BladeSystem

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